OOC – How to be a better writer by becoming Big Time Wrestling world champion

I don’t read as much as I did when I was young and full of life – this full life evidenced by the fact that I spent a lot of time in my bed reading – but I still read books.  This makes me super smart and better than people that watch TV or play sports.  Book snobbery amuses me.  Most books are trash.   

I used to read when I took breaks at work back in the days when I went into an office for work.  People would often come up and take the book out of my hands to look at it.  Or they would ask me what I was reading and then 100% of the time follow up with “Never heard of it”.  It was super annoying.  Why would you start talking to someone who was reading? 

Even though I read a lot because I am super smart there aren’t many authors I like.  I have a bad habit that when I find an author I enjoy I read a bunch of their books in succession and then I don’t like them anymore because here’s a spoiler – most authors write the same book over and over with variations.   

One author I do like is Elmore Leonard.  I don’t remember where we are in the cycle of authors being hated and then loved and then hated again with him but a few years ago people liked him.  I think now he’s on his way to hate land.   

I saw a tweet the other day that told me about Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules for writing.  I thought I’d talk about that because I’m running out of steam for the current story and still want to write.   So this is it.   I’m not trying to give advice, these are just my thoughts about these rules.  In the words of Bender Bending Rodriguez “I never wanted to hurt anyone, or help anyone.” 

Never open a book with weather 

That does seem kind of hackey.  It was a dark and stormy night.  I wonder where that came from.  Apparently it’s from an old book called Paul Clifford.  I should read it, that would give me all kinds of snooty book cred. 

Avoid prologues. 

I can’t explain why exactly but I also find prologues annoying.  Probably for the same reason I don’t like the “three weeks earlier” storytelling device.   

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. 

This probably relates to the secret eleventh rule, it makes you sound “writery”.  

Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely. 

This one I find interesting.  These rules are part of a whole book on how you should write stuff.  I wonder if there’s more explanation.  I’ve be curious to know more about this one.  I do it ALL the time in my super awesome writing.  

Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 

Sure 

Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” 

I’m interested in this one also.  I suppose the idea is that most things just happen, it’s not really sudden? “Suddenly” this thing happened.  Or did it just happen?  What made it sudden?  This one is amusing because people say this IRL not infrequently.  “There I was at the bank and suddenly all hell broke loose!”  I write reality sir.

Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. 

No problem here, I don’t really know any.  I wonder if this is because you don’t want to annoy people who don’t understand that dialect or for a more writery reason like it’s dumb.   

Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. 

Heck yeah buddy, I don’t describe shit!  I’m terrible at describing things.  

Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. 

Seems like this could have been combined with the one above  

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. 

This one is funny because it’s actually necessary.  I would say only twice in my life have I actually tried to write something “for real”.  One was a movie script and the other was a novel.  In both of these experiences I found myself with really weak sections because I was writing stuff just to bridge from one thing to another.  I’d have plot thing A and plot thing C and then I’d try to fill in some crap for B and it was always terrible.  I think if you’re writing something just to write it and it has no value itself get rid of it.  Although I say that have never finished either of those works so its easier said than done eh? 

Then there’s a secret 11th rule –  

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.   If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. 

Here’s a story about this rule.  My first Ela story, the worst of the bunch, I re-wrote the opening scene three times and I never got it “right” because it always sounded “writery”.  I think that’s different from purple pose but it’s a real thing.  Maybe overwritten is what I mean.   

In wrestling there’s a term “overbooked”.  See matches are “booked”- who’s going to win, what the story is supposed to be, generally what’s going to happen.  “Overbooked” is when there’s just too much stuff thrown in.  It often happens when they’re trying to “protect” someone.  Wrestler X has been built up to lose the title in a big match but now Wrestler X is going to be in a new movie and the studio doesn’t want them to lose on TV but you promised Wrestler Y they were going over and it’s in their contract so . . . a bunch of stupid shit happens.   

But it’s wrestling, isn’t it all stupid?  Yes, but also no.  Wrestling is storytelling and good stories pay off.  Some people, you know the ones I mean, will tell you that the reason wrestling sucks now is that the very simple story of “bad guy is bad, eventually good guy triumphs” doesn’t happen anymore.  Bad guys don’t sell merch so instead you have a bunch of cosplayers who randomly win and lose based largely on non-wrestling things. 

And overbooked match is, in essence, one that doesn’t pay off the story.  Like the end of Lost.   

Example, SummerSlam 2009.  John Cena beats Randy Orton by DQ, which is already kind of bullshit because DQs are lame.  But then the match is re-started because of reasons?  A fake DQ is actually kind of okay, because now the good guy is going to win for real!  But no, Randy leaves and we get another DQ.  Super lame.  But then the match is restarted again for no reason!  This better be it.  Uh-uh!  Randy wins with bad guy trickery!  But then the match is re-started because another referee saw him cheat.  Because unlike every other match for 200 years this one has instant replay?  Now John is going to win, but instead a “fan” runs into the ring for another DQ.  But the match is started again and Randy wins quickly.   

This is overbooking.  John Cena was supposed to win by the “story” but instead that couldn’t happen for some reason so they tried to snow it under a bunch of stupid stuff.  I suppose in a way it works.  No one remembers that there was no payoff.  Everyone just remembers that the match sucked.   

I don’t know what overwriting is exactly, but it’s first cousins with overbooking.   

Napoleon, Caesar, Alexander, Ela

Winning a great military triumph (I was integral you know) brings gross future people out of the woodwork to kiss your ass.  No, woodwork implies that there are houses made of wood, better to say that they’ve been coming skittering out from under rocks like centipedes.  Gross people from tiny villages.  Gross wanderers from nowhere.  Gross people from the mountains.  And gross people representing the leading communities in the area – Scrapbridge, Pigsty, Gunmetal City, Crow.  Gross people that want to know my plans.  Gross people who want to know what I’m up to.  Gross people that want to know who I am and what I’m about.   

I’ve been playing it cool in terms of plans, which has been easy because I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m making this up as I go along.  Who knew that an off-hand vow of revenge could transform a region like this so thoroughly?  I have a feeling that things are being altered in important and long-term ways even though I’ve barely been here long enough to know what they’re like.   

I do have a few plans.  Item number one, go back to Applied Cryogenics West.  Now that it’s not just me and Martialla there has to be something we can do with a geothermal power source that has lasted a hundred years.  Maybe there’s some other stiffs we can defrost.  Two, go back to the doctor and Hilary Muff’s underground complex.  Now that it’s not just Martialla and I we’ll drag then out from under the ground like Punxsutawney Phil if we have to.  Well we won’t but someone will.  Point is we’ll see what’s up with that. 

Item three is a little trickier, figure out where Paul came from and check that out.  He came from some kind of frozen person shack, could be a power source there too, or more human popsicles.  Martialla has been working on that.  Trying to coax him into remembering.  She’s as ill-suited for a coaxing job as a porcupine is being a nurse in the newborn ward but there’s nothing for it.   She’s the only one that he trusts even a little.  Who knew that Martialla had feminine wiles?  It’s mind-boggling. 

I was pondering this because Lucien was discussing something boring and logistical and military.  As he was doing so yet another supplicant came to pay their respects.  He was tallish, I mean for a futureman he was maybe five nine, and lean as a skeleton, or Calista Flockhart.  He wasn’t too ugly by future standards but he was wearing a jacket/cape/poncho thing that was made out of a spotted fur and it made me think of a crabby old matron wandering around Rodeo Drive shouting abuse at a butler that died years ago.   

I said he was there to pay his respect but that’s just a figure of speech, instead he just drifted in and leaned there like a leather jacket-clad “rebel” from an old black and white movie and waited for us to notice him.  Lucien, even though he’s only been unfrozen a little while has developed a pidgin of sorts that seems to work with these future people, I won’t print that here because I don’t like the sound of it. Anyway, he asked the man in the spotted fur which community he was from and Spots answered in perfectly understandable modern day (past) English.   

“Nowhere in particular.” He gave me a frank look, the kind that would get you a sexual harassment lawsuit back in the day “You’re tall, they were right about that, but you don’t look so dangerous to me.  Is it true that you killed seven people at the Battle of Butcher Bluff?” 

I shook my head and wondered how his joker got by the goons outside “I don’t know what that means.  Are you here to assassinate me or can we help you with something?” 

He smiled at the word assassinate, revealing a half-empty row of teeth on the left side “I’m here to help you.  I don’t know what you think you did by destroying that force from Wyo but I’m here to tell you what you did accomplish.  Now Duke knows you’re serious.  That was test. You failed.  Or passed.  Depends how you want to look at it.” 

Lucien leaned over his maps and ledgers protectively “You’re saying that the Duke risked throwing away hundreds of combat vehicles and a thousand men just to see what we were going to do?’ 

Spotty smiled again, broadly “Yes, that is what I’m saying.  No reason getting ready for war if your enemy is just barking at the moon.  Now he knows you’re ready to fight.” 

I gestured vaguely outside “He was invading the valley, wasn’t he ready for war already?” 

He held up a fist and grinned some more “There’s war and then there’s war, ponimayete?  The Invincible, there are a lot of them.  A lot.  I don’t think you realize who you’re dealing with.  There’s no way you could know.  Is it true that you’re from the past?  What was it like?” 

“The weather was better and the people were prettier, except on the east coast, there it was just like this.  So you’re here to fill us in on the Invincible and their great big scary threat huh?  Why do you know their business?” 

He started walking around and examining a few things like people do when they want to appear nonchalant “I’m a trader, I get around, meet a lot of people, hear a lot of things.  I’ve done a lot of business with the Invincible.  I’ve even met Duke himself twice.  He’s almost as pretty as you, no wonder he’s so vain huh?”  He stopped pacing and looked back at me “Don’t you want to know why I’m giving you this knowledge?” 

“Not really.” 

He grinned once again “I like that.” He pointed at me “I see why people follow you, the fearsome warrior woman from the past.  You don’t care but going to tell you anyway.  I thought the world was one way.  The Invincible were going to eat up everything and everyone.  But now  . . .” he clapped his hands together “. . . everything is different.  Now the world is another way.” 

“And you want to be on the winning side?” 

He laughed a weird wheezing laugh “I just want to watch the show.” 

Lucien crossed his arms and regarded him with pursed lips “So that’s your big information?  That there are more of the Invincible than we think?  That’s not helpful.” 

He shook his head slowly with a sly smile “No, my information is what your Gunmetal buddies have been sending people to their deaths to find out for years.  I know where they get their guns from, and you can see it for yourself.  If you want.” 

Didn’t a Roman guy say something about victory being sad?

Because of my height, not tall-tall but lady-tall, general education/gym teachers/coaches were always after me to play basketball and volleyball.  And this was back before ’96 when women’s sports were invented.  I tried them both but I never got into either.  Being part of a team never did it for me, even when was I was the clear leader of that team.  Coaches don’t like being denied.  Especially by a little girl.  More than one of them called my parents to tell them to make me play.  Sometimes they’d try to shame me into it.  Saying that I was wasting my god given talents by not playing.  They tried to frame it like I wasn’t playing because I was a scaredy-cat and if I didn’t face my fears I would be a loser my entire life. 

One coach gave me a speech in that vein about how I shouldn’t be afraid of the pressure.  Because pressure makes diamonds.  You have to endure and then you become so hard that nothing can break you.  It was an okay speech.  I’ve heard better.  The core of that speech and those like it is a strange concept that many people at least give lip service to – if you’re never tested how can you ever know if you’re cool?  Suffering builds character.  The hard way is the best way.  God gives people obstacles to make them stronger so they can be better at sports.   

Pressure may make a few people into diamonds but mostly it just breaks them.  If there’s an afterlife I don’t think there are too many people there sighing and looking wistfully over the fields of celestial barley (or whatever) and wishing that their life had been harder so they could have been more awesome.  On the other hand I bet there’s a ton of people there thinking something like “you, know I think my life would have been just fine, perhaps even better if I can go out on a limb, if my uncle’s friend hadn’t cornered me in the boathouse that time”.   

What does this have to do with anything?  Lately I’ve been imagining a motivational speaker trying to tell me how great it is that I’ve been thrown into a post-apocalyptic hellscape because this is my chance to really prove myself.  I tell you this much, if suffering makes you a better person the Invincible that survived the battle are going to be the best people in the world when they finally die.  I have to revise my earlier statement about these future people being dull and unimaginative, they’re coming up with all kinds of out of the box ways to torture prisoners.  They’re showing real creativity.

The northerners are doing it for revenge.  The mercenaries are doing it for laughs.  Some are doing it just because other people are doing it.  A few are probably doing it because they recognize that it makes them look strong.  Why am I not putting a stop to it?  I told Martialla that I had to let it happen to keep our side happy, morale and what not.  That was a lie.  The truth is that I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think anyone would listen to me.  And then the whole thing would be over.  Leadership, or whatever you want to call it, is more fragile than people like to think.  If I stay “hey, stop torturing our enemies” what’s going to happen?  Nothing much other than maybe I’m out on my sweet ass.   

Think about the President of the United States.  I’m now wondering who the last president was before the country fell apart, how long did old Lady Liberty keep chugging along before she collapsed for good? But that’s neither here nor there.  Well it’s there but it’s not here.   The President is (was) the most powerful person in the free world but really what could they do?  I’m not one of those conspiracy nuts who think a secret cabal of rich cannibals established in the thirteenth century controls the country but the President doesn’t really run shit.  There’s a cabinet and secretaries of this and that and Congress and all manner of functionaries that run things.  The president is in a canoe heading downriver and they can lean one way or the other and maybe that changes the course of the canoe a little.  That’s all they can do.  And that’s the most powerful person around. 

I was sitting on J-Lo’s hood thinking about the terrible burden of leadership and how much I wanted some pancakes with raspberry syrup when Martialla clomped over and tossed me a jug of some kind of thick purple-red slime.  I know that because some of it slopped out and almost hit me as the jug flew through the air.  I sniffed at it gingerly as she climbed up to sit beside me like teenagers in a 70’s movie.

“What is it?” 

“Beet-sugar rum I think, tastes like fermented marshmallows.  Burned fermented marshmallows.  With a good amount of dirt mixer.”   

I nodded “Now we just need some lime juice and mint and we’ll be crushing Mojitos in no time.” 

I passed the jug back without taking a drink and Martialla’s eyebrows shot up “Why so glum?  You don’t look like someone who’s just won a great military victory.” 

“I’ve realized once again that this is it.  I don’t know why I need to keep realizing the same thing over and over.  There’s a part of me that still thinks that somehow we can go back.  Back to our lives.  Back to the way things were.  That if we just survive long enough we’ll make it.  But there’s nothing to make it to.  We’re just here.  This is what there is.” 

Martialla took a swig, turning her mouth hideously red “A realization of that magnitude is like knocking over a vending machine, you can’t do it in one shove, you have to rock it back and forth and get it moving first before it will go over.” 

“Is that from Seinfeld?” 

Martialla frowned in concentration “Herman’s Head I think.” 

“I was supposed to be Heddy Newman on that show you know.” 

She raised an eyebrow “What happened?” 

“I told William Ragsdale that I thought Fright Night sucked.” 

She made a face “Ohh, that would do it.  You remember when we met?” 

I blew out a long breath “Let’s see, was it on the set of The Birds Three, Flock of Terror for Showtime?” 

“Close, it was for a Showtime original movie, but it was When a Stranger Calls Back Again, The Answering Machine.” 

I nodded “Right, I had just smoked a joint with Carol Kane and then she called me a hussy and kicked me out of her trailer.  You almost ran me over like a rampaging warthog coming my way.” 

“You remember what I said to you?” 

“I remember trying to get you fired because I didn’t think you were good looking enough to be my stunt double.” 

She chuckled “Yes, and now look at us, we’re the best of friends.” 

I eyed her “I’d still fire you if I could find someone better but there aren’t many applicants these days.” 

“I said to you that we’re stuck together so we’d just have to make the best of the situation.  I feel like that applies to our current scenario was well.  There’s no reason to give up hope.” 

“Not even if things are hopeless?” 

“Especially not then, that’s when you have to hope even harder.” 

That movie got really screwed up in editing (Ela movie reviews)

I went to see “A Kiss Too Long” with high anticipation, having been promised by the New Yorker that it was a “delicate masterpiece of voluptuous physical grace and refined libertinage.”  My standards of voluptuous physical grace, not to mention libertinage, must be more demanding than the New Yorker’s.  Boring is the word I would use to describe “A Kiss Too Long”.  

The story, such as it is, has been lifted from every other romance novel ever written.  A young lass named Benevolence (Ela Patrick) is taken by her faithful old servant to visit her rich aunt, the Countess de Mornay.  That should be a tip-off: Countesses are never up to any good. 

Benevolence is something of a country rube to begin with; doesn’t wash her ankles and that sort of thing.  Thankfully her aunt’s devoted household staff, consisting entirely of bosomy young maids, civilize her in no time at all.  Dressed in regal finery and trained overnight in court manners, the innocent young Benevolence sallies out into the great amoral world of seduction and intrigue.  If this begins to read as if it were copied off the back of a paperback novel, perhaps it was. 

Benevolence’s aunt and uncle run a wide-open household, in which everyone is dashing in and out of bedroom doors like an episode of Big Brother.  The maids keep the kitchen hopping.  A series of strapping young lads, each more dashing than the last, do their best to deflower Benevolence, but alas, none of them ever quite succeed. 

And that, so help me, is all.  The film may appeal to empty-headed would-be sophisticates who want to attend a pretty movie that doesn’t make them think, or make them sad, or anything feel anything. “A Kiss Too Long” offers nothing more.  It is not a work of art, or even a work of grace, or even more than fitfully amusing.  Even the engaging performances of Morgan Michelle and Andrew Piccoli (as the aunt and uncle) and the genuine beauty of Ela Patrick fail to save it.  Of course, a movie doesn’t have to be serious to be good.  But “A Kiss Too Long” wins the 1998 strawberry parfait award for floating off your fork before you can get your mouth open. 

Two Stars  

It wasn’t exactly as if I’d seen “Another Day of Freedom” before, but there was some sort of haunting memory that seemed buried just beneath the surface of this movie’s very predictable plot. 

The plot itself was as follows: fancy society lady is forced by circumstances to hitch cross-country in the cab of an eighteen-wheeler, driven by a rough-hewn, hard-drinking son of a gun.  They begin the movie at each other’s throats, but after a fair amount of fighting they learn to respect one another and then, after the lady learns to drive the truck, even to love each other. 

This all seemed vaguely familiar, and then, of course, I thought of “The African Queen.”  It’s the same movie, with a few adjustments.  There’s a truck instead of a leaky old steamboat, there’s a driver instead of a pilot, and the lady is no lady.  Not the way she’s played by Ela Patrick. 

Patrick literally screams and runs her way through this movie.  She chases the truck driver (played by William Peterson) from one end of the continent to the other, sometimes literally hanging on to the sides of the truck by her fingernails. 

That makes “Another Day of Freedom” sound like more fun than it is.  It has its good moments, I liked the brassy self-confidence in the scene where Patrick, totally bedraggled, walks into a Kansas City clothing store and immediately gets on first-name terms with the clerks.  I liked Peterson’s understated performance as Charlie Kelly, a tough guy who is up to his ears in hock and basically wants only to be left alone by women, all women, every woman, please. 

But the narrative strategy of “Another Day of Freedom” is to repeat the same scenes over and over again, in the hope that if they’ve worked once, who knows?  Maybe they’ll work again. 

“The African Queen” really developed the relationship between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn; we could understand and treasure the steps by which they came to be friends and finally lovers.  But “Another Day of Freedom” just exploits the relationship, giving us two wacky characters and letting them into the ring with each other. 

There is also a bit of a problem with the movie’s subplots.  Since movie stories are arbitrary anyway, couldn’t they have found a better reason for Patrick and Peterson to make their cross-country journey? This movie is too busy with supporting details.  Patrick’s husband is trying to knock her off so he won’t have to pay alimony.  Peterson’s behind on his truck payments, and his truck might be immediately repossessed.  Peterson agrees to sell information on Patrick to the private eyes hired by her husband. Meanwhile, a guy is on Peterson’s trail to repossess the truck.  And so on. The movie even stoops to a crash scene that makes absolutely no sense in terms of what’s happening at the time in the movie. 

All of these things and more are wrong with “Another Day of Freedom” and yet I was able to watch it more or less painlessly, maybe because of the presence of Patrick.   They’ve all exploited her rambunctious carnality, but none of her films have really explored the possibilities of the characters she could play.  Too bad.  She has everything she needs to make this movie memorable except for dialogue and situations and a thought-through character. 

Two Stars 

So there she is, miles from any road, cut off from civilization in a Antebellum mansion with bad wiring, an innocent baby upstairs, the telephone out of service, the rescue party up to its hubcaps in mud, and a homicidal sex maniac nibbling on her earlobe.  This girl has problems. 

Her name is Amanda and she is the baby-sitter.  She babysits in such out-of-the-way places that her father must have to deliver her in a jeep.  And not even a gardener to hear a scream. 

Too bad, because Amanda is a crackerjack screamer.  She keeps thinking she sees a sinister face through the windowpanes.  It has wide eyes and a humorless grin.  It rattles locks and taps its fingernails on the glass.  Who could it be?  Surely it couldn’t be Brian, Helen’s former husband, who was locked up in a mental prison after trying to strangle Helen and kill the baby?  Surely not.  Because Brian is safely locked up.  That’s why Helen is out on a date tonight with her new fiancé and needs a babysitter in the first place.  

Well, we have been down this lonely, twisting road before. We have felt the creepers brush against our face, and we have heard the sound of panting in the forest, and we have heard the twigs snap and the pebbles rattle.  We don’t have to be a Vegas bookmaker to give 10-to-1 odds that Brian is moping around somewhere out there in the night. 

Look at it this way.  If the homicidal Brian weren’t out there in the night, what could the movie be about?  Amanda would be left looking like a fool.  The police sergeant would be left holding the phone and repeating “Hello? Hello? Who’s there?” for no purpose at all.  

The deep south is a long way ahead of the rest of the nation at this business of things out there in the night.  Our houses in are smaller and less complicated.  Sinister noises in the night turn out to be malfunctioning automatic garage-door openers.  But old south mansions have dozens of windows, countless creaks and not a door that doesn’t groan.  And the trees are planted close to the house on purpose, so that their branches can scratch against the eaves. 

They are also ahead of us in the babysitter department.  Amanda is played by Ela Fitzpatrick, who wears a cashmere sweater that is unbuttoned, by actual count, five times during the movie.  Because Ela Fitzpatrick is awfully good at playing the threatened, innocent, beautiful victim, and because Damien Chapa makes a suitable maniacal and homicidal killer, “Night” is a passably good thriller. 

Two stars 

J-Lo Origins : Project Satan

The collapse of the United States of America was followed by the formation of more than a dozen short lived successor states, including the unfortunately named Coalition of Midwestern Americans.  For the entirety of its twelve year history the Coalition was engaged in active war with the Russo-American Mercantile, a conflict which ended at mutual collapse of both nations. 

A secret inherited by the Coalition at the dissolution of the USA was silksteel alloys – so named because until their invention, spider silk had the highest tensile strength of any terrestrial substance known to science.  Silksteel was the product of attempts by the United States to meet the demands for new materials that were flexible and strong enough to withstand the incredible stresses of the robotic factories.  The creation of silksteel relied on reactions involving metal borides. 

One of the first (and ultimately one of the only) military projects undertaken by the Coalition was research dedicated to discovering the chemical composition of silksteel for use in vehicle anti-ballistic armor plating.  The exact stoichiometry of silksteel alloys remained the subject of debate through the end of the Coalition. 

Coalition strategists felt that the production of armored fast attack vehicles was of critical importance to survival in the new world.  The theory held that due to the economic potential of world powers having been largely shattered, traditional combat doctrines had been rendered irrelevant.  The presumption was that the coming conflicts would have to be fought principally, if not entirely, with weapons and tactics fifty years out of date at the time of the disaster. 

The claim was that the nation state that was able to effectively martial its limited pool of existing resources to create an effective fighting force for a new style of “old” warfare would rise to dominance.  The adaptation of existing technology for the new environment would be the key.

Given the absence of once abundant robotics, guidance systems, satellite networks, air power, and effective long range communication, along with the prohibitive expense of artillery and other munitions in the new world, the Coalition leadership envisioned an army of low-cost, low-maintenance, easy to transport, wheeled vehicles that would be based on the same hull style.  The weaponry designed for these vehicles was planned to be shorter range in return for more penetrating power that would favor close range engagements.  This fleet of vehicles would rely on mobility to make this strategy combat doctrine. 

How did this proposed theory result in a 1000 horsepower 50 lb-ft torque Hellephant-V8 powered Charger widebody immune to small arms fire and light anti-tank weapons? 

Several teams were given the charge of operationalizing the use of silksteel armor in a Coalition combat vehicle.  None would succeed, but the group “humorously” self-named Project Satan would deliver into the world six nigh-invulnerable muscle cars that were used for stress testing and proof of concept. 

After the fall of the Coalition, three of the six silksteel cars were destroyed by weapons powerful enough to bypass their armor.  One was driven into a swamp in Alabama where it remains to this day, much to the delight of an ornery snapping turtle that makes it a home.  The other two were used by a succession of incrementally more primitive raiders and post-apocalyptic psychopaths as any such things as States and Coalitions and militaries and governments faded into a dream.  Once the gasoline reserves were gone, they were both abandoned in favor of new vehicles made from the bones of the old that had the advantage of being able to use the fuel available. 

The two remaining coalition test vehicles were never scrapped out to become new apocalypse-mobiles because their engines were useless in the new world and being made out of super-dense silksteel meant they were immune to the crowbars and crude cutting tools of the new breed of engineers. 

The vehicle now known as “J-Lo” sat untouched in what was once called the Black Rock Desert for decades before a mechanic known as Crazy Mel decided to convert it to run on bio-fuel used by contemporary vehicles.  Why do they call him Crazy Mel?  Because he does things like converting old super armored muscle cars to run on bio-fuel instead of using his god given talents to make proper junkmobiles and scrapcycles.  Also because he wanders the wastelands instead of staying put where people can find him and pay him dead lizards to do mechanic stuff.

After the conversion was completed Mel apocalypsed the vehicle up a bit with some skulls and other ornamentation, added some removable armor plates in place of windows and windshields and then rolled into the Road Hog swap meeting hoping to score big.  Like those of many a high school senior on prom night, his hopes were never to come to fruition. 

No one wanted to trade much for the thing.  Sure it was fast but it had no weapons.  Where’s the harpoon gun?  Or the bank of crude rockets?  There wasn’t even so much as a blunderbuss bolted onto the thing.  And would it kill you to put a big ram-prow on the front?  Come on man!  And Mel told them it was tough, but they didn’t care to find out because it didn’t LOOK tough.  A few metal skulls weren’t going to fool them.  Where were the spikes?  Where was the rack for dead body display? 

In the end a dejected Crazy Mel traded the mean machine for a butter churn and the covers of a couple of anime DVD cases.  You know the ones I mean.  The man who picked up the car, Lagos, then turned around and pawned it off on a couple of rubes named Ela and Martialla for a rat-king’s ransom of tools and fuel and scrap. 

OOC – The spy who just liked me as a friend (content warning, lady boobs!!!)

Also god-butt.

This blog https://sarahholz.com/2022/05/20/of-pirates-and-persians-chariton-of-aphrodisias-callirhoe/ made me aware of this painting. 

It’s called “A Girl Defending Herself against Eros” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  Eros is (was?) the Greek god of love who shoots people with love arrows to make them fall in love. 

I imagine in this scene that Eros has already tried to shoot the girl a few times and she ducked and dodged and/or kung-fu chopped the love arrows out of the air so now he’s coming at her stabby style.  She’s not into it, she doesn’t want to be in love, she has things to do. 

I’ve been showing this around and one person asked why Eros was trying to kill the girl and I explained that it was “just” a love arrow stab not attempted murder.  It made me realized how messed up the power to make people fall in love would be.  “Oh, you’re in a relationship, well WHAM now you love this other person!  How you like that?!”

My first thought was that it’s a violation of free will it is!  But that’s not right.  Because you don’t choose who you love.  Or maybe you do sort of but it’s still not cool to love-arrow people. 

I vaguely remember a guy in Marvel comics who had some kind of love power.  I think he was in the She-Hulk universe.  He just used the power to sexually assault ladies though.  Mainstream comics don’t normally touch on those sorts of things but they throw you a weird curveball every now and then like that whole Dr. Light thing.

Or when that guy hypnotized Superman and Barda into making a porno so he could blackmail them afterwards.  Which makes no sense because if you can hypnotize Superman and Barda why do you need to resort to blackmail?  Maybe the subtext is that his power was that he could only hypnotize people into making porn.  There’s definitely weirder powers in DC than that.

A person told me that the most unrealistic thing about my writing is that Martialla and Ela make jokes about porn.  No woman would ever do that, they said. 

Taylor Tomlinson has a funny bit about how proud men are of themselves when they fall in love.  She really got me with that one.  I do kind of feel proud of myself sometimes.  The other half of the joke is that in contrast, women congratulate themselves on not falling in love with a guy on the first date.  I don’t know if that’s true but it was funny also. 

Anyway, I’ve explained love to you all so now you know. 

Epic fight music

Once the hooting and hollering of the assembled horde reached a fever pitch, it seemed like it was time to go.  Martialla and I sat across from one another perched in J-Lo’s empty window holes and looked at each other.  Why didn’t we just get in the car and look at each other?  It is a little dark in there but mostly because it was cooler.  Actually that’s a lie, the real reason is that it seemed like once we were inside that it was really happening.  You know what I mean?  I tapped on the roof a couple of times and she did the same like that was a thing we did. 

I glanced at all the dust being kicked up by the mile long demolition derby about to unfold “Too bad we don’t have a tape deck, some tunes would be nice.”

Martialla nodded “Ride of the Valkyries or Eye of the Tiger, something like that?”

I rolled my eyes “You are such a hack Martialla, next you’re going to be suggesting Fortunate Son.”

She looked hurt “I thought you liked Credence.”

“I do, everyone loves CCR, but that song lost its luster in this context after playing over a scene of chopper in Vietnam after the fiftieth time.”

Martialla glanced out at the field as the sound of chattering automatic weapon fire and the screeching of metal on metal was growing into a roar “I suppose we should go.”

I took a look as well, although there wasn’t much you could see with all the grit in the air “Yeah, I guess we’ll just have to go into battle with Fantasy playing in our heads.  Did you know that was the first song to debut at number one by a female artist?  And that was nineteen ninety five.  It took that long Mar, think about all the great female singers throughout history and not until the end of the century did a woman debut at number one.”

“Well that was over a hundred years ago Ela, it was a different time.  Do you think Mariah Carey really knows how to rollerblade?”

I snorted “Hell no, I’m sure they had her trussed up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to keep her upright.  She carries fifty percent of her weight in her boobs, I’m surprised she can even stand up, there’s no way she can operate on wheels.”

“Unlike us.”

“Unlike us.”

We slid inside, put the armor in place, and strapped in.  I asked Martialla if she was good but the battle had grown so loud that I don’t know if she could hear me.  Either way she gave me a thumbs up, clutching the nanocanister to her breast like a mother chimp with a baby.  The idea was that we would drive along the road (flanking Martialla insisted on calling it) and then turn towards the fighting and try to ram the Invincible vehicles from the side.  Since J-Lo has no weapons and she’s great off-road this seemed like the way to go. 

Of course there were Invincible vehicles on the road coming at us head-on, so the entire idea was rendered moot immediately. 

The first thing coming at us looked like the front of a semi (the tractor I guess it’s called, but to me and everyone else a tractor is a farm machine) cut in half horizontally with a little platform on the back that had a rocket launcher.  The mutant on the back fired off the rocket, seemingly engulfing him/herself in flames in the process, and the projectile whirled around like a bottle rocket.  It was spinning so crazily and randomly that I figured there was no chance it would hit us but it did.  Direct hit from something that seemed to have the flight path of a drunken one winged grasshopper.  How is that possible?  J-Lo jumped up in the air but it was just like hitting a speed bump.  I have no idea what she’s made of but it seems to be pretty close to being indestructible.  Or invincible if you prefer. 

The visibility out J-Lo’s driving slit isn’t great so I couldn’t tell where it was coming from but I could hear bullets clattering off the front armor.  You cannot imagine how loud that is from the inside.  It’s like putting a bunch of batteries in a blender and then putting your ear where the top thing goes before you turn it on.  What is that top thing on a blender called?  It must have a name.  Some shrapnel ricocheted through the vision-hole and hit me right in the earlobe.  I wonder if that would count for a purple heart back in the day.  No more earlobe for a bit.

Even in a nigh-indestructible car, a head on collision seems like a bad idea so I cut to the right and whipped back over immediately for a sideswipe (a rake actually, but I’m not going to go over that again, except I just did I suppose).  I guess there must have been enough clearance for J-Lo to get underneath them like a cougar flipping over a porcupine because the next thing I see is wheels going over the vision slit and we were rocked like a VW Bug being crushed by a monster truck. 

When I came around I saw the half-semi (quarteri?) standing up on its nose like a seal balancing a ball.  It was as if it had been dropped from a crane.  I saw a couple people struggling to crawl out and I floored it at them like a dirty redneck splattering a family of raccoons crossing a gravel road.  Chunks of what used to be people flew in through the slits like we were at the front row of a Gallagher concert.  Which we were not.

Splash one bandit I guess.  That’s what they say in the war plane fighter movies right?

Something slammed into us from behind but by the time I could swing around I didn’t see anything.  Could have been someone on our own side for all I know since we weren’t even facing the right way anymore.  Although how could there be a right way?  All I could see of the battle looked like a prison riot, how could you even tell who was on your side? 

Coming around again back the right away and continuing up the road, some Invincible bikes scattered like frightened birds ahead of us.  One of the crazy fuckers jumped onto J-Lo.  I know this because his arm came through the vision-hole with a knife like that guy who was stabbing women through the windows of their apartments.  What did they call that guy?  The papers gave him a name.  I didn’t get a chance to learn this guy’s name because Martialla reared back and stomped on his wrist and made his arm bend the wrong way and then I threw him free with a hard swerve.  A couple of his fingers ripped off his hand as he was hurled and landed in my lap.  I’ll think of a joke for that later.  Something dirty.

Off the side of the road I saw one of those stupid Invincible log cabin machines just sitting there and I decided it was time to get in the fight.  I took a gentle left and hit it in the side.  The damn thing split in half like the boat in Man with the Golden Gun.  It would be crazy to say that it was like driving through tissue paper but it was easier than it seems like it should be to literally drive through another vehicle.  Maybe the front part attaches to the stupid wood part with duct tape.  It was ridiculously easy to destroy. 

Splash two. 

I started off after one of the Invincible observation vehicles where the bumpy-head people sit and watch (although this time they were shooting a SAW like mad, I saw bullet casings flying off like candy in an explosion at a piñata factory) but I was intercepted by a thing that looked like the Munster’s car with three Mad Max spinning engine things on the front.  The Munsters cut in front and fired a thing at us that looked like a bunch of harpoon guns from a whaling ship banked together like a missile carrier. 

That hit sent us spinning like an old Mo-Town singer when they take their hat off during the chorus.  By the time I got my bearings the Munsters had reloaded and were lining up another shot.  We spun around each other three times like two drunks both trying to grab each other’s ass for a conga line before I slammed on the breaks and whipped the wheel around to plow into them like a butt-first torpedo.

Martialla shot through the hole and peppered the driver in the chest while their gunner launched the harpoons.  The impact felt worse than any of the crashes we’ve been in.  I swear it knocked J-Lo back ten feet.  How can those things have more force behind them than actual rockets?  One guy was trying to re-load harpoons while another tried to drag the dead driver out of the seat while a third jumped off and hoofed it.  I guess he was the smart one because I backed up and bifurcated the Munster-mobile like a fruit stand in an action movie car chase. 

Splash three.

Next thing I know one of the log-cabin mobiles slammed into us.  I don’t know if it was an intentional ram or if it was just a crash in the chaos.  What I do know is that J-Lo slid inside them like a very sensual leg into a silk stocking – only with way more splintering wood and scraps of metal and screaming and blood flying everywhere.  Suddenly we were in the pitch dark.  I drive to reverse out of the wreckage but the tires spun uselessly like we were on ice.  Martialla waved for me to stop and then injected herself with some red nanos – right in the chest like a psycho.  She could have at least done it into the arm or the thigh for my benefit. 

She unstrapped herself, took down the armor panel on her side and spun to the side to kick her legs out the window into the shell of the other car around us.  Since she wasn’t anchored in any way she flew back into me like that time my dad put me in the back of the old pick-up with a washing machine and told me to hold onto it while we drove out to the junkpile.  I elbowed her in the back of head.

“Jesus, watch it, you’re fucking crushing me!”  She slithered partway out the window between the two cars like a sliver between your fingernail and skin, and I saw her grabbing J-Lo’s edge for support “Hey, don’t bend her frame!”

Martialla managed to swing-kick off enough of the wrecked Invinci-car to get around the back and pull J-Lo free.  Since the armor was down on her side I saw a spike-buggy thing coming at us and shouted a warning at her.  She jumped out of the way and the spike-buggy slammed into J-Lo’s side with several spikes coming free and flying in the “open” window and hitting me in both elbows.  One on the outside and the other going across to hit me on the inside of the other.  You ever have a rusty spike driven through your elbow?  It fucking hurts. 

While I fumbled for the nanoinjector with my suddenly bloody hands, Martialla grabbed the side of the buggy and flipped it over like an angry toddler with a toy truck.  The driver tried to crawl out and she stomped on his melon, which crushed under her boot far more easily than an actual melon would have.  I’ve seen a lot of twisted stuff lately but that’s really going to stick with me.  That guy’s skull cracked like it was an egg, barely any resistance.  Those red nanos are no joke.

I finally managed to shakily inject myself with some blue nanos as I watched Martialla yank an axle (something long anyway) off the bottom of the overturned buggy and leap onto the wreckage of the first machine where she used it like she was spear-fishing to pin another Invincible car to the ground like that one kid in class did to bugs. 

The blue nanos are weird, they immediately make you feel high off your ass but they also make you feel like you’re not really in control of your limbs for a moment.  I should have just waited for them to do their thing but it felt important in that moment to try and drag the spike out of my arm even though I had the coordination of a drunk teenager playing pin the tail on the donkey. 

I shouted out the window at Martialla “Get back in here!”

She jumped back down by the window and I handed her the injector on account of the bloody bullet-hole in her side and she helped herself to some blues as well “I don’t think I need to.”

“Why not?”

She looked right and left “I think we won.”

Going forward all battles will be named after Rage Against the Machine songs

Aside from the CHiPs, who have a few working radios, I haven’t seen any communication in the future more sophisticated than someone tearing ass around on a machine and shouting news at people.  There are no telephones, no telegrams, no newspapers, no television, not even two cans on a string, no nothing.  So given this fact, how is it that by the time we got back to Paradise people were already gathering in response to the Invincible invasion? 

Are there trained message birds that I don’t know about somehow?  Are the many horrid smells that they emit some kind of pheromone communication like with bugs?  Martialla’s take on how the word is spread was as obtuse as it was stupid –  

“Pimps don’t need to be told to hang around the bus station.” 

I suppose she means that once word got out about our great victory at Wyo, people had already started rallying to my banner.  That better be what she means anyway, otherwise I’ll have to have a cross word with her and I can have quite the sharp tongue when I’ve a mind to do so.  Some of the people that came were Northerners who had already felt the sting of the Invincible and wanted revenge.  Some of them were Southern mercenaries looking for a good score.  The Road Hogs turned up to join their Roadrunner pals to save face/look tough/keep their protection racket going.   

A lot of people showed up for a reason I hadn’t even thought about.  Salvage.  The second best way to get a vehicle is to murder the people that have it and take it away from them.  But the best way to get a vehicle is to find one where the murdering was already done by someone else and just grab it.  I should know since Martialla and I have done both a time or two. 

Plenty of people showed up on foot with nothing much but a spear or a club hoping to sign on with an existing crew.  It’s a win-win, the established raiders get cannon fodder and replacements, and the newcomers, if they survive, either get invited to join or get a share of whatever wrecked vehicles and equipment they can claim after the fighting is done.  It’s the wastelands equivalent of playing the Powerball, only the odds are better and you might die.   So like the Running Man maybe.  I was supposed to be in that movie you know, but Jesse “the Body” Ventura muscled me out.  Roided out freak.

Lucien, Martialla, and Lloyd Hud, the blue mechanic we pulled out of the hole, took command of the small fleet of gasoline powered vehicles at Paradise, making sure they were all in good condition and distributed appropriately to our most loyal murder hobos.  Membership has its privileges.  It’s apparently considered quite an honor to be assigned to one of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles even though there is no ammo for their guns.  Gunmetal City did send a small group of people with some weapons and ammo to pass out as well, they said they should be able to start making some rounds for the HMMWVs, assuming that they and we survive the battle.   

I think Lloyd’s head almost exploded when he checked out J-Lo and some of the other vehicles from the future.  I know that he’s happy to be working on the other vehicles even though to him they’re also from the future.  This faux time travel stuff gets confusing.  We’re in twenty ninety-whatever with a guy from nineteen eighty-two working on vehicles from some time in the early two thousands.  At least he has a task to focus on, the other Smurfs are pretty much in shock still.  They kind of just sit around and stare.  Maybe they should start a weekly group therapy session with Paul, the psycho killer from Twenty Thirty-Four who treats a stack of old nudie mags like the One Ring itself.   

It’s hard to get a good headcount because what we have is less a military force and more an anarchic murder circus but I think we have more than twice the force we had when we attacked Wyo.  Is that going to be enough?  Oh, short answer, “yes” with an “if.” Long answer, “no” with a “but.”  Martialla and I, along with Paul and Lucien (who puked his guts out the first time, I guess being chemically inert in a box for a hundred years causes motion sickness) have taken up the plane to scout the Invincible horde a couple of times.  They have us outnumbered but not by a ton.  Overall Lucien and Martialla rate their vehicles to be better than ours as well.  And as Martialla said –  

“Battles are won with courage, tactics, and numbers – mostly just numbers though.” 

So since the numbers are against us, what do we have?  We can choose the time and place of our attack.  They call that situation control apparently, and it’s important.  By going on the attack we can force enemy reaction, thus denying their ability to act.  Kind of sounds like bullshit to me, I’d rather be the side with more people but as Martialla pointed out, it doesn’t matter now because my plan was to entice the Invincible to attack and now they are – I didn’t allow for any other possibility.  I must admit at this juncture that military planning may not be my strong suit.   

Martialla and Lucien have been bickering like an old married couple about another advantage we may or may not have – information.  Martialla maintains that since we have the plane we know the forces the Invincible have but they don’t know what we have on our side.  Lucien insists that they probably have spies all over the place telling them exactly the number and make up of our forces.  Given the way I started out this entry I agree with him – somehow word gets out to people about what’s going on.  Not to mention I don’t know why Martialla is so hung up on it anyway since we’re committed to the battle at this point. 

Our plan is for said battle to take place north of old I-Eighty in what I think used to be the Tahoe National Forest but now is a field of nothing.  Since our vehicles are lighter, hopefully maximizing speed potential will give us an advantage.  I think that’s what I heard someone say anyway.   

In the history books it shall be known as the Battle of Los Angeles.  I know we’re closer to what used to be San Francisco but I like the sound of BOLA better.

Baby you’re not that kind

I thought that the 127 brand people might gaze longingly in awe at our new blue friends, but they don’t seem that interested in them.  I don’t get it, if my lineage had guarded a hole in the ground for five generations I’d have a little more of a reaction to the people that came out of it.  Even if that reaction was “I spent my life guarding this dumb hole and it’s just some blue people?”  I suppose it’s my mistake for thinking that people who would guard a hole for a century think logically about anything. 

Lucien is fine, or at least is acting like he’s fine soldier style, but the other Chemical Brothers (and Sisters) are not as happy about the fate that has befallen them.  Possibly because they’re all civilians.  Although I would like to point out that I am also a civilian and I didn’t even know this was possible to boot and you don’t hear me complaining about being in the post-apocalypse all the time like a baby.

It was funny, in a mean malicious way, to watch Lucien’s “squad” first be mad about their blue skin and then watch their faces as they slowly realized that they have much, much, much bigger problems than being turned into giant Smurfs.  A couple of them cried when they came out of the hole and saw the new world that awaited them.  One guy is a physicist, another said he’s an anthropologist, one is a mechanic, two said they work in “communications” which I assume means telemarketing, and two are truck drivers.     

“Where are the ladies?” I asked Lucien “How were you going to repopulate the nuclear wasteland world with all dudes?” 

He was eyeballing the various future scum milling around “I don’t know what the plan was, but I’m pretty sure whatever happened to us didn’t go according to that plan.” 

Most of the facility where they had been stored was wrecked and/or unreachable but we were able to access the main garage.  Said garage had a bank of fuel pumps that allegedly are connected to a five-thousand-gallon underground storage tank.  Nothing came out of it when we tried it but since the specs say it was rated to last twenty years that’s not unexpected.   

What were we trying to fuel up?  The garage was home to three Series IIA long-wheelbase Land Rovers that aside from having no tires or fuel to run on were in fine condition (as far as we could tell anyway).   Same goes for the six Armstrong-CCM Motorcycles.  There was also a thing that Lucien called a fire support vehicle but looked like a tank to me, not a real tank but like a weird tank that your brother got for his GI Joes for getting an A in math.  Whatever it was it had some remnants of tires left on it and maybe could have moved if there was any fuel for it.  What it did have was a big old gun, which got people excited enough to drag it out of the ground.  By hand.  You know how much work it is to pull a tank out of a hole with cables and winches?  I do now.  Glad I didn’t have to do any of it. 

The only other thing we found of value (unless you value clipboards and dry inkless pens) was a stack of paperback novels.  Lucien said that if we did some more excavation we might find more, in particular he was eager to see if we could get into the repair facilities, the armory, and/or the security stations.  It definitively seemed worthwhile since everyone wanted to stay to loot everything they could anyway – and I mean everything, our people were excited just for the scrap metal.  However that plan was scuttled when it was reported that the Invincible were coming.  Like a lot of them.   

“Your plan worked” Martialla said to me as we were bugging out of Wyo. 

Before we scooted off we covered back up the ground we had excavated as best we could.  It’s going to be obvious that we were digging around but hopefully the Invincible will be too preoccupied coming to kill us all to worry about digging it all back up.  That would be just my luck, I find a cache of Cold War era military equipment and the Invincible grab it all up and use it against me in the coming war. 

As we bugged I reflected on the fact that we showed up with a bunch of people, then those people slowly drifted away while we dorked around, and then by the time we left – between the 127s and the Wyomins joining up with us – we had swelled our numbers up again.  This must be what it was like for barbarian warlords in the olden times, your retinue fluctuates as you’re wandering around sacking cities and terrorizing the countryside.  We bugged out all the way to Crow before we tuckered out of bugging.  Sometimes I forget how small of an area we’ve actually been operating in before now.

Martialla and I splurged (to the extent that word means anything in this world) in Crow and got ourselves and actual room with an actual bed with actual sheets to stay the night in.  And before we went to this room we had an actual shower with actual soap.  The soap was probably made from rendered human flesh but I don’t even care at this point.   

I love singing.  And I’m very good at it.  As I was belting out Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (yes I know it’s a duet, that’s how good I am) I got to wondering why you sound better singing in the shower.  Part of it is probably the freedom that comes from singing naked.  Makes you feel powerful.  You can’t generally do that on stage.  Generally.  Part of it is probably the shower itself.  It’s like a little sound booth.  I’m no sound engineer, but I think that the walls of the shower absorb little to no sound, which gives you good power and resonance.  I have a great ear for these things and I feel like somehow it evens out the pitch as well.  Which is not an issue for me because I’m not pitchy but still.

I feel like four pounds of gunk slithered off me while I was in there.  I think I saw the slime form a face and look up at me forlornly before getting sucked down the drain.  So long Slime Ela, see you in hell!  As I was getting dressed I had to take a moment to lament the shabby condition of the clothes that I had arrived here in the future with.  At some point they’re going to rot off me and I’m going to have to wear the crap everyone else around here wears – furs and bones and leather.  Ugh.

And then while we were in the room they brought us actual food that I recognized – strawberries!  The first bite was like a ton of flavor bricks smashing me in the face with endorphins.  By old world standards they were small and not very sweet strawberries, but in that moment they were better than most of the sex I’ve had in my life combined.  And that’s including the times when it was just me.  While I was debating eating the strawberry stumps I noticed that Martialla was perusing the April Nineteen Seventy-Nine Playboy. 

“What are you doing?” 

Martialla dipped the magazine down to glance at me “Reading a feature on twenty-five years of rock and roll.” 

“So according to Hugh Hefner, rock and roll was invented in fifty-four?” 

“Apparently so, I imagine it’s pretty hard to nail down the date a kind of music was invented.  Didn’t you meet Hugh Hefner?” 

My face soured “Yeah, I met him, ass-hole.” 

“Are you saying that because he offered you the centerfold or because he didn’t?” 

“Yes.” 

Project Dragon Teeth would be a cool name for something like this

Say what you will about Applied Cryogenics West, and I certainly will be giving them a poor review if I have the opportunity, at least that place looked like the kind of place where you expect mad science to happen.  There were all manner of tubes and wires and blinking lights and computers by the boatload at Applied Cryogenics West.  If you didn’t know that cryogenics was impossible (yes I still maintain that despite being living proof to the contrary) you’d see all the fancy looking equipment there and think “sure, you could freeze someone here and bring them back to life”. 

The underground bunker of Joint Canadian–U.S. Military Group, what’s left of it anyway, doesn’t inspire any such confidence.  It’s just a bunch of big rooms full of giant metal coffins.  Equipment Technical Sergeant Major Lucien Basilières says that’s because the facility itself was intended for storage only, the process that put them into bio-stasis was performed elsewhere and they were carted in like logs.

He didn’t know the specifics of what had been done to them, but he knew that it was akin to a medically induced coma and the eggheads in charge of the project created a lot of desiccated corpses before they got it right.  Lucien says that he was revived twice before, once after a few minutes in stasis and once after three months being under.  He couldn’t explain why their skin had been turned bluer than the bluest Smurf that ever Smurfed.  That never happened in any of the tests. 

The initial recruiting for the project had been conducted under the guise of developing a way to keep people alive for deep space exploration and colonization, and that may have been a secondary goal as well, but the primary purpose was based on the idea of creating literal sleeper cells that could wait out nuclear winter and radiation and all that in the event of a nuclear exchange to then emerge from the ground like locusts to swarm across the land.  He said that it had something to do with broken-backed war theory, but I don’t know what that means.   

This all happened in nineteen eighty-two by the way.  Did I not mention that yet?  In two thousand and one when Martialla and I were put on ice, these people were already turned into living (sort of) corpses and stashed underground and had been there for nineteen years.   

I accept that the government keeps things secret from us, that’s just good sense.  Putting the plans for manufacturing nerve gas in the public library isn’t a good idea for a number of reasons, I don’t care what people say about freedom of information.  That having been said, seriously, what the fuck? 

Nanorobotics and cryogenics existed in Two Thousand One.  And now I find out that some kind of chemical cocktail was mixed up that could put people in suspended animation when Olivia Newton-John had a number one hit?  What’s next?  The moon landing actually happened in the thirties? A robotic Abraham Lincoln advises the president in a secret room in the White House?  Cars that run on water?   

I never paid attention to conspiracy theories for one simple reason – no one can keep a secret.  But human beings were chemically rendered inert and put into the ground for storage when an Officer and A Gentleman was in movie theaters so what the hell am I supposed to think now?  But what really pisses me off is how nonchalant Martialla is about these stunning revelations.  When I was expressing to her my dismay, her response was –  

“Maybe we went through a wormhole.  Maybe this isn’t even reality.” 

“Be serious or shut up Martialla!” 

She saluted me sharply “Shutting up sir.  Actually, shut up rescinded, here’s the deal Ela, you can’t understand it?  Neither can I.  It doesn’t matter that we understand it.  What matters is they’re here, we’re here. However they did it, they did it.  It’s fun to assume the world works in a way that makes sense, but I when a fact slaps you on the fanny you just need to accept it.  You’ll drive yourself crazy otherwise.” 

I shook my head in disbelief “You would be the world’s worst scientist Mar.” 

“Good thing I’m not a scientist then aye?” I glared at her “Shutting up unrescinded.”   

So setting aside the how for a moment, what the hell happened?  How did these people end up here?  I think I would remember a nuclear war happening.  Did they just forget them?  Was it a scam?  Did they tell them it was another test and instead they were going to leave them there?  I could see the US government doing that, but Canada?  They’re too nice for that kind of shit right? 

Lucien has no answers.  All he knows is that he reported to the hospital where they were conducting tests as usual and then he “woke up” to Martialla and I bickering while we tried to read the fine print in the Human Revival Initiation Sequence Manual after we dumped a bag of slime on him and injected him with some other junk.  He’s taken it surprisingly well, but then waking up to my smiling face is a lot better than what we got.  Plus he was at least partially familiarized with the possibility of this happening to him. 

Another thing he’s surprisingly sanguine about is the fact that almost everyone else in the facility is dead.  There were twenty chambers each with forty-four people in them.  As far as we can tell half of the rooms were completed crushed by the earthquake or whatever happened.  Out of the other half most of the dormancy chambers – the steel coffins – had been punctured.  Lucien didn’t have the details behind it, but he knew that meant they couldn’t be revived.  We tried anyway because there was plenty of revivification slime but whoever told Lucien that was right.   

Out of the eighteen chambers that were intact only seven of the people inside of them were successfully revived.  Why didn’t it work with the other eleven of them?  Who flipping knows?  Lucien says he was told that theoretically it should be possible to keep someone in stasis indefinitely and bring them back but they had only ever tested it up to nine months.  It’s a hell of a jump to one hundred and fifteen years.  Science ain’t an exact science you know.   It’s a good thing that they don’t have to fight the Ruskis because I don’t think the eight of them would be enough.  Apologies to Dick Van Patten.