dungeons & dragons fiction

Explaining the Karmic Balance of the Wish Spell

This is (hopefully) an ongoing series of posts within the world of my D&D campaign setting, Avo. Peruse the wiki.

From a lecture by Professor Cerapham di Lien at the Conjuric Academy in Valwyria, 13 Midspring 3308. Transcribed by Lenna Whirk, St.B.Est.

We’ve all heard it before: word your wishes carefully. We know that the more powerful the thing wished, the worse it will backfire. There are many, many stories out there of your local country bumpkin discovering a monkey’s paw in the fields, making a wish to become rich, only to discover that the treasury in Neven has been completely emptied of its gold. Or the chance meeting between a prince and a dao, or a djinni, and making a wish to marry the most beautiful princess in the world, only to find out that the princess’s father is a tyrant warlord, and the marriage has incited his anger, leading to a decades long war that ends up getting both the prince and princess killed.

If the latter example sounds like a joke to you, you need to revisit your Letoran history books.

So, why does wish come with some sort of cost? It is the only spell in our canon that does so, and the cost is exponential; the larger the wish, the more the cost. In addition, there’s a roughly one-third chance that if you cast wish, you may never be able to cast it again! Why is that? You’d think that after thousands of years, we would have been able to come up with some way of circumventing such an issue, yes?

Well, the answer to this is somewhat fascinating because, in essence, wish is the only arcane spell bound to divine reaction. Note that I did not say it is a divine spell. This is surprisingly rare; most spells of a divine nature do not cross into arcane territory unless the caster has specialized in such weaving; spells of healing, for example, are simply untouchable by plain wizards, no matter their skill with magic. And while wish, intrinsically, is strictly arcane in nature (and, in truth, is unknowable by divine spellcasters unless they specialize in arcana), extrinsically, wish, and spellcasting in general Post-Catastrophe, is bound by the divine law. To cast it is to dip into the divine karmic balance which was codified during the Catastrophe. It is, in essence, a request to the divine will.

Before the Catastrophe, spellcasting was at its height of power, and many of those spells beyond our ken today, of the renowned tenth through thirteenth grade, were sufficiently powerful that the only way they could be cast successfully was if sacrifice was woven into the spell itself, whether intended or not. One such spell, reality warp, was a twelfth grade spell which, when cast, fundamentally changed the nature of reality within a certain range. One could, for instance, exchange up for down, left for right. One could make rocks edible, or make a tree turn a body into thin strands the closer one approached it. And these are the things we are able to comprehend! In truth, reality warp was capable of changing reality into something so fundamentally and completely foreign to our minds that it could make the viewer–or taster, or smeller, et cetera–go mad, instantly, with no recourse. One story goes that a wizard who cast this spell went so mad that her brain literally melted and seeped out of her own nostrils. In short, the sacrifice was one’s own mind, and the chance of this happening was roughly equal to 25%! Imagine, casting the fireball spell and having a one in four chance of it exploding in your face instead. The Age of Magic was extraordinary.

Obviously, since it was the gods who hold dominion over reality, a spell capable of fundamentally changing it was not ideal, in their eyes. So it was that during the Catastrophe the gods suddenly and irrevocably revoked our jurisdiction over these grades of spells. Gone were the days of wizards holding the ultimate power over the worlds in which they lived. Spells were since curated, so to speak, by the gods, to ensure that mortal beings could not devastate the world on their own.

However, within the upper echelon of spell grades lies the only outlier to potential world devastation: wish, and with it, the potential for danger. Why the gods left this spell within our grasp is unknown. Based on my own research, there are two rising and competing theories: one is that wish was granted to mortals by the trickster gods, such as Asmodeus, Cyric, or Tymora, but in doing so, they warped the spell into its current incarnation for the express purpose of their own pleasure; that they, in short, enjoy seeing mortals bite off more than they can chew. The other theory is that the truth may lie within the primordials, whose kin, the genie, are sometimes capable of granting wishes outside of the purview of the gods, which may mean that the wish spell itself is beyond the purview of the gods, and instead is something that they are beholden to as much as you or I. This is a dangerous thread of thought to tread, however, for if the gods hold no dominion over wishes … who does? Surely not the forever-chained primordials!

I trust the answer will never be laid cleanly before us by the gods, as distant and unseemly as they are. All we know about wishes is that the larger the scope, the worse off it will be for you in the long run. So please, students, should you ever be able to grasp the upper echelon of spell grades, remember the words, tried and true: word your wishes carefully.

fiction politics

CELEBRITY JEOPARDY: 2016 Presidential Election Edition






FADE IN on Jeopardy set.

TREBEK: Hello and welcome to Jeopardy. As always I am your host, Alex Trebek. Tonight’s celebrity episode is politically-themed, in honor of the upcoming presidential election — and yet, looking at our contestants, I feel certain that this may be the dumbest Celebrity Jeopardy yet. Still, we saunter on. Let’s introduce our three contestants. First, Republican candidate and man of great words, Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Alex, before we begin I just want to say that the other contestants here are worthless piles of human garbage who have never owned a thing of beauty in their entire lives.

TREBEK: That is quite harsh, Mr. Trump.

(TRUMP gives his smug sour face.)

TREBEK: Next we have Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.


TREBEK: You. Gary Johnson.

JOHNSON: Never heard of him.

TREBEK (dumbfounded): Ah. Okay. And finally, we were supposed to have Hillary Clinton as the third contestant but she declined due to suffering from pneumonia during our taping.

TRUMP (too close to mic): She has a terrible immune system —

TREBEK: That’s enough, Mr. Trump. After Mrs. Clinton declined we offered the third spot to Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, but she also declined due to Mercury being in retrograde. We even tried getting a hold of Vermin Supreme, the presidential candidate who wears a boot on his head, but his calls went straight to voicemail.
And so, unfortunately, here’s Sean Connery.

CONNERY: Ha ha! We meet again Trebek!

TREBEK: Truly we are like the Sherlock and Moriarty of game shows.

CONNERY: No, Trebek, I’m the Holmes.

TREBEK: Is that so?

CONNERY: The John Holmes! Ha ha! (grabs junk)

TREBEK: Good lord.

CONNERY (off camera, shouting): I HAVE A LARGE PENIS —

TREBEK: We get it, Mr. Connery.

CONNERY: Your mother got it last night —

TRUMP: If I may interrupt, John Holmes had a very tiny penis compared to my penis. My penis, is huge. You’ll never see a larger penis than mine. It’s been documented.

(CAMERA cuts back to TREBEK, who has loosened his tie and is opening a bottle of cheap whiskey. He takes a swig.)

TREBEK: Let’s just get this over with. Here are our categories for Double Jeopardy: “U.S. History,” “Cars That End With ‘-ord’”, “Trebek Answers” — in this category, if you choose it, and I hope you do, I will read the clue and then also answer it and you will win. It’s really that simple — “Potent Potables,” “Current Events,” and “ ‘Ripoff’ Art”. This category is about famous artists and the art they stole from.

TRUMP: What is Led Zeppelin.

TREBEK: I haven’t even begun, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: They stole all their music, Robert Plant told me personally backstage in 1975 after a six hour cocaine binge. (Sniffs loudly.) It’s all over the news.

TREBEK: Great. Mr. Johnson, you have control of the board. Might I suggest picking “Trebek Answers”.

TREBEK: Mr. Johnson.

TRUMP (to Gary): He’s talking to you, Gary.

JOHNSON: Oh. Me? Yes. Ah, ha ha, of course. (sticks tongue out briefly) If I am elected president I will ensure that our civil liberties shall not be infringed upon —

TREBEK: I’m sorry, Mr. Johnson, but this is not a presidential debate. It’s Jeopardy.

JOHNSON: What is that?

TREBEK: It’s the television show you agreed to be on.

JOHNSON: “Television”?

TREBEK: Just … please pick a topic from the board in front of you. Hopefully “Trebek Answers.”

JOHNSON: Ah, uh … I’ll take “Current Events” for $200.

TREBEK (reads): “This event, currently happening in the U.S., has its Election Day on November 8th, 2016.”
(No answer.)
November 8th, 2016. I’ll give you a hint: you’re in it right now.

(TRUMP buzzes.)

TREBEK: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Miss America pageant.


TRUMP (close to mic): Wrong.

(CONNERY buzzes.)

TREBEK: Mr. Connery.

CONNERY: What is my penis?


CONNERY: But I’m sure it’ll be having a big erection on —

TREBEK: Mr. Connery that is enough.

CONNERY: It wasn’t enough for your mother, Trebek!

(JOHNSON buzzes.)

TREBEK: Thank god. Mr. Johnson.




TREBEK: Yes, you.

JOHNSON: What about me?

TREBEK: What is your answer?

JOHNSON: To what?

TREBEK: To the clue I just gave you.

JOHNSON: What clue?

(“Too late” buzzer sounds.)

TREBEK: Doesn’t matter. Nothing matters anymore. Mr. Johnson, you still have control of the board.

JOHNSON: The what?

TREBEK: The board.

JOHNSON (tongue sticking out): Tha wha?

CONNERY: Ah, trying to impress Trebek with your tongue length. We’ll see about that! (Sticks out tongue.)

TRUMP: Listen, I have the longest tongue, Sean Hannity knows I have the longest tongue, he’s seen my tongue, it’s a good tongue, you can call him, he’ll tell you. (Sticks out tongue.)

(All three of them have their tongues out.)

TREBEK: Somebody check the tapes, but I am pretty sure this is a new low for Celebrity Jeopardy: three grown men with their tongues out. Gentlemen. Please keep your tongues inside your mouths at all times.

JOHNSON: Our whats?

TREBEK: Your TONGUES — oh nevermind. Mr. Trump, pick a topic.

TRUMP: Picking topics I am great at. It’s the greatest thing I do. I’ll take “Trump” for one million.

TREBEK: There is no “Trump” topic.

TRUMP: Yes there is.

TREBEK: No there’s not.

TRUMP (close to mic): Wrong.

TREBEK: Mr. Trump, please just say “I’ll take ‘Trebek Answers’ for $1,000.”

TRUMP: I never said that.

TREBEK: I … I know. Just say it out loud, right now.

TRUMP: It’s always the same, the liberal lamestream media, always wanting to put words into my mouth that I never said. Sad! Hold on I’m gonna tweet that. (Goes to tweet.)

TREBEK: … Mr. Connery?

CONNERY: I’ll take “Rip A Fart” for $300.

(CAMERA on “ ‘Ripoff’ Art.” Then to TREBEK’s face, CONNERY laughing in background.)

TREBEK: That’s … Ripoff Art.

CONNERY: Yes. Rip a fart.

TREBEK (overenunciating): Rip. Off. Art.

CONNERY: If you say so Trebek! (Farts.)

TREBEK: Good god almighty.

TRUMP: Hey, I happen to know for a fact that Sean Connery’s farts are awful and pale in comparison to my excellent farts. I have the best farts, you can check the tapes. I eat gold-flaked caviar every day for lunch. Check this out. (Farts.)

CONNERY: Ha, you call that a fart? (Farts again.)

TRUMP: Now this is the type of debate I like! (Farts.)

(They start a farting war. TREBEK sounds an AIR HORN multiple times until they stop.)


TRUMP: Wait. We need to check Gary’s farts.

TREBEK: No we don’t.

TRUMP: It’s only fair Alex. You give one candidate time to fart you gotta give equal time to the other candidates. That’s how it works. Gary, give us a big wet one you weird-looking dude.


TRUMP: You look like a claymation golem under a heat lamp. Give us a fart.

CONNERY: Rip a fart! Come on you bloody coward!

(JOHNSON hesitates, then lets off a squeaker. CONNERY laughs wildly, TRUMP makes his sour face and does a “so-so” gesture with his hand.)

TRUMP (close to mic): I’ve heard better, Alex.

(CAMERA on TREBEK, who has a pistol to his temple.)

TREBEK: I’m going to do it. I swear to God I am going to do it. If we do not get a correct answer in Final Jeopardy I am going to murder myself live on air. It truly will be a “Final” Jeopardy.

TRUMP: Now that’s great television.

TREBEK: Your Final Jeopardy clue is: “Draw a shape.”
(as music plays)
That’s right, draw a shape. Any shape. A circle, a triangle, if you are feeling brave even a square. Anything that is considered a shape will win. Any shape at all.
(music ends)
Mr. Trump, you are first. Let us see, did you draw a shape?

(On TRUMP’s display: “TRUMP”.)

TREBEK: Ah. (to JUDGES offscreen) Judges, would you consider the enclosed loop in the R or the P a “shape”? It’s kind of like a circle, flattened on one end, wouldn’t you say? Please understand that if you say no, I will murder myself, and my wife will be a widow.
I see. Life is meaningless. Mr. Trump, your answer is incorrect. How much did you wager?

(On TRUMP’s display: “STEAKS”. CAMERA on TRUMP, he’s holding a vacuum-sealed steak.)

TRUMP: Trump Steaks are the greatest steaks you’ll ever eat. They are from the best beef in a tiny impoverished village in Cambodia, or Colomba, something like that. I have kids working overtime to slaughter these cows. We slaughter so many cows. We’re the best at it.

TREBEK: You … wagered your own steak.

(CAMERA on TRUMP, making his sour face with the steak close to his face.)

TREBEK: Okay. Mr. Johnson, what — where is Mr. Johnson?

(CAMERA on JOHNSON’s podium, no one is there.)

TREBEK: Mr. Johnson seems to have left the stage. Oh well. What did he draw?

(On JOHNSON’s display: nothing.)

TREBEK: Of course. How could I be so stupid. The wager?

(On JOHNSON’s display: “Aleppo”)

TREBEK: I … I want to say goodbye to my wife Jean, and to my two children, Matthew and Emily, whom I love very, very much. Daddy is going to a better place, I promise you.
Mr. Connery, my arch-nemesis. Only you can save me from the loving embrace of permanent death. What did you draw?

(On CONNERY’s display: a circle with a dot inside.)

TREBEK: Oh my god. Mr. Connery, you’ve done it. You drew a circle. You drew an actual circle! You drew a shape. Oh thank god.
I’m so sorry Jean, Matthew, Emily, I’m so sorry I’ve worried you. I’m coming home tonight. I’m coming home.
What was your wager?

(On CONNERY’s display: reveals the circle is the head of a cock and balls. CONNERY laughs wildly.)

CONNERY: Told’ya I’d have a big erection! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!

(TREBEK pauses, then lifts gun to head. STAGEHANDS run in and grab his arms.)

TREBEK (as they drag him off screen): That’s all the time we have. Jean I’ll see you at the hospital. Good night.



The First ReHuman

[This is a short story written from r/writingprompts, back in August of 2015. The prompt was: You are the first human designed by machines.]

I took in my first breath on October 16, 2101. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized it was still October 16, 2101, and that none of the clocks worked. The sun blazed against the dusty earth, and I spent a significant amount of time during my first few cycles of life sorting through my memories, which were cobbled together from one thousand, four hundred and sixty-two separate people. Bits and pieces of information. The Builders explained that they siphoned memories from my people before the Extinction in an attempt to preserve us, but couldn’t extract the raw data from the memory without destroying both, with the exception of basic motor skills and involuntary processes. So walking, breathing, no problem, but every time I use my access card it reminds me of the night my husband left me and I drove to the office, sobbing my eyes out, and sat in my Executive Director of Operations chair, drinking sixteen year old scotch and staring out at the Seattle skyline. My name was Emily and according to the Builders, the memory was recalled over six thousand times in her lifetime. She really loved that man.

Seattle doesn’t exist anymore. Hell, scotch doesn’t exist anymore. I subsist on a porridge the Builders process in a facility underground. I’ve tried arguing with X24 about how much better it would be to eat real food, but the Builders insist that the porridge contains all essential vitamins and nutrients and that any other type of food would be inferior. “Why did you even give me knowledge of food then?” I ask, and X24 buzzes, “To make you a complete human.”

Here I am, a complete human, full of the memories and voices of over a thousand people in my head, my body purposely hermaphoditic, my gender completely homogenized. Every muscle and fiber is perfectly engineered, and I can run faster and jump higher than any other human who ever lived. I only know this because I competed in the 2048 summer Olympics and hit a world record in the pole vault, and the 2052 Olympics, getting the world record in the 200 meter run. These were the last Olympics held before the Extinction. I have shattered these records significantly since then.

I try to get X24 to run with me but it is uninterested in exercise. “We have created you to not need exercise,” it says. Again, I try to argue but X24 doesn’t really listen to me. So I go on long runs through the ruined country. Life is sparse, and the ruins of cities show the destruction the Extinction brought. I have no memories of this event, and X24 refuses to tell me anything about it, but it soon becomes apparent that I am the only human being alive.

I spend countless cycles desperately pawing through my memories, which blur as they get further away. I am a complete being with incomplete thoughts; nothing ever congeals to a cohesive whole. I know how to ice skate; I learned when I was a six year old boy in northern Wisconsin, my mother holding onto my hand, but the act of tying my ice skate laces relates to a four year old girl in France as her father shows her how to tie her shoes. I can feel the thick puffy winter coat in Wisconsin but coats remind me of that downpour in Tanzania, pulling my jacket over my head and laughing with my wife as we ran for shelter. Trying to focus these two memories into one is nearly impossible and it’s very disorienting.

One memory sticks with me, of Beatriz, a young girl in Barcelona, in 2062, hiding alone in a dark closet while something searches for her outside. Some memories are simple bits of data but others are more complex, quantum theory and philosophy, for example, and thus I get a little more time with the memory. Beatriz is terrified, but it is a weary sort of terror. She is thinking about her future and where her soul will go when she dies. Has she done enough good in the world to rise to Heaven, or if she will be stuck in purgatory, or on Earth as a ghost, or worse? When presented next to the extensive scientific knowledge in my head, her worries seem ludicrous, and yet, I can feel her concern deep in my bones. It churns in my gut. I’m as scared as she is. Where did everyone go when they died? Where will I go when I die?

I am on Earth for over seven thousand cycles when X24 arrives on my doorstep one day to deliver bad news. He informs me that the Builders have thought about it and that they have decided rebuilding humanity is a mistake, that my request for a partner is hereby denied. “You were a simple experiment, nothing more,” X24 explains.

“You’re just going to let me die out here, alone?” I ask.

“We have your consciousness stored and will decide what to do with it after your tissue decays to unstable levels.”

I slump to the ground and start crying, sobbing hysterically, just like Emily up in her Seattle office. X24 hovers over me for a long time. I don’t know what functions are in his programming but I assume compassion and empathy are not among them. When I can compose myself, I ask, “Do you feel any regret for making me?”

“We do not feel anything,” X24 replies.

“That’s too bad,” I say.

X24 does not contact me again for over 2400 cycles. I have moved, settling in the deep canyons where the oceans used to be. A small vehicle arrives every week with a drum full of porridge, which I begrudgingly accept. I look for any kind of plant or animal life to sustain me but find none. I would say I spend my time meditating, but in truth I am trying to reconcile the memories in my head. It is a difficult and frustrating process, and as I get older, I find more and more of my memories slipping away. But they are replaced with my own whole memories, created here on this old dirt planet, memories of traveling and running through the ruins of cities, gathering bits and pieces of what used to be. Sometimes I remember that I have made them myself and that knowledge makes me happy. My brain strives to create a whole person, regardless of the number of pieces given.

In the canyon I am studying an atlas of Earth from before the Extinction. It reminds me of a Geography class in high school in southern Alabama. I was a fifteen year old boy.

X24 arrives. I’m almost happy to see him, though I’m sure he doesn’t care. He sits with me in the canyon and I show him the atlas, which he studies for a second before dropping to the ground.

“Where did the oceans go? I ask.

“We used them,” he replies, and says nothing more. He then opens a panel in his chest and removes a small, red apple. He hands it to me. “We grew this for you,” he says.

I am crying again. I see the Space Needle in my mind’s eye. I take a bite out of the apple and let the juice run down my chin and savor the sweetness, just like when I was a five year old girl in Bristol.


The Purpose of Life

[This is a story written from the a prompt on Reddit’s WritingPrompts subreddit. The prompt (and all of its typos) is: People only grow old amd die when they found their own purpose in life. You have lived for a millenia and you notice a strand of your gray hair.]

I stepped inside the remains of the enormous, empty warehouse. Dust a quarter inch thick displaced into deep footprints as my soft shoes pattered against the concrete, leaving the faintest echo in the completely barren room. I met the Shaman there — my name for him, not his — a thin, bronze-colored man with leathery skin, wearing a gray flannel shirt and blue jeans, nothing else. He was sitting cross-legged in the center of the warehouse, eyes closed, in some type of meditation. But he opened his eyes when I arrived, and smiled gently at me.

“Finally, you come seeking answers,” he said. He stood, lifting himself off the ground with a spry step. He looked old, ancient even, with thin white hair and cloudy blue eyes, his face gaunt and stretched tight against his skull. Almost like he was wearing a mask. “Look at you,” he said. “You don’t look like you’ve aged one bit.” He laughed and stepped close to me, studying my face, running a bony hand through my dark brown hair. Tugged on my earlobes. “Yes, not a day since … well.”

“How do you know who I am?” I asked.

“The longer a man lives, the more likely he is to be known,” the man replied. “And when a man lives a thousand years, his name echoes in many chambers. I bet you didn’t expect to find an old ascetic like me in the ruins of the Newark Port Authority, did you?” he said, and grinned. He was missing more than a few teeth.

“I didn’t expect to be led here, no,” I said. “But I’ve been everywhere on this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me to find enlightenment in Newark.”

“Is that what you seek? Enlightenment?” the man asked. I nodded, and he cackled in glee. “How brilliant,” he said. “Misguided, but brilliant.” And then he turned and beckoned me to follow him.

He led me to his home, born out of an old shipping container. It was stuffed with decades of memorabilia, and had a sense of familiarity about it, as my own home, the latest one in Sri Lanka, at least, was also stuffed with memorabilia, though mine went back centuries. He had lit a few candles which gave the room sharp, overgrown shadows that flickered back and forth along the walls and ceiling.

He cut open a can of soup with a knife and made a small fire in an old grill he had found in one of his various trash heaps. “Tell me about your life,” he said to me, gathering charcoal from an old bag.

“There’s a lot to tell,” I said. “I was born on March 8, 1638 in a hamlet in England, to a tailor and his wife. I didn’t want to be a tailor myself, so I started wandering the countryside looking for odd jobs. Then, a hundred years later, after all of my friends had died, I started to wonder why I hadn’t died myself. I hadn’t aged at all, not since, like you said, I was around 24, 25 … I traveled to the Orient thinking they had some mystical reasoning for my agelessness, but that trip ended up taking me all over the world.

“I met a man in India who said that the god Krishna had granted me neverending life, but couldn’t tell me why. Nobody can tell me why, I’ve noticed. They are surprised, excited, saddened, angered by my longevity, yet none can tell me why. So I wander. I’ve been everywhere in this world, every continent, and even in the arctic. I have touched both poles. I have climbed Mt. Everest, and descended to the depths of the Mariana Trench. I have fought in countless wars, and in some, I wished to die. I was so reckless, I fought so poorly because I wanted to be killed, because I had lived so long. But I remained alive. I’m not immortal. I can be hurt, I have been struck with the worst illnesses and have faced Death’s door several times, but every time … I make it through. After the bombs fell I took shelter, I was living in Toronto at the time, my wife then and I traveled north, into Quebec, and hid, hid for months while the war scoured the countryside. When it was over, my wife, my children, were all dead. Succumbed to the harsh winters. But they were one of many, I’ve loved and lost so many times my soul feels calloused and rigid.”

The old man handed me a cracked ceramic bowl and poured half of the contents of the steaming can of soup into it, then plopped a crude wooden spoon in the soup, a spoon he likely whittled himself. I took a few eager sips, not realizing how hungry I was until the warmth of the broth filled my belly.

“Tell me about your loves,” the old man said.

“There are too many,” I replied. “When I was younger, I had an insatiable desire welling inside of me, this constant need to figure out why I was still alive. That often translated into sex, or love, or infatuation. I have had so many lovers, so many wives, so many children, and many of those moments were the happiest parts of my life, and others … were the worst. When you’re young, you’re extreme, like a piece of rock chipped off from a boulder, all jagged and angled. Then that rock falls into a river and over years and years and years, the rock becomes smooth, worn down. Perfect, in a way. But I never got that. I never became frail, never felt the need to slow down. My extremes lasted centuries, and my good years could be decades, my bad years … also decades.

“Fortunately, time is a lot like a river, even when you don’t age. Time wore me down, and I found myself entering longer relationships. Some of them knew, about me, about my problem. So they would age and I would not, and they would know. I would watch them, study them, as they got older, trying to figure out what was different between them and me. But for all the others, eventually, I would have to leave. They would be 40 and I would still be 25. They would ask questions. I would have to fabricate some story, some reason for leaving. A lot of fights. They all ended in fights. That … that wore me down too.

“I told Lizzie — my wife in Toronto — I told her that I couldn’t age, and she scoffed at me when she was 20, but realized it was true when she was 42, me and her and the kids, one of whom was nearly my age, my visual age I mean. We were in Quebec by this time, I had built us a log cabin home, I had plenty of centuries to learn how to build practically anything with wood. We were warm for a while, but then the soldiers would march north and we’d have to move again. We had a tent, so we lived in a tent a lot. I could hunt, fish, capture any type of bird or animal we wanted, but no matter where we stayed, the war followed. Every time we thought we were hidden, we would hear men’s boots cracking the detritus of the forest, or the howling of search dogs, or random gunfire. So we moved. It was cold, too cold, and it killed them, my wife, my kids. That wore me down.”

“So you have loved many?” the old man asked.

“So many,” I replied. “Too many.”

We were silent for some time, drinking soup. The old man said nothing but watched me with a pitiful gaze, as though appraising my life. Then, he stood and held a finger up as if to say, hold on. He headed into his storage container home and I watched as the sun, obscured by the warehouses, spilled orange and red and purple color into the sky as it began its descent behind the horizon. It was midsummer, warm, very warm, and I was thankful for that warmth.

The man returned with a medium-sized cardboard box, which he sat on the ground beside me. He then sat next to me and opened the box. He pulled out a picture frame, the picture side facing him. He looked at me, and then to the picture. “The purpose of life is to find purpose in life,” he said matter-of-factly. He gave me the picture frame, which I turned over in my hands. The photo in the frame was old, maybe two hundred years old. A young woman, her red hair pulled back into a tight bun, rosy cheeks and bright green eyes, a thin smile on her face, though her eyes shone discomfort, like when someone wants to take your picture but you don’t, so you fake happiness, because you know that photo will live on forever.

“Who is this?” I asked.

The man reached into the box and pulled out another frame, smaller than the last. In this photo, the same woman, gleefully wrapping her arms around a man. Her style of dress looked to be pre-war, pre-bombs. A better time. Something about her smile knocked against my mind like a pebble dislodging an avalanche. She looked familiar, so familiar and yet I could not place it. The old man saw my eyes widen and grinned, clapping his hands together quickly and diving into the box. He produced a series of photos, some in frames, some not, which he handed to me en masse.

The woman, pre-war, sipping a drink beside a pool.

The woman, pre-war, in the backseat of a car with some friends.

The woman, post-war, eyes wide in a darkened room, taking a self-portrait by candlelight.

The woman, pre-war, in ski clothes clearly made in the 1990s.

The woman, pre-war, wearily sitting for a daguerreotype, circa 1870s.

“Where did you get these?” I asked.

“I told you, a long life echoes through many chambers. Do you recognize her yet?” the man asked.

“Aoife Murphy,” I blurted. “I met her in a dance in London in … 1663.”

“Tell me about her,” the man said.

“She … she was the first woman I ever loved. Really, ever loved. She was from Dublin and had moved to London with her family, her father was a cobbler, one of the best in the city. The moment we met eyes that night it was … it was fate. We danced all night and talked until the sunrise. Her father hated me though, and though we wanted to marry he wouldn’t have it. And then, in ’65 the plague hit and … we lost contact. I assumed she died of the plague. I mean, her father, her brothers, they were all in London and they all caught it and died…” I looked up at him. “Are you saying she’s still alive? Like me?”

The old man smiled again. He reached into the box and produced one more frame, a larger one, which he blew on to dislocate the thick dust on it. He handed it to me.

On it was a painting of Aoife, wearing the typical fashionable dress of 1660s England. “The purpose of life is to find purpose in life,” he said. “Some find it in work, some find it in play. Some find it in others. Look.”

The man reached over and wrapped an index finger around a hair in my head, pulling it out. I winced at the sharp yet quickly fading pain. He pulled the hair taut between his fingers.

It was gray. My first gray hair.

“Better hurry,” he said. “You don’t have much time left.”



There was a Vine video that accompanied this post, but alas, it is lost.


TED CRUZ kneels on the floor, his arms and hands propped up in a position of prayer on the edge of his bed. He is wearing pajamas with that iconic “Cowboys and Indians” print on them. We zoom in on him and notice that in between his hands is small black communication device to his homeworld. It is blinking in different colors. TED glances around, then speaks quietly into the device.

Blazzleglorp to Mothership. Blazzleglorp to Mothership. I have suspended my campaign for Earth President. Repeat, I have suspended my campaign for Earth President. The Carrot Faced Earth male, he is too powerful, he speaks to the stupid Earthlings like they are idiots and they love it. They eat it up like fresh vagblep stew. The Earthlings are dumb, but never in all my time here did I suspect they would be this dumb. They are not worth enslavement. I am returning to the Mothership. Repeat: I am returning to the Mothership. I will give the signal when I am ready.

HEIDI CRUZ enters from the bathroom, wearing her nightgown and rubbing lotion into her arms.

(whispers into device:)
All hail the phosphorescent orb Fleegflag and her million Abominations. Blazzleglorp out.
I love you Jesus Christ, you are … a great … thing. Amen.

How are you doing, honey?

TED stands and then sits on the edge of the bed, facing HEIDI.

I register sadness. I mean. I feel sad, that we cannot continue onward, forward, toward progress in this great United States of America.

I know, honey.

I trust that the Carrot Faced Man will lead the country —


Ahem. Donald Trump.

Oh. I get it. You’re so funny.

HEIDIbegins to rub lotion onto her face, but winces when she touches her eye.

I’m … sorry…

No, it’s alright, I understand. You weren’t looking. Could’ve happened to anyone.

A beat. TED CRUZ stands. He begins unbuttoning his pajama shirt.

This flesh bag is difficult to control.

What, honey?

TED CRUZ removes the shirt. He then takes off his pajama bottoms. He is in his underwear (briefs) and, for some reason, black socks. He gestures awkwardly to his wife.

Come to me, human wife.

HEIDI walks to him.

Are … are you okay Teddy?

TED sighs, stares at his wife.

I want you to know, human wife, that during all of my time on your planet Earth, stuck among your filthy, smelly human kind, with your useless television programs and your endless attachment to logical fantasies, loud, disgusting music, and pornography … that during this tremendous time of trouble for me … I … grew to … love you.

… What?

Please do not take this personally.

TED CRUZ reaches to his chest, and uses both hands to grab at the bottom of his rib cage. In a fantastical feat of strength, he RIPS his ribcage out and upward, spilling blood and his lungs and heart onto the floor. HEIDI retreats and screams in disgust and fear. TED then rips downward, exposing his guts which unravel onto the floor. Out of TED’s now lifeless, but still standing, corpse crawls out BLAZZLEGLORP, a weird looking alien being. BLAZZLEGLORP walks over to HEIDI, who is now on the other end of the room and petrified. BLAZZLEGLORP is all slimy and gross looking, and he leans in and kisses HEIDI on the cheek, causing her to retch.

(whispers to HEIDI:)
Please let the other humans know, that they are too stupid to be enslaved. This is their saving grace.

BLAZZLEGLORP walks back to the center of the room and takes the communication device from TED’s pajama pocket.

(into device:)
I am ready.

A brilliant blue flash of light and a futuristic hum enters the room from the ceiling, casting itself onto BLAZZLEGLORP’s weird alien body. It then lifts him out of the bedroom, through the ceiling. The light disappears.

TED CRUZ’s corpse collapses to the ground in a sickening thud. HEIDI CRUZ screams again.


The End



One of two Ted Cruz-related minisodes I wrote on Facebook and decided to publish on Medium so I at least had something on Medium.

First, read this weird-ass story linked below:

This story reveals that Ted Cruz’s soup obsession goes beyond anything we ever imagined
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the way to Ted Cruz’s heart is through a can of soup. His…

Now, read this:


TED CRUZ, dressed in “casual” clothes that look like they were just bought or never worn before, stands in front of the enormous selection of canned soup in the canned soup aisle. His eyes wander to and fro: cans stacked on the shelves, cans loaded into those weird Pez-dispenser type machines, cans everywhere. Finally his eyes settle on: Campbell’s Chunky Soup. He does that weird little wince-smile thing that he does. Grabs one can, places it in his completely empty cart. Then another. Then another. Then another.

CROSSFADE into his cart full of cans and the shelf devoid of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. TED CRUZ looks at the hole where Campbell’s Chunky Soup used to be, his head cocked slightly at an angle.

A GROCER walks by. TED CRUZ clears his throat.

Excuse me.


TED CRUZ pulls a can from his cart.

Do you have any more of this…
(he puts the can close to his face, reading the label)
… Camp Bell’s Chunk Soop?

The GROCER narrows his eyes.

I require it for sustenance.

The GROCER takes a step back, glances around him to verify that he is alone.

Let … me check … in the back, okay?

TED CRUZ wince-smiles again.

(quietly, to self, as he pets the can)
The human wife is going to enjoy all of this chunk soop.

The GROCER backs away quickly.



Two of two Ted Cruz-related minisodes I wrote on Facebook in response to his weirdness.

First, watch this:


TED CRUZ climbs into the back seat of the car. He looks pleased, but like how a mannequin from the 80s looks pleased. His AIDE gets into the opposite seat. TED CRUZ stares out the window silently for a moment, his face completely blank, save for that weird wince-smile he always has. The car begins leaving the rally.

(clears his throat)
Mr. Cruz.

Yes, Jack.

Today, at the rally, ah … did you say … basketball “ring”?

I’m sorry?

At the rally. You pointed at a basketball hoop, but you called it a “ring”.

Did I?


TED CRUZ coughs lightly, undoes his tie a little.

Well, Jack, in the moment, you know, sometimes you get words mixed up.


I — I knew, a hoop, yes, I knew that. A basketball hoop.


A hoop. Hoop.
(he mouths the word silently a couple of times)
Hoop. That’s a funny word. Hoop. Hoop. Hewp. Huh. How many times do you hear the word “hoop,” Jack? In your life.

Not often.

Not often, yes. I’d say I barely hear it. So it could easily slip the mind.

I guess.
(beat; nervously)
But, I mean, the term “basketball hoop,” it’s basically one word at this point. “Basketball hoop.” To describe that specific object, I mean, nobody, nobody calls it a “ring.” Nobody follow “basketball” with “ring,” you kn — I’ve never — I mean, I played ball in high school, college, nobody, I can’t think of a single person —

(abruptly, loudly)
Beautiful day out, isn’t it?

Beat. The AIDE shrinks back a bit.

Yes, sir. Beautiful.

The car drives on. TED CRUZ continues staring out the window and mouthing, “hoop,” “hoop,” “hoop.”