Thoughts From the Day Job

Holy wow, someone gets it.

Horoscope for 2 Dec 2009:
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “Dear Rob: Last night my son and I were star- gazing. When we focused on the constellation Cassiopeia, an owl started hooting. Then a brilliant shooting star zipped by as a huge bat flew right over our heads. Was this a bad omen? Bats are creepy — associated with vampires. And in Greek mythology Cassiopeia got divine punishment because she bragged that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the sea god’s daughters. But I don’t know, maybe this blast of odd events was a good omen. Owls are symbols of wisdom and shooting stars are lucky, right? What do you think? Are we blessed or cursed? -Spooked Taurus.” Dear Spooked: The question of whether it’s good or bad luck is irrelevant. Here’s what’s important: You Tauruses are in a phase when the hidden workings of things will be shown to you — the mysterious magic that’s always bubbling below the surface but that is usually not visible.

First revision of the cover for the Todd stories is AWESOME. I shall nibble on my fingernails during its resizing.

Thoughts from Work

Got some words down on paper again at lunch.  I don’t like my low output, but with a max of a half an hour spent actually writing, I can’t get too mad at myself.

Hunter’s birthday party went off really well.  All of the kids really seemed to enjoy it.  So, having kids birthday parties at movie theater = win.  The actual movie (Where the Wild Things Are), not so much.  Apparently, it’s nothing like the book (I’ve never read it), and it’s certainly not as visceral and violent as the movie is.  There were some pretty disturbing images, and I’m hoping that none of the kids ended up with nightmares.  It’s pretty much a dark movie centered around the Jungian archetypes of an angry boy with fear of abandonment.

Ha!  I can say that without any spoilers!

My wedding ring needs to be resized.  Downward.  It started slipping over the knuckle today.  Holy wow.

I think I need to start going to bed earlier.  It’s a constant battle between getting things done and satisfying my need for rest.  The chin strap for my CPAP machine has been shipped.  I’m crossing my fingers that this is the last piece to the CPAP puzzle, and that I’ll be able to use it nightly now.  Nothing left to procrastinate on.  I’m knocking on wood with my crossed fingers, for added levels of goodness.

I -really- need to pick up that Flobots CD.

Also need to gather links to the Todd posts from the Carnival and the Susan posts from Nocturnal Ambitions.  WordPress will either present interesting challenges for linking to fiction, or will make it strangely easy.  I won’t be able to decide until further play has been had.  Thinking about making Steven’s universe the same universe as Two Vampires.  Lots of things bouncing around in my brain, pounding the walls into new shapes.

[] Todd returns the jar.

This is the final entry of Todd’s story.

I left my throne a million miles away
I drink from your tit
I sing your blues every day
Now give me the strength
To split the world in two yeah
I ate all the rest and now I’ve gotta eat you

Well I sing

Built in my nightmares and using my name
You’re stroking my cortex and you know I’m insane
I’m squeezed out in hump drive and drownin’ in love
Encompass them all to a position above
Monster Magnet, “Space Lord”

No change registered in Dr. Celestine’s expression; his face was still stone. He lifted the snifter to his mouth, and drank the liquor in one go. He sat the glass down next to the bottle, and visibly relaxed back into the chair. “Continue, Todd. You’ve got my full attention, dangerous as such a thing is.”

“There is a jar that has been missing from your Carnival for a long time. It probably disappeared in the middle of the mess with your artist and when your Freak Show master left. Lots of hubub, lots of ups and downs during that whole thing.” Todd’s voice, as well as his vocabulary, kept cycling between teenager and old man. It didn’t seem to bug Celestine, but Thunk winced every time that it happened. “At least, that would be my guess after reading all of the stories that Ralph found on the internet. I have to admit that whatever you did to stop them from writing was very effective. A font of information, whether any of those things actually happened or not, about you.

“Anyway, that missing jar was pretty important. I mean, you took it out of the trailer, here, and gave it to Mary for a reason. You could have simply entrusted it to her care, but instead you literally gave it to her. She was even able to keep the fact that it was missing concealed from you for, well, a long time. Once you found out, though, it couldn’t have taken you very long to figure out that it had gone missing the very weekend that Old Ralph had visited your Carnival. The same exact time that it unlocked something in him that could undo you. Once you figured that out, it was even easier to figure out that he’d only visited one attraction.”

Dr. Celestine nodded, a slow smile creeping over his face. “Bloody Mary Black’s Freak Show.” He poured himself another glass of brandy, setting the bottle carefully back on his end table.

“Damn skippy. So, the next idea that makes sense is that Ralph lifted the jar from Mary, and used it to track you through space and time. But that’s the bitch of it, Doc. Old Ralph never stole the jar. Whatever was opened up in Ralph, and now me, was done by the cage in the Feak Show. Mary was waiting for him, with the jar, when he got out of that fuckin’ crazy cage. She gave it to him, told him something that scared the bejeezus out of him, and told him to run for his life. And he did. Only, he couldn’t get this place out of his head because as much as he was its un-maker or whatever, he was still a part of it. And now I am.”

Dr. Celestine stopped swirling his glass, and set it down. His smile was full-blown, now, and he didn’t bother to hide it. “You mean to tell me that you’ve come back here entirely for the selfless return of property stolen by one of my employees?”

Todd coughed and looked at the floor. “Yeah. I mean, well…”

Dr. Celestine laughed, just as he’d done in Ralph’s library, from the gut. It filled the trailer and bounced off of the jars. “It was certainly one of your reasons, young Todd. Of that I have no doubt. However.” He slowly and dramatically pulled an ID card from his vest pocket. It had a spot where you could attach a clip or a lanyard. It had Sheila’s picture on it, next to the words “Hot Topic Employee.” He placed the card next to the bottle, his smile never even flickering.

It was Todd’s turn to wear the stony expression.

“It seems that it was not your only reason. Sheila now holds the golden ticket. She’s wandering through the Hall of Mirrors at this very moment. It’s a very noble thing that you’ve done for her, Todd. As any others that walk under my sign, she’s got a chance at survival, a chance at madness, and a chance at death. Luckily, I’m not as blinded as Mary is. You know that I won’t offer her a home, or a job. What do you expect to get out of squeezing a life’s worth of risk into a day or two?”

Todd stood up, and Thunk followed suit. “If she hadn’t been pushed, she would have lived her entire life with her eyes closed, and would have thanked god for it. Now, she doesn’t have that option, and her pride won’t let her fail. Now, if she survives, she’ll at least be something more than that.” Todd scowled after spitting out the last word.

Dr. Celestine laughed again, and the world seemed to reel for a moment. “Playing at deity, even with the best intentions, is the surest way to disaster.” He raised his glass to Todd, and then to Thunk. He drank it all at once, as if it was a shot. “Except, of course, at Dr. Celestine’s Carnival of Souls.”

Todd reached into his jacket and slowly pulled out a mason jar. It gave off the murky light of storm clouds. The miniature palm trees inside were whipped by wind and lashed by rain. The hurricane inside was strong and angry, as it had always been. “What is this, Dr. Celestine?” He handed the jar over.

“This, my new adversary, is a jar full of destruction.”

End of Todd

[] Todd tells Doc how it is.

This is part 21 of Todd’s story.

Empty spaces, what are we waiting for
Abandoned places, I guess we know the score
On and on, does anybody know what we are looking for
Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain in the pantomime
Hold the line, does anybody want to take it anymore

The show must go on, The show must go on
Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking, but my smile… still stays on
Queen, “The Show Must Go On”

Dr. Celestine sat in the only chair in the room. The well-worn leather was practically molded to fit the Scotsman from frequent and long use. He held a glass of brandy in one hand, and a bloody silk hankerchief in the other. He had a small cut, apparently made by a shard of glass, on his forehead. He regularly dabbed at this with the square of silk.

“I understand that punctuality is not a virtue of the young, Todd, but you must admit that I have been waiting for you for some time.” The Doctor took a gulp from his snifter and stared levelly at Todd. Thunk bristled, but did nothing. “Come now, did you think that I would not notice your leavings and arrivals?” He swirled the liquor in the glass.

Todd smiled. He sat on the floor, cross-legged. Thunk followed suit, and Dr. Celestine’s expression grew hard. “I remember now, Doc. So, you can quit treating me like one of your employees. I don’t fall for the all-knowing bit.” Thunk nervously cleared his throat. “We made a stop at a warehouse, one you’ve visited.” Todd stared the universal force that was Dr. Celestine in the eyes. “The Symmetrical Man is dead. Every single one of his jars is gone. I know that there are others like you and I, but I also know that he was the only Celestine yet rejected by the Carnival. There will be another Dr. Celestine when it is time for you to leave, but there will be no Symmetrical Men.” Thunk shifted, as his legs fell asleep, but did not rise.

Dr. Celestine’s face was stone, but his eyes shone with the power and purpose of his Carnival. “You are not here to unmake me. Nor is this gratitude for having made you.” The liquor swirled gently in the glass; these were not questions.

“No, I’m here to return something that was stolen from you.”

Sheila caught her breath as she leaned up against the tent-post of the Hall of Mirrors. She looked back down the causeway, and realized that she’d ran nearly the entire length of the Carnival. The only thing that was farther from the entrance than the Hall of Mirrors was the ridemaster’s booth. The rides were scattered throughout the Carnival, but both the roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel boarded back there, so that’s where his trailer and booth were.

There was no sign of the dead-eye clown with the balloons, so Sheila let herself relax a bit. She took out her golden ticket once more, finally noticing that it had reverted to its normal gold foil. What the hell had Todd been thinking when he gave her this thing? She was just along for the ride; she wasn’t involved in any of this. She flipped the ticket over, looking at the list of attractions. Bloody Mary Black’s Freak Show was the only one marked as attended.

Cigar smoke wafted nearby, and a gruf woman’s voice said, “That’s an old ticket you’ve got there. I haven’t run the freakshow in quite a while. I’m surprised the Ticketmaster let you in with it.” Sheila jumped and looked up. The woman put her cigar back between her teeth and looked Sheila up and down. Sheila was sure that this was the woman in the silver-print. Her hair was cut almost exactly the same. Her lithe build and stance reminded her of a wolf even more in person than it had in the silver print.

“You’re Bloody Mary Black?” Sheila tried to step back, but nearly tripped over a tent line.

“You were maybe expecting Kim Basinger?” She snorted. “So, what’s a nice, young, not-so-innocent girl like you doing at the Carnival? Sheila, right? Looking to finish out that Golden Ticket?” Sheila nodded dumbly. “Hmph. Not sure you’ve got what it takes for one of those, girly. That’s an all-access back-stage pass to everything you didn’t want to know about you and about the world. I steer clear of the gold ones, myself.”

Sheila had seen all kinds of wierd shit go down lately, and she was not about to let some old carnie bitch tell her what she could and couldn’t do. “Sorry, lady, this was a gift. I intend to visit every attraction I can. Thanks SO much for the help.” She flashed Bloody Mary a petulant smile, and entered the Hall of Mirrors.

Mary grinned a predator’s grin, and strolled back to the Labrynth.

In the basement of Todd’s house, the hurricane in the jar swirled and boiled; lightning flashes illuminated the basement room.

The mountain’s coming
He’s walking down your street
The mountain’s coming
He’s got wings on his feet
There’s two suns in the sky today
And one’s at your door
When you feed the mountain
He’s gonna feed you some more
And then you know
No time for heaven or hell
Just try to understand each other baby
Down in the gravity well
Monster Magnet, “Gravity Well”