Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Olefin Temporal Society, pt. 2, 563 words

At first, once they realized they had escaped time's flow, the wizards of Olefin were thrilled. The foremost among them, an elf named Daruth Winterwood, immediately ordered the stabilization of the breach into a portal, and tethered the earthburg the campus still stood upon to a great, alien "tree" near the portal. They also shielded themselves and the campus from the energies of the Far Realm. The wizards intended on turning their college into an outpost from which they could explore the Far Realm and exploit any available resources. Perhaps the madness ate at their minds already, that they could not see the horror and strangeness of the place, that they could even contemplate the exploration and exploitation of the Outside. Some, who had kept their senses and sanity, fled the Outside and Olefin both, leaving behind the profane light that bathed everything in foulness and death. They were fortunate, for tragedy soon struck.

Many of the wizards working to secure Olefin were struck by a wave of energy that stormed across the Far Realm, one that warped and shredded countless layers. When it struck the layer Olefin college hung in, the radiation instantly mutated dozens of wizards and sorcerers. They became kaorti, to whom the Material world is anathema. As the energies of the Far Realm poured into the Material Plane, the Material Plane energies seeped outwards. Time invaded the Far Realm, where it was not meant to be.

The kaorti immediately went to work, driven by the pain of the Material world to seal the stabilized portal. Drawing on the great magics they had known in their mortal lives, the kaorti unraveled the spells keeping the temporal breach open. However, their work was marred by haste and their alien thoughts. The spells broke apart catastrophically, shutting the temporal breach but blasting time with a fantastic rebound that nearly erased the Olefin Temporal Society from all history.

It was as if the Society never existed. Its members who escaped were suddenly wizards studying other fields of esoterica, while the grass grew thick and tall where the college had stood, uncut for decades. Only a few scraps, artifacts of a missing time, survived in the Material world. And the kaorti, in the Far Realm...

Eventually, as can be reckoned Outside, Daruth Winterwood discovered what had happened to all those outside the college when the energy wave hit. He held off the encroaching kaorti with all his arcane might, while his fellows who had survived within the school fell to become kaorti themselves. His mind assaulted and his body exhausted, Winterwood tried desperately to open a gate to the Material world and finally escape. The gate never opened, but the attempt drew the attention of something else.

A being of the Far Realm, a chaos-god, followed the magic back to the intruding Olefin college. There, it discovered a host of creatures that tasted of the Outside yet not of the Outside, and a single being that was completely foreign. The chaos-god, curious in its alien fashion, tore open Winterwood's skull and touched his brain.

Winterwood's consciousness exploded, his last vestiges of sanity shattering. The chaos-god flowed across the neural paths of his brain, eradicating Winterwood's mind with the sheer power. In that infinite instant, the chaos-god took the closest approximation of its name that could be rendered by a mortal tongue, calling itself Xaxox.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Olefin Temporal Society, pt. 1, 395 words

Xaxox is the former home of the Olefin Temporal Society. The Olefin Society was a college of mages dedicated to studying the nature and shape of time, and ways beyond it. Their "great work" was the initiation of a temporal slide that would allow them to see the very beginning of the universe – and then beyond, to see what came before. The pet theories were many, though the most popular supposed an undifferentiated "chaos," or perhaps yet another universe whose end permitted the present universe's birth. Eno Hawkin was the first of the Olefin Society to initiate a temporal slide, some 400 years ago – or not.

Records of the Olefin Temporal Society exist in a few libraries and collections. These are considered apocryphal by most, as outside of this handful of references, the Society's existance is completely unsupported. No college named "Olefin" is in any nation's tax rolls, no bards tell tales of Olefin wizards or their students, and no texts of arcana mention the society. In almost every sense, Olefin never existed. The only records of the college are their own, found in bits and pieces in cities across the known world. Whenever the Olefin Temporal Society is brought up in a meeting of mages, many present are quick to denounce it as an elaborate yet bizarre hoax. The only book known to give any credence to the records of the Society is The Illithiad, authored originally by the now-missing Strom Wakeman. This has unfortunately made many suspicious of the scholarship and authenticity of what is an otherwise impeccable text, compiled by Wakeman's friend Asmus Anagoge of the Arcane Order, after Wakeman's disappearance.

This is in truth because of the catastrophic results of the Olefin Society's experiments. Eno Hawkin reported to the Society that he managed to reach the edge of time and then escape Outside, exposing himself to horrors that threatened his body and mind both. His colleagues never believed there would be a literal "outside," an other-planar space beyond time. Hawkin disappeared shortly thereafter, possibly while trying to provide proof to the Society of the dangers of this Far Realm. When the wizards of the Olefin college continued working, they eventually had the same successes Hawkin did. However, this happened on such a scale that the spellworkers of Olefin precipitated a temporal breach, drawing the college across into the Far Realm itself.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Possible hiatus: CO risk

I'm going to try not to miss writing and posting, but at the moment I'm looking at carbon monoxide possibly being in my apartment. Given that it's midwinter, clearing the place out may not be very easy -- I can't expect to get away with leaving the windows open to sub-freezing temperatures for a few days while I'm out. Or even while I'm in. I should have a computer available to me for writing while I'm out of here, but I'm not 100% confident about getting stuff done. Then again, once I'm out of the CO, if there is any, some of the problems keeping me from writing too much or too well recently (depression, listlessness, exhaustion) should fade, so I may get a much better output while I'm away from here. I hope.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Tragic Statistic, pt. 1, 627 words

“Joseph Stalin is frequently quoted as saying, ‘A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.’” Brelin chuckled at that, a smooth noise, warm and low like the quintessential indulgent grandfather. He shook his head. “I’ve never really thought it sounded like something Stalin would say. Too incisive, too pithy.”

Imagine a camera focused on Stanley Brelin’s face. A jowly, round-faced man, not quite forty years old and with sandy-brown hair ever so slowly receding. Jovial, certainly, and charismatic in his way. Like he was always telling a clever joke, and only you were in on it. You wanted to watch his face carefully while he talked, look for that little quirk at the corner of his mouth, or the wink quicker than hummingbird’s wings, any sign that he included you in the jest.

But the camera pulls back while he’s silent, attention drifting a bit once you’re out of his spell. Pull back to take in his full presence, the fact that he’s shorter than you had just imagined him to be, with a heavy gut that not even his expensive three-piece suit can properly hide, with a deeply-ingrained habit of picking at his cuffs. It makes him look nervous, completely at odds with the self-assured smile and smooth soothing timbre to his voice. He needs to keep talking, or at least hide his hands behind a podium, to avoid sending mixed signals and ruin the impression of confidence he’s trying to pull off.

And the camera pulls back further, to reveal the room he’s speaking in. Like a control room out of a movie version of NASA, or maybe a missile silo, with the big banks of antiquated control panels and monochrome displays along the walls. Or like the bridge of the Enterprise, out of the original Star Trek show. A single table sits in the center of the room, old and heavy and wooden. And then there’s me, halfway down the table from Brelin’s unimposing bulk, sitting down in a chair, my hands draped on the arms and my back right up against the seat.

Pardon, my hands tied to the chair’s arms, and my ankles tied to its legs, rendering me immobile. And there’s a gun on the table, some little .22-caliber pistol, hardly very powerful but still effective at killing at close range. Urban legend says that mafia goons like to use them because the round will penetrate the skull once, but doesn’t have enough force to exit, so it just rattles around inside a person’s head and scrambles up their brain. The one on the table is mine, as a matter of fact, and I had been hoping to do just that to Brelin before the security guards had caught me.

“I just don’t think Stalin had it in him,” Brelin went on, almost to himself. He turned to face one of the monochrome displays on the wall, shook his head, and then turned back to me. “Oh, that’s not to say he couldn’t speak well if he wanted to. But there’s just so little out there of him tossing off something that sharp and short. You know what I think?”

I remained silent, glaring at him. Occasionally, I flicked my gaze to the pistol, then to my bonds. Not that looking at them repeatedly helped me get any closer to escaping.

He shrugged. “It sounds like something Hitler would’ve said, actually. Except they’d already trounced Hitler, and then, oh no, here comes the Cold War! And Stalin hasn’t really said anything all that quotable to make him seem so horrible. Everything really bad he’d done so far was, well, just a statistic. Hard to rile anyone up over, considering it was all done to his own people.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Into the Looking Glass, 219 words

Have you ever stood between two mirrors, and looked? Set them opposite each other, and stare straight into one at yourself. Try to look over your mirror-shoulder, and see what's there behind you and in front of you. Watch infinity spiral away into the depths of the mirrors, everything becoming distorted, blurry, dark. It's so infinite that not even light can move fast enough to keep a true reflection back and forth.
Stand there for too long, and you begin to feel exposed. All that yawning depth of the mirrors is open before and behind you. A countless number of You is watching you back through the mirrors, though each successive one obscured by the one in front of it, until your first reflection blocks all others from your vision. If someone walks past between the mirrors, you can see them, all of them. All of him. There's so many you never notice when one turns to watch you as they pass by. An infinity of people, waiting on the other side of a reflection. And they're all You, and they're all Him, and they're all of Us. And as they get farther away they become more distorted, touched by the infinite darkness in the depths of mirrors.
Do you really want to ever go through the looking glass?