Sunday, April 26, 2009

Orulan, pt. 2, 527 words

She came to me again that night, while I slept, whispering my new – my real name. “Orulan,” she called me, and twined her coils around my body, cool scales against warm skin. And she showed me the truth of my life.

Like a serpent, I had lived my life. My parents worked hard as datapushers to pay the bills, sifting trends and statistics through the neural jacks in their skulls, so they had to leave me in day care as soon as they could. I made connections, acquaintances, and friends as best I could at that age, but eventually they pulled me out of day care for pre-school. I shed all my friends, forgetting them in days. Again, they pulled me out of pre-school for regular school, and I forgot all my friends.

Elementary school turned into middle school, and even though they didn’t pull me away, I worried my friends loose like a skin and came out a new person, dropping old connections for new as my mind matured and my interests changed. We had to move here to Seattle just before I went to high school, and I barely gave my old home a second glance. Frankly, I was kind of glad of it, because the emotional baggage of the place was starting to weigh heavily upon me. And once high school ended, I managed to get into university for pre-med, and then eventually medical school. Each step of the way, I made new friends and lost track of the old. Each step of the way, I learned more about myself, stripping away self-delusion to get closer to the core of my person.

And now, the Serpent whispered to me, it was time to change again. And at her behest, I dropped off the grid of modern society entirely. It was the most liberating moment of my life, when I realized how completely I had left my old life behind.

This is my life now. I move purposefully through layers of self, stripping away what I must as often as I can. I feel that if I can get to the essence of my being, the core of my reality, I may someday attain the enlightenment which the Serpent had dangled before me like a fresh-picked apple. She gave me a glimpse of it when she gave me my name. Someday, someday, I will sever all my worldly attachments and reach the truth of who I am and the universe I live in.

Until then, though, I feel compelled to help others along the way. The Serpent showed me a glimpse of who I am, that beneath it all I share a kinship with her. And if you look back in myth and legend, you’ll see what I experienced: the Serpent shows the way. The Serpent always shows us the way, if we dare to take it. She showed me the snake within myself, and so I know that I must take up the duty. Not everyone can hear her, after all, so it falls to us, the snake shamans, to reach those who can’t hear her voice yet. The serpents must show the way.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orulan, pt. 1, 476 words

It’s a “physical and mental health of the world” thing, I guess. Lal doesn’t really understand. I can’t say I do, either, but with Lal it’s different. Enlightenment’s supposed to be a journey, after all, and this I’ve learned through the past few years. So I can’t say I understand, but Lal? She doesn’t really care about her enlightenment, so long as she looks and feels nice.

I hate to stereotype, but I guess that’s just what you get with cat shamans. They spend so much time being finicky and just so with what they’ve got that they can’t ever let anything go. Nothing changes if they can help it, and they never stick their neck out if it means leaving their comfort zone and getting something ruffled.

Then again, I should probably leave her alone. She says it’s not about finding enlightenment, but following your own bliss. Cats may be picky, but that just means they know what they like and they go for it, so it’s not like she’s not living up to her ideals. I tried to get her to see it my way, but she just laughed and said I’m doing the same thing as her, except my bliss is a lot more restless.

I’ve got, she said, a hard-on for the unknown, the mysteries of the 6th World and how it relates to mankind’s inner worlds. If I’d been born a couple hundred years earlier, I’d be a Theosophist or Spiritualist looking for my past lives in Atlantis and Lemuria and Hyperborea, and seeking out the Akashic Records. And maybe she’s right. But that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.

The Serpent spoke to me, one bright spring day nearly five years ago. I was sitting in my Advanced Metahuman Anatomy class while the professor was going on about the differences between human and troll endocrine systems, and suddenly I heard a new voice. The Serpent came to me then and whispered a new name into my ear, and… and nothing was the same for me, afterward.

When I came to, they said I’d had a sudden panic attack in the middle of class. First of its kind in my life. I’d leapt to my feet, yelled something in… some language. Someone said they thought it sounded like Hebrew. Another person said it sounded like Russian. The professor said he’d thought it was Japanese, and an elven girl in the class had said it sounded like Sperethiel, only not quite. The only thing they agreed on is that I suddenly had scales instead of skin, stood up screaming, and then curled up in a ball in the back corner of the lecture hall until someone from Student Health Services came to get me. My skin was back to normal, but my bed in the SHS office was full of shed snake scales.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Continuity Core," CTC, pt. 8, 416 words

Mudry’s cutting torch sputtered out to silence. He rolled back on his heels and kicked back upright. “Open sesame,” he called out just before planting a heavy kick right in the middle of the door. The door, now a powerless slab of reinforced steel, crashed down into the next room with a titanic crash that echoed up and down the hall.

Beyond stood another security checkpoint, much like the one they had been locked into once entering the building. The security screen flickered and wavered, and an alarm chirped urgently for attention. The three ignored it as they crossed the checkpoint, and found the door wide open. It led into another hall, identical to the one they had just left and running parallel to it.

“Damn it all,” Mudry muttered. “Not again.”

Mike spoke up, “Analysis: the layout of the building seems to nominally resemble a grid of connecting halls with rooms in the center of each square. However, most of the concentric layers of the grid are unconnected but for a few passages that run perpendicular – the security checkpoints, in other words. The building looks initially to have a standard office construction, but in actuality resembles a keep enclosed by multiple curtain walls. This construction greatly limits mobility from layer to layer within the building.”

Shaking his head, Mudry said, “Only an idiot or a paranoid would make a floor plan like that in an office. The inefficiency is staggering, for anyone needing to get deeper in or farther out.”

“Public statements suggest that the design may have been implemented for security purposes,” Mike responded. “The previous director of Corridor Traffic Control, at the groundbreaking ceremony for this building, talked openly of the department’s importance in the upkeep of modern society and the need for heightened security in the installation to protect against the terrorist actions that had plagued the department’s previous facility.”

“No,” Rijn said. “Josh is right. If you want to stop a gunman or a bomber, you put metal detectors and chemical sniffers at the entrances, and a few well-trained guards. What we saw at the outer layer. Maybe one more layer of security around the DI. Not this repetition of checkpoints and choke points between each layer of the facility. It’d be like building a skyscraper that stopped the elevators at every other floor for a security sweep. You just don’t do something like that if you want to maintain even a semblance of human efficiency.

“This place is a fortress.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Garret Horne, 682 words

Garret Horne, born in 1965 and the second of two children of a middle-class couple in Pennsylvania, was a fairly normal child of his times. His parents got him out of bed to witness the Apollo 11 moon landing, a feat he barely understood when he was four; developed his political sense on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution; and looked to the army when he was 18 in anticipation of college.

In his second year of active duty, in 1985, Garret was transferred from his base to a rather more secretive government facility. There, the brainwashing and mind control experiments of the CIA’s Project MK-ULTRA were alive and well after supposedly being shut down in the mid-1960s. Garret had been selected from a list of candidates considered fairly intelligent but also extremely malleable, and he was forced into the program.

Garret endured a year of sensory and sleep deprivation, a wide variety of psychological tortures, and massive doses of hallucinogens and psychedelics, and many other drugs as well in an attempt to break down his ego and rebuild it to the government’s liking. They also performed minor surgical procedures and dosed him with a variety of chemicals to attempt to induce low-key shapeshifting powers – the goal was to produce a mind-controlled superspy that would be unswervingly loyal.

They almost succeeded.

Instead of creating a perfectly loyal spy, they created a shapeshifting sociopath. The psychological tortures made him frightfully intelligent and charismatic, but with no real sense of empathy or loyalty to his tormentors. He also had gained the ability to change his physical features, down to his fingerprints, and gained an unexpected ability: the power to exude strange pheromones which would make others willing to please.

He feigned obedience long enough to get to a knife, then brutally murdered several of the scientists who had experimented upon him in the space of a few minutes. Others, whose conditioning had taken more thoroughly, managed to stop him, but his captors didn’t want to just throw him away. Instead, they subjected him to a fresh battery of psychological tortures that were designed to instill loyalty and, more importantly, a mental block against engaging in violence, even from using any kind of gun. When they were done, he had no more ability to kill, but he still hadn’t fallen into perfect loyalty… Maybe.

For some reason, they then let him out and gave him an honorable discharge, apparently confident that their secret project wouldn’t give away the secret or go on a killing spree. Did they leave a second mental block in his head, against betraying the secret? He still doesn’t know, because he never remembered the details of any of the tortures they put him through.

Once out, Garret took advantage of the G.I. Bill and used it to help pay for law school. He passed the bar swiftly and became a phenomenal lawyer by age 30; with no moral compunctions and his enhanced mind, he did well in the field. However, part of the conditioning did leave him with – if not a particular loyalty to his tormentors – the need to have a “master,” a cause or person to play lieutenant for. He fell in easily with those who wished to exploit his talents for their own gain, and is now secretly “Control” for a group of villains he is attempting to direct for his master’s purposes.

Paranoid and ready to sell his compatriots – and masters – out in a minute, however, if it would lengthen his life, he also seeks to gather as much information as he can on who he works with and for. You can find a hundred causes in any city, after all, but you only have one life. He keeps his public life as a lawyer at arm’s length from his private life as Control, maintaining a different appearance for each situation. He intends on his companions having no notion that Garret Horne, who seems to be kept on retainer to protect them in court, is the same man that manages them for their secret master.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trigger Event: The Girl Next Door, 299 words

Three times in your childhood and adolescence, you had nightmares of flashing lights and a sense of falling, and each morning after that you woke up in the neighbor’s corn field in just your underwear, just after the sun rose. You had a few scrapes and scratches on your arms and torso each time this happened, but your feet were always in perfect shape, without even a speck of dirt on them. You were always in the exact same place each time, and had to walk back across the field to where it met your and your neighbor’s back yards.

The third time, your neighbor’s daughter was up early and playing with her dog in their back yard when you came out of the corn field. She didn’t say much about it, mostly just gave you weird looks while she helped you clean and bandage your feet, which had gotten cut up and dirty from the walk back. You never really talked about it again.

Eventually, you both went off to different colleges. The summer after your second year, you went home again and it happened a fourth time: the flashing lights, the sense of plummeting from a great height… And more. Your neighbor’s daughter was there as well, dancing naked with a group of small, gray-skinned, elfin-looking little creatures under a brilliant white light floating in the night sky, all of them in a circle around you. As she danced, she turned into one of them, and one of them turned into her.

The next thing you remember is waking up in your underwear in the corn field again, just after sunrise. Your neighbor’s daughter was waiting in the back yard this time as well, with a small first aid kit and an expectant look on her face.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Trigger Events: The Flying Woman and The Diner, 511 words

Note: these are a couple of ideas for "trigger events," moments in the background of a character that made them aware the world was not quite as normal as they thought, for the tabletop RPG called Unknown Armies.

The Flying Woman

You ran away from home for the third time when you were eight years old. It normally wasn’t that big a deal, considering your family lived in the suburbs and you were just running to a playground less than half a mile away. But this time, you ran into a strange man claiming to be a friend of your father, and he was so friendly that he was able to catch you completely off guard and force you into the back of his car. He bound you up with lots of duct tape and began driving off.

The last thing you remember before the car crashed and you blacked out, though, was seeing a woman through the front windshield, swooping down out of the sky like a superhero. When you came to, you were lying unhurt on the sidewalk near the crashed car, which had hit a power pole. The man was slumped over the steering wheel, dead, and the woman tore the duct tape apart like it was tissue paper. Emergency sirens howled in the distance.

Just before the ambulance and police arrived, the woman kissed your forehead and said, “Don’t let anyone try to bind you, ever again,” and disappeared. Nobody believed your story about the flying woman, though they marveled over how you escaped the crash unharmed and assumed you must have sliced the duct tape open with a piece of glass. You still have an old, yellowed clipping from the Local Interest section of the newspaper about your attempted kidnapping and escape, the only version that actually published your claim about the flying woman.

The Diner

Through most of your teenage life, you were struck with the occasional night or two of insomnia every few months. Your parents never knew about your 3:00 AM rambles when this happened, and they certainly wouldn’t have approved.

One night, you wandered farther than usual, and passed an old diner that had been closed since before you were born, the windows boarded up and the paint peeling. Except that night, the boards were missing from the windows, and the paint looked fresh and new. Light spilled out, and when you went for a closer look, you saw the place was packed with customers.

They dressed like characters in a movie set in the 1950s, in the kind of clothes your grandparents called their “Sunday best.” Their flesh was pale and had a strange sheen to it, like wax, and their eyes all had a sunken look to them.

And then you saw a corpse-like waitress come out and lay several plates on a packed table, and each plate had a tiny body on it. Not like a baby, but an adult’s body miniaturized. The dead people in the diner took up their forks and knives and dug in, chowing down on the flesh with gusto.

You turned away to retch loudly into the gutter, and when you turned back the place was dark, boarded-up and run-down once more. You never went out walking at night again until you went to college very, very far away.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

majest1k_w0n, pt. 2, 342 words

Our generation is treated like it’s already responsible for the world we’re going to be given. Crime is on the rise, and the blame is laid on the young people, not the fact that the economy is swirling down the drain. Job security is disappearing and it’s because the young people can’t manage job loyalty, not because the corporate culture discourages job security to keep costs down. Newspapers are failing because the young people don’t have the patience for anything not from the interwebosphere, not because they’re being slashed and burned in demand of unreasonable profit margins.

It’s always the young people’s fault, because… well, because that’s the world they were given, the world their elders made, but which the elders don’t want to take the blame for. The world as it is now was made by a pack of metaphorical child molesters, who want to do nothing but rape the young people on the economy, education, every institution around… and then expect us to thank them for teaching us what sex is like. They made the bed and we’re forced to lie in it, preferably in a submissive position.

My name is majest1k_w0n. Maybe you’ve seen me elsewhere online. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, welcome to my site. I am a young person, and I hope by whatever god or gods may exist that I don’t turn into an old person. I’d rather put a bullet in my brain. But first, I’m going to fight. I’m going to stop taking the shit they tell us is candy. I’m going to spit it back in their faces. I’m going to fight against the future, do everything in my power to prevent it from coming to pass. It’s the only thing in this world that’s worth fighting.

Spread the word. Tell your friends, point them to this site, whatever. I’ll be doing my best to keep this site up and running somewhere, somehow. And when it’s time to really make a difference, don’t come looking for me. I’ll find you.

majest1k_w0n, signing off.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

majest1k_w0n, pt. 1, 366 words

“The future is our enemy. Yes, I’m sure you’re laughing now, but I tell you this: I am serious. Deadly so. So are our foes.

The future, like the present, is a consensus construct. We get the world we deserve, as a species, because it’s the world we make. If we end up with a world that’s inimical to human life, it’s only because we have a collective death wish – or are just too damn apathetic to give a shit, which might as well be the same thing. Apathy is just an expression of intellectual sterility, after all, and sterility is death that got proactive about things, instead of waiting it out.

And sure, we may deserve our future as a species, but as a generation? As individuals? Fuck. That.

The elder generation constantly bemoans the state of the youth, and blame the younger generations for the world going to hell in a hand basket. This, by the way, is the same generation that made the world what it is now, and passed the blame off with it at the same time. They hand us a platter piled high with the last fifty years’ shit, and then bitch at us for having dirty dishes.

This is the world we live in: a pile of diseased, watery, smelly, ancient shit. And we’re expected to build the glorious future full of crystal spires and togas out of it, because the people who last spread their butt cheeks and added to the pile failed to do it themselves. And while we’re being handed this pile of shit, and told to make something shiny out of it, do they even give us a shovel to bury it with so it might fertilize something worthwhile?

Fuck no. They give us the same no-flow toilets they used to collect all that shit together in the first place. They tell us to make a bright future, but really want it to be exactly the same. They want us to grow into them and keep the same dynamics going, so we can hand our children an even uglier, smellier, larger pile of shit. Shit is their legacy, and they want it to last forever.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Walking Gods: Who Are You?, pt. 2, 326 words

Not everyone takes such a self-important, animistic view of their extra-normal abilities, though. In fact, those who talk using phrases like "godwalker" and "the God Within" are in the minority. Some think of their powers as psychic phenomena, while others believe it arises from a special relationship with God. (Which god? Ask them, and they'll be able to tell you for a certainty.) Some cast themselves as modern-day Fausts, seeing their struggle to command the God Within as the battle to bend a demon to their will, one only they can see and hear but who gets miraculous results nonetheless. Yet others, especially those who follow the example set by such figures as Aleister Crowley, talk of having mastered the "magical will" and using it to effect change in reality. The end result is much the same no matter which belief you marry it to, but it does help to have a belief structure of some kind backing it up.

Alongside the ranks of the godwalkers are the Manifest Heavens. Where godwalkers are mortals with immense power, the Manifest Heavens are a body of immortals. Their power is unknown and unknowable – they may wield such magical might as to make the continents shake, or they may have none to speak of whatsoever. Their greatest strength lies in their immortality, for it is perfect: nothing can slay a member of the Manifest Heavens, not age or disease or weapon or magic. They cannot even harm one another.

Where the godwalkers shape the general flow of history, the Manifest Heavens work schemes to control the details. Most of what they do, however, is get in one another's way. The Manifest Heavens are by no means unified, and spend much of their time at each other's throats. Nobody even knows where the name comes from, as they refuse to reveal its origin and meaning. Any other evidence for the name has either been lost to history or intentionally eradicated.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Walking Gods: Who Are You?, pt. 1, 377 words

(Some fluff from a game I was working on a while ago, and really need to get back to. "Lords of Light" isn't flowing for me tonight, so you get this instead. Sorry.)

You are a being known as a godwalker, a person with access to vast and dangerous magical powers. You move covertly amongst the rest of humanity, your influence felt but your hand unseen. You are a secret master of the world.

You are not alone.

Godwalkers have existed throughout human history; the potential has always been within us. By their mere presence, they have guided the general thrust and flow of history, mythologized as king-gods in ancient Sumer and Egypt, revered as shamans in Stone Age tribes, and vilified as Satanic leaders of magical cults in modern history. But for every one that enters the public eye, many more remain hidden and work their will upon unwitting humanity.

Godwalkers learn to master their inner god, or what some call the God Within. Those who take this point of view believe that everything has a personal god – every rock, tree, bird, beast, mountain, river, continent... Even people. In becoming human, however, we have somehow lost connection to our personal gods. The godwalker retains that connection, or perhaps just rediscovers it. (A distinction of which the implications matter greatly. If godwalkers could be manufactured instead of found, many would kill for knowledge of the process. Many have killed on rumors of such a process being discovered, especially during the centuries when alchemy ruled the physical sciences.) Power arises from making the God Within submit to your will.

Just because everything has a god, though, doesn't mean that one is required to respect those gods. One treads on gods every day when they walk over grass, step on an ant, or even when one has only concrete and asphalt underfoot. In a world where gods reside in everything, divinity is cheap. Very few godwalkers are pacifists, and one who is will find himself quickly disabused of his high-minded ideals by the cold ruthlessness of other godwalkers. After all, every human struggle is about one of two things: survival, and power. Those who don't have to fight to survive will fight for power, and the power an ascendant godwalker has over the shape of history and the hearts of men is the highest there is to be found. If you don't fight for power, you'll be stuck fighting just to survive.