The last class of my college career was Wednesday. Here are my notes in full.
(What, is it the Feast of Boris again yet?)
In honor of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, I give you a thingie. It’s presumably not publishable-quality, seeing as no one’s published me yet, but I’m posting it anyway because I think I’m done with it for a while, and it’s distracting me from working on other things.
It’s the prologue to The Nebulous Video Game In My Head, “The Ashdocks”, which is kind of a puzzle-RPG – the plot involves boats, ghosts, swamps, fairies, and people being political, and the gameplay involves a few standard turn-based battles, and a lot of puzzles where you manipulate plants and fungi in various ways to affect the environment, hurt people, heal them, and create new items. You get a limited number of certain types of seeds/roots/etc per stage, and can buy more of others, and all that good video-game-economics stuff.
Because this isn’t Harvest Moon, you can also manipulate the passage of time to get the plants to grow immediately, though there are sometimes side-effects to doing that – grow too many explosive mushrooms in a certain place in such-and-such a space of real-time, and you wear out your soil so that it’s only fit for growing zombies for a while. Which you may or may not want, depending on who you’ve killed recently and what level you are.
(Except that I don’t know how this system works yet, hence the word “nebulous.” This is why I’m never actually going to be a video game designer. The “game” part kind of stumps me.)
If this hasn’t all scared you away, the script is behind the cut.
(It just doesn’t mean what I’d like it to.)
I ended up doing both [redacted for anonymity reasons] and this one (PDF).
[redacted for anonymity reasons] doesn’t really look as Designed By An Evil PR Firm as I’d like, but I didn’t start on it until late at night. The grammatically problematical sentence is a direct rip from some signs for a job fair we had Wednesday – I tried to put [redacted for anonymity reasons] next to those signs, when they were still up.
Sarah Anti-Proliferation Week went up in the bathrooms, next to some histrionic yet fabulously uninformative primers on human papillomavirus.
Naturally, I had a bunch of great ideas after I’d printed them out, dug out my tape, and stepped out to introduce them to the world. The big one was Yellow Question Marks. I should have printed out some dwarf and night-elf heads, put yellow construction-paper question marks over them, stuck them to the outsides of buildings, and sent people to mine for styrofoam ore and bring me 157 penguin ventricles, and then maybe I will give you a shield you can’t equip, and some SCALDING MORNBREW pfa.
MALCOLM: I’m going to kill myself.
HIDEO: – what for?
MALCOLM: They keep saying stuff about their souls, I don’t know how you figure out what color and texture your soul is, and if it’s shaped like a little star…
HIDEO: So you are going to kill yourself – not because of all the horrible things that have happened to you – but because there is a religious program on the radio?
I am writing a short story to submit to this anthology! I have had a poor attention span all this semester due to stress and death and panic and self-castigation over my failure to get at least fifty pages of the Worst Cleric Ever book finished by the end of February despite my vow to do so two months previously!
Thus I am posting my unfinished short story here! Here on this Livejournal! Its presence in public where other people can see it will, it is hoped, cause me to immediately see every single one of its flaws in glaring detail (as has been the case with my senior research), allowing me to correct them and understand in a blinding flash of semi-competence how it should be structured! And then I will hurt myself banging my head against the wall but at least I will have finished the stupid short story!
Please do not attempt to tell me things about it! That is not the point of this exercise! The comments are turned off! If you wish you may insult me in two weeks about my discomfort with the first-person POV and its result which is my heroine’s over-the-top “salty”-as-it-is-called language, because in two weeks there will be two weeks left before the first deadline!
Do not tell me I am wrong about things about Sweden! That is also not the point!
Inappropriate use of the song-lyrics-as-a-post-title technique!
While I was waking up this morning, I had two-and-a-half dreams about the apocalypse.
I am an Action Movie Protagonist Guy, but the skinny kind, that’s probably like a scientist or something. I’m an atheist, and I have an exasperated blond girlfriend who is some sort of a Christian. Sitting at the computer one afternoon, I realize that it has suddenly gone dark as night outside the blinds. Thinking suddenly of the Biblical signs of the apocalypse (note: some signs may have been made up for purposes of this dream), I spring into action and stay right there in the chair and check Google news, hoping against hope that I am wrong.
I am not wrong – the great meteor, Leviathan, has arrived to block out the sun, whose light will touch this earth no more. Leviathan’s dark surface glows faintly red in places, smoldering from within with a volcanic heat that, as a scientist, I know is improbable for an object of Leviathan’s relatively low mass, though possibly forgivable given its young geologic age. (Less than six thousand years, right? Ba-dum-ching.) The glow seems to trace out some sort of symbols, or perhaps a face, but I cannot quite make out the pattern. Perhaps it will become clearer as more of Leviathan falls to earth over the following months, as foretold by prophecy.
(characteristics of Leviathan based on similar meteors from Earthbound, Final Fantasy VII, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
But wait – if the meteor is already here, then, as foretold by prophesy (that I made up), the rapture must already have happened! Where is my blond Christian girlfriend?
But she is standing behind me, weeping silently, her face contorted with shame and grief – she did not really believe, and though others were taken, she has been left behind. I lead her away from this place as fire rains down, swearing to the apocalypse that this is not over.
Because I am an action movie protagonist, and I talk back to non-sentient things like the apocalypse and volcanoes and diabetic ketoacidosis as if they have a personally antagonistic relationship with me.
(real life intrudes – someone was being loud outside, and I woke up a little, but fell back asleep pretty fast)
Same apocalypse, different viewpoint. Now I am myself, at my parents’ house. We go out to buy groceries in preparation for whatever comes next. None of my family is gone, but the store is nearly empty. I pick out shallots and ginger root and listen to a man lecturing the people in the store about how wrong we were. I wonder why he is still here, and who was on the radio this morning preaching? (Because we are in post-apocalyptic times, radios, cars, and guns work, but nothing else. This is a necessary part of any good apocalypse and must not be overlooked.) I begin to suspect a conspiracy.
(characteristics of possibly-contrived religious apocalypse based on many preachy fantasy and sci-fi novels; post-disaster ginger-buying scene taken from my Havegale writing project)
But it really doesn’t matter much – the damage is done (I am sure that the vanished are never returning, wherever they are), and anyway my mind is made up. I see someone else listening to the preaching man with a disgusted expression, and comment quietly that, even if there is a god who has done this, and even if it should prove its reality to me, I will not believe in it. Because I have only my own conscience to guide me, and because hell is unconscionable, and because what has happened to the world is unconscionable, I will not believe in a god that would make them. If there is a heaven, I rebel against it.
The other person nods seriously, because this schpiel is my actual real-life opinion on the matter, and figments of my imagination cannot help but be moved by it.
We drive home over landscape that is now light and chromatically undersaturated, because Leviathan has all fallen to earth and the sun now shines through dust. In the field beside the house there is now a strange place, black and red and glowing, where large fragments of Leviathan seem to have burrowed. Men in black clothes swarm around it.
There is a way in. Looking over my shoulder as I take a bag from the car, I think that tonight, I will go down. I will give whatever lives inside Leviathan a piece of my mind.
(characteristics of evil-hole-in-the-ground based on Tailchaser’s Song, Richard Monaco’s Parsival, the mining stuff from the Darkover books)
(real life – I woke up because my neck hurt really bad, and realized I’d fallen asleep on the floor again. It was about eight AM, which was obviously too early, so I got into bed.)
My house is in the middle of a magical forest, where people often get lost two feet from their door, and where strange things with pearly eyes live under tobacco leaves. But the forest is small, and things from the outside, like radios and rust, have recently begun to encroach upon it.
People here never go outside at night, and think it shameful when they find themselves awake after dark – they hide in their rooms then.
But one night, I walk outside and look up. The stars are hard to see because of the bright lights of the outside world, which is really very close. Disappointed, I go back inside and close the door.
The next day, I have gone out for a second and gotten lost in the magic forest, but don’t really care. I take a nap under a leaf. Sometime later, Mom wakes me – there are men in black clothes here, looking at pieces of rusted metal and fiberglass debris that have fallen around me while I slept. The debris looks like pieces of someone’s Winnebago. The men cannot see me, and do not seem to see Mom clearly. She tells me that the world is ending, so I should come home.
The sky is orange, and then black.
Someone tells me what has happened. We have been, until now, in the Age of the Sun God – but he could only maintain his power while the people shunned the night. Last night, too many people looked at the sky, and now the era has turned, and it is the Age of the Moon Goddess. The sun will shine no more. There is nothing, this person tells me with finality, to be done about it.
I am secretly a little pleased.
But because I know my duty as the protagonist – and also because I realize, reluctantly, that a Moon Goddess who throws Winnebago parts in my magical forest probably cannot be relied upon to put on a proper Age Of The World – I begin to consider where I might find a cleric, a wizard, and a swordsman to round out my party. I cannot find any socks, but I put on my shoes and tell Mom that I am leaving to save the world. She says exasperatedly, “All right, dear.”
(my behavior towards the end based on Renge from Ouran High School Host Club, The Paper Bag Princess, Cimorene from Dealing With Dragons; Mom’s bad parenting taken from my Magus Anmere: Cyborg Werewolf project)
For whatever disrespectful reason, the supervisors at the library have us make paper snowflakes; the nicest ones get hung up in front of the desk, and the uglier ones behind it. Because I’m awesome and nonconformist like that, last year I decided to make a Ninja Snowflake and a Pirate Snowflake and have them fight. The ninja snowflake would throw smaller snowflakes like ninja stars, and it would be brilliant.
It didn’t work out so well – they ended up not being round, and the pirate was bigger than the ninja, and they decided to move him to another section of the wall, which ruined the flow of the battle, and also someone stole the ninja after a while.
I’m skipping the pirate, but this year’s ninja… will be better.
Maybe I should hire someone to cut it out for me. (I was sane enough not to try and put cherry blossoms on the tree. He’s a winter ninja.)
Depending on how sick I am of it tomorrow, it might not be done yet. I kept changing my mind whether I was doing all straight and geometrical inside the the circle or not, and he needs a mask, and in my artistic vision he’s supposed to be leaning outward and pointing the katana at you.
I got weird and hyper and then sick Tuesday night. This is what I did with the hyper – there have been some annoying signs going up around campus recently, which look like this:
They went up in waves over a few days, with “Honor” the first day, then “Pride,” then “Passion.”
Leaving work Tuesday night, I started thinking genius thoughts, and went back to my room and made some better signs. I finished them in about an hour, and went back to the library all brimming with enthusiasm to print them out and apprise Jenan (working the desk) of my plans. She was not entirely enthusiastic, and concerned by my energy at the (to her) late hour of 1:15 AM. Bah, I said. I went out cheerfully in the damp and taped signs up. Sometime later, logical deduction tells me, I must have gone to bed, though my memory of this time is imperfect.
Anyway. My signs:
(The last couple of sets I was careful to put up in and around the Computer Science building, as I felt I could not rely on their being understood elsewhere.)
Rigsin was in the doorway, breathing hard, his steel eye drifting dazedly. It took him a second to summon up language: “There’s a demon outside. I’m a little confused.”
Everyone looked immediately at Teo. He had slammed his book closed. Illogically, he snapped, “I don’t know why you all think it’s about me -”
“‘s not about me!” protested Rigsin. “I asked. (I don’t like talking to demons, you know.) You need me to distract it and you go out the back?”
“- no, I don’t need – I didn’t do anything, damnit -”
Scowling thoughtfully into space, Lyssa asked, “Do demons care if you do something else with bird hearts, do you think?”
Teo stared at her for a second, then said carefully, “Perhaps you’d better stay inside, just in case. I’ll go,” he told Rigsin, standing with a wince and pocketing his book. “It talks?”
“Not so good at it -”
As Teo closed the door, he heard Scarlet saying, blank with hysteria, “‘Something else?'”
Goddamnit! “The Celery Queen” sounds like “Ellery Queen!” And Ellery Queen’s a mystery writer! I can’t name my Wispy Clairvoyant Agoraphobe (TM) something that sounds like a mystery writer, it’s… it’s inappropriate.
– but I’ve been calling her that for like two years aaaagh how the hell am I supposed to remember another name now?! –
I must’ve seen the name on a bookshelf and let my brain latch onto it. I hate my brain.
Sechs is my favorite transsexual clone android sociopath who’s not that smart ever.
I was trying to figure out the difference between the shape of Alita’s head and the shape of Sechs’s, basically, but Alita came out wonky, so I’m putting the rest of the page behind the cut.
Jicky the Slightly-Self-Actualized Abomination of Science: It would be easier to make a sandwich if my hands weren’t all burnt – all right, there they go. I always have remind my self-healing powers…
Casey the College-Educated Berserker: …okay, look. Are you bored over there?
Jicky: I can’t tell. What do you want me to do?
Casey: Can you work a computer?
Jicky: I’m from space.
Casey: Do they have Windows in space?
Jicky: Yes, but one mustn’t open them.
Jicky: I’m really very sorry. I don’t know why I said that.
The last class of the semester was comm. Here are my notes in full:
I spent about fifteen minutes trying to decide what he was saying, and then the school year was over.
I just napped for seven hours because I am sick and weak and wear ruffly poet clothes and Tohru called me by my first name.
I had a dream where Sasuke from Naruto, Agent X from Deadpool, Baron Wulfenbach from Girl Genius, and the Narnia children were trying to save the world from some kind of problem with space. But there was great tension and angst between the heroes, and they couldn’t work together as a team (no!), so they all went off on their own.
I was one of those albino super-intelligent telepaths you get in anime, and I’d been ordered by the mad scientist who created me to keep an eye on Sasuke, the most unstable of the heroes. At first, I was five years old and had itty-bitty fangs, but I had a Great Shock towards the end of the dream, which apparently aged me to about thirty.
Sasuke was based in Florida, building up a team of fanfic-writing middle-school girls to carry out his plans, with three or four of the adult Naruto characters around to manage them. Only one of the adults (I don’t know his name, or even if he was a real character) realized that Sasuke had become a cokehead – he frequently gave Sasuke sad looks with ominous piano music, sighed, and said nothing to the others. He glared at me whenever I was about to say anything. My Shadowy Creator, who was one of the frivolous, giggly mad scientists, offered me an educational video involving singing puppets to solve Sasuke’s problem, but I was not enthusiastic.
Sasuke knew that I was there to spy on him, and did petty things like forgetting to inform me of meetings and breaking the complicated weapons my Shadowy Creator sent me to try and get rid of me. At one point this worked well enough that, against my Shadowy Creator’s express orders, I left to rescue Agent X and Baron Wulfenbach from some mad scientists, and was duly chastened to find they’d gotten away fine without my help. However, while investigating the scientists’ labs, I accidentally discovered something disturbing about my own creator’s past, and returned to Sasuke’s base deeply unsettled in mind and spirit.
You could tell that I was upset because, when I arrived back, I threw one of Sasuke’s middle-school girls against the wall when she said something obnoxious to me, and then walked off without noticing the shocked looks the others gave me. The narration was a pretty loose third-person-omniscient type, I guess. It was also at this point that I was suddenly a grim, embittered thirty-year-old instead of a spooky savant-child.
Sasuke was holding a meeting, clearly high – the adult ninjas now all knew what was going on. I sat off to the side, brooding on what I’d learned and wondering how I could speak to my Shadowy Creator, now, without letting on that I knew his secrets. There was no doubt that he would kill me when he realized. Suddenly, Sasuke jumped at me with a small knife, cutting my upper thigh before I pinned him – me being twice his size and not stoned and flailing. I snarled at him and shoved him at one of the adult ninjas, who looked at me opaquely. They were all unwilling to go against their leader. It was no longer safe for me at the ninja base in Florida.
I grabbed up my bag and stormed out again, deciding to search for the Narnia children, who, I knew from my Shadowy Creator’s reports, were incompetent and making no progress – but who also, at least, had no dark secrets. As I walked through the night across the rice paddies (rice paddies?), I belatedly noticed that the moon was forty times its normal size, and writing was appearing in the Milky Way. Somewhere, the clockwork dragon from Unico and the Island of Magic screamed. The terrible secret of space had come.
The past couple weeks, I keep noticing the piece of tape on the back of my phone, and kind of vaguely wondering what it’s doing there. Then I put the phone away and start thinking about something else. As is only right.
I figured it out today: When I first got the phone, I put the tape on there and wrote my number on the tape, but the ink’s gotten rubbed off since then. The number obviously must have disappeared from the phone the very second I finally memorized it.
Now that I think about it, I’ve figured this out about the tape at least once before, then forgotten about it. This all makes a very deep statement about the uselessness of revelation and the transience of memory inherent in modern life. I will write a Japanese short story about the experience.
I should write some Really Hard kanji on the tape, so that they’ll be permanently transferred to my brain when the last of the ink gets rubbed off.
“- you – you told me to marry her, you didn’t specify *where* or *how* -”
“I told you to marry her within certain obvious unspoken constraints! Don’t ask her to say “obey,” don’t kill her after, find out her last name, and *invite me*! *You dick.*”
I will never finish this book, because I would rather come up with snippy dialogue than figure out the plot.