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Null Our Boor; or: Taco Run (40)

1 .

My On the Road/TF2 pastiche.

I first startarted bumming around with Scout a few years after the war ended and a few before that war ended which was never a war, really, and this was long before I realised that neither war really had a beginning or an end and that all of them just ran into eachother, willrun into each other til the end of time, but more about that later. Scout had decided that night he was “just stahvin for a taco” and I had to reflect that sentiment. We were both coming down and Scout was certain that he was the fitter of the two of us to drive, I could not object. He had only done “just a little speed and some mescaline.” “Where'd you get mescaline?” “Where didn't I get mescaline.” That's when I knew I would never get a straight answer out of him for anything, as if I ever wanted one. We left and very shortly I knew we wouldn't just be getting tacos. “I need to see the Medic,” he said and gave me a cheeky bloody wink and while we were driving he told me about his awesome life: running, literally, from one girl to the next high, to the next girl to the next high, to a few men in between, mostly for the money. “I'm the fastest hand in Boston!” I believed him about that mostly business and I didn't question him further on it. We arrived at Medic's place and before the engine stopped, Scout had bounded over the carhood and was screaming into the building's intercom, “I'M HYEAH TA BUY!” We were buzzed in. While dazed and lumbering halfway up the steps, he'd already reached his destination but immediately raced back down to intercept me, “Come on, old man, you're holding up the mission!” “Gwaawn, I'm not that much older than you!” “You are.” “You just seem young cause you still act like a teenager.” The door opened. “Aw, gawddammit!” “C'est le plus plaisir de vous-rencontre, aussi. You've brought another friend, I see.” “Saloooo!” I called out. A plain, unmasked face suddenly appeared and I was taken aback, we both were. “Quel est ce vieux visage que je vois devant moi?” “Pas vieux! Grand es-tu pour parler.” “OK, enough of this. Where the fuck's Medic?” “He's taking care of a personal matter en Argentine.”---I still can't tell you what was meant by that.---“Heavy, too?” “Naturalement.” “Naturalement.--Ya got the stuff?” The exchange itself was a dance. Spy retreated and closed the door partially and returned exactly one second later. Each party raised his hand aloft for the other to inspect the process concluding in the jivest handshake that ever existed. “Feels light.” “It's that or raise the rates.” Scout gazed admiringly at the bag before putting it away. “So what are you two doing together?” “It's not like that.” “The lady doth protest--” “It's not like that; I just needed to get out of the van.” “You sold the van?” “It's not currently in my possession.” “Quel dommage.” “We're getting tacos, ya wanna come?” “You Americans and your food. Merci, non. You two have a good time. A bientot.” “Bon soir.” “Yeah, whatever, picklethief.” We got back into his Gremlin, Scout wideeyed and crazy, mad, mad, mad for a taco and, to my chagrin, I was, too. But I was really desperate for a fag; I had half a pack left. “Hey, man. Not in my car; those things'll kill ya.” I tried to say something about him being a shiela mama'sboy but instead I just passed out. I woke up to his lips on my ear asking, “How many ya want, wombatfucker?” I knew straightaway that I was unable to talk so I just held up three fingers, reconsidered, grabbed Scout's arm and held up the full hand. “OK, just make it 10. So, ya doing anything later?” “Fck uff, asshuhh.” A familiar voice--if you want to call it that. “It's on you, Old Man---I got the other stuff.” I fished out what felt like enough and gave it to him. Scout made the tyres squeal as he pulled up to the window; honestly I was just as impatient as he. He paid and relayed the bag to me and put on his most charming face possible. “You know I love you and I'll eat any taco you put in frontame.” I heard the expected distasteful grunt and the windowdoors closed so hard that they should have shattered. We were on our way home as fast as we could. I looked at his face as he drove and I could tell he was ready willing and able to devour the world all himself: Yurlunger with its jaws unhinged about to throw it all up again. I was too gone to do anything or care. It was the only time in my life I felt entirely safe.

2 .

I kinda like it, actually. Do go on.
However, I wish I wasn't reading a HUGE block of text.

3 .

Glad to see this back on the 'chan after the explosion.

4 .

Glad to be back; if you like this HUGE block of text, you should see them all together in ONE HUGE BLOCK OF TEXT. That's not a knoife...

"Ya like the ride?" I had to scrutinise his face carefully to be sure he was asking seriously and I could only see absolute pride. "It's very modern, and you've kept it beautifully." "I got it with my termination check. Modified. V8. Does 0 to 60 in almost nothing. The whole deal. Not only that but it's 'polite and efficient', HAW HAW. I ain't one a them motahhead cahfags but I love this cah!" And then I heard a real endoftheworld noise, the kind you feel in your nethers, and it sure felt like we were flying--those of us that weren't already, I mean. I held onto our tacos like a mother kangaroo; if I had a pouch, I would have used it. I tried to admonish him with a glare, all undercut by the sillygrin I could not get rid of. "What did you spend yours on?" I thought about her painfully. "Legal fees, mostly. It turns out we're meant to have feelings, now." We wordlessly exchanged sympathy and gratitude as we sped our way home. We arrived and tuckedin in silence as we always did. "Apres moi, le deluge" I announced and hurried to have a slash. Afterward I was ready to pass out where I could but Scout said with certainty "It's still early". It wasn't. "Ya like music?" "Er, there's this Swedish group: two blokes, two birds--" "I wasn't really asking." He had pulled out an album with the blackest jacket I'd ever seen, and walked it to his system--not a stereo but a system--a living, breathing animal that tookup the whole room. He spent two minutes cleaning it--the only time I've ever seen him do anything without the urgency of a bomb about to go off. He put on the needle and introduced it "This is the Velvet--" and all I could hear was that endoftheworld noise again. Once I settled down, I could feel a churning rhythm a piercing screech and some madman rantings and I knew I would never hear anything more American. I had to lie down because all I had the energy for was an attempt to tap my foot and enjoy this violation. Scout sat on the floor next to me but he didn't just sit, he went into lotus position and made it the easiest thing in the world. It isn't. He looked as relaxed as a fakir on a bed of nails and a lot of specialk. His face looked positively angelic and not a winged cherub as an Italian would paint--he looked like that all the time--I mean a sexless monster that had struck out whole civilisations in its formative years and would now like to try all the horrors mentioned in that song. He was Shiva: mindbody and soul. When I finally got used to those industrial sounds, it changed and became of all things more wild and raucous and this went on for what seemed an halfanhour and then it really was the end of the world. Scout nimbly stretched out to corpse along with me for a few seconds but then rolled over to put his lips on my ear. "Side one?" and I knew again, it wasn't really a question. I made a grunt he mistook for enthusiasm and he jumped up turned it over and spent as much care with this side. He put the needle on and laid next to me. He put his lips on my ear again and relayed to me the most imperative statesecret of all: "This one's about shootinup and jackinoff." "You ever done that?" "Shooting up?" "No, the other one." I laughed silently until I did myself an injury. "No I haven't tried it. Flashbacks of the syringegun. And I really can't afford it." "Scared o' needles?" "Yeah, we all should be. And I said I don't have enough money for a rockstar habit." We laid there hearing all about Lady Godiva, Waldo and Marcia, calling names and comingnows; his elbow stuck me in the ribs warning me of all the parts he liked the most. As soon as there was relative silence, I was dead to the world. I dreamt I was in a coffinlike box and being prodded periodically by an aluminium bat. I awoke on the couch with my thing screaming for a wank but primarily calling my attention was a smell of a twoweekdead tazmanian devil which took me no time at all to realise to my shame and alarm that it was myself. I adjusted myself with a great attempt at modesty, I shuffled to the bathroom, peeled of everything, turned on the water and stepped in. I made myself the cleanest I'd been in at least a decade. I soaped my hand and thought of her. It took longer than usual because of the shower and I missed my van the most at that point. I finished, stepped out, put my shades on, looked in the mirror and put a towel on. I gathered my clothes, and cautiously opened the door.

5 .

This post has been deleted.

6 .

[Fixed anachronism] Team Fortress 2 and its characters belong to Valve Corp.

BOOK TWO: Scout was halfway through preparing what looked to be a full English breakfast; every appendage of his almost literally a blur. With one hand, he took out a glass, poured a red glowing fluid in it and offered it to me, maintaining the fluid incessence of the rest of his body. "Homemade 'Bonk!' It took me six months to figger it out. I think I got pretty goddamn close." I held it to my nose and felt the rush of its effects immediately. Not wanting to experience again anything like the previous day so soon, I tried to find a discrete place to dispose of it. I couldn't find one. "Have a seat; I'm almost done here." As soon as my bum had touched the chair, there was a plate with the most beautiful arrangement of food I had ever seen and have yet to see since. I cut off some of the egg and put it in my mouth. I scrutinised the face across from me for any sign of talent other than bludgeoning or shooting blokes in the face. I couldn't find one. "I took an adult education class. It's cheap and it's a great place to meet girls." "I'll have to look into it." "Yeah. Hey, drink up, Old Man. You're gonna be driving all day." We had all been invited to Dell and Jane's Labour Day fete-weekend. After financial ruin, it was a perfect time for me to visit the States. Scout and I would be nonstop travelling for two days---I would do days, he would do nights. I looked at the glass, abandoned all hope and gulped down it contents. I felt all the coffee I had ever drunk in my life at once---I drink a lot of coffee. Instead of feeling absolute invincibility, I felt a faraway yet profound despair: the infinite gaiety I felt at that moment had to end. I shot straight to my feet but the rush of it all had me back on my arse. "It takes five minutes to get used to it." Those were the most tortuous five minutes of my life as I waited for my mind and body to catch up with eachother. An imaginary eggtimer went off in Scout's head. He sprang up, "Race you to the car, wombatfucker!" and we were off and, honesttochrist, I almost beat him. I started the car and made that most American noise. We caught eachother in the eye and each made our own wicked smirks. I looked down the street like I was looking out my trusted scope again. We were to pickup DeGroot from Logan and directly onward to Dell and Jane's commune of two. Scout gave directions but really I felt I was anticipating each of them. He turned on the radio. "my blues away. Yeah.--" He turned off the radio. "Music just sucks nowadays." "Yes." I tried to put Frida and Agnetha's beautiful voices in my head but entirely too much was dancing around in there; all I could do was drum out "Nina, Pretty Ballerina" on the steering wheel. We worked in perfect tandem, Scout and I. Every sound from his mouth I would mirror with the car. "Turn left, merge right, next exit." Once we made it to the airport, we breezed on to the terminal, finding a sublime spot in the whitezone. We waited. "How are we going to recognise him?" I asked. "He'll probably be the only one wearing a kilt. And by that I mean, he will be the only person wearing a kilt." And there he was looking as if he'd stepped out of an Aber-bloody-deen graduation: full clan regalia--and yes, his would be the only kilt in the world--a strappedon knife, tamoshanter and of course an eyepatch, with hipster glasses. "Man, those glasses make ya look like Malcolm X, or McEl-Shabazz. HAW!" Scout played the over-affectionate American and embraced him for a long time. When he was through, Tavish and I grasped hands, his was steady as a slab of peat, mine trembled like a startled bandicoot. I tried to balance myself by pressing my cheek to his like they would on the continent. "Yeh off yer 'ead?" I started laughing with in gasps. "God save us, not yer foockin homemade Bonk! again!" "Aye. HAW!" "He looks like he's gonna fookin die!" "He's an adult, he can handle it. And we need him to drive. And with your--" he pointed to his eyes. "I made a choice not to drive." "A choice to keep the bobbies from getting after you." DeGroot packed his things in the boot came around to look at the backseat and made the wise decision to lie down. I stepped in and started the car. Scout helped me with the seatbelt. Once we left the airport, Scout popped in an 8track of Johnny Horton. Scout sensed a feeling of incredulity. "It'll help us get into the Dell and Jane mindset; especially after we get on the 81."

7 .


He gave Tavish and I each a broad Lady M grin, "We're gonna be eating at nothing but dive truck stops until we get there. I hope yaw'll are ready for that. I'm gonna show you Realamerica." In a mockery of assurance, he took my shoulder and blasted his stereo until we could all feel the bass. Tavish rolled into a comfortable position and passed out. After about ten songs, I saw through the BONK! haze a vision of Realamerica: sprawling history, drungo bravery, infinite roads, infinite fields, bogan royalty, fast music, fast cars and women of indeterminate speed. Our first stop was a place called Amish Mama. I thought the three of us would make quite a motley clusterbang but truly, we weren't even close. There were all kinds of aging hippies, grizzled truckers, stoned out college students, an Amish cadre, and one uncomfortable family. We found a booth; we looked at the menu. Everything had to have a cute name like Reubenspringa or Shunningly Good Cheese Curds. DeGroot had the "Community" Turkey Club. Scout had the "English" Fish and Chips and I had the "Bavarian Liturgical Tradition". DeGroot told us about his life after the war. "I'm at Aber-bloodeh-deen teaching literature." "You talk about Robert Burns all day?" "No. Well, yes, but no. We talk about structure and we deconstruct." "Which you know a thing or two about." "I fookin know everything about that. And I still hunt Nessie." "Oh, gwaawn!" "I believe in it as much as you, BUT once you're on the Loch at night, the monster becomes more real than rational thought, anything measurable, even yourself, even the terror you're feeling. It is nothing short of transcendence." "We call that a walkabout." "We call that walking home from the bar." We ate our lunches and when we finished, we took a pissbreak. I was ready to drive again when Scout pulled out two stacks of 8tracks "Hank or Loretta?" I turned the key and that descending guitar line slapped us in the face. DeGroot sang: "A-you've been makin yer brags around town that you've been a-lovin mah man. But the man I love when 'e picks up trash, 'e puts it in the garbage can..." This proved to be entertaining for the entire four hours I had to drive until the next stop at a Shoney's. "It's the only one we'll stop at," Scout promised. They managed to make the salad bar feel deepfried, but holychrist, did they know how to make a pie. I wept. DeGroot traded places with Scout so he could take a liedown in the back seat. "Just so you don't hear it from anyone else, Spy got with Pyro for cigarette money, or, you guys call em fags, right? HAW! Could ya put on some Zeppelin?" As soon as I did, he was deadtotheworld. "'Ow can such a spaz like 'im look so graceful sleeping?" I could only let out a sigh. Tavish and I quietly talked about yesterday's misadventures and my misadventures from last year. Four hours later Scout had soundlessly awakened and startled us both with the directive, "Pull over here." As a team, we filled up, wiped off the windshield and paid. I let out a perfectly tasteless noise as I stretched out in the backseat. The phrase "Heeeeey, good lookin!" caressed me as best as it could in every possible way. Tavish asked me if I needed a sleep aid. I took a gulp from the bottle, handed it back and I was gone. I dreamt of every Realamerican goodtime; I dreamt of every Realamerican heartache. As I woke up, Tavish was cradled upon Scout's shoulder. We pulled into a truckstop-restaurant "ALL DAY BREAKFAST!!!!!" It was then I realised that everywhere in America was an all day breakfast. Scout gently kissed Tavish on the forehead. "Aye, feckoff." We had a dozen eggs between us in every conceivable manner. We ate in silence like we were used to. Scout took the backseat again and said we were on the 40 but we weren't in Texas, yet. Scout was given some of Tavish's sleep aid. After an hour, we had gone through all the tapes and switched to the radio. We went from crackley blues station to crackley blues station all through Arkansas, all the way into Dallas. We stopped at a dive downtown--that was all of Dallas--for sandwiches. As we ate, Scout whispered in my ear, "Ya wanna see the Book Depository?" He knew he had said the worst thing anyone could say; anyone but him, that is. He was either trying to hold in a laugh or sob; I was making the same face. I wearily got into the driver's seat. "It'll be my turn again once we get to Waco."

8 .


BOOK THREE: Scout turned at a blue mailbox with "CONAGHER/DOE" in neat red letters. I spied two children approaching fast to the car. One looked like what can only be described as a sevenyearold Dell, the other a fiveyearold Jane, female but more on that later. As soon as the car stopped, the two had Scout immobilised. We were led to the ranchhouse to "freshen up". I nearly passed out from the heavenly smells emanating from an unseen grill. Forty-some hours of fryoil, dust and good-ol' American progress went from my face and into the sink, and that most fertile substance refused to wash down entirely. The house was beautiful and tidy; still it looked like it was being taken care of by two men. Like Dell and Jane themselves, the house didn't appear to have left the fifties like everything else in this part of the country. It was the most beautiful sight of all, an entire world itching to start something incredible, failing that good, failing that new. Dell took us on a tour through every room, each strategically designed to satisfy every need for comfort the American human could have. Everything was modified to be "better than whut you kin git on the market." Everything was "Practical." He had a pistol at his hip that he periodically drew, spinning it on his finger. Scout reacted to this each time cursing under his breath. Jane was giving Tavish the same tour; they had each other by the hand. Dell then led Scout and me outside to the most beautiful toolshed ever built. As he opened the door, I came down with the worst case of priapism I'd ever had and I could tell Scout was feeling the same. "The only problem with the original Dispenser was that it had to be outside. This way, its full power is concentrated and"--he winked at me--"efficient. Heh-heh. I recommend taking your clothes off and make things more comfortable." "And you geet full effect. HAH!" A familiar voice emerged from the haze that we could not refuse. And embarrassment was no excuse for people so familiar. "It's safe enough to stay in here all day if y'all wanted, but mess is in 30." Heavy insisted on holding Scout and me to him like a mother and we were the children he couldn't have; he told us about his adventures in Argentina with Medic which I only caught in vague bits--half of it was in Russian or German. Something about assassinating one of those war criminals from the 40s. Or it might have been "assisting". Scout and I slept a bit as he went into some sonorous lyrical Russian passages. When the dinnerbell rang, he beat Scout out of the Dispensershed. At one end of the long table, Jane was showing off his roll juggling skills to DeGroot and the kids. Heavy and Medic kissed before sitting across from each other. Spy was next to Medic and playing with his knife, perhaps a little rustily. Pyro sat across from him after finishing with the grill. I sat next to Pyro with Scout across from me. Dell took the other end. Surely, there was a whole cow on the table and it was taken care of quite miraculously along with the usual token vegetables. Dell chatted onandon about how Scout's generation had "no idea how to make things. Now I can hardly blame you fer Nixon, or can I? Anyway, this whole trade with China business ain't gonna end well. What will we as a nation become if we no longer make things for ourselves, if we keep throwing our money away on shit that's made to break? This country's gonna be sapped by a crash so big there won't be a wrench big enough to even start to fix it. With any luck, I'll be sixfeetdown before that happens." We all retreated back to the house for drinks. The kids were sent to bed and Jane brought out a bottle of bourbon, the most precious one he had which he described as "prewar". He never said which one. Heavy carted out a "real Russian vodka not for American babymen," Spy proctored a cognac tasting and Tavish insisted we finish his scotch. All the while Dell kept drawing his pistol randomly as far as I could tell. Once none of us was capable of standing, Jane took his duty of assigning rooms. Heavy and Medic, of course, were together. Spy and Pyro shared a room. There was no moving the knackered DeGroot from his position on the couch. That left Scout and I to share the twin. "I mean, 'cause, you kids are together, aren'tcha?" Scout gave me what was meant to be a reassuring glance and pressed my side against his.. "Come on! Do ya even have ta ask?"

9 .


10 .

I love this.

Anyone who has trouble reading it--take a piece of paper, fold it half to block your monitor's light, and shift it down line-by-line.

11 .


Jane led us to our room and apologised for the bed which he described as "spooning room only". He left us alone and raced to his Truckie. The look I gave Scout surely signified only one thing, a face he'd surely seen before: I was questioning his strategy. "Trust me, you do not want to be on the couch." We silently agreed on an arsetoarse arrangement. After lightsout, I tried to fall asleep. "It is weird that he assumed we're a couple, isn't it?" "Considering how the others paired off, it'd be weird if we didn't." "But we never worked together like they did. I dashed out in front and you always stayed behind." I resisted the urge but my scope had its target prepped and ready. I jokingly grabbed one of his cheeks. "Is that how you want it?" He swatted me away, jokingly. "You couldn't afford me, wombatfucker." "I've got your number, ducky." "I'll scratch your eyes out." "Oh get her!" The two of us had a hearty laugh at that until we passed out. I was awakened by a noise that only a human could make but still could only be described as "inhuman". I waited listening carefully until I heard something about reloading a rocket launcher and another thing about a tool. I then heard the word "maggot" used in a way I never want to hear again. Then there were soft rumbling and crashing noises that grew louder and louder, little by little. It then sounded like Dell and Jane were going at it like it was the end of the world. There was no way to tell which was the bloke and which was the sheila, if that distinction could be made in any case, if that mattered to anyone at all at that time. This developed into a rhythm reminiscent of the battlefield which I found, in a way, comforting. I slipped into a most relaxed state and finally into dreamtime. I woke up again to a needle scratch which led to music. It was tense: strings here winds there and then a soprano. It was building to something incredible, I could tell. It was masking some light creaking. This built and built rhythmically faster and louder until eventually a hearty baritone called out what seemed involuntarily, "DO GROOOBA-A TI HRA-NI-TEL MOOOOOYYYYYY!" matching the soprano perfectly two octaves lower. She and her orchestra continued for some time. A gentler creaking continued with it with the occasional masculine gasp or sigh. Without all that noise it would have been the most beautiful sound ever created; she was making the sound of the most exquisite pain of all, the sound of true love. I couldn't help from passing out. I saw her in dreamtime, barely as a physical presence. She was a part in the blackest of hair, a hinge on a pair of glasses, a button where a blouse becomes a collar. She was every meaningless conversation that suddenly meant everything as soon as it was over. She was nerves, loyalty, confidence, craftiness, sincerity and insincerity; each element seamlessly blending into the other. I woke up as the big spoon somehow with Scout's arm entwined in mine. My heart skipped a beat to imagine what he might have been thinking. I knew straightaway that it was ridiculous to have any worry. I closed my eyes until I felt him turn to face me. "It's alright. You kept my honor intact." He gave me a mocking peck. "HAW! I get the first showah!" He sprinted out of the room; I stretched and went to breakfast in my skivvies. Pyro and Jane were making eggs for everyone. Spy was chopping the vegetables. Pyro scooped from a giant pale pile and put a finger to my face. There was obvious excitement behind the bandana. "Tase is udda." I let my mouth envelop the finger and if I believed knees could buckle, mine certainly would have. "All veggies," I said. Heavy and Medic came from their room holding hands. Scout arrived in his sundaybest; we all were impelled to tease him. Dell burst in with the kids from "target practice." Tavish looked very tired and not very talkative. He had a lecture in a few days so we couldn't stay long. We ate and drank as much coffee as we could. Scout passed around his homemade BONK! to whomever would take it, including sneaking some to the kids. Exchanging goodbyes took a while and exchanging embraces took longer. Heavy managed to make a spinal correction that I didn't know I needed. Spy and I shook hands and looked in eachother's eyes longer than we had ever done before with anyone. When I got to Jane, I told him, "Keep your helmet on."

12 .

This post has been deleted.

13 .

You know, for a fic with no real porn in it, it's strange for me to say that this is possibly my favourite thing I've read for a long time.

14 .

Thank you, Hybrid. Is it fappable without having dicks everywhere?

15 .

I am really looking forward to reading this. I just want to read On The Road first. The idea of this sounds awesome and I'm a sucker for Scout and Sniper.

16 .

Not so much fappable as just damned awesome.

17 .

THIS is a knoife.

HUGE fucking block of text version in three different flavors (vote for YOUR favorite!)

LJ: http://a-yzsaakc.livejournal.com/49993.html
dA: http://ayzsaakc.deviantart.com/art/Null-Our-Boor-or-Taco-Run-171416807
Tr: http://yzsaakc.tumblr.com/post/1648586468/null-our-boor-or-taco-run

Thank you, to all my readers!

18 .

I'm sad that this is over.
So sad, I could post a D semicolon.

19 .

Fixed an embarrassing misunderstanding of seasons in Australia.

BOOK FOUR: We stopped at nothing but Shoneys and Waffle Houses eating nothing but pie and waffles on the way back. As soon as I had maple syrup, I became an addict and had to use all my will to keep from downing each tiny beaker like a shot of Jameson's. We each rode sugar highs and crashes all the way back to Boston. We made a stop halfway through the trip to pick up some “Real American Bourbon” for Tavish and myself. When I wasn't driving or sleeping, I looked out the windows and watched the great national duvet, the corn fields turn all shades of yellow. We found every country station and Scout sang along to Hank and Faron, I took anyone named either Jimmy or Johnny but Tavish was the most impressive by knowing every word to “I've Been Everywhere”. When we were in New England again, Scout pulled out the entire Julie Andrews milieu which was less of a musical whiplash than you'd think. In a way, all music is about desire for more, or at least something different. Scout drove like a madman going through Logan. Julie set the pace breezily soaring promising threatening to dance all night. I could see on Scout's face that it was his secret anthem. Mine is that “Loverly” number. Tavish's, at that moment, was “Get Me to the Church On Time”. By a few small miracles, we did. Saying goodbye to Tavish was similar to a rebirthing therapy session although my handshake was considerably better. Back at Scout's apartment, I took a much needed shower. I think I passed out. I was barely dry when he made me put on my best for his Tuesday night ritual. The place was called Patriot Platters and according to Scout only smelled like a head shop. He was disappointed to discover the lack of new releases after labour day but a new Dolly was approaching to his delight. I wanted to get Scout a gift, but there was not one copy of Ring Ring to be found nor were there any singles. We tucked in a few tacos on the way back. A tactile layer of grease permeated throughout the area. Scout smiled at me indicating that the two of us had a new ritual. I smiled back. We came back to the apartment and I went directly to my couch stripping along the way. I dreamt of smiling and laughing from the shadows. I awoke to the rustling of cereal in a bag. “Ya remember when there useta be good prizes in cereal boxes?” From the look on his face, it appeared to be an affront to the American Way-of-Life. “Not as such, no.” “Well, the shit they have in here these days is criminal.” I tried some of it and it hurt my teeth at first, then its charm grew on me. We went to run a few errannds; first was to fill up his Gremlin. Then, he gave me a tour of Boston for a few hours. That afternoon, Scout took me to a Red Sox game. I have a passing familiarity with Cricket, and baseball does have its similarities but also thousands of differences. Most plain is the doubling of bases which makes the entire experience broader, taking up the amount of space appropriate for an American game. Cinematic is the word for the feeling. In this country the movie screens, with everything else, get wider and wider. And longer and longer. The game lasted 12 innings of quiet intensity. We were playing against the Orioles. “This is going to be an important game,” Scout told me. Each action felt important. Each halfsecond before a “ball” or “strike” was called lasted forever and each halfsecond before “safe” or “out” was called lasted even longer. Each run--for either team--induced from the crowd an endoftheworld noise. Even in the nosebleeds, looking at Tiant's face made me wonder what mine looked like when I was on the job. We won 2-1. We went drinking that evening. The place was crowded and smokefilled. “A real Mickbar,” Scout called it. Before I could order an Old Fashioned, Scout went ahead and ordered for the both of us. “Lawng Island and---” He gestured his thumb toward me and told the barkeep, “This is the guy.” “Ah! Well, guh-die. Huh-huh.” The smile I attempted probably could have been more genial, judging his reaction to it. He found a can with green and red text on it, pulled the tab carefully measured some into a shaker, next came gin and then ice. He gently turned the shaker around in his glowing pink hands. In the same fluid motion, he put on the strainer, pulled out a Mason jar and poured. “This queeah told me to call it a Snipah's Delight. You're supposta find it funny.” I think I almost passed out from not being able to breathe for a solid minute. “Is your friend all right?” “Fucked if I know, I've nevah seen him like this.” Finally I gasped and let out a series of high pitched sighs like an uzi. “HAW! I knew you'd like it!” “Fuck 'like it', I love it more than my van!” He left me to sip at it for a while until he came back with a “Score!” of grass. Scout had wisely chosen a place within walking distance from his apartment. We stumbled down the street singing the verse of “Cold, Cold Heart” that we could remember. We got high and he played me Transformer followed by Ziggy Stardust; he cranked up the bass on that one song so it shook us to our cores. That night, I dreamt that Scout and I were hustling eachother in a genderless paradise. That morning, I saw that my face had achieved a fair amount of growth and I decided to tend to it before leaving. I left a descent looking moustache. As soon as Scout saw it he said, “I think this is your perv zenith.” “No worries; you're long past your bait plateau.” He only smiled back at me. We went for coffee. He insisted I try a capuccino and laughed at how the foam stuck to my moustache. I'm still suspicious of it. We blasted “My Fair Lady” again as we drove to Logan. The both of us deftly followed Julie though the tonguetwister “Show Me”. Rex's cool histrionic talksinging brought us down gently. We found the terminal and I looked upon the Gremlin with loving gratitude. It's a beautiful machine, I must admit. Scout insisted on helping me with my luggage. Once we had that sorted, we had an hour to kill for peoplewatching. I was about to allow ourselves a final embrace when he surprise attacked me on the right and clung to me like a koala. He whispered in my ear, “Wanna quick handie?” I gave him a gentle slap on the bum. “Maybe next time.” We carefully broke our embrace. When I was ten feet from him he called out. “See ya at the Bicentennial, wombatfucker!” I smiled broadly as I waved. Once I was on the plane, I wondered when I would be able to put on some layers. Spring in Australia that year was expected to be especially loverly. BOOK FIVE: Before I could be in my home country, I had to transfer in LA. I've only seen the airport, but from what I can tell it is the worst shithole on the face of the earth. It was all hangers on and hangerons of hangers on. The only thing that could match the lack of a sense of purpose was the lack of a sense of style. The best looking of them all was in a ratty tshirt and frayed man-capris. Everyone was either coked up or coming down from being coked up. I gave the rest of my fags to a burnedout surfer wannabe. The opera house is now the thing that identifies Sydney from the plane. The following month, the Queen was there to open it and I was there to see it happen. She is absolutely stunning intheflesh, more than you can imagine. I spent that spring in a pension house in the city like someone in their twenties and watched the tourists come and go; to be completely honest, I felt like one, myself. In December, I went to visit her. Surprisingly, she was happy to see me, she embraced me, whisked me inside what used to be our house, hastily tore off her smirkin and merged her mouth to mine. She said the experience was “more enjoyable than expected,” but was horrified when she pulled at it to discover it was real. It was for this that we only had a partial reconciliation at that time. She told me that “things would be better very soon.” I had no choice but to believe her. Miss P. took me back the instant the Australian ban on bare upper lips was lifted; it is the most delightful feeling when we have my prickles against her smoothness as we kiss. We are the most normallooking couple in Adelaide. She was quite the clever girl and managed to ride out the Australium crash with almost everyone else---in her case, quite favourably. The only one who lost his shirt--that is, if he owned one--was Saxton himself. Our house is now modernised with every conceivable convenience with some tech borrowed off Dell. We are happy. We all are. I have back my van. Twice a year, I visit my Mum in Perth. This entails having to cross the Nullarbor. Not only is there nothing on the Nullarbor, there is a lot of it. Whenever I get dodgey in the head or just lonely in my van, I think of Scout. I think of Scout.

20 .

Hello , This is quite interesting but it would be A LOT easier to read/understand if it were spaced .

21 .

Y'all hatin'.

I still stand by my original statements. It's so much fun to read.

22 .

not hating , I'm just stating my opinion . If I was hating , I would have put ,

fake and gay .

But I'm not.

23 .

What's with the underlines?

24 .

I'm sorry, but...the lack of paragraphs or spaces makes this incredibly hard to read. Also, those underlines were kind of out of place, and I would recommend italics instead. In this format it's very difficult for me to follow, although the characterization was nice.

Maybe you could space and add paragraphs, then repost?

25 .

Look, I said "y'all hatin'" as a bit of a joke because this thing is based on a book written in this style. You must not have read it before the *chan exploded, because that was when we were told.

26 .

No, I wasnt here then . So whatever it doesnt really matter .

27 .

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28 .

So which book was the previous block text based off?

29 .

(Trying this again, with spaces between paragraphs.)

This is part one (of nine) of "Missuh Huddaway", which is loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.

Pyro decided to find some flowers alone. To finally be outside felt like such a blessing, to share it would have been overkill. In any case, none of the other members of the team appeared to be experiencing the same joy. The notion that mere flowers would alleviate the team's sudden but expected malaise, Pyro suspected was lofty, but, surely none could possibly take the gesture as injurious. Even Scout's distaste for such sentiment could be, yes, should be undone.

Scout “just did not have an eye” to pick flowers, he told Pyro: no competence at all. And having said that, he was off to fulfill his current desire to take one last glut of double jumps before giving it up to be a civilian. Not that this was Service in the traditional sense, but you know what I mean. What I'll miss most about the job is the BONK! Soda; why shouldn't I be allowed any on the outside, even if it has—quote: no practical uses for ordinary life; the best things in life are the impractical, I say, Scout thought as he bounded over Jane.

“Goddam kid,” Jane muttered to himself as he tried to let the solemness of the occasion, the event hit him with its full impact so he could take it jaw squared, shoulders back, chest out and one foot in front of the other. This mission proved to be an impossible folly, however. What hurt most were these civilian shoes; he felt as if his feet were dragging around two lead condoms. Jane glanced in Doctor C's direction who—judging from his posture—was faring no better.

Dell thought Solly at-long-last looked like an honest-to-Christ veteran—no longer that guy who misquoted Sun-Tzu (Dell could only assume Jane was misquoting Sun-Tzu) and turned Dell's guts to all sorts of airborne fauna whenever he came within ten paces ready to ram into our dispenser as fast as his little legs could carry him, but a full person, a man. The fluttering was still present but had travelled upward. Dell adjusted his welding goggles where they decidedly remained. What he wanted was to get on the train and get a whiskey sour in him.

Scotch, we've had enough of, thought Tavish. Not that it could ever be intolerable, only this Mann Company obligation—just how long have we been doing this?—felt like a long, slow binge; the savor of burnt dirt lingered quietly, never becoming pleasant or sickening, thus, never exactly satisfying either way, a fatally myopic way to look at—are we still calling it a war? We were pretending it was R and D as well, right? But how many new and spectacular ways can an explosion destroy a man (corporeally)? Exactly as many as you'd think. Quia pulvis es...

The Medic sneered at the dust accumulating around his lab coat, which wasn't the worst thing he had to deal with today. Everyone knew Medic hated trains. To force him to take one was the height, the very apex of crassness. Why would he expect anything else from Mister Hale? “How are we feeling today?” he asked the Heavy.

“I am pleased. I finally have back my life; as we all have.”

“This makes me happy. And with yours that happiness is compounded.” Medic tried to demonstrate this by gently merging his body onto Heavy's, too, too briefly. “Freu, freu, freu!” he whispered.

Today, it wasn't a lie, thought Heavy. Often, it was—that was the point of the ritual, to overcome a melancholic disposition, a “perfectly natural melancholic disposition,” to alleviate negative feelings, and focus on those things, material and immaterial, which make one happy. Even, especially if it feels unreasonable to be happy. “Da, da, da,” he whispered in return.

Heavy looks exhausted, Mundy thought, like a 'roo with a two week overdue joey. Mundy tried to scan his body, his conscious mind, his unconscious, his subconscious, his preconscious and discovered that this was not readily available to him while in motion. He steadied himself by grasping gently but determinately the handle of his kukri which the masked man called “sans élégance”. Well, I got to keep mine. Ah, speak of the devil! Mundy turned his smirk into something more welcoming before Spy could see him.

Spy knew that the jarman was gloating as he fondled that machete of his. As the Americans would say, why don't you two get a room? This was told to the two of us one day, the day Mundy accused me of the sin of vanity, and that was the only reason I wore this mask, for indeed, what identity did I have to protect and from whom? If anything the mask makes you more conspicuous: quel affectation! (I taught him all the French he knows.) Could the pyro be guilty of the same sin? “Ai, merde!

30 .

This post has been deleted.

31 .

Continued; all characters belong to Valve Corp.

“Shit! Er, swee daze-o-lay, Man.” As he helped Spy upright, Scout knew this apology was inadequate like any other rude—gauche—American, but he was understandably distracted by this hearse-looking thing but with the colors of the Jack. If he looked more closely, he would have seen the Southern Cross on the hood. “Hey, fellas! Do we all have a bead on this?” Once Scout saw that the driver was shirtless, there was no question to his identity. “What the fuck are you doing here,” Scout said, his first time saying anything under his breath.

First of all, Jane thought, he’s on the wrong side of the car. Everything’s on the wrong side of everything down here. (Indeed, where is here, exactly?) Jane did feel positively upside-down upon the first sight of this preening gasbag which had only happened once before while seeing Cary Grant in that Naval farce—Jane had seen it enough times to lose count, a rough estimate would total twenty, to exaggerate and be more accurate, a hundred. Tony Curtis isn’t difficult to look at, either. I suppose some men just have that effect on other men.

If any of us unblest folks had a build like that, thought Dell, we wouldn’t bother with shirts, either. He imagined Mister Hale’s various exercises of vanity, especially the maintenance of the continent-shaped mass on that continent-sized mass, which he hoped was merely vanity and not an act of will (which was, if you ask me, still vanity), or, most frightening of all, it could be congenital. Surely, it would be a surprise to no one if that moustache were literally congenital. Dell pondered a literal interpretation of Scout’s phrasing.

Tavish had no use for the Literal. “I understand you know how to blow things up,” was Saxton’s first imposition upon DeGroot. It had been a good long time since he had reduced anything to its elements, physically; I thought he meant paradigms, concepts, or simply narrative structure. Tavish was an expert at blowing up structures by year five, finishing a career in the pursuit of one (plastic) and starting a career in the other (heuristic). Immediately following (figuratively) his conversation with Mister Hale—not about capital B Burns, he was launching bombs at people (literally).

A hand emerged from the decelerating Hillman and the Medic felt obliged to respond in kind. At this gesture, he realised the bareness of his hand, the pleasant bareness. The auto arrived (well, it stopped), the driver grinned all while shifting gears, opening the door and thrusting each booted, nearly bare leg out onto the dry ground. From this distance, the Medic could now inspect the man properly. He conjectured: it is probably wonderful to have that body at our age, but surely it is all downhill from there.

The presence of Hale was not antagonizing this time, Heavy thought; the silence was particularly welcome. Slowly, his gaze met each of our eyes and the ritual ended with one quick nod. As a denouement, he reembarked and sped away.

“I like when things can be tidy,” Mundy said.

“Utilitarian,” Heavy mused.

“As much as flesh-and-blood can be.”

“No one should expect more.”

“No one should promise more.”

“To each according to his will; from each according to dumb luck.” Mundy responded by releasing his kukri handle and doubling over clutching his chest as if his lungs would escape from its slight enclosure.

The more robust man found enough amusement in this to let out a snort. For half a minute, Heavy resisted an urge to reorient the sniper, ultimately offering a right proper meathook which was accepted with an unvoiced “Ta.” Heavy marvelled at how much more concrete a person could become upon seeing him have a good laugh, how utterly intimate that action was.

The Spy sneered at this asinine display. “You make that face quand t’achevais?” Scout once quipped at him, immediately making the decision to teach Scout that word—no, any français—regrettable. This job required keeping one’s emotions close to the vest (this job required a vest) and to facilitate things, he chose to have only two: pleasure and disgust, each on their separate ends of one spectrum. You could see this on a curl of the mouth and a shift of the eyes, if I were in an expressive mood and if I were being sincere that day.

Pyro hoped that the Spy would make his most disgusted face upon seeing his flower, it was sentiment of this kind that turned his stomach which was the most honest expression of admiration (in my opinion). Only polite smiles from the rest of the team were expected. And that’s all I really want, thought Pyro. One other desire, not fully formed, not quite gestated, involved Hale, fire, and petrol; or an axe and that absurd vehicle of his. Keeping this image in the mind coaxed out a song: “Who will buy my sweet, red roses; two blooms for a penny?”

32 .


The pleasantness of the day was suspect by Jane’s standards. Contrariwise, to grouse about it would be, at best, a waste of time. “Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me?” Jane accepted his gift from Pyro with a broad smile and the gentlest handshake he’d ever given anyone. As with everything else, Jane could only react on instinct to assess creative efforts; in this arrangement, he admired its (presumed) intentional naïvety. Each skill or art humanity has developed is merely a distraction from our baser motives: so says Degroot. So be it, says I.

Dell felt Pyro’s knowing stare as his lingered on Jane; he carried on in this manner until Pyro’s still gloved hand pressed into his own glove with such force that, surely, if it were flesh upon flesh, they would have fused into one terrifying chimera. Once he had been released, Dell examined what remained: Pyro’s offering. How to describe it? If you could put all the important parts of Euclid’s Elements and Luke’s Gospel, you’d still need “Wild Nights—Wild Nights!” to fill in the remaining gaps to mirror this expression.

Magic is real, Degroot thought, and there is nothing that can be done to diminish that fact. Each objective observation inevitably alters whatever is observed, and that’s the farthest the scientific method has progressed; perhaps these are its final stages much like with shamanism or ruminant worship however many millennia ago. Thus concluded Tavish’s attempt to understand quantum mechanics which he suspected had nothing to do with teleportation. A solid object brought its weight upon his hand prompting a deep bow to the Pyro.

The cited reason for the Medic’s loss of license was Heresy (as best it could be translated) and to be utterly forthright, the end result was best translated as “excommunication”. Mine is the only science wherein this is possible. From that moment on, there was only one path down which his life could go (apart from taxidermist, maybe, or underground apothecary) which lead to here and now: uncertainty. An indulgence, in every sense of the word, passed between the Medic’s and the Pyro’s hand; the Medic accepted in spite of his principles.

Seeing the Heavy lost in thought, the Pyro tugged at his simple shirt where the end of his vest had formerly been. Heavy’s attention was rewarded with a present; he stared at this plucked bloom that he now pinched between his thumb and index finger. The delicacy of this gesture magnified the indelicate feeling occurring everywhere else on his body; no, he felt this all the way to his soul; to describe it fully: recall a moment when a limb has been cut off from the functions of the heart, thereafter is a painful restoration; it was this feeling which spread within the Heavy, measurably and immeasurably.

“I want to learn about style,” the Sniper told the Spy.

This proposition was met with a lingering comprehensive stare which allowed enough time to temper an appropriate response. “Men of our build should feel a responsibility to look the best we can; is this a conclusion at which you have recently arrived?”

“Yes…No…Yes, but it’s more complicated than that…or less.”

“You’ve been waiting for the occasion, but you now realise the occasion has been waiting for you.”

“Closer.” You scheming bugger, Mundy thought as he saw the slightest curl of a lip.

“You’ve found the age-appropriate desire to be aux current or—no, and you have the means to do so.” The Spy saw recognition and awareness on the Australian’s face. “Alors. I have no positive thoughts regarding the culture in the future; by then the pair of us will be too old to sustain relevance.”

“Speak for yourself. Oh! Cheers,” he said with a bow, and before Pyro could move on to Spy, Mundy decided now was the time (before it was too late) to share a brief foxtrot; he intoned quietly. “…Skies may not always be blue, but one thing’s as clear as can be…” He finished with a dip which turned into a hug.

Having broken away, Pyro reached out a hand; Spy regarded his dried-up weed; his mask could not obscure the red beneath it. The Pyro felt the effect of the Spy’s urge to show Mundy how to accomplish that move with complete justice; and while it was true Spy’s method was immaculate and expressive, the Sniper’s spontaneous intimacy was not without charm. It was impossible to weigh one against the other and not arrive at a perfect balance. How else can I judge them but by their merits? If only we were on the battlefield so I could torch them and see who burned faster. Pyro put aside this anguish momentarily and grabbed Scout’s hand.

The manner with which the cap flew off Scout’s head mirrored the attitude of romantic farce wherein he found himself. Indeed, the trinket currently in his hand he supposed was rife with symbolism and hidden meaning, an attempt to communicate subtle and secret feelings. To be honest, Scout thought, I’d rather enjoy the simplicity of an axe to the throat; if you’re trying for meaningful, please aim beyond your target. (You can imagine, the mask only multiplies the problem.) Buttonholes, dropped hankies and starched collars have no place in this loud century.

33 .


Dr Conagher had no patience for small talk. It always involved projecting feelings upon events you were powerless to change: mother's health, the decline of Western Civilization, the weather. To Dell, this seamed like a very cheaterly way to talk about God without talking about religion. Thus: never explicitly stated as such, but His displeasure was marked by precipitation of any kind or too much cloud cover, and somehow this transferred to your own personal narrative. A well-lived life was indicated by the most observed changes in barometric pressure.

Tavish was only indirectly aware of the effects that the Great War had on his country, when people talked of before, society became a construction that rivalled the Roman aqueducts: balance and precariousness somehow melded into strength. Now—the word always emerged with a sound that suggested gagging on treacle or laudanum—in an attempt to repair that great structure, we could only come up with several outdoor loos. Devices such as these had never inconvenienced the residents of Degroot Manor.

Medic would declare this century as the worst, mind you, fully aware of the array of atrocities throughout history. He imagined the industrialization of the process was meant to abdicate the cruelty involved (well, on one side at least); the ultimate effect was enough distance to make the cruelty immeasurable. Screams and eye contact make for an entirely different experience. The inquisitions had spectacle at least; and at this, he allowed a dark chuckle to escape.

Since there is no such thing as luck, it must follow that there is no honor in surviving adversity. You could claim horror at the more recent purges, but you would be exercising a willful ignorance of the prior purges, pogroms and poverty that nearly defines the country—the broadness of the land made having a definite identity impossible, not that there weren't attempts. To witness this (as Heavy had) meant that one's life was only to accumulate choices between terror and guilt, if you had the good fortune to be given a choice.

The British claim to dominance, mused sniper, rested exclusively on the plays of Shakespeare, and, perhaps, Newtonian physics, which were actually sliding into obsolescence (if he understood correctly). Thus: we have the Commonwealth; to be more vulgar: the English speaking world. The Isles, if we're honest, are basically a trap for western civilization's runoff, the dregs; and this country is the spillover of the runoff. Well, Mundy's probably French anyway; “a perversion of the French,” he imagined Spy would say.

The first thing to go is this suit, the Spy thought. The blood was remarkably simple to remove; the memories of repeated treachery that caused the blood—dull as they were—were not as simple to remove; not to get too philosophical about one's attire: the pattern of the fabric was the primary reason. The color was so aggressive, and yet, it gave the impression of someone who was payed on commission. (Well, this is an accurate description of my employment, but only semantically so.)

That suit is the first thing to go, Pyro thought, and fire would be too good a death for it. Considerations were made for various dismemberments, befouling substances, burials, neglect and oblivion. Nothing could be harsh enough for something that represented merit through dishonesty, the dishonesty was worse than the act it facilitated, there was no argument about that. He claimed it was a perilous job, and a necessary one, too. None of these defenses refuted the clear designation of Victorian Villain.

In mock dramatics, Scout intoned, “Oh, mercy me, we've arrived!” The station appeared out of nowhere; it gave the appearance of having been willed into existence fully formed the very instant he looked at it. Or: given relativity, we are coming into existence within the space of the station. The Scout hadn't delved deeply enough into Descartes to examine the implications on consciousness as a result of this situation; instead he hummed and sang. “Consider yourself well in. Consider yourself part of the furniture...”

If it weren't for Mundy's frequent mentions of his dear old Mum, Jane would be inclined to think he'd sprung up from the damp, dirty ground during rainy season—another well-worn topic—in the form of an early teenager like an ante-hero in a Brontë novel. The Sniper is well-mannered (remember: manners can be learned by anyone) but he is without any instinctual social skills whatsoever. I may not be charming, but I have a commanding presence and in all cases this is more important than being polite.

34 .

Let me update these links:

dA: http://ostrichridingcowboy.deviantart.com/art/Null-Our-Boor-or-Taco-Run-171416807
Tr: http://ostrichridingcowboy.tumblr.com/post/1648586468/null-our-boor-or-taco-run

35 .

“Try to remember the worst thing you’ve ever done. You needn’t tell me.”

“Yes. What now?”

“Do you associate this event with a choice or a compulsion?”

Medic considered this briefly. “There was a clear sense of urgency, as best it can be described with respect to discretion.”

“With respect to discretion, were the rules of ethics or morality suspended in this moment of indiscretion if your act was so compelled?”

Medic answered very carefully, “It feels as if yes and no could be correct in the same instant.”

“That is the essence of post-modernism this goes for science as well as art. Heisenberg discovered what literature has known for centuries; objectivity is the least objective of all experiences.”

“And now empiricism has to be re-examined? Along with logic and simple arithmetic, I can go back to testing a person’s humors, supposedly?”

“It’s just that some things, no, most things are two things at the same time, at least.”

Medic grasped at his face as if to reaffirm its composition.

As far as the Russian was concerned, human intellect began with Genesis and ended with Anna Karenina. This—perhaps restrictive—set managed to express all the broad possibilities of the human experience in addition to not necessitating ambiguity in spite of all Mr Degroot’s contradictions, even with both functioning eyes. To Heavy, there was one application of physics that mattered: the durability of objects relative to their momentum. The only person who needed to know how the teleporter worked was Dr Conagher.

The Spy had derided my knife as primitive, Mundy reminisced as his hand drifted again to its handle. Well, the root meant “first”, didn’t it? Not only that, it suggested a wholeness, too; a prime number cannot be divided but by itself or one. There’s an aura of mystical reverence each time a new one is discovered. He vaguely remembered something about congruent forms on a plane. While it is necessary in life to acknowledge entropy, let it be on record: each improvement requires a distortion, a deterioration of some kind.

Whenever Mr Mundy was confronted with any sort of affection deeper than playful, he turned into an embarrassed schoolboy, Pyro reflected. Far worse, however, was Dell’s officious “while you are the dearest of all whom I know, unfortunately, I am not inspired in that particular proclivity.” The Spy’s dismay—a rare instance of sincerity—could communicate nothing else but a fatal incompatibility; this sentiment was quickly conceded and was more quickly felt mutually.

Spy didn’t know what purpose the mask served. Logically, an obscured face only raises suspicions amongst the enemy, a feeling felt more acutely among friendlies—the very ones who not only disobeyed the hermetic-barrack-policy but seemingly made a point to break it (as the policy’s existence seemingly encouraged). For this reason sleeping in the mask was the wisest solution—the assumption was protecting his identity was for the sake of his team’s safety if, à dieu ne plaise, we ever met on the outside.

It never felt like sleep; it was more akin to being a molded plastic toy that the child had stopped playing with for the day. This had no impact in lessening the perceived seniority the rest of the team felt in relation to the Scout. Each of them had a specific set of fatherly advice and a need to impart it to him, even though it all boiled down to the same idea: youth is at its best complicated, at its worst impossible; it was clear that this had absolutely nothing to do with youth or any other strata of humanity.

Jane actually feared solitude, fully aware that his abrasive personality did not help the situation; ideally, he could perpetually surround himself with other men intent on subduing their weaknesses, wresting them out of the body thereby disintegrating them without remorse, scenes as these always inspire terror in your enemies and respect from your friends. Manliness (or the lack thereof) is determined by choosing to either obscure or overcome insecurity, the most common disease of all. Pride is a mortal sin; doubt that axiom at your own peril.

Dell did not actually know how teleportation worked. I can tell you it has nothing to do with quantum mechanics; incidentally, neither did Scout’s BONK! poison. Each process entailed a bargain between imperviousness and destruction and all that implies; well, all Science is taken on a faith by faith basis. This train station was inexplicable, too; the impression was that of a transplant off a toy model mysteriously blown up to human size. Matter seemed to lose its definition as time went on; and that’s called entropy, kids!

36 .


Admittedly, any biped with a marginally acceptable sense of ethics could have done that job. At this thought, the medic mused at the irony of how stressful and simultaneously simple the task of keeping everyone alive actually was; it was easier to decide on whom to take a bonesaw, to be utterly, gracelessly honest. Musing further, he concluded that this conflict encompassed the ultimate endgame of evolution; save the world at the pull of a lever, and pull enough times to nearly kill you. Forever.

It used to be that a life could be measured by the scars incurred, a document of times passing, but now everything can so easily be smoothed over. Each little meaningless resurrection. The first law of thermodynamics. All that can be is either being or becoming and it's all mostly emptiness; each unique arrangement of particles determines what bounces, bends, breaks or binds; all of it waiting for oblivion. I v prakh vozvratish'sya. “Knives, knives to grind,” he hummed.

The sniper quit the loo to stumble upon a line, the faces of those waiting ranged from dismay to bemusement. Well, I am allowed to use a toilet, aren't I? Even if, admittedly, at this point using a jar feels more natural. Reflecting further, he discovered a bizarre conjunction (and where it became a schism) between a duty (ignore the pun, s'il vous plait) and a right. The definition, the difference, depended purely on context and temperament. These are the choices: inside the tent, outside the tent; kindness or cruelty.

Spy felt an intrusion as he entered the bathroom. “Qu'est-ce que ça?

“Himmy uh mah.”

D'accord,” he complied giving the proposition only a brief thought. Before he could fulfill the request himself, a bare hand reached into the opening designated for his mouth, and feeling a strange, bare hand where any such contact had previously been infrequent generally, absent recently, his body involuntarily tried to graft itself onto the pyro's, commencing at the hips. He found it difficult to recover from this dizzying imbalance.

Even with the corporeal engulfment by the Spy, Pyro was able to quickly accomplish the task of turning one mask into a new one; where before, it obscured all but the eyes and mouth; now, it would do the opposite.

Put-wah vwah munnah?” Pyro heard.

Avec plaisir. Attandes,” Pyro responded, and soon after the rubber hood was removed leaving the re-purposed balaclava with an attached pair of PyroVision goggles. They silently admired each others' beauty; content with this mere revelation, the two quit the facility.

I'll never understand old people, Scout thought; they can only make happiness and joy look grotesque (to use one of Dell's ten-dollar words), as if it were their sole purpose. Mind you, the complaint is not directed at the surface-level effects of age but at how much more acutely maturity forces the rest of us to confront Time's passing, especially in these more typically youthful scenes. “Typical” is a dirty lie equal to “proverbial” or “canonical”; why pervert every lived moment with the past and the dead?

The method of intellectual inheritance was not difficult to explain, its necessity was considerably more difficult, its practicality was impossible. Mister Doe's idea of the spirit combined a melange of Eastern mysticism and a healthy dose of Puritanism. Therefore, it was difficult to adequately express affectation toward him; a non-threatening half-nelson would come the closest, and who on God's green earth is brave enough to attempt something like that?

Jane hated the idea of having to meet new people. This had nothing to do with being what is delicately called socially retiring, not directly; far from it in fact. At my age, sharing a new intimacy involved an exchange of power; this is not out of a specific fear of submission or of the more repugnant dominance; this exchange—even in sincere attempts at equality—manages to unavoidably hurt both parties. He felt someone reach under his arm.

Eventually, a peaceful global civilisation will emerge, and not in a Lennonist cultureless, stateless way, even without repealing Calvinism from the historical record. Tavish anticipated a neo-triballist period that would have to be endured beforehand. Jane once wrote that mistakes are for reveling (which Tavish guessed was a possible misspelling of “revealing”; his most eloquent letters were always in crayon: some ideas only could be expressed with design). They all suppose what they want to suppose.

37 .

Continued [please, masturbate gloomily as needed]:

Heavy felt the most trepidation at what he was about to do in how the rest would receive the event, that it is derivative and obvious. We know how much you love Tolstoy, but is this the best way to show it? He calculated and tried to merge the deceleration of the train and his body's acceleration. Witness this, everyone: the trite and sentimental escape no one. Cliches tie all the absurdities between breaths together. All else is pornography.

The resulting red cloud made Mundy grip his kukri handle so firmly that it should have bonded to his hand. This is what it feels like to faint, he thought as his balance faltered. His personal dignity was undiminished since he was not the focus of anyone's attention presently. Shock melted into pure emotional anguish; this sensation made itself felt as a burning that emanated from his soft palate and radiated through to his forehead.

Spy's thoughts turned to religion: how the ones of eastern origin generally concluded that this experience—what we tether ourselves to and label physical reality—is all illusion; still, this is too much reality for some people. These are the ones who are blessed more than they can stand until it becomes a burden. You come to a choice: abandon reality, abandon meaning, or abandon the self. This is how Nihilism becomes a luxury.

Pyro knew exactly what was meant by the explosion of glitter and gears and, having long since lost the capacity to experience shock, ran toward it, fully aware of the futility in the gesture. This is what it means to be human: find the hopeless moments react against it, extract meaning and amplify. Delusion doesn't change reality, it merely favors one louder, brighter set of noise over another.

Scout, Spy and Tavish were the three men who had the wherewithal to go after the Pyro; Scout was the only one fast enough to make the interception. The rolling around that followed was hard enough to take, but it was all of this misery and drama mashed together that made him gasp for air, a remarkably rare event indeed though obviously overshadowed by a few others. My catching the vapors is the least of anyone's worries. An unanswered “Why?” managed to escape his mouth.

What had been an act of bravery quickly became shock and instinct as Dell's limbs were now wrapped around Jane tighter than an unlucky coyote around a wheel axle—the worst choice of imagery possible, all things considered. He had expected this to be a terrifying new experience (unheimlich, to use one of the medic's words) instead, it was an oasis of safety. The frame he clung to had a perfect balance of yield and sturdiness.

As he felt the pressure around various sections of his body, all the while witnessing the horror before him, his sense of duty was pulled in two directions: one was the acknowledgment of a great loss, the other was attending to the needs of Doctor C. As if of one action, he broadly, slowly made a salute with his right hand—the whole arm, actually; with his left, he grabbed gently at what could have been mistaken for a fleshy growth on his back.

The design of the human body is absurd, Tavish thought. Even with its fortitude balanced with sensitivity, its complexity, clarity, individualist and communal instincts. The scrutiny upon these still left the marvel that was shared intimacy which required the collapsing of one system onto another and the will to allow it. Paradoxically, power is diminished in neither but enhanced in both. There is no shame in the purity of lust.

The doctor had no inclination to ruminate on the soul until now when it felt as it his had been ripped from his chest, exactly where his sternum should be. This absence seemed to create a vacuum and all else that was in his body folded, attempting to fill that space. This is why people clutch at this area in these circumstances. Otherwise, surely, one would turn inside-out. This was the worst occasion for the divine to make itself evident.

38 .


Mundy thought it natural that he should accept the callousness prize and be the first to embark. Honestly, there was no more anyone could do outside of the train except enter it—there wasn’t even a vest to collect as sentiment. Still, the weight of the situation seemed to manifest itself physically in that getting into the car felt like stepping out of (or into) a jelly made with Fanta. He wouldn’t mention this to the others for fear of being accused of using psychotropics.

It was only the “Please” that came after the phrase “ONE AT A TIME” that compelled the Spy to release the Pyro’s hand. Gentility could survive anything, he thought as he stepped into what can only be described as the Charmat method: a brief, tingling thrill at first but—and this is where the comparison was most apt—followed by a lingering, dull confusion. His legs (his body, entire) behaved in a corresponding fashion until he managed to find a seat.

As the PyroVision goggles melted away, the pyro sighed. This clearly wasn’t the worst thing to happen today but an appropriate reaction to this loss could be expressed immediately and completely. Most trauma has to be handled like a receding tide, and make no mistake, the goggles functioned to distort reality both ways, the first obvious way for the viewer but there was also the second subtler distortion of the viewer. Though, what exactly could be discerned under everything else?

By Scout’s summation, the sight of Pyro’s hair and eyes was only a novelty especially since the rest of the ensemble—coveralls, t-shirt—was practically more formless than the fire retardant suit. Scout had imagined Pyro’s human form (surely, there was a better way to phrase that) so frequently that its presence finally made manifest was no cause for alarm. At this point he was even desensitised to spychecks which actually in a way were affectionate.

There were enough seats for everyone without the need to negotiate between a window or an aisle which seemed to encourage an antisocial arrangement to the delight of mostly everyone present. As Doe (the Vicar) would often tell us, this isn’t a tea party; he’s a doctor of divinity in all but this vicinity. Dell had noticed that Jane had been credentialled many times over but none to match a time nor place when necessary. Tools are for when you hope to not need them, after all.

As he stowed his rocket launcher (which he was allowed to keep, inexplicably) in the area above his seat, Jane marvelled at his recovered ability to look skyward once his helmet (which he was not allowed) had been obliviated. He noticed a lessened weight in his bootsoles which was taken as an invitation to straighten his posture, the action now seemed uncannily natural. From crown to toe, the entire front of his body felt as if it had just been saved from drowning.

In looking Solly fully in the eyes afresh, Tavish noticed an enhancement of depth (or perhaps volume) therein. Contentment met solemnity, swirled around yielding brief flashes of brilliance, where before there were only enthusiasm (a solid mass) or disappointment (a void). Happiness is finite and scattered and does not accumulate as easily as the Void—it has been proven; there is no song sad enough. Thank God Jane found a balance for himself.

Medic felt dizzy. He tried to collect pleasant memories with other members of the team: watching Jane and Tavish skillfully amass damage, catching a breath by hiding with Dell or Mundy, each one ultimately ending too briefly to actually register as joy. Let this be the narrative of everything: to end either in the memory of pain or the pain of memory. So at my time of life, to be human is to have only trauma.

“Pornography is a great, old Greek word, isn’t it?” the Heavy thought as he awoke on the train. A near perfect translation would be something like a simulacrum-of-private-intimacy, and that would be an excellent summary of the century thus far in all senses cultural, historical and spiritual. He wiped the tears from his face and recognized the slight mania that often followed a fit of sobbing. “I know where I must be…”

39 .


Now, with neither the necessity nor the ability, the Spy wanted to disappear. This time, it was not to hide but to be absent. In this he was envious of Mundy—a rare honor, let's hope—for distance accomplished the same effect. In spite of how much fun the terror of lurking inspired (especially knowing that sometimes this only required the possibility of his presence), he was ready and more than willing to be just a memory at this point.

Pyro felt no desire to contribute to a conversation but sitting with someone seemed to be the healthier option. Scout was already talking the ears off Degroot and Mundy and looked to be quite occupied. Dell was usually willing to share a recipe of any Southern dish that was closer to an array of opinions than actual measurements; this could fill a solid hour. However, the pyro would rather share silence with someone who was comfortable with it. This left the sniper or the spy.

Tavish sat facing Mundy and the Scout—the least obstructed view—with Scout across the aisle; this kept the Sniper from needing to raise his voice. “I feel mysteriously giddy, and no, I'm not on amphetamines (yet, haw); I've somehow aged without any of the, er, quotidien experience. And I know this should be alarming, but this is quite the opposite. Memories, even the nice ones, are worthless, anyway. Hate to spend a day like this inside.”

The Engineer was too tired to consider the logic of the Russian already being on the train; equally, he was too tired to ignore its illogic. Leave the osseomancy and whatnot with Degroot, (“they're called 'signs and wonders' not 'measurements and conclusions' for a reason.”) though a spectre at the feast would be welcome at this point. He adjusted his limbs until they were only nearly touching the soldier's and basked in the shared radiant heat as they sat side by side.

Jane thought he'd let his hair grow out. This world is running out of room for the sensible; the untamed and disordered obtain a special kind of balance. I imagine that's something out of Ezekiel or Hosea—who can be bothered to read the Prophets, anyway? But miracles become smaller at this age; there's a pun to be made here about millstones and milestones. The grass is green and dense on the right side of the fence.

“You'll find that circumstance is always turning against our desires; that is: vice versa. The quality of the day has little to do with the actual weather and more with how being trapped inside opposes your wish to be outside. Everything is subversion; everything is irony. The safest bet is on entropy. I think this amount of cynicism can find its blame with Heavy's influence, which frankly is not in any way unpleasant.

The medic felt something akin to alchemy (if you believe in that sort of thing) when the Heavy sat across from him. Each tissue repurposed its elements into newly discovered states of matter. (If this is what shock feels like, everyone should try it.) Love and contrition seem to have to coexist, and that should be no source of shame, though chemists will eventually make all this insignificant. Magic is real enough.

It was here and now that was most suitable for the experiment often proposed: can I embrace this team all at once? Heavy saw an implacable look of trauma on everyone's face; though past a certain age everyone has that look apart from the yogis and the saints. Regardless, private sessions are better; each member has received one, some less solicited than others. But, in every situation reluctance was overcome by mercy.

An entrepreneurial pessimist would find a way to invest in entropy, no doubt. Le deluge and all that follows. (Another toi and another deluge.) He grasped his kukri handle as he thought of the exasperating comfort of situation comedy, he released upon noticing he was looking the Pyro in the eye for the first time; the gaze piercing him deeper than the deepest; in this same terrifying instant Mick realised how much love he was capable of feeling for another person.

40 .

Why are some characters written in their own names and others in their class names?

41 .

I hope it helps to acknowledge that the voice is constantly shifting, but there is a pattern to it (which I break a couple of times).

I started the piece before we knew about "Misha", so I decided to to use it.

And if nothing else, just for the variety of it all.
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