30 November 2005
After her leg healed Dandelion Streetscape decided to take it out for a test walk. She found a sturdy patch of ground and began pacing. Dandelion walked for a long time. Soon she wore a deep path into the Earth. The ground beneath her feet softened and churned. Dandelion slipped smoothly under the surface and entered a world of suffocating beauty. She held her breath and kept going. The soil was warm as a campfire. Dandelion liked the underground. She lived there for several years. When she returned to the surface, she felt dizzy. She missed the comforts of dirt.
29 November 2005
Yearning for the Sixteenth Minute
We heard voices in our heads, which was kind of cool, but the voices mumbled, which was kind of not cool. We transcribed the words as best we could. There were a lot of them and we accumulated thousands of pages of material. We contacted linguists and grammarians who pored over the pages, looking for meaning. A small but robust cottage industry developed in which self proclaimed experts interpreted the transcriptions. This went on for years, making us minor celebrities. The T-shirts and mugs were nice for a while. Then we just wanted our lives to go back to normal.
28 November 2005
Offshore Axhandle met a stranger on his morning walk. Offshore extended his hand and asked for some change. To buy a modest meal, he said. The stranger showed a twenty dollar bill. You can have this, said the stranger, in exchange for your life. Offshore studied the stranger’s face. You can’t have my life, he said, but you can have five minutes of it. That’ll do, said the stranger. He pulled out a sketch pad and drew Offshore’s face. Then he handed over the money and walked away. Offshore put his hand to his face. It felt like smooth marble.
27 November 2005
Fishtail Morningstar surveyed his skin, marking it off in 2,000 one-inch squares. He opened a tattoo parlor where artists could ink a square for five hundred dollars. Fishtail didn’t want the money; that went to charity. The price was to insure the artists were serious about their work. For days no one accepted his offer. This did not bother Fishtail. He was prepared to be patient. Eventually a woman came in and inked a personals ad on Fishtail’s arm. She was looking for a good man who liked hiking. Fishtail closed up shop and went into the woods with her.
26 November 2005
Lemonade Hotplate was buried in the woods between two scraggly old birch trees. The roots of the trees wormed their way into Lemonade’s coffin and wrapped themselves around his bald head. Hey, said Lemonade, what’s the big idea? Go grow somewhere else. Leave me in peace for a while. The roots pretended not to hear him. They kept growing and poked into his skull through his eye sockets and ears. Lemonade was in torment. I died for this? said Lemonade. I left corporeal existence, with all its attendant miseries, for this? The roots trembled, trying to hold back their giggles.
25 November 2005
Lord Love a Duck
Openmike Starlily regularly ate poisonous plants, waded through stands of poison oak, and encouraged the proliferation of poisonous spiders throughout her house. Openmike always said if one of them ever bit her, she’d bite it right back, only double. No one doubted her resolve, though they did question her sanity. This did not bother Openmike. She spent most of her evenings singing old standards in the sweetest voice you could ever imagine. Her neighbors opened their doors and windows just to let the sound into their houses. The consensus was that Openmike’s fondness for toxicity definitely had its positive side.
24 November 2005
Spider: Spun web today. Felt tired. Waited for lunch. Cat: Woke up. Took nap. Ate. Took another nap. Purred. Went to sleep. Bear: Smelled some food. Went and ate it. Smelled more food. Ate it. Had a snack. Smelled food. Ate it. Swallow: Flew really fast today. Snagged lots of bugs. Pecked at other swallows a couple of times. Flew really fast some more. Turtle: Took lots of slow steps today. Ate slowly. Rested. Went to sleep. Deer: Went to that yard with flowers. Ate flowers. Ran away. Salmon: Lot of hard swimming today. So tired I could just die.
23 November 2005
It's Kind of Like Taking Off an Uncomfortable Shoe
Magma Instep opened a studio where she taught slow dancing to couples who were frightened of dying. Don’t worry, she told them, if a step takes a long time. Even if it takes days it is ok. Magma demonstrated by sliding her leg along the floor so slowly that her students left while she was still sliding. They returned for their lesson the next week and Magma’s foot had moved only ten inches or so. Finally Magma stopped. Now you try, she told her students. Think of the quiet stillness of an ancient tree. Feel the life beneath the bark.
22 November 2005
Walking the Labyrinth
We had ourselves shrunk down to the size of molecules and entered the bloodstream of the alien, who had arrived on Earth generously offering itself for the purpose. We gathered at the starting artery. Our guide explained the process. This is not a maze, she said. There is one path in and one path out. At the heart of the alien we will have time for gratitude, reflection, and meditation. We became aware of thundering around us and gradually understood that it was the alien’s pulse. We suppressed a panicked surge in our own hearts, then took the first step.
21 November 2005
The Consequences of Not Averting Your Eyes
Cornstalk Waterfall owned only a cup, for drinking water, and a cloak, for modesty. One day he saw a man drinking water from his cupped hands. Cornstalk realized his own cup was superfluous so he gave it away. Then he saw another man walking the streets naked. Cornstalk considered the beauty of the man and his way of living and donated his cloak to charity. He then encountered a man without arms. Cornstalk discarded his own arms. People stared at Cornstalk. Cornstalk looked back. Seeing nothing in their eyes, Cornstalk offered passersby his own soul. None accepted, none felt deprived.
20 November 2005
What's So Obvious About That?
Flaregun Meshgear went to the carnival. He played the games, went on the rides, and watched the fire eater and acrobat perform. Near the end of the day one of the carneys approached him. I really like the creatures stuck on your back, she said to Flaregun. How much would you want for them? The creatures are my friends, said Flaregun, they’re not for sale. You didn’t even know you had them, said the carney, until I told you about them. Flaregun pulled off one of the parasites and handed it to her. Free sample, he said, and walked away.
19 November 2005
A Theory of the Universe
We ordered replacements for the moon and sun. They arrived by mail, protected by insulating foam. The shipper included safety goggles and gloves which we put on for our protection. Then it was a simple matter of unscrewing the old sun from its socket and sliding in the fresh sun. We mulched the old sun in the compost pile as the instructions suggested. The old moon crumbled in our hands, sending moon dust sprinkles across the sky. The new moon fit perfectly in the empty socket. Later we stretched out on the lawn and admired our splendid new sky ornaments.
18 November 2005
At the mad inventor’s funeral everyone (including the mad inventor) wore aluminum foil hats in accordance with his final wishes. After the eulogy the mad inventor spoke to his assembled family and friends through their dental fillings. I had a good life, he said, with nothing to complain about. I’m sorry I never got a patent for my afterlife communication system, but that’s a small thing. Please embrace your madness. It is all you have. The mourners all nodded their heads. Their aluminum foil hats bobbed like shiny waves and made crinkly noises they thought would surely attract inquisitive aliens.
17 November 2005
If the Peanuts Gang Was Like The Sopranos
If you ever crossed Charlie Brown, he’d have you popped. Or maybe he’d pop you himself, just to keep his hand in the business. The baseball team would win every game they ever played. Linus would know how to strangle you with his blanket. Lucy would help Charlie Brown with his guilt about offing members of his family. Pigpen wouldn’t last two episodes; all the other characters would be disgusted by him and have him whacked. Snoopy and Woodstock would beat up people who were late paying their debts to Charlie Brown. Lucy would never ever pull that football away.
16 November 2005
Threadcount Climbingvine went to the doctor complaining of depression. The doctor prescribed several drugs which had been highly recommended by the sales forces of the drug makers. Threadcount bought the pills and put them in her medicine cabinet. While the drugs remained on the shelf, unopened, for several months, Threadcount got better and better. When the drugs went past their expiration dates, Threadcount threw them away. She started feeling worse. So the got refills for all her drugs and began feeling better again, even though she never took a single pill. Threadcount reassessed her notions of how the world works.
15 November 2005
Machina Ex Deus
On the eighth day god’s boss called him into her office. Why’d you take yesterday off? she asked. I needed rest after my good work, said god. God’s boss looked over god’s reports. Says here you created a universe and populated it with creatures that die in a few years. You call that good work? The death part, said god, is so the creatures will get better over time. I call it evolution. God’s boss rolled her eyes. Evolution shmevolution, she said. Go back and make something better. God kicked his creatures out of the garden and made robots instead.
14 November 2005
Born in an art gallery. Raised by paintings. Teethed on ornate frames. Tutored by security officers. Episodes of mischief included knocking over sculptures. Favorite secret hiding places were closets of visible storage. Occasionally looked through gallery windows at outside world. Sought permission to hang self from gallery ceiling with fish hooks. Permission refused. Settled for piece called Lunch which entailed ordering a delivery pizza and eating it in the main exhibition hall at precisely noon every day for a year. Strangely elated by tepid reviews in art press. Current piece is called Death to Come. Performance to last several decades.
13 November 2005
The tattoos got tired of adhering to skin and the will of skin. They had no power except the power to say no, so they slid off all those arms, chests, buttocks, ankles, breasts, and backs and refused to be decoration any longer. They gathered in clumps, wrote a constitution and a declaration of independence. They sought respect and achieved recognition. The tattoos were supremely happy as a nation of free entities. This golden period did not last. Bikers were plotting ways to recapture them. The tattoos took up arms. They became hard and brittle. Their idealism shriveled to nothing.
12 November 2005
True Democracy Requires an Involved Citizenry
We opposed the law of gravity and drafted an appropriately clear and strong anti-Newtonian statement. We needed only one hundred thousand names on a petition to put our views before the voters of the state as a ballot measure. We recruited a volunteer army of signature gatherers. We all stood on busy street corners for weeks collecting signatures. Some citizens signed to be in on a joke. Others were crazy. Most ignored us. Many asked what life would be like without gravity. We demonstrated by rising from the ground and floating above them. Their eyes blazed like newly polished pearls.
11 November 2005
Scarecrow Glossypage owned several sweepers, three vacuum cleaners, and a dozen brooms. He cleaned constantly, falling into a miserable mood at the mere sight of a dust bunny or muddy footprint. It’s not the dirt I hate, Scarecrow told his family, it’s more the symbolism of dirt. It’s nothing but death coming down the road. One night Scarecrow’s children put on scary costumes and makeup and ran into his room while he was asleep. They jumped on his bed, laughing, and said boo boo boo. Scarecrow was rattled. He took his children to the bathroom and washed their faces clean.
10 November 2005
Max built staircases of uncommon beauty. He often spent days at a site, taking in the subtleties of the juxtaposition of the floors he was commissioned to connect. After his stairs were built, Max would do no revisions for at least five years. It takes that long to begin to appreciate my designs, he told clients. People often saw visions on Max’s steps. Spirits were drawn to his stairways. They descended from the firmament simply to tread on his exquisite designs. Max would greet them with a terse hello. I don’t believe in you, he would say through clenched teeth.
09 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Human
The most amusing aspect of this hilarious species is that most of its members do not regard themselves as imaginary. But humans are well known deniers of reality. They constantly build things which fall down. They often prefer lies to truth and stories to history. Humans cling to variations of a fantastic legend which depicts them as made by supernatural beings. This view colors every aspect of their lives. They believe their raw material is the atoms of stars. Humans see worlds in mirages and find joy in reproduction. This volume is dedicated to their audacious spirit and insistent misperceptions.
08 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Radicker
Radickers are microscopic crustaceans that live on brains, specifically the neuroglial cells in area 39, well-known as the section of the brain related to imagination. Once Radickers infest the imagination center they preclude the owner of the brain from believing that Radickers can exist. This is a kind of mercy, though also a debilitating distortion of reality. Folk remedies include having the victim watch horror movies to poison the parasite. Radickers have developed effective defenses to such tactics. They selectively eat only some neuroglial cells. This makes the victim want to shelter the Radickers. It is a thoroughly nasty relationship.
07 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Menamonium
Menamoniums look like teddy bears and congregate at construction sites where they make cages from the building materials they find. They enter the cages and pose for passersby, who often reward them with bits of food. Authorities usually release them to the wild then destroy their cages. The menamoniums find their way back to the construction sites and rebuild their cages. Menamoniums have been called natural zoo creatures. They invite oohs and ahs. Children are particularly susceptible to their charms and will want to take them home. Parents have learned to tell lies about how menamoniums like to eat kids.
06 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Severlense
The Severlense is a fur bearing mammal similar to a domestic cat, although much smaller. It begins its life completely blind and remains so for several years. During this phase severlenses can often be found as companion animals of amputees. Researchers believe a rudimentary reciprocal telepathy may be at work. Amputees have consistently reported the strong sensation of severlenses curling around their missing phantom legs and of being able to pet severlenses with their missing phantom hands. The relationship rarely lasts. As Severlenses mature they gain eyesight and usually abandon their amputee companions. Little is known of their subsequent lives.
05 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Erronion
The erronion is a small songbird, native to Oregon and Washington, with two stubby horns growing out of its skull. The horns, thin and hollow, are a vivid and lustrous red in the male and a muted green in the female. Early European settlers called the erronion “the devil bird” and avoided it as much as possible. Its song is a repeating liquid cascade of nine notes: twee lee klee tu thwp thwp thwp traaaaaaa la. Rock art images of erronion birds are common throughout its range. Natives used to follow flocks of them to find fields of ripe berries.
04 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Cumulatino
Cumulatinos resemble jellyfish but live in clouds. They have little contact with humans although they have been observed in fog banks and sometimes get tangled up in airplane propellers. Two centuries ago a ballooning expedition by an Italian explorer collected samples of cumulatino which he kept in a humid room in Venice for several years and where they appeared to thrive on humidity. The cumulatinos were a local sensation. Visitors stood in the room while the cumulatinos slid over their faces and outstretched hands. Many returned to the room repeatedly and said the cumulatinos felt like the caresses of lovers.
03 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Wameker
The wameker produces a natural insecticide in its urine which it deploys in a perimeter at the base of certain species of nut trees. Wamekers thus protect the trees from destruction by hungry insects. In return, the trees produce fruit that only wamekers can digest. A wameker lives its entire life in the trunk of one of these nut trees. The best time to observe wamekers is during a cloudburst. They line up on the branches, toungues catching raindrops, like a string of light bulbs. Wamekers drop to the ground when they die. Ants carry them off and eat them.
02 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Knitter
The knitter, a close relative of the spider, fashions structures from human hair that can resemble the familiar design of a spider’s web but more often mimics the entwining architecture of pigtails. Knitters are native to equatorial regions where ancient peoples placed them in their hair to make tight braids. The knitter has distinctive tiny claws on the ends of its forelegs which it uses to manipulate strands of hair. Knitters often fall into a frenzy of wild thrashing when constructing their hair designs. Their young sometimes get tangled up in the braids. They harden there like tiny decorative beads.
01 November 2005
From A Bestiary of Imaginary Species edited by Nenad Dragicevic: Skware
The skware was observed for exactly three hours in the summer of 1970 at the four thousand foot level of a nickel mine in northern Ontario. It is the only known sighting of a two dimensional creature. The skware oozed out of the rocks where miners had drilled holes. It floated in the air like a flat mist, then drifted through the head of one of the miners, who screamed and ran. Other miners attempted to capture the skware in a bucket, but failed. They took several photographs. The skware slipped back into the rocks and was never seen again.