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Brain Salad Frequency

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by 0xDEADCAFE, Jun 8, 2005.


    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Brain Salad Frequency


    This is not a Diablo 2 story. In fact, it's not anything like a D2 fan-fic, not even in the fantasy genre. It's pretty straight fiction, with maybe just a hint of sci-fi flavor. I think the moderators have said it's okay to post other types of works here, and since I don't know of a better place to get great feedback, here I go.

    Comments welcomed! :clap:

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    So, as I have already described, this is an unusual post for this forum. And I've one more unusual post to make before I upload the story itself. See, I originally wrote this story, or what I now would call the "first draft" of this story, over two years ago.

    Recently I emailed it to another member of the forum, and he encouraged me to go back and see if I could't "sharpen the figurative landscape", "strengthen the theme", and "dress it up to the nines." I also think he said something about me having sent this story out in its "pajamas" the first time.

    Of course, at the time, I had no idea what he was talking about, and more than once, with his edgy spontaneity and blisteringly off-colorful verbal barrages, I doubted whether he wasn't perhaps a few sentences short of a complete paragraph. But over time I came to greatly appreciate his advice and criticism. And so, as unusual a step as it may seem to be, I make now this dedication.

    "For lessons in the Art of Writing, for sensitive and katana-sharp advice that at times seemed almost sisterly, I raise this goblet of Writyer's Gorh, filled to the top, to the very-very, and tilted at heaven - this one's for you, Clarke667."

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Part 1 of 3

    The radio started to crackle so I switched it off. It always did that when I drove this stretch of road, past the big tower. And I came this way often, so the flick of my wrist toward the on-off switch was almost a reflex action, just like my usual comment. “Damn tower. Big damn tower.â€

    Today was a little different though. The travel computer in my car was flashing at me to “Turn Hereâ€, into the side street that went practically under the big damn thing. I was a little surprised the computer was still working this close to such a gargantua of static interference.

    “Into the belly of the beast,†I murmured. “Well, into ankle-biting territory, anyway.â€

    I do that sometimes; talk to myself, that is. And sometimes I answer, too. It seems like that’s been my way for as long as I can remember, or for a long time, anyway. It’s a kind of release valve for busy thoughts, I guess, especially when I’m alone. See, the damn funny thing about it is, sometimes the words that come out of my mouth don’t seem to match exactly what I’m thinking, and once I hear them, I’ve gotta come right back with a correction. It’s kind of a feedback system; my brain gets first crack, but the ears have final say.

    I waited for the oncoming cars to pass and then turned left onto the road indicated by the blinking red arrow on my dashboard. The side street ran much closer to the tower than the main road, so although I had passed the thing almost daily for years, I had never seen it this close-up before

    “What a monster!†I said, slowing the car to crawl so I could lean over the passenger side and get a good look out the window. “Well, a monstrosity, anyway.â€

    And it was. It really was.

    An erector set monstrosity, a titanic tinker-toy of steel girders longer than my house and bolt heads the size of manhole covers. From far away it had always seemed like a thin, elegant needle, barely wider than the guy wires that held it steady. But from here! From here, the most obvious feature of the thing was its four sprawling support beams took root in massive concrete blocks that didn’t so much sit on the ground as impale it, and the high grasses and wild weeds around them made it seem as if the earth were crying in pain.

    “Ugh!†I said, “Uug-ly.â€

    And then there was the broadcasting antenna, high in the sky, hidden from my view by the low ceiling of the car. I couldn’t actually see what this tower was doing to the sky, but I didn’t have to. The shrill caterwaul emanating from the radio as I passed every day was enough to prod my imagination: it tore the sky with angry electric fire, invisible to mortal eye, but lethal to any sensitive instruments unfortunate enough to come within range. Like my radio.

    “Guess, I’m lucky the travel computer still works – or am I?â€

    As I straightened back up into the driver’s seat I glanced at the screen. It had gone completely black. My wrist flicked toward the screen, tap-tap. Still black.

    “Crud,†I said. “Predictable, really. So, now what?â€

    It would be hard for me to overstate just how much I depended on my car’s computerized compass. I have a fine mind for some things – did I mention my active imagination? And numbers, I’m good with numbers, faces too. But directions - nah. I’m the type of person who in concert halls just bounces between ushers with his ticket waving until the assigned seat miraculously appears before me. And in my car, the travel computer was my full-time usher.

    Tap-tap. (Nothing.)

    “Four-fifty-one.†Did I mention I was good with numbers? Yeah, that’s where I was going: 4-5-1… something. “Now where would that be?â€

    For the first time I took a good look around me. The tower sat on a couple of acres of roughly-mown field surrounded by a square of chain link and a thin line of haphazard evergreen bushes. There seemed to be some kind of utility shack way on the other side of field, but otherwise the grounds were pretty empty.

    On the left side of the road there were houses that seemed to be on the shabby side for this part of town, and they had a distinctly no-one-lives-here look about them. I drove down the length of the road looking for my number - to no avail. Most of the houses didn’t have any numbers at all, but the few that did weren’t even close.

    Luckily, the road I was on gave yielded very limited choices. At the end of the block it turned right, and then after a short stretch it turned right again. Half way up that road I realized I had made a rectangular half-circuit around the monster of the airwaves.

    “Like Jason and Scylla,†I said, “or was that Charybdis?†It seemed as if I was caught in a whirlpool, with that nightmarish beacon at the center, slowly sucking me in. There were no more turns on this road, which dead-ended into a small copse of sprawling, rooty trees left over from the construction of the neighborhood decades before.

    I stopped my car and squinted at the sign right in the middle of the end of the road that read “No Outlet.â€

    “Well, that’s helpful,†I snorted

    I started backing the car up the narrow street, something that I had never really gotten the hang of – I mean, how often do you have to drive your car in reverse for a distance longer than the length of your driveway? The back end weaved like a drunken sailor, but about half-way down I noticed a little side road leading toward the tower.

    When I was just about a car-length past it I stopped and looked it over. It was a narrow dirt path that ran under a rather wide gate in the chain-link, which for some reason reminded me of a rabbit-hole. As I followed it with my eyes toward the small utility shack I finally realized what it was.

    “A driveway...â€

    And there, strapped onto the fence was a rusty old tin can of a mail box with the faded, once-black numbers 4-5-1.

    “Eureka!†I said. “Looks like Alice didn’t need the all-knowing travel-com after all!†I had the feeling the dark screen was watching me in silence, thinking, “Sure, genius, I’ll just stay in the car, while you go spelunking, if you don’t mind.â€

    I pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. The tower was visible through the windshield now and seemed even closer than before. I had a sudden urge to rotate the ignition key back a click and turn on the radio, just to gauge the closeness of the thing by the sound it the radio made. I thought better of it when I imagined the roar of a lawn mower tearing through the delicate diaphragms of my car’s hi-fi speakers, and just opened the door instead, at which point I was met by the sound of – a lawnmower.

    A real one, that is. Down toward the shack, a man was hunched over a small lawn tractor. The cowl was folded back and he seemed to be working the engine.

    “Could that be him?†I mumbled and sucked a tight breath. “Well, there’s one way to find out.â€

    The gate wasn’t locked so I opened it and started down the driveway – literally, down. The road must have been quite a bit higher on this side, either that or the field had a marked slope in it. Funny thing is, I hadn’t noticed either as I drove from one side to the other.

    “Jimmy!†I shouted.

    With his head bent over the screaming engine I was pretty sure he couldn’t hear me, so I waved my arms and, for the lack of any better idea, futily bellowed his name a few more times.

    “Maybe it’s not him.†I stopped, and shuffled me feet a little, before starting down again. “Well, maybe.â€

    Finally, he saw me. He idled down the mower and started walking towards me. I hadn’t seen my old college buddy for years and years, but the coke bottle glasses, the pronounced bounce in his walk, the little side-to-side bob his head made with each step - I’d recognize them anywhere. The only thing missing was the long, greasy bangs that seemed to be forever in his face, but then I had to admit to a slight deficit in the hair department, myself –time had done that, but otherwise Jimmy was just like I had remembered him

    “Hey Jimmy!†I called again.

    Jimmy kept coming without seeming to recognize me

    “It’s Harvey, Jimmy. Harvey Kittle.†I yelled.

    “Harvey Kittle?†he said slowly. Then brightening, said, more loudly “Marv’ Harv?â€

    It was a nickname I had in college, “Marvellous Harveyâ€, or “Marv Harv†for short. See, I kind of had a thing for the word “marvellous†in college. I was at that age when a kid sometimes latches onto a favorite word, a single, solitary word that seems sums up the whole world. Here’s how it worked:

    Meatloaf for dinner? - Marvellous.

    Surprise quiz today? - Marvellous.

    Nuclear missiles on the way? Sudden, meaningless death and the end of civilization? – Marvellous!

    It was the perfect word for all occasions.

    I remember that the nickname had kind of irritated me at first, which is probably exactly why it stuck. It seemed that a lot of kids had favorite words, and Jimmy was no exception. Like “Shazam†for example. I kid you not. Apparently he had been some kind of old comic book nut in grade school. But he never became “Shazimmy Jimmy†or anything like that, it was always just “Jimmy.â€

    “Harvey Kittle! No way! Jeez, man, like Shazam!†he bellowed through his trademark big, dopey grin.

    The truth is Jimmy could be kind of obnoxious. He was what you might call a little too enthusiastic, which at times could be downright embarrassing. Try acting cool with some cute chick when the guy you’re with yells “Shazam†at the top of his lungs. Not cool. But he sort of grew on you. There was a natural joy about him, a childlike innocence; he just sort of grinned and Shazam’d his way into your heart after a while.

    We shook hands, a good muscular shake, but somehow it wasn’t enough. We hugged and backslapped and shook again. It was quite a moment. I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to see Jimmy again, but it was good to see him, an emotional good if you know what I mean, and I could see he was glad to see me too. And it was one of those moments where I seem to lose all sense for words. I’m pretty flapped my gums mutley a few times, kind of like a lost clam out for adventure and suddenly finding himself out of the water.

    Luckily, Jimmy was never at a loss for enthusiasm, or for words.

    “Wow man, it’s been years! This is fantastic, what are you doing here? How’d you find me?â€

    “Internet†I flapped.

    It had been one of those annoying pop-up ads. This one had read something like “Find your old school chums†and, for once, I clicked. The deal was that for ten bucks you could search for up to ten names. I remember thinking, “A dollar, a friend – what a bargain.†Anyway, I tried it. Mostly misses but it found a few old buddies. Jimmy’s name came back with no phone number, but the address was just a few blocks from where I lived. I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks until I decided to just drive over and have a look.

    “I used a search site…†I started, but Jimmy interrupted me.

    “Wait, come on in man, let’s talk inside, I’ll show you my place.â€

    Jimmy motioned toward the front of his very small house. I realized then that I had seen it from the other side of the field through the base of the big tower, and had assumed it to be some kind of utility shack. I could see now that it was a little bigger than a shack, though not that much. There was a short gravel walkway running from his all-dirt driveway to a windowless front door. It seemed be of metal, and was unpainted.

    His invitation seemed friendly enough, welcoming me into his home and all that, but there was a funny look on Jimmy’s face when he said it. He seemed a bit too serous, a little worried, even, but he seemed to relax again as we walked toward the door to his house, and when we stepped inside he brightened right up.

    “Come on in, come on in, man, make yourself at home.†Jimmy closed the front door behind us and I found myself standing in a room that I guess you’d call the living room, but it didn’t give the impression of being very lived-in. In the first place there was no furniture of the kind you’d expect to see: a couch, a comfy chair, an ottoman maybe, or some end-tables, none of that.

    Instead, there were stacks of industrial blue-gray electronic equipment, piles of technical-looking books scattered her and there, some lab stools, two long black benches covered with wires and more gray equipment, a soldering station, a PC, and perched around the room in odd places, several small contraptions that looked vaguely like tiny satellite dishes with legs. And there was one ugly old wooden chair in the corner with hand straps or something. I didn’t get a good look at it at the time, but I remember it giving me a slightly sick feeling.

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Part 2 of 3

    I was thinking that, except for the chair, it reminded me of a class I took in college, Electrical Engineering Lab, something like ELAB101, I was thinking, when Jimmy seemed to take the words right out of my head.

    “Please, come into my la-BOR-atory,†Jimmy said, in a mock Transylvanian accent.

    The strangeness of where I was standing, the sound of Jimmy’s bad imitation of Count Dracula, the sight of my old friend’s irresistible smiling face, which, despite the middle-aged lines around his eyes, still grinned like a dopey teenager - it was too much; I just cracked up laughing. And Jimmy did too. I don’t know he was laughing at his own joke, or at the sight of me laughing at him, but we both just stood and split our guts for a few seconds.

    When Jimmy managed to compose himself, a bit sooner than I, he walked quickly across the small room and into the adjoining kitchen. There was only a half wall between the two rooms, so from where I stood I could see pretty much the whole kitchen. It had a big picture window on its back wall and there, framed almost perfectly by the window panes, was the big radio tower.

    “Internet!†Jimmy called over his shoulder as he entered the kitchen, “Yeah, its great. So vast, so many possibilities!â€

    I couldn’t see Jimmy’s face when he said the word “possibilities†but I could just picture it: a dreamy, faraway, almost rapt look in his eyes. Back in our college days, if the guys had decided to give Jimmy a nick-name, it would have had to have been “Possibility Jimmyâ€. He was always going on about “possibilitiesâ€. Seemed like almost every time he’d come back from one of the endless science and engineering classes he took, he’d bust our ears over some kind of new “possibility†he had just dreamed up. The nickname never quite saw the light of day, but many a look ‘neath raised eyebrows was exchanged in the echoes of that word. If “Poss Jim†had had just a bit more of a ring too it, it just might have stuck.

    “Can I get you anything?†Jim asked.

    I walked up to the half-wall and gazed over it at Jimmy. I also had a good view of the interior of the refrigerator. There was a large stainless steel on the top shelf, but the rest of it – and it was on the small side like everything else in this house – seemed to be just filled with clear plastic bottles. I wondered it if was plain bottled water or something else.

    “Mineral water?â€

    “Sure,†I said. So, it was mineral water.

    He grabbed two bottles, took a few steps toward me and handed one over.


    Jimmy went back over to the refrigerator and I glanced back at the metal bowl, wondering about its contents.

    “Salad?†he said.

    “What?†I replied.

    “You hungry? Want some salad?â€

    He pulled the bowl out of the refrigerator and held it out so I could look inside.

    “Salad?†I repeated, rather stupidly. He had just said what it was, but it was such a non-sequiter; I mean, I had been offered food in a friend’s house before, some pretzels or chips, maybe a cookie or two, but… salad?

    Plus, I had this weird feeling that he was reading my mind. Yeah, that’s a little ridiculous, I know. It’s not so unreasonable that he would be offering me food and drink like that, but the timing of it was so strange. It was like he was answering questions I hadn’t even quite thought of yet, just as I began to wonder about something. If I was a little dazed, Jimmy seemed not to notice.

    “Yeah, man, salad. I live on the stuff. Check it out.â€

    He came over and set the bowl down on the narrow Formica counter-top that ran the full length of the half wall. It made a distinct “thud†as he set it down.

    “Oh, salad,†I said, looking down into the wide container filled almost to the brim with a dizzying assortment of different vegetables, fruits, nuts and meats. I guessed there might have been some lettuce in it, somewhere, since there certainly seemed to be just about everything else; seriously, you name it, if you could buy it in a food store it was probably in there somewhere.

    “Looks good,†I stammered, “uh, you’ll have to give me the recipe sometime.â€

    “Shoot,†he said. “There’s no recipe. I just buy whatever I feel like and when I get home it all gets mixed up in the bowl. I love it. Of course, it’s not totally random. I make sure to get a lot of brain food, you know, gingko, peanuts, sardines, and stuff with high mineral content, especially iron and selenium, but otherwise I kind of shoot from the hip.â€

    “Yeah, well it sure looks good,†I lied, “but,†slapping my belly, “I just ate before I came over and-“

    “Sure, sure, no problem,†he said quickly.

    I tried to think of something to say as he put the bowl away. “So, you must really like mineral water.â€

    “It’s necessary,†he said.

    “What?†I said. “Necessasry?†There I went again. I began to feel like a retarded parrot. Why was I repeating everything he said?

    “That needs an explanation, doesn’t it?†He said. “Necessary - for this.â€

    Jimmy had just opened his bottle of water. He took a long swig and then set it down on the counter next to the fridge. I took a swig from my own bottle as he did that. It was mineral water alright - very. It had a definite tinny taste, almost like I was drinking right out of a copper pipe.

    “Strong stuff, eh?†he said.

    He was doing it again! But I had no time to wonder about his last comment before he did something even stranger than possibly reading my mind. He walked up to the picture window and spread his arms out wide. He also arched his back a little bit and stuck out his chest. He could have been stretching, but it looked more like he was eagerly preparing for a firing squad.

    And then he just stood there, in front of the window and the big tower. After a few seconds it dawned on me that, from my vantage point, with Jimmy silhouetted against the window and the image of that huge tower, he almost looked like he was being crucified on the damn thing. I wrestled with that disturbing picture in my head for several seconds waiting for him to do or say something.

    “Uh, Jimmy†I finally asked.

    “It’s alright,†he said. “I’m tuning.â€


    And then there were several more long seconds of silence between us. Finally, Jimmy dropped his arms and came back over toward me.

    “So what’s this tuning,†I asked.

    “So, how did you find me, again?†Jimmy asked.

    It was a rather sudden change of subject but I figured he was just picking up on our earlier conversation.

    “One of those web sites,†I said, “you know, where you find your old school chums, that sort of thingâ€

    Jimmy seemed thoughtful. He had that look on his face again.

    “You must have seen them?â€

    Jimmy shook his head.

    “Gotten spam about them?â€

    Again, he just shook his head.

    “You have heard of the internet?“ I said it smiling, not seriously. And I sort of winked one eye at him when I said “I’m sure I saw a PC in the other room.â€

    “I get on at the library sometimes, for my research. But I don’t have a phone in the house, so I can’t dial-in from here.â€

    “Oh.†I said, and my winking turned into a startled blink. “Well, they’re all over the place. You see them in banner ads and they send out tons of spam. It’s mostly a gimmick, really. They suck you in with an offer to hunt-up old school chums, and then they try to sell you some kind of directory or search service. Still, the one I went to did give me my ten free searches, and, well, here we are.â€

    Jimmy still seemed a little unsure about the whole thing. I couldn’t understand why it even bothered him, but it clearly did. And there was an awful, awkward silence looking – I could just feel it.

    “So…†I said, “you’ve got a tower!â€

    Please! I had been looking for something nice to say about the house ever since I walked in, but that? He’d have to think I was making fun of him. He narrowed his eyes a little when I said it and then said “Exactly†in a slow, almost solemn way.

    “You probably want to know about the tuning, eh?†he said,

    “Sure,†I said, “what’s this tuning all about? Does it have anything to do with the tower?â€

    “Okay.†He said. “As you’ve probably guessed, it has everything to do with the tower.†He paused and looked out the window. “That tower, man, what a blessing. Man, was I ever lucky to get this place. Anyway.†He looked back a tme and continued. “It’s pretty simple really. It’s a radio tower, right? I’ve been training myself to tune into it.â€

    “What? Like a radio, you mean.â€

    “Not exactly, but the idea is similar. That’s why I drink all this mineral water – the metallic ions in the waters help me tune.â€

    I laughed. Maybe it was the way he bobbed his eyebrows up and down when he said the word “metallic ions†or maybe it was just how utterly ridiculous it all seemed, but this time, Jimmy didn’t laugh with me.

    “I’m serious, man. What I was doing before, it almost works. I can’t quite make any sense out of it when I do it that way, but I can feel something, and at times it feels like I’m able to lock onto a single frequency.â€

    I stopped laughing, and on the inside, I felt quite the opposite. I wasn’t sure if my old buddy had gone completely crazy, but I was well on my way to that conclusion. I felt suddenly sad, and maybe a little afraid.

    I don’t think I actually said “What?†this time, that is, I don’t think the sounds of that word actually escaped my mouth, but my brain, and probably my face as well, were just saturated with the thought.

    Jimmy grinned.

    “Jeez, man, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. I’m serious. Why not? The tower’s broadcasting megawatts of electromagnetic energy, and we’re like, what, a 100 feet from it. What’s so hard to believe?

    I didn’t say anything, and I imagine “what†was still plastered on my face.

    “Look, you ever notice that when you touch the antenna of your radio or an old TV that the reception improves? We’re big bags of water and electrolytes. We’re big antennas! Especially me. I’ve modified my blood chemistry to hold more metallic ions.â€

    I was still speechless when he reached under the counter and pulled out a large horseshoe magnet about the size of his hand.

    “Look,†he said. He pulled his sleeve up a few inches and touched the magnet on his arm, just for a second. When he lifted it back up there were two reddish rectangles on his arm.

    “It’s my blood,†he said, “the magnet pulled it up toward the surface of my skin. Go ahead, try it on your arm, it won’t work because your blood isn’t hyper-saturated with iron.â€

    I picked up the magnet and tried it. He was right, it didn’t work on me. Jimmy got up and strode over to the window again. This time he just slid his hands into his pockets and stared at the tower.

    “It starts as a kind of itchiness, but not at the skin, it’s deeper down. Sort of under the skin, in the veins I guess, but I can’t really tell. The itchiness is not all that pleasant, really. That’s where the tuning comes in.

    “That’s how it was, at first, just me trying to make the itchiness go away. Somehow I was able to do it. And I didn’t know how I was doing it either, must have been pure biofeedback. Whenever I did something that made it less itchy, I could feel it, and after that happened a enough times I learned how to do it at will. I’ve been doing this for months now, and now I can tune right in.â€

    I finally found my voice, and remembering my almost daily experience with my car radio, said, “Tune into what? Static?â€

    Jimmy turned around and grinned. “Well, one man’s static, is another man’s music, I like to say.†His eyebrows bobbed a couple of times. “Actually, that’s what it’s like - music. I can’t hear it exactly, it’s more like a tingle down my spine, but when I’m really tuned in, I’d swear it’s just like having a kind of silent music running through my whole body.â€

    “So, you can’t really tune-in,†I said, “not like a radio. You’re not saying that you can dial up your favorite radio station just by drinking mineral water and spreading your arms?â€

    “’Course not man, I’m just saying, that there’s something that I can feel, and when I’m tuned in it’s a nice feeling. Hell, I look forward to it, man. It’s like, catch some waves, ya know? It’s real peaceful, somehow.â€

    When I heard Jimmy say that I think I must have exhaled for the first time in about five minutes. He wasn’t crazy after all, a little strange maybe, but now that I understood better what he was saying-

    “At least not without special equipment.â€

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Part 3 of 3


    Jimmy walked over to the doorway of the kitchen and said “Please†in that Count Dracula voice again. Since I was already standing in the living room, I assumed it was just for humorous effect, and didn’t move where I was standing, I just turned around to face him. Then he walked right into the center of the electronic lab mess and said, “But with this, I can,†and he extended one of his arms toward the sinister-looking chair in the corner.

    I looked at it and again got that sick feeling in my stomach. There was something very familiar about that chair.

    Jimmy walked over to it and started dragging it toward the center of the room. I could tell it had not been made for moving around; there was a heaviness about it, almost an inertia of presence, but it looked like Jimmy had done this before. He had it tilted back on two legs and he was sort of carefully walking it in my direction.

    “Jimmy, is that…â€

    I really didn’t need to ask. This chair, which at that moment seemed to be skulking across the room like a mahogany version of Frankenstein’s monster, had straps on the arms and front legs. At the top there was an extension of sorts, some small planks that went up and then forward and down, which looked like a miniature gallows perched atop the high back. And hanging right about where I could easily picture a loop of rope was an upside-down, shiny metal bowl-shaped sieve.

    The chair came to a stop with a thud and Jimmy’s grinning face beamed at me from over the top of it. “Yes-sir-ree,†he said, and with all the pride of a farmer showing off a prize-wining pig, “this is one choice, grade-A, government issue, all-natural, 100% electric chair.â€

    I guess my face must have said “Surely, you’re joking!†because I’m pretty sure my mouth didn’t utter a word.

    “Seriously! I got this at a jail-house auction. I go to a lot of them, best bargains in town. I buy a ton of stuff at government auction.â€

    Having seen how his house was furnished I had no reason to doubt him.

    “Yeah, I got this baby for practically nothing. Man, I couldn’t believe it, but hardly anyone was bidding on it. Can you believe that?â€

    “Well…†actually I could, but Jimmy seemed so pleased with it I didn’t want be too much the wet rag, and I suppose I was still in the flattering guest frame of mind, “yeah, yeah it’s really something, but, um, what do you do with it?†And I was still wondering about the sieve.

    “Colander.†Jimmy tapped the bowl with his finger and it swung loosely back and forth. “I use it to wash my lettuce sometimes.â€

    And it seemed he was doing the mind-reading thing again, but I was getting used to it by now.

    “It’s just the right size, and it was handy.â€

    “Right size for what, Jimmy?†Again, I didn’t really need to ask, but when I did Jimmy slipped around the front of the chair, sat down, and before you could say “possibilities†his impossible grin was smiling at me from under a shiny silver cap.

    “Cheese!†he said.

    The rim of colander came down almost to his eyebrows. He really did look comical, but I wasn’t laughing.

    “Now, a little demonstration. Would you be so kind as to flip that red switch over there while I strap in?â€

    “Jimmy!†I’m sure that must have sounded like Fay Wray in King Kong.

    “Relax man, I’m talking about the PC. Boot her up, man.â€

    I don’t think I moved for several seconds. Jimmy frowned at me.

    “Sheesh, man, settle down. You think I am going to electrocute myself? Look around, does it look like it’s plugged-in anywhere?â€

    I turned on the computer and took a good look at the floor around the chair. Jimmy was right, there was no power cable running from it to a wall socket. Actually, it was a rather funny idea, as if an electric chair would come with a standard power cord that you could plug in like a vacuum cleaner.

    “Du-uh.†He said. He stretched the word out with a friendly lilt in his voice so I wasn’t terribly irritated that he said it. In fact, it kind of calmed me down, as if he was letting me know that I was acting a little foolishly, and I was feeling that I was.

    But there were several wires coming out of it. Not heavy, black two-conductor cables, lighter gauge, more like speaker wire. I hadn’t noticed before, but part of Jimmy’s chair-walking routine must have included kicking the wires along the floor with his foot. There were six in all, and each one ran to one of those little contraptions I had seen earlier, the ones that looked like little spiders satellite dish heads.

    I hadn’t paid that much attention to them before; I guess I assumed they were lamps or something. There was so much junk scattered around the place that no one thing in particular had really stood out. Each of these things also had a flat computer cable running over to the computer, which had its case cover removed, and seemed to be sprouting cables like weedy lianas.

    “Hey, Harv, could you give me a hand with this last one?â€

    Jimmy had both legs and one arm strapped in, and an elastic strap under his chin, which apparently kept the colander in close contact with the top of his head. I went over and started to fasten the last strap

    “Thanks, man. Normally I can’t get fully wired-up like this.†I finished and he said, “Thanks, that’s great. Now, since I’m currently indisposed, could you run a little program on the PC for me. It’s on the main menu, called TuneTime - I wrote it myself.â€

    I went over and sat down at the keyboard, but when I reached for the mouse my hand just froze. It was like a voice inside me said “Wait a minute.†I turned around and looked at Jimmy.

    “Wait a minute.†I said. “Could you-“

    “Alright, alright,†he said, smiling. “You always were a good sport, Harv, and I’ve been pulling your leg pretty good here. Let me explain.â€

    Finally, I thought, and I crossed my arms and began to listen closely.

    “So, remember how I said I couldn’t make any sense out of the electric feeling I get when I am tuning? How it’s just kind of a vague sense of being in-synch with the wavelengths?â€

    I nodded.

    “Well, with this setup I can get a lot closer. Here, run that program, will you?â€

    “Hold on, Jimmy. Wouldn’t it just be easier to flip on a radio?â€

    “What? No, man, it’s not about radio. You think that tower is kicking out just AM and FM? It’s broadcasting all kinds of stuff. The big ground towers like that one are the backbone of the whole worldwide communication system. Sure, there’s lots of other transmission systems - satellites, cell phones, short wave, microwave – and more all the time, but at some point just about all of it goes through a tower like that one.

    “See, the new systems are more portable, more convenient and useful in a lot of ways, but for sheer broadcast power there’s nothing like the old radio towers. Listen, man, if our eyes could see in frequencies other than visible light, that thing out there would shine like the sun. And if we could hear what it was spitting out, man, everything from music to TV, telephone conversations to encrypted CIA transmissions, satellite telemetry, military beacons, government secrets, everything man, the whole world, would be right there.â€

    Jimmy’s voice trailed off and he sat there just staring at the tower, the word “possibilities†written all over his face.

    “This one, “ I asked, holding the mouse pointer over a the TuneTime menu item.

    “Yeah, man.†He said with a dreamy tone in his voice.

    I started the program and immediately the six satellite-dish spider-bots seemed to come to life. Each one popped-up on its erector-set legs and started doing a little shuffle. The legs clicked mechanically and the little dishes whirred back and forth. It was as if they were looking for something.

    “Press the button labeled auto-tune, will you please?†Jimmy said.

    I looked at the screen and saw the little window that had come up when I ran Jimmy’s program. It said “TuneTime†at the top and there were a two buttons underneath. There didn’t seem to be much to it, just a gray rectangle and a couple of buttons, so I felt pretty confident I could do what he asked. I pressed the button on the left, and in a few seconds all the little mechanical insects had settled down. Now they all reminded me of hunting dogs locked in a pointing position.

    “That set the dish-walkers,†he said, referring to the half-dozen poised homunculi. “I made them myself, from government surplus spare parts. They’re basically software-controlled antennas, but they can move around a little, you know, find the spot for best reception, and I built a little randomness into them. They’ll each seek their own frequency, a different one every time, and then the program picks the best one. It’s always a new frequency; I never know which one I’m gonna get.â€

    His eyes got all dreamy again.

    “So many frequencies man, so many. If I could tune them all in, it would be just brain salad, man, brain shazam salad. Some day…†he said, and his voice trailed off.

    I looked back at the screen. The other button was labeled “Launch.â€

    “Okay, so should I press this one now?†I said, and I moved the mouse pointer over the button.

    “WAIT!†Jimmy screamed. I literally jumped out of my chair. All at once I had images of my finger on the mouse button, Jimmy’s lifeless body smoking and crackling in that horrible chair, and me trying to explain to the police why I had electrocuted my old friend. I realize that may sound like a lot for a single shriek-inspired moment, but - the speed of thought - you know?

    “WHAT!†I shrieked back. “WHAT?â€

    Jimmy closed his eyes and yelled again, only this time not so much of a shriek as a joyous shout.

    “Prepare for the jump into hyperspace!â€

    He always was a huge Star Wars fan, A huge grin conquered his face like the imperial army, and he laughed.

    “Oh, the look on your face! I’m sorry man, I just couldn’t help it.â€

    “Very funny,†I said, sitting back down. “Are you ready now?â€

    “Yeah, man, anytime,†he said, still chuckling.

    “Jimmy, will it hurt?â€

    “What? No, man, not at all.â€

    “Shucks,†I said and pressed the button.

    For a moment it looked as if Jimmy started to grin in response to my little joke, but then his face went completely blank. His body slumped, his jaw sagged open, and his eyes rolled up into his head.

    “Jimmy,†I said. “Can you hear me?†Jimmy made no reply and all of a sudden I felt very alone. “Of course, he can’t hear you – Duh! - look at him!â€

    I tried again. “Jimmy, are you alright?†Again there was no answer. “Of course, he is, he’s done this before. Hasn’t he?â€

    I rolled my chair next to Jimmy and took a good look at him. I’m no doctor, but if he wasn’t so still I’d have sworn he was having some kind of a seizure. As I continued to look him over, like I really was a doctor, a small trail of drool seeped from the corner of his mouth.

    “Is this normal? I was getting a little panicky and I raked my hair with both hands. “Normal? Is any of this normal!â€

    I looked back at the screen. Although I had not noticed one before, I was hoping that something like a little cancel button had popped up that I could use to stop the program. Instead, I found a new box with numbers in it, counting down. Unconsciously, I started reading the numbers aloud.

    “Three, two, one, zero.â€

    On zero, I looked back at Jimmy and he seemed to wake right up. His eyes rolled forward, his mouth closed, and he reached up and wiped the spittle off his chin. But his body stayed very relaxed and he rested his head lazily against the back of the chair.

    “Jimmy, are you alright?â€

    His head lolled for another moment or two, but then he said “Yeah man, I’m… just… great†like he was had just awoken from a long, restful nap.

    “I thought, I wasn’t sure what to do, you looked…â€

    “Relax, man, that’s what the timer is for. I’m not suicidal, you know.â€

    Did I? I leaned in close to him, playing doctor again, I suppose, and looked into his eyes. Man, what eyes. They were way past possibilities now. He stared back at me, and the way he did it sent shivers down my spine. I mean, he just looked through me. Not, through me, like he was looking at the wall behind me, but into me, like my eyes were peepholes he could see into. It felt like he was reading my thoughts like Braille off the back of my skull.

    “You want to know what this is all about, don’t you Harv. You’re a good sort, Harv, always were. I was a little worried when you first showed up here, asking all those questions, but I can see now, you’re alright Harv. I have to be careful though. If the government found out about my research, well you don’t know what they would do to me. I know, though.â€

    When he said “I know†he glanced at the tower, and I had the feeling he really did.

    “Jimmy. You gotta tell me, what is all this? I mean, what are you really doing here?â€

    That worried look came back into his eyes.

    “Look man, if I tell you - I’m taking a big risk. It’s not safe. Not for you either once I tell you.â€

    “Tell me,†I pleaded.

    He looked left and right as if he expected to see someone pop out of the walls. He leaned forward, put his lips close to my ears and very quietly whispered two words.

    “Free cable.â€
  6. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight Diabloii.Net Member

    Oct 4, 2004
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    Well, I read this thing through, and my first reaction: dang. This is quite an original and interesting, which is to say well done, story. Pretty much the entire thing read well for me; the style and imagery were excellent, as usual, and the characters were enjoyably detailed and very believable. I did note, though, a surprising number of very minor typos in this piece. Or maybe my detector’s jammed on “Massively Anal-Retentive†today. Not that that really detracts from this; I just found it a bit...odd.

    And yes, non-Diablo stuff is fine. I quote from the rules and regulations: “Even though this is a Diablo II Fan Fiction Forum, you may posts works of any genre. The focus is on writing, any writing, not just fan fiction.†Anyway, some specific comments:

    This made me chuckle. Nicely introduced. amusing image, though I don’t know if “my brain gets first crack†works here, seeing as those first words “don’t seem to match exactly what I’m thinking.†Perhaps his mouth gets first crack on that?

    You’re missing a period at the end of the sentence.

    That should be “slowing the car to a crawl.â€

    “An erector set monstrosity†threw me. Did I miss some reference?

    Hrm..."took root†sounds off to me; should it be perhaps “rooted†or “sunk into� Also, the last image didn’t quite work for me; “high grasses and wild weeds†don’t really suggest “pain†to my mind.

    The following imagery is pretty good, I’d say, though if you so desired, you could instead continue with the “earth vs. machine†sort of theme you set up in the previous sentences. I don’t know which would be better, what you have now or something more like “...angry electric fire, eliciting from the heavens an unending scream of pain beyond the senses of mortals, but all too audible to sensitive electronic equipmentâ€; I guess that really depends on how alien you want the antenna to feel.

    The comma after “Guess†is unnecessary.

    I think that last should be “him,†since this addresses what happens to the “type of person,†not Harvey in particular.

    A particularly good example of the humor you’ve weaved into this story. :)

    The “good look around me†at the end of the sentence sounds rough, in my opinion; I think you could just drop the “me†altogether.

    “Gave yielded†sounds redundant to me. Delete one of ‘em, perhaps?

    I’ve always seen “halfway†as one word, though maybe that’s just me.

    The “but†here suggested to me that there would be some sort of contrast between the first and second parts of the sentence; if there is a contrast, then I missed it pretty badly. Personally, I’d add a little something to work with the first part, and then make the second part its own sentence, like this: “The back end weaved like a drunken sailor, but it wasn’t like there was much around that I could run into anyway. About halfway down...â€

    The comma after “car†sounded unnecessary to me.

    “The sound it the radio made†should be “the sound the radio made†or “the sound it made on my radio,†methinks.

    Hrm..."lawn mower†and “lawnmowerâ€...both work, I think, though it might be a good idea to stick with just one spelling for consistency’s sake.

    The comma after “side†should be a semicolon.

    That should be “futilely.â€

    “Shuffled me feet†has a tone that I didn’t detect in the rest of the narrative. Is this a typo?

    I’d use a semicolon instead of the dash after “myself,†though if you keep it, I’d think there should be a space between it and “time.†Also, you’re missing a period at the end of this sentence.

    I’d rewrite this as “Then, brightening, [he] said louder, ‘Marv’ Harv?’â€

    Heh...reminds me of someone I know, though his line was “Juicy!â€

    I’d add a comma after “Shazam,†inside the quotation marks.

    I’d make the comma after “that†a semicolon.

    There should be a comma after “The truth is.â€

    I liked this bit, though I can’t say exactly why I find it so fun to read. Ah well, nicely done anyway.

    Given the preceding sentence, was the messed-up feel of the second one here intentional? I’m guessing not, but I can’t be sure; it doesn’t seem like your style....anyway, “mutley†should be “mutely,†and I’m not sure exactly what you meant by “I’m pretty flapped my gums.†Perhaps “I flapped my gums†was what you intended to say? Finally, I think the last bit should be worded as “...adventure who suddenly finds himself out of the water.â€

    There should be a comma after “Internet,†inside the quotes.

    I’d word this as “...though not by much.â€

    Did you mean “...made of metal...�

    I think you mean “piles of technical-looking books scattered here and there.â€

    Hrm...I’d word this as “...something like ELAB101 perhaps, when...â€; as it is, it sounds like there should be a period after “ELAB101†and “I was thinking†starts a new sentence.

    That should be “I don’t know whether he was...â€

    The periods in both sentences should be inside the quotation marks.

    That should be “ring to it,...â€

    Random consistency question: should that be “Jimmy?â€

    There was a large stainless steel what on the top shelf? A bowl, perhaps? ;)

    That should be “non sequitur.â€’s funny what people will say in the name of etiquette, indeed.

    The “he†here shouldn’t be capitalized.

    Yeah...those images are a little disturbing. They do a good job of setting up the mood, though.

    There should be some sort of punctuation, a comma, a question mark, or something, inside the quotes.

    You’re missing a period, inside the quotes, at the end.

  7. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight Diabloii.Net Member

    Oct 4, 2004
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    For what it’s worth, the quotation mark at the end is facing the wrong way. You’d better get out your grammar lasso and snare that puppy before it starts running off in the wrong direction.

    I’ve never seen “hunt up†hyphenated, though maybe that’s just me.

    Weren’t those searches ten for ten dollars?

    “ awful, awkward silence looking†sounds weird to me...perhaps you meant “looming�

    That li’l comma at the end there looks like it could use a promotion to period. Probably has the battle scars to prove it from fighting all the other periods and semicolons, too... :)

    The “he†should be in lowercase.

    That should be “looked back at me,†methinks.

    I think the comma after “time†should be a semicolon.

    I particularly liked the wording of this sentence; this was another 0xDEADCAFE gem.

    I’d try to drop one instance of “on his armâ€; a rewording of the second sentence into something like “...two reddish rectangles where the tips of the polarized metal had rested†should keep the meaning and remove the repetition.

    Punctuation in speech tends to be a bit more style-based and comma-rich, though there are definitely times where the good ol’ semicolon’s a good idea. I’d pop one in right after “arm†here. By the way, iron poisoning’s nasty stuff. Apparently, it messes up the gastrointestinal organs...not happy.

    I’d make the comma after “right†a semicolon.

    There’s an extra “a†before “enough.†While you’ve got your grammar lasso out, you may as well use it, right...?

    I don’t think you’ve been hyphenating “tune inâ€...

    Wooo...creepy. Nice capstone to the air of mad-scientist menace here.

    That should be “prize-winning.â€

    Unless Jimmy is also called “Surely†(shouldn’t it be “Shirley,†then?) you don’t need the comma after it.

    Should that be “the rim of the colander,†perhaps?

    I’d change the comma after “around†to a semicolon and drop the hyphen in “plugged-in.â€

    The comma after “right†should be a semicolon.

    The “he†in this sentence shouldn’t be capitalized.

    Should that be “looked like little spidery satellite dish headsâ€? I got the feeling that they’d be oversized for a spider. If that was what you meant, though, then that should be “spiders’.â€

    You know, by this time I’m thinking it is just me, but I almost never see [verb]-up. For everything I can think of right now, I’d use a space instead.

    That period should be a question mark, I’d say.

    This made me grin, because grammatically, if we could hear what it was spitting out, we’d hear “everything man.†Must be interesting, indeed...anyway, there should be a comma after “everything,†unless you really did mean “everything man,†sort of like “iron scroll man.†:)

    Ahhh...another sentence that I think will stick around in my head for a bit. Nicely done.

    Got another reversed quotation mark...

    The “he†in this sentence shouldn’t be capitalized. This error seems to come up a lot in this story, and yet I don’t remember it in any of your other works; there’re even some instances of correct usage in this piece too. Not sure what to make of these...

    There’s an extra “a†before the “two†here.

    Heh...“Iron scroll man†syndrome... :)

    Ahahaha...nice timing.

    I think you need to close the quotes after “normal.â€

    I think you need a comma after “great,†inside the quotes.

    More written gold. :thumbsup:

    I’d drop the comma after “not.â€

    This might read a bit less like stop-and-go if you dropped the comma after “now†and rewrote this to read “but I can see now that you’re...â€

    I think you need a comma after “well.â€

    I’d put a comma after “either.â€

    Hahahaha...I guess I should have expected one of your trademark oddballs at the end. That was great.

    Overall, this was a memorable read, no bones about it. Personally, I really liked the tone of the story and the narrator’s “voice†in particular; the almost-but-not-quite method of addressing the reader conversationally just suggests a kind of life to me. That part and the associated, dry humor sort of died down as the story went on, which is a bit of a pity in retrospect, but the shift into something dramatic seemed to work well to me. And the ending...well, I guess it really was perfect for the sort of twist you did throw in. Interestingly enough, despite all the small editor’s dings all over this story, I really didn’t have a problem reading it through in one sitting at all. Thanks for posting!
  8. Clarke667

    Clarke667 Diabloii.Net Member

    Nov 23, 2004
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    Dude... sisterly?

    And you made me come off like Yoda. Though I am both small and green, I still think that's an unfair comparison.

    Seriously though: Sisterly? I should've never let you braid my hair while Effete Pop-Band #3057 played on the radio.

    PS Rev is a robot.

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    As they say in Muswell Hill country, I'm really too proud.

    I just spent about an hour going though and making all the corrections you pointed out. Gosh, Rev, you really are a national resource. How you can plow through all that grammatical fudge and still maintain a sweet disposition I will never know. One of the mysteries of the universe, I guess...

    So, the vast majority of your comments: Good calls; corrections have been made! But I'll break a few keystrokes on a some of the more interesting ones:

    I started to make that change, but then it occurred to me that it doesn't quite work either, after all, the mouth get's both cracks, doesn't it. I'm not sure there is a quick fix here; I think what I need to do is rework the image a little.

    I'd be tempted to say yes. The previous paragraph consists entirely of: "And it was. It really was." I had hoped the "itness" of that paragraph would carry sufficiently over into the next, and yet you know my motto: "The Rev is always right."

    For the life of me, I can't find the other double quotation mark key. I've been searching of hours! How do I fix this... :lol:

    I believe that's a continuity error. You sly devil, you. But riddle me this: how could Jimmy have "reached up and wiped the spittle off his chin" while both his arms were still strapped in?

    Don't tell me you've never heard of prizes for championship pig whining?

    I'll never live that one down, will I, grammatically correct man? Well, at least I've got the name for my next Guild Wars character.

    Thanks. :D I think the Braille bit that might be my favorite line in the whole story.

    Very glad you liked it. I was a little nervous about the ending in particular. And your comment on the change in the story from lightly humorous at the start to more dramatic near the end made me think. Not that I would undo that, but I may want to be a bit more delberate about the pace and character of that transition. Thanks a million for your pains and praise.

    PS I read your latest chapter of Sorrow earlier this week. For now, I'll just say it was an enjoyable and rather easy read, but I'll try to get over into that thread this weekend and be more expansively picayune. :p
  10. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Sheesh, zip it, man! I can't believe you just spilled the beans about that. :eek:

    (At least you didn't tell them what we did with the curlers and shaving cream...)
  11. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight Diabloii.Net Member

    Oct 4, 2004
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    Well, like I said, I didn't really notice all of that affecting the quality of the story when I read it as a story; excellent writing excuses countless minor misses. Also, part of the reason is that I find this fun. It's like writing my own story, except I need maybe a quarter of the creativity, so it's good to do when I have writer's block. And I get to see the writer (sometimes) come out happier with his or her stuff to boot, which is always satisfying.

    Hrm...I can see your point, though I was shooting for something where the first answer originates as a sort of reflex in the brain (or perhaps that's the spinal cord, depending on how much of a reflex it is) and the second answer has the advantage of having input from the auditory regions of the brain, which is simplified to the ears because the alternative is just way too technical.

    Erm...the previous paragraph and all that was fine; what I meant by that is I have no idea what an "erector set" is. Is this a common something-or-other in your neck of the woods?

    And no, I'm not.

    He turned his head to one side and reached up with his shoulder, not his hand.

    Ooh! Such a thing exists? Must be...well, unique. :)

    Y'know, the reason it stuck in my mind was because you did the whole "iron scroll man" bit in your response. Funny how some things work out...

    My pleasure.

    Don't rush yourself on my account. Seriously.'re not giving up on this, are you? I keep telling you, the term's cyborg; specifically, it’s Mjolnir Mark IV Recon Unit. So that would make me mostly organic. You know, around 77%. :D
  12. Clarke667

    Clarke667 Diabloii.Net Member

    Nov 23, 2004
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    That's a textbook example of what a robot would say.

    The textbook in question being: Rev is a Robot, Vol.3.

    Volumes one and two are just grammar aids. (Or is that aides? I don't know; you tell me, Captain Diode).
  13. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    It's an iconic kids building toy, kind of like metal tinker toys with nuts and bolts. I thought everyone knew what an erector set was. It's strange that they would not have included that in your programming. Too close to the womb maybe. Follow the link, just don't blow a gasket when you read it - in case you're not still under warranty. ;)
  14. Disco-neck Ted

    Disco-neck Ted The Dark Library

    Jun 22, 2003
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    Hey, that was good. Liked it. The ending was fun, but some day you may revisit this and find there is another half to the tale. That this is just the beginning of something really out there.

    Here are a few notes from a single read-through. Some might be redundant to RK's comments.

    This does not quite work for me:

    "...and the high grasses and wild weeds around them made it seem as if the earth were crying in pain."

    Perhaps you mean the weeds and grasses look as if the earth is clawing at the tower in pain?

    This one:

    "I’m pretty flapped my gums mutley a few times, kind of like a lost clam out for adventure and suddenly finding himself out of the water."

    What the...? Also, as in the above, there were a few places where repetition struck me. Out for adventure and out of the water. Sometimes this can be strengthening, but mostly I found it detracted. Didn't find any other examples on a quick scan-back, but they are there.


    "Actually, it was a rather funny idea, as if an electric chair would come with a standard power cord that you could plug in like a vacuum cleaner."


    "Man, what eyes. They were way past possibilities now. "

    Too bad nobody else liked that line. I must be unique. ;)

    Not sure about this:

    "And there was an awful, awkward silence looking – I could just feel it."


    Had a couple of probs with the satelite dishes:

    "the ones that looked like little spiders satellite dish heads."

    Something seriously wrong with that sentence. Also, not at all liking the later use of the word "homunculi". Spidery radar dishes are not equivalent to tiny humanoids.

    An enjoyable read. Makes me glad I stopped in.
  15. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Hmmm, food for thought.

    Sorry about all the typos and wording problems. I did one of those "one last edits" in haste before posting, and ended up really butchering some of it. (Lesson learned.) Thanks for the kind words and suggestions. I plan to do another draft of this, so feedback is really useful.

  16. Snowglare

    Snowglare Fan Fiction Forum Moderator

    Jun 22, 2003
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    I think Rev and Ted covered everything, but I wanted to add my kudos on a fine story. I totally have this love/hate thing going on with the ending. I hate that it turned out to be something so small. And I love that it did, mostly because I hate it. It's like, "Take that, part of me that loves grandiose adventures! You're not getting a whirlwind ride full of intrigue and killer robots this time!". And then I cry and laugh at the same time.

    P.S. The way you worked the title into the story was textbook. Did you come up with it before or after you finished writing?
  17. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Thank you very much.

    I think Ted made the same point about the smallness of the ending. I can totally see that perspective. In fact, I became less and comfortable with it as the story grew.

    The original motivation for the story was merely a comical notion that I had about some weird guy willing to endure the severe (fictional) physical and mental degradations of living near a strong EM source just to get free... you-know-what. It was supposed to be like a 2 or 3 page one line joke. But the first draft ended up being about double that. Then it sat for about two years before I went back and rewrote it, at which point it about doubled in size again.

    And yet, there I was, stuck with the ending which had been the entire point of the story right from the beginning. I agree that it's a bit of a let-down, and that there could be potentially a lot more to it. But, Snow, you are not the only one who has told me that they actually like the fact that it is such let-down; almost a slap in the reader's face: ha-ha, you read the whole thing and it's only this. That was never my intent, and yet, there it is.

    I don't quite recall the timing of it, but it was titled that when I originally wrote it two years ago. In the first draft there was little or no reference to it, but when I rewrote it I made deliberate attempts to work it in. Glad you liked it. (I should tip my hat to Clarke667 again for his advice about the process of writing multiple drafts of a story. One of the benefits of letting a story sit for a while and then going back for a rewrite is that you can do things like this.)

    By the way, the title was inspired by the name of the ELP album "Brain Salad Surgery," one of my all-time favorites: "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends..."

    Thanks again for your comments.
  18. tamrend

    tamrend Diabloii.Net Member

    Jul 1, 2003
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    Damn good stuff. With a bit more polishing, I could easily imagine this story showing up in an issue of Asimov's. The pacing was, for the most part, excellent, and I got a good feel for the characters. I like the ending, and if you decide to change it, I would still keep the lighthearted tone. Given the unlikelihood of the premise (which is clever, mind you, just not hard science), trying to make a serious story out of this would probably kill it.
  19. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE Diabloii.Net Member

    Jun 22, 2004
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    Thanks very much tamrend. Believe it or not, I had Asimov's in mind when I went back and rewrote this a few months ago. I agree wholeheartedly that it needs another draft, both for polish and better thematic focus.

    As for the unlikely premise. I tried to be careful not to give Jimmy's scientific claims any offical creedence in the narration. The bit at the end where he seems to be reading Harv's mind is hopefully left open to interpretation. But you're right about not trying to make too much of it. It's really a story about eccentricity more than scientific conjecture, so hopefully that lowers the believability bar somewhat. In other words, for this story I'm thinking that I don't need to convince the reader that the science is reasonable, just that it is reasonable that someone who may be intellectually brilliant and perhaps a little unstable could be swept away by it, if that makes sense.

    Thanks again for the kind words.

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