Archive for October, 2015

Storytime: Kronos.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

It was just a few hours every night, when the dark was full and very little could be seen.
A few hours more than it had used to be. Still, there was no getting used to it. This gap in time where movement slowed and strangeness took its place. There were no means to understand it.
But what happened after… that was right. The return of realness.
Splashing. Waves. The sound of movement of water in air. Something glittering on the far side of an unresponsive, unseeing pupil. Light.

The sun rose and he was alive.

he, not He. Too old to be an it, but not the right time of year for He. Maybe it’d never be that time of year again; he was stiff in those parts, and not in the right way. Stiff in all his parts now, waking slowly, so very slowly, billowing back up from the bottom of his body and spreading out from the central stubby trunk to the four great paddle-flippers, coming alive as his heart stirred again.
One. Two. Three.
Ten beats per minute. Not that he knew what a minute was.
The blood reached his skull, and took its time filling it. The trouble wasn’t his brain, small as it was; the trouble was the sheer scale involved; his head was a quarter of his length, even if most of it was snout and teeth, teeth, teeth.
Once it had been teeth, teeth, teeth, teeth, teeth and more. Some of them were having trouble regrowing; still bent and broken in their sockets long after they should have been shed.
They chewed at the water, gently; the massive muscles powering them crawling over his skeleton. Quiet information began to seep in from his periphery, things his dulling eyes could never tell him: smells; the ripple of the currents; an alarmed flutter of fins.
The last drew an attention that had grown out of instinct and into habit. he spun – one of those movements that looked much slower than it was, spread over ten metres of reptile – and hauled himself forward with all four limbs, mouth snapping open with a speed that shrugged at water pressure.
It shut on blood, and for a moment he was almost full.

he was hungry, hungry all the time now. he remembered when he hadn’t been, in skips and starts. Long, long ago, when he was still growing quickly
he was always growing, even now
When he was very small and new – he was an it then, too young for anything – and it had found a strange thing in the water, smaller than it. it’d spun around and around and around it and nipped at its limbs until the spindly bony bits came free on one side and it could only turn in slow clumsy circles. Oh how it’d learned as it’d feinted and dodged. The play had only ended when the smell of blood grew too strong to ignore, and that was when it had learned that fish were food.

Good food. Good food. But he’d eaten it all already, and now he was hungry. Hungry all the time.
The stray scrap of blood spread over his scales as he slipped deeper in the water column, looking for stragglers of the nightly migration from bottom to top and back again. A hundred miles from shore, the only place to look was down.

It was cool down there, calmer. Bluer. he let his heart slow again as he tumbled down, and began, moment by moment, to grope at the vibrations of the currents.
There was food down there. Smaller than he was. Like everything else always had been, everything he’d ever seen.

Blood was darker down there too. Not that there was much. he bit and tore and swallowed and bit and tore and swallowed and somewhere this was a long time ago, when he was a He, the first season he’d been a He. Tearing and feeding beyond His means to build up bulk quickly, to show Himself, to meet a She.
He had done it, he thought. If he was thinking. The dark was slow and thick around him, and the memories moreso.

The sun rose and he was alive.

he was at the surface again, winched up by old instincts as much as thought. Maybe he’d fallen asleep down there. Maybe he was still asleep down there; but no. he was hungry, so very hungry. In his sleep he bit and fought but never felt the urge.
Not that urge.
Awake, it was as lost to him as hunger was in dreams. It had been a long time since He was. But so much longer since he’d seen a She.
Nearly as long as it’d been since he last duelled another He.
But time didn’t matter; the sunlight mattered. he was awake and he was near-shore and the water was filled with gliding, sporting little morsels. Not infants but too small to be subadults; juveniles. This was the edge of a nursery, the place where bay met blue and soon the long-throated little swimmers flitting about in here would be out and free and far away from him, growing older, growing bolder, nearly as long as he was – even if most of that was neck.
Not yet.
his jaws closed and they closed on more than water and there wasn’t more than time for a sharp squall before his teeth met and the flesh parted, cutting the juvenile in half, in head and torso.
he ignored the former and ate the latter and cruised away from the cries and the little fountain of blood and remembered when he’d done this the last time he’d done this; robbing the cradle of a cousin to fuel his own dreams. They might be his nearest relatives but they were not his kind. They were its, not hes and shes, definitely not Hes and Shes. They were the biggest meals he could have and he needed them because even if the pain was absent for now he could still feel the oncoming pang of that terrible, terrible hunger.

The sun rose and he was alive.

But the sun was dim.
he was far underwater. How had that happened? How had he happened? There wasn’t much breath left in him, and he had to move quickly to reclaim it, to suck in air above the blue in the cold sharp dry.
he shivered in his blubber, and not just from the chill; arthritis was creeping over him day by day now. No matter how fast he grew, it could grow faster.
But not as fast as that stabbing, groaning, endless hole in his stomach.
he was far away from shore, it was time to go down again, to drop himself out of sight and into mind and snout and smell and touch from a hundred metres. An ammonite or belemnite would be nice; there was no shell that his teeth could not puncture, that his jaws could not crush.
A nice ammonite. Yes. Or a squid. Yes.
One like the ones he’d devoured so many years ago, when he’d left his nursery. A soft, fat-bodied, older thing too slow to jet away in time. A quick lunge and a bite and it had been down his throat before he could think.
his teeth closed on empty water and old thoughts. Where was the squid?
he’d seen it. Where was it? It had been there, it had been real, as real as that horrible, endless pit inside him, and now it was gone. It was inside his mind. Food should not be inside his mind, it should be inside his mouth.
he came back to the surface slowly, with a hesitation that verged on timidness, and his creeping motion must have disguised him for he very nearly blundered into an animal with his snout. he spun back in alarm – but wait, it was small, so small – and then investigated. It was a peculiar thing, to be so much smaller than him, so very small. And such spindly bony little limbs. He nipped at one lightly and it came free with only a soft tug, he took its partner and watched in puzzlement as the strange thing spun in slow clumsy circles. He’d never seen anything quite like it. He’d never seen anything quite like it. But there was a good taste there, a familiar taste.
Blood. Yes

The sun rose and he was alive.


It was not dawn. It was midday. It was midday and that couldn’t be true. he woke at dawn. he always woke at dawn.


There was a soft, fuzzy sensation in his rear flipper, bumping against the waking nerves. A tug. A pull. A shove.
Something was touching him.



his jaws gaped, wrestled at nothing. Pops and creaks inside him as withered muscle stretched itself over old, long-cracked bones.
And as he turned, slowly but endlessly, he saw the source of the strangeness – a strange thing, a strange thing. It had a stub of a tail and four flippers and a long, long snout with teeth, teeth, teeth, teeth, teeth and more, and it spun in the water with a swiftness he couldn’t understand, only a little smaller than he was.
he couldn’t understand anything. But this he KNEW: he was hungry, so very hungry.
his jaws opened, and closed on scales.



The blood was slicked on his sides. Some of it was his.

he was full, though. So very, very full. And tired.
It had been a long
since he had been full
It made him think of before, when he was He and had seen so many of his kind.
And there had been so many of them, all of them small and safe in their nursery.
Swimming down the long coasts, the Hes and Shes.
Duels along the reefs, closed-mouthed.
And side-by-side, the long courtships.

But that had been a long time ago, in the daylight, and it was very dark now.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. SevenEight.

The sun rose.

Storytime: The Fat of the Land.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

There were a whole bunch of them there all wandering along and after a while they got sort of tired and hungry and then someone said ‘hey, this place looks okay’ and that was where the problems started.
I mean, it wasn’t the place’s fault. It was pretty okay. A little blue narrow-mouthed bay with some rough and rocky headland above it, all watched over by stubby green foothills.
“We’re going to need some sort of plan,” they said. And they pointed at one person. “You’re the mayor.”
The mayor nodded. This was how this sort of thing happened. “The first thing we do,” said the mayor, “is we find the local natives.”
They looked around for a few minutes and they turned up one guy in a hammock.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hello,” they said to him. “Are you the local natives?”
The guy considered this. “Well, I moved in a couple weeks ago. So I guess? I’m not the first person to come here, but I’m the only one at the moment.”
“Good enough,” said the mayor. “Well, we’re staying here now. Got any tips?”
The guy in the hammock scratched himself. “Well, mind the mosquitoes. Don’t settle too close to the back of the bay; there’s all sorts of sandbars in it. The point’s prone to avalanching too, so don’t settle too FAR from the bay. And the hills aren’t so hot for growing crops, so-” and then he saw that they weren’t paying attention to him because they were all busy putting up houses, so he sighed and tucked himself deeper into his hammock and had a nap instead of talking.

They set up a town. Or a village. Hamlet. Semantics, really.
It was a fishing town. There was just one problem: the fishing was awful.
“Having trouble?” the guy in the hammock asked the mayor, who was visiting.
“A bit,” the mayor said. “Three boats got stuck today in the sandbars. A fourth capsized from laughing too hard. A fifth was overloaded trying to rescue them and almost sank. Then a sixth was in too big a hurry trying to get through and bonked into the fifth, tipping them both over.”
“Ouch,” said the guy in the hammock. “How many boats d’you have?”
“Ouch,” said the guy in the hammock.
“Listen,” said the mayor. “D’you think you could help? Just some advice, or something? We’d be very grateful for any help you could give. After all you’ve lived here for time immemorial.”
“About a month now.”
“Good enough.”
The guy in the hammock scratched himself. “Well, I could tell you a bit of a trick my grandma showed me, if you’d like.”
So he got out of his hammock and they followed him along to the mouth of the bay, where he stopped and got them to grab a few tree-trunks and get ready. Then he stood up right next to the water and stretched and shook himself.
“Man alive I am so tired,” he said. “My head’s heavy and my eyes are droopy and my legs are wobbly and I just want to have a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong nap.” And he opened his mouth up and yawned so wide his teeth nearly bit the nape of his neck, and because yawns are like that everyone else followed him. And right when everyone else was yawning fit to burst, there was a long slow sigh from the mouth of the bay as it yawned too, creaking wide, wide open.
“In in in hurry up hurry up hurry up” he said, and they hurried the logs into the water and hey, the mouth of the bay was wedged open at least twice as wide as it had before, stuck mid-yawn.
“That’ll do ‘till it wakes up later,” he told them. “But you’ve got to be careful about it, because-” but by then they’d all headed home to get their boats out, and so he retired with a sigh to his hammock.

They were getting loads of fish now. The boats bobbed in and out morning and evening and soon enough they were throwing up new homes and storehouses and docks and everything all over the bay, which got a bit inconvenient because of just one problem: rocks.
“You look upset again,” the guy in the hammock told the mayor, who’d come along to swap fish recipes.
“That’s my job,” said the mayor. “There’s rocks tumbling down off the headland day and night. We need to pick stones off that place to build fences and cellar walls and such but how can we do that when an errant sneeze knocks down someone’s house? It’s a mess and a conundrum and it’s the reason I spent the last week sleeping in a patch of poison ivy instead of my house.”
“I was going to ask you about that,” said the guy in the hammock.
“Know anything about how to avoid avalanches?” the mayor asked. “Please, I’m begging you here. Share your ancient wisdom.”
“I’m thirty-four,” said the guy in the hammock. “But I’ve got an idea or two. Well, maybe just one. Let me see.”
So he got out of his hammock and they all hiked up to the headland after him – being very careful where they stepped, so they only knocked over two houses on the way up. And they all stood on top of the headland above the mouth of the bay and he sat down.
“Pick a lot of ragweed,” he suggested to them. And they did so, sneezing all the way, and they only knocked down three more houses doing it, and they piled it up in front of him.
“Right,” he said. And then he sneezed. “Now stuff it into all the holes and crannies you can find.”
And they did that, and nothing happened. Then the headland sneezed and sneezed and SNEEZED, three times, knocking over ten houses each time, and then it whistled its way into a hard, clotted silence.
“Congested,” he told them. “It’ll stay put for now, so long as-” and he stopped talking because they were all heading downhill to rebuild their houses, and were mostly out of hearing already.

Their houses were big, and their boats too. They hauled in food day and night but their kids wouldn’t stop complaining and now and then you got bored of salted fish and so you took up your hoes and your rakes and your axes and you cleared out a patch of soil and you grew some ugly straggly things that weren’t quite onions.
“Do you know what this is?” the mayor asked the guy in the hammock.
The guy in the hammock poked it. “Well,” he said. “Don’t quote me or anything, but that’s very nearly an onion. Maybe.”
“And it’s all we’ve got to eat that doesn’t have fins,” the mayor complained. “Trying to grow anything here’s like pulling teeth; all the good soil on the foothills is spread thinner than jam on my aunt’s toast. It’s very unfortunate.”
“Tell me about it,” said the guy in the hammock. “Why have toast if you aren’t going to go heavy on the jam?”
“Please, please, please,” said the mayor. “Reveal your primeval knowledge born of a connection unto the land which none can understand.”
“Dunno,” said the guy in the hammock, “but I can try something if you’ve got enough feathers. You got feathers?”
“In pillows,” said the mayor.
“Best unpack ‘em.”
So they all did and they followed him up to the foothills and they pulled their feathers out and readied them.
“Now TICKLE,” he said.
And they tickled the foothills under every nook and cranny and rock and crevice until they couldn’t stop giggle and the ground itself rolled up under their feathers in a seizure of mirth, tumbling over itself to get away and squooshing all the soil into a nice little wrinkled valley.
“This’ll do for a little while,” he told them. “Just be sure not to-” he trailed off, because so were they. They had pillows to re-stuff and fields to re-till.

It was a busy place now. There was a broad, deep bay. There were firm strong cliffs. There were lush hills striped with fields.
There was a guy in a hammock. He was being evicted.
“It’s nothing personal,” said the mayor. “But you’re driving up property values.”
“I’m trying to tell you about that,” said the guy in the hammock. “If you’d just listen for a –”
“And your crazy rituals keep the neighborhood awake at night.”
“My snoring? I mean, I told you that-”
“Really, it’s not your fault, except for all the ways it is,” the mayor sighed. “It’s just your culture. Your primitive, unchanging culture from before the dawn of time.”
“Is this about my hammock? Listen, talking about ‘unchanging,’ there’s something that you really should know about-”
“So clear off,” said the mayor politely, and he went home to dinner.
The guy in the hammock considered this for a while, looking out over the landscape. He drummed his fingers on his knee and looked around and estimated. Then he guesstimated.
“Well,” he said. “I tried.”
Then he left so fast he didn’t even pack his hammock.

It was a new day. It was a good day. It was a day to send out the fleets, to build up to the skies, to bring in the harvest.
They stretched. They limbered up. And they got to work.
Now, three things happened that day.
First, the grandest and most enormous fishing boat yet made was set to the water.
Second, a great and wonderful lighthouse’s foundations were laid upon the brow of the headland.
Third, the first ox-drawn plows were finished and brought to field.
Then, three problems happened that day.
“What’s this?” they said. “The bay’s mouth is clogged with rotten old timber. What’s this doing here? We’d best clear it before it snags our keel.”
“What’s this?” they said. “The ground here is full of rotted old weeds. We’d best fill these holes before they crumble our foundation.”
“What’s this?” they said. “The soil here is so hillocky and wrinkled you’d think it was resting on an old man’s crowsfeet. We’d better smooth it.”

So they did. And did. And did.

Now, what happened next was very complicated from their perspective. But pretty simple from the landscape’s.
The mouth of the bay popped shut with a surprised snap.
The headland, its sinuses cleared, sneezed hard enough to rattle its pores out.
The foothills, with a sharp yelp, clenched themselves up.

They left very quickly after that, picking up what they could and moving on.
What a mistake, they agreed, as they headed over the wincing hills. What a mistake. How could they have picked such a terrible place to live? Next time would be different.
First, they needed a plan… And a mayor…

Storytime: Placebo.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

The phone came in and the diagnosis was ‘dead,’ which was at least pretty inarguable unless you got religious on it but granny had always been the one in charge of that sort of stuff so everyone else just went with it and got down to the material matters.
Who was paying for the hole and the box.
Where the wake was.
Who was getting invitations.
Stuff like that.
who got what.

Jenny got the car.
Jessie got the house.
Johnny got the cat.
Jimmy got the box.
Jimmy was somewhat unhappy. The box was tape, held together with cardboard. Its lid was sealed with seven generations of labels stuck on labels, most of which had decayed and left only their indelible marker to remember them by and smear all over his hands. But on the topmost, decades-old layer, he read a word:
So he popped the lid to take a look, and inside he found….
Well. Junk.

A little car a big truck (metal) a wooden ruler (wood) a plastic telephone (small) a small airplane (small) a big metal pencil (small) a squeaky rubber chicken (dried up) a spider that had been dead for longer than Jimmy had been alive and a little bottle whose lid wouldn’t come off.
Jimmy furrowed his brow in a gradual and extensive sort of way, picked up the box and shook it to make sure it was empty, then put everything back in and took it out to the curb and left it for the dump truck before he remembered he was late for work and his brother had driven him here and he’d already left. With his new cat.
Jimmy opened up the box again. He picked up the car. He considered the car.
“What the hell,” he said. And he took it.

“You’re late.”
“And out of breath.”
“And I just saw you run into the parking lot.”
“And then you left a small car in the parking lot.”
“That’s littering.”
“And you left it in the handicapped spot.”
“Sorry. It’s not a real car though.’
“You drove it in.”
“It’s just a placebo.”
There was a gently thud as the palms of Jimmy’s Manager slid comfortably into their owner’s eyesockets.
“Just stop. Just stop. The presentation’s about to start. Now shut up and take notes.”
Notes. Yes.
Jimmy remembered notes. Jimmy remembered his phone. Jimmy remembered leaving his phone at his grann – at his SISTER’S – house twenty minutes by placebo away and felt very foolish.
Pen and paper. He had a napkin, that was paper. He had a…
He opened the box on his lap and slid out the skinny metal pencil. Well, it was a rod that had ‘pencil’ etched on the side.
But what the hell.

“Your handwriting is appalling. Your grammar is a war crime. Your margins are as marginalized as they can be without being outright pogromed.” His manager shuffled the napkin again, as if hoping better notes would fall out. “But this does exist, and I suppose that’ll do. What’d you write this with, a paintbrush?”
Jimmy held up his pencil.
“That’s a metal rod.”
“It’s just a placebo.”
“Right. Go home. Now.”
Jimmy went home. Or rather, Jimmy tried to go home, but was held up in the parking lot by an annoyed man with a tow truck.
“Give me back my car.”
“Illegally parked.”
“It’s just a placebo.”
“In a handicapped spot.”
“But it’s not a real car.”
The tower sighed. “Did you drive it here?”
“If it works, it’s a car. Now kindly fuck off.”
Jimmy fucked off, but reluctantly. He was twenty minutes from home along a busy highway, and fucking off was not a speedy form of rapid transit. He looked down the road and up the road then down the road then up the road then checked the box again.

“Do you know how fast you were going when you flipped?”
Jimmy focused both his eyes on the same thing and was very proud of himself until he realized the thing wasn’t a doctor but was a police officer.
“Too busy joy-riding to check, eh?”
“There’s no speedometer, it’s just a placebo.”
“Right. Well, you were travelling at a hundred and twenty-nine kilometers per hour when you hopped the guardrail, just barely missed an SUV with a full family aboard, then skidded through the curve above highway six.”
Jimmy felt his neck. “How am I alive?”
“But it’s just a placebo.”
The officer rolled her eyes. “Right. Great. I’m sure we’re all very happy that you didn’t crash a REAL truck. Which you aren’t authorized, licensed, or able to drive. At all. For reasons we have just seen reiterated to the tune of….oh my. A SUBSTANTIAL fine. I’ll come back when you’re sober enough to face the consequences.”
Jimmy sat alone in his hospital bed avoiding the consequences and the lumpy mashed potatoes both and felt underneath his bed, where there was a familiar lump.
“What I need,” he said to himself, “is a phone call.”

The headset was meant for a toddler, but he managed, with some squashing of ears.
“Hello? Hello? Jessie? This is Jimmy. I’ve been in a serious accident and I need your help getting a lawyer. I mean, just bail would be nice. No, I’m not really telling you this, it’s just a placebo. No, don’t hang up. C’mon, I promise this is the last time. Yes, yes, of COURSE you’re not LISTENING to me, I just TOLD YOU it’s just a pl – shoot.”
Jimmy hung up, examined his lumpy potatoes and suspiciously smooth gelatin in silence. He was hungry, but not that hungry, but with no other options.
The box beckoned.

“Trying to dodge the trial, eh?”
“I was hungry.”
“Hungry enough to eat raw chicken? Christ, this isn’t the third millennium BCE anymore; salmonella is WIDESPREAD in domestic avian livestock.”
“But it was just a placebo.”
“Great. So the fever, diarrhea, cramps, diarrhea, dehydration, and diarrhea were all in your head. That’s so much better.”
“You said diarrhea four times.”
“Three. And you produced three times as much as you would’ve if you hadn’t eaten the whole damned thing. Who eats a raw chicken ENTIRE, bones, beak and all?”
“But it was just a-”
“Save it. You’re under observation now. No more malarkey.”
Jimmy sat alone and boxless. But he had a trick up his sleeve.
He shook his sleeve and the spider fell out. He held it in his hand, gingerly, then tossed it out the window.
It was a very light carcass and it took about twenty seconds for it to flutter to the ground, most of which he spent feeling very foolish. Of COURSE the spider wasn’t a placebo. It had probably just crawled in there and died. How very foolish of him.
Besides, the web would’ve been too thin to hold his weight anyways. What he needed was something a whole lot bigger. Something that was…hmm.
Jimmy shook his other sleeve and pulled out the wooden ruler, which he quickly measured the whole hospital with.
Something about two hundred feet wide and a little bit longer would do the job nicely. Not only would he be able to climb out with it, it would remove most of the wall so he wouldn’t need to open the window. Brilliant.
He was a bit unsure of the math involved, but then again he was using a placebo, so any results at all were evidence of failure.
Jimmy shook his other other sleeve and the plane dropped out. Thankfully, it was very small and vague, capable of representing anything from a single-man bushflyer to a 747 jumbo with a 200-foot wingspan on a 230-foot body.

Seven miles away and one up, Jimmy remembered that he couldn’t drive a plane either.

The crater was huge. Smouldering wreckage dotted the landscape in a two-foot radius of the crash. Jimmy lay half-senseless in the snow and drifted in and out. His stitches seemed to have opened up; there was a lot of pain.
“A miracle you’re still going, fella. Your parachute went out awful low.”
Jimmy opened his mouth and told the farmer that there was no parachute because it’d just been a placebo but his mouth wouldn’t shut again once he opened it and it was making noises that weren’t words, so he just let it fly.
“Wait here – phone’s indoors. I’ll call an ambulance and get out here with the first aid kit. Back in a second. You hold on, you hear me? Don’t quit.”

The snow was thick and fast but he was getting cold faster than it.
He took the little glass bottle in his palm, shook it three times, heard the cheery twinkle of broken glass, realized the bottom had broken off, and picked up a single, solitary pill from the white drifts that had so casually camouflaged it.
It said, in tiny stamped letters: PLACEBO.

The farmer came out with a blanket and a drink and thread and needle, bent double. The blizzard was setting in now, but he’d have to check to make sure he could move the man before he took him indoors. Body heat and hot water bottles and warm fluids would have to-
He stopped, then put everything down and checked the pulse.
“Anything I can do for you, buddy?” he asked, quietly.
Jimmy blinked up at the world.
“Nah…” he sighed. His jaw didn’t hurt anymore. “S’nt. Yurfault.”
He looked resentfully at the outflung corpse of a little bottle in the snow. “D’n’t haav reael medddishinn anywahs. Jus’”

“Just what?”

The farmer took him in, light as a bird on his shoulder. The pill fell into the snow.

His siblings felt bad about it, but consoled themselves with the memories of their brother’s careless lifestyle.
After all, they said, it wasn’t as if he’d had any real options.

Storytime: How to live in the home I lived in when I was very small.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

There is one thing that needs to be clear before we start: outdoors is great. Outdoors is good. I am all about being outside of doors (frogs rocks trees and water and frogs), but that’s for another time and place. This is about indoors.

The front hall has its place and its place is perfectly fine but also passing. There are implements of outdoors here. Leave yours or be yelled at. More interesting is dad’s office, just offset. There’s a deep and perplexing blue to the floor there, and more paper than can be imagined in Bill Gates’s nightmares. It smells like cardboard packaging and old computer exhaust, and it is largely forbidden.

Moving in, moving along past the kitchen, that island apart, and we have the living room. This is the big real break, the big place where big stuff can happen and you can get serious. Craggy couches rear from a hardwood sea, towering above the waves of slipping, sliding socks and rocky chairs. Fish are abundant, but so are monsters. You’ve got to be careful about yourself in there, or you can lose yourself down between the cracks that drop out of sight and mind and into the spaces where the loose change goes – a quarter! Wealth!
You can find the dining room table there too, but that’s exceptional and extraordinary: the one surface in the whole house you can accidentally colour and it’s okay because it gets wiped down constantly and all the extra leftovers from your drawings will be swept up and away off the edges clean and clear. Not that you miss the drawings because your drawings should grow like goldfish to match the surface’s size and this is a grand table, a big table, a table you tape two four six eight sheets together on and scribble like mad with until your hand aches. It’s good for that. That’s good.

Into the hall, the grand hall, the REAL hall that makes the front hall unworthy because this must be five times its length and nearly as wide even with the bookcases all the bookcases hanging precariously from the walls they’re caves in its walls, chiseled carefully over a long winding river whose doors gape into other times and places. When you’re alone, grab a handful. Then you aren’t. And you know where they all live all day all the time.
It’s sunny there, in the right places.

At the far end is the sisters’ room. It is forbidden in the nonspecial, nonmysterious, unappealing way, where there’s nothing magical about it you just don’t go in there because it’s not right. That’s how it should be.

At the unfar end is the parent’s room. This one is unforbidden in the nonspecial, nonmysterious way because it belongs to your parents and your parents are functionally an extension of yourself as far as privacy goes. Besides, their bed is great for jumping on – not bouncy, but expansive. Good stuff, right good stuff right on. It’s a field, a battlefield, whatever. And another island if you need it, over tight-curled carpet waves.

Just above is the real red ruddy room, walls wined. This place is all out of space; the bed’s too high, the paint’s too strong, there’s a television on creaking wooden legs and god knows what else. Avert your eyes as you pass but if you dare trespass you can find a bloody good bloodpit of a place, a lake of monsters howling under a rubbled ridge and with a great shining glass eye of a sky overhead to light it up. Don’t go here without being ready for some serious stuff.

A bathroom. Necessary. Its tap has the tastiest water you’ve ever heard, but you’ll have to compete with the cat for it. Cat loves that water, straight from the faucet. Sometimes he sleeps in that sink. Because he’s a cat, even if there’s no internet yet.

At the nearly far end is the room. That’s a good room, because it’s yours. It’s a bit dark and dim and leafy thanks to your window which is covered in dark dim leaves up against the fence but that’s nice and shady, even if your paint keeps it cooler and greener itself. It’s a cave in here, a cavern the size of a stadium – or maybe just a hidden valley? A few pools and eddies and streams, a good place for leagues of heroes to slouch and prepare and organize and build and get into plans about getting into fights. On the bottomshelflands of giant bunk-bedded plateaus they live, in caves and crannies; atop the peaks of covers their flying sentinels pose nobly. There’s a captain’s hat from a cottage of boats and a desk too old to think; they are background. Important background. There’s actually starting to be more important background than foreground here, but that’ll only become a problem in ten years or so.
For now, just sit back. You’ve got a lot of work to do. But someone’s not got to do it, and it might as well be you.