Terrible Delicatessen -- 9.9.13

You Light Up My Life, Part I -- The Girl Of Kreemie's Dreamies

What would you do if an inscrutable young woman of Eastern European descent walked into your deli and wanted a roast beef sandwich? Would you fall in love?

Yes. Yes you would. Of course you would . You'd get all hot 'n bothered. You'd come to be delirious and euphoric. And delusional. Like Kreemie. 

And then your boss would walk into the frame in nothing but his skivvies. And you and your dream partner would be mortified. That's what would happen. Because that's how life is.

Isn't it? 

NEXT WEEK:  You Light Up My Life, Part II . I know it was you, Gary! You broke my heart! YOU BROKE MY HEART.

Quien me amat, amet et canum meum.

 

Terrible Delicatessen -- 9.2.13

Gary ain't screwed. We sometimes let the most infinitesimal life-items drive us insane, like when you get deodorant on your t-shirt, or you wait over a minute at a stoplight, or when there are ants in your cereal. In this week's strip, Gary loses it over a BCC email.

Don't be Gary.

Or be him, what do I care?

9.2.13

NEXT WEEK: You Light Up My Life, Part I. Kreemie's in love!

Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem.

Terrible Delicatessen -- 8.26.13

No Pont l'Eveque ever. Life stinks, for the most part, though some people manage to make things work no matter how bad it reeks. Like Gary, for instance.

Kreemie, on the other hand... not so much.

8.26.13

8.26.13

NEXT WEEK: Gary gets a Bcc: email, Kreemie spouts off some icy-cold internet facts, and Mr. Craig List makes a special guest appearance. Kind of.

Ulula cum lupis, cum quibus esse cupis.

Snake Oil and the Saltiness of the Earth

I work hard. Harder than most people. Much harder than you, obviously. That’s why you’re here, right?  Wanted to know my productivity tricks? My “secrets?” Well listen, I’m going to burst your bubble: there’s no silver bullet, dummy. You’re just a Hard Worker or you’re not. Like me. It’s in the genetics, babe. I suppose there’s one thing I could do for you, though. Here, what I’ll do is walk you through my typical day: The day of a Hard Worker. Monkey see, monkey do, right? Heh!

Like I said, I work hard. Damn hard. All the time. It starts right when I wake up. I slap my face a few times. Not too loud, though. Don’t want to wake sleeping beauty. I walk to the bathroom and turn on the faucet. It’s a gold faucet on a brown marble I had installed just last week. It’s gorgeous. The fruits of Hard Work, that’s what that is. I turn the cold water on. I blast it. I splash my face and try my best to rinse yesterday off of it. Then comes the warm water. Need that warm water for the morning shave. I take a straight blade and scrape any excess hairs from my cheeks and my neck. Have to look sharp, crisp. Hard Workers have a distinct briskness to their faces, you know what I mean, babe?

I rinse again, hop into the shower for about five minutes. Step back out, go through a few more hygienic routines (teeth-brushing, hair-combing, arm-deodorizing, etc.). I put on a fresh pair of briefs and admire myself in the mirror for a bit; hard workers deserve a little bit of me-time, don’t they? I walk back into the bedroom, take a look at my lazy wife in a deep sleep. I sigh and throw my hard worker clothes. My suit. I think of it like my armor.

I bounce down the stairs. I’m already feeling spry. Yeah, babe. The coffee’s already brewed (you always set it the night before). I walk over to the kitchen table and suck down a protein shake: hydrolyzed whey isolate. (Two scoops with water and a fist full of vitamins. Venisya’s put it all out for me.) What a doll she is. She works hard. The wife should be more like Venisya. I take between seven and ten minutes breakfasting, sipping the coffee, reading the Times.

Alright, all set. Bring on the day. Yeah, babe.

God, I love Hard Work. I’m such a Hard Worker. Really surprises me sometimes, I have to say. Need some of that cold water to wake me up.

Off to the job. I step into a black Maserati Quattroporte. New toy. Guess how I was able to afford it?

Smart cookie. Damn Hard Work.

I cruise at a very reasonable pace, all leisurely-like. A man with power has no need to rush. Everything’s timed out in the head with precision, sharp precision. My internal clock is impeccable. The brain is a muscle, too, you know. I work that thing hard. All the time, babe.

I’m forced to sit and wait at a stop-light, one block away from the parking garage. Patience is a learned skill, friendo. It’s in the Hard Work toolbox. Gotta have it. I hate waiting, but I have to do it. I learn to love it. I learn to love it because it’s difficult. It’s Hard.

Young children playing hooky and working-class women love to stare at me while I wait at the light. I can tell they don’t see a black Maserati Quattroporte on a regular basis. They’re not used to excellence. Get it? I give each group a look. It’s essentially the same look, but a prepubescent hoodlum on a bicycle reads me much differently than a mediocre-to-poor looking female wearing a muted-colored work suit.  Either way, they get it. They understand The Look: You want this? You’ve got to work.

I pull into the parking garage. I park my black Maserati Quattroporte in the corner of the first floor of the garage. I park at an angle to make sure none of the other lazy jerks even think about placing their tin-can sloth-mobiles next to mine. Can I let you in on a little secret? People who work hard don’t drive Ford Escorts.

I walk across the street into my building. The Artist’s Den, I like to think of it. I give a tiny salute to the sloth, the one sitting at a desk reading a magazine. They wear a badge and they’re overweight. I can’t imagine what their diet’s like. I’m always disgusted at first, then quickly relieved because I’m not that person. I’m a Hard Worker. That’s how I’m able to crack a grin and a joke at these putzes. They love me. No wonder. They know that I always get the job done.

I take the stairs to the 8th Floor. That’s one thing you should know, you absolutely should know: Never take the fucking elevator. Don’t be a sloth. Work those hams, those quads. Stamp your feet like you’re in the damn Marines. I love walkin' the stairs. Gets the blood pumping. I can’t start the day if I don’t feel a slight burn in my hams before I’m in the office.

I always imagine I’m walking to my office in slow motion. I say “Hey!” and “Yo!” and “What’s happenin’?” and watch everyone’s head pop up from their cubicle. They’re glowing. When you work hard you infect other people with it, you see. The Hardest Worker is the oil that lubes the machine. I sense the office atmosphere shift into me, I feel the weight fall onto my shoulders. Bring it on, babe. I love it.

Colleen is my secretary. She’s 20-years-old, foxy as hell, dumb as rocks. Yeah, babe. Another one of those juicy fruits of Hard Work. She’s been with me for a few months. I’ve been showin’ her the ropes around here. I like showing her the ropes after lunch. Heh! Yeah, boss!

Colleen’s mouth yaps violently at me in the morning. She’s all teeth and words. Big ol’ grin on her doll face. She gives me a rundown of very general business: “So-and-so called and said ‘yadda-yadda’”; “Jack wants a meeting this afternoon.”; “We’re having _____ for lunch.” I like to sit on the edge of her desk and tune her out completely as I stare at her and smile. I look through her. She blushes. Once she’s done flappin’ her lips I ask her how she’s doing and she overflows with rainbow-colored drivel about her social life or her sick mother. I don’t listen. I stare. I just stare. Nod. Stare some more. Smile.

“Damn, look at the time! I’m gonna go meet up with Jack and his crew. Catch you after lunch?”

“Of course… Mr. Boss-man.”

Yeah, babe.

I walk out of my office and schmooze with some of my staff. They love it. I tend to play with my iPhone while I’m schmoozing. The underlings understand, though. I’m busy. And they know it. I like to Tweet while I fake-talk to those lovable dorks. I check my Facebook. I scan through a few pictures of myself. Solid. Yeah, babe. I wrap that up and head to a meeting.

I have between one and four meetings a day. They’re usually with Jack. He’s my boss and I don’t respect him. He respects me, though. He loves me. I’m invaluable. I’m indispensable. I get to the morning meeting a few minutes early. “If you’re early you’re on time--if you’re on time you’re late.” You know that saying, don’t you?

Woah! Hey, listen, bro: I don’t give a crap if you “fucking hate that idiom.” You don’t get it, do you? Ya know, you remind me of these two jag-offs that were at one of my meetings last week. Out of town guys. Yale cocks, I think. They thought I was tryin’ to upstage them. Those jags didn’t get why I was early. They don’t get it. They muttered things under their breath about me, gave me dirty looks. I called ‘em out as soon as I noticed. I ask them if they know who I am. I asked Jack, “Do they know who I am?” Jack laughed, then apologized for their rudeness. You’d be surprised how often this happens.

I sat through the meeting. Painful, but hey—it’s Work. Hard Work. I re-Tweeted a few quotes about Hard Work during the meeting. Stuff I saw on celebrities’ Twitters. I looked through a few more pictures on my Facebook page. I ‘like’ a few things I don’t read into as Jack fingered the pie chart on a SmartBoard. I’ll be honest with you: Hard Work can be boring sometimes. Won’t lie about that, bro. You have to put on that Hard Worker face. Muscle through it like a big boy, you know?

Towards the end of the meeting I take a few points Jack’s made and rephrase them. I polished them up and made them sound like I added to the conversation; I gave everyone a different perspective on the company goals. Jack loves when I do that.

“That is exactly what I’m saying! This guy gets me.” Jack lets out a jolly laugh from his diaphragm. He walks over to where I’m sitting and slaps me on the shoulder. I laughed with him and shot him a grin. The meeting, like most of the others, ended in success.

After a meeting like that one I go get lunch. I suck down another whey shake before I get back to my office and fuck Colleen. I’m sated and feeling muscley and ready to show her the ropes.

And no, I’m not using a condom, idiot. I’m a Hard Worker. You don’t get it, do you? Those “rules,” they’re not for us. They’re not for me, babe.  They don’t apply. I’m tellin’ you, bro, you gotta work hard. You do work hard so you can have things. So you can have people. I worked hard to have Colleen, to have Venisya. To have my wife.

I have to muzzle Colleen when I’m screwing her. I only take her from behind while I’m at work—it’s more utilitarian. She squeals a lot. I cover her mouth with my palm. She drools into it. I yank on her hair, she drools some more.

What do you mean, “why am I telling you this?” Babe, I’m trying to walk you through my day. You’re getting impatient. I told you… ya need patience. It’s a big part of being a Hard Worker. See, that’s the trick, bro. You gotta make the Work a Fruit of Work. You gotta love the Work. The Work is the reward, bro. I was just gettin’ to that.

The rest of the day cycles over, more or less. I schmooze some more, I abuse the internet. I go over vague stats and figures with Jack, then with Donna later on. That broad loves me. She loves me because she knows that I love to Work. She appreciates my Work Ethic. It’s the key, babe. If there’s any secret I guess that’s it; you start to fall in love with Hard Work. I fuckin’ love it.

I wrap up at the office at around 6:00 P.M. It’s gym time, babe.

Keeping your body fit and lookin’ good is a huge part of Hard Work. There’s no cheatin’ with staying in shape. You gotta Work it. I love hittin’ the gym. I bolt from the Maserati Quattroporte to the gym locker room, throw on my gear—shorts, tank, lifting gloves, sweatband. Yeah, babe.

I start with some cycling; gotta warm the bod’. Move on to some donkey calf raises, pec flys, a couple dumbell bench lifts. Top it all off with a five mile run on the treadmill. Feeling good, feeling limber. Feelin’ Worked. I hit the showers.

I head home. I’m craving carbs but I wouldn’t do that to myself. I know better. Patience is virtual or somethin’. Willpower, ya know? I slam down another shake and wind down. Ready to repeat the cycle.

That’s that, bro. That’s my day. You could always… you know, copy it, right? You want to be a Hard Worker, don’t you? Well that’s a day of Hard Work, dog. Hard-ass work.

Alright, I gotta run. You can pay me tomorrow.

What do you mean, “Huh?” What’s that about?

You know I’m charging you for this, right?

Terrible Delicatessen -- 8.12.13

The Bro Sip is a thing. Kreemie witnesses an earnest Bro Sipand gets all churlish about it. Gary identifies with Bro-ass Bros. Usual nonsense at the Deli, you know.

8.12.13

Supplemental: The origin of The Bro Sip.

A History of Bro Sips

A History of Bro Sips

Bro Sip diagrams:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

NEXT WEEK: Behind The Counter, S1 E1!Includes a making-of video and original Vesper sketches! Come behind the scenes with P.O. Vesper and I as we walk you through the visual Terrible Delicatessen's origins and processes. Docendo discimus.

Terrible Delicatessen -- 8.5.13

You never, ever mess with another man's anchovies. Down with crappy ironic-looking pizza men and the tricks they pull! Get 'em, Gary!

8.5.13

NEXT WEEK: Kreemie witnesses a Bro Sip live and in the flesh. What the hell does that even mean? Come back next week and behold... THE BRO SIP.

It's a thing, I swear.

Bene diagnoscitur, bene curatur.

You Will Always Be A Dogbot

Everything I’m going to do I’ve done already. Everything I haven’t finished I hadn’t started to begin with. And that’s just the way of things. So I made coffee while I was walking the dogbot whilst sipping the coffee that I’d made yesterday during the time when my dogbot pissed butane out at my leg and onto my Big Toe. I jumped away from it, annoyed, as I slumped on the couch.

“You are BAD! BAD-BAD-GOOD BOY! GOOOOD BOOOY!”

This is what I screamed at my synthetic pet for letting organic liquid loose all over my foot (particularly my Big Toe).  I was conveniently taking a shower in that same moment, so I wasn’t too upset, even though I absolutely was.

Regardless of what Strange Dew—that’s my dogbot, don’t you know—squirted onto my low-limbs, I was completely happy with myself, albeit totally fucking miserable.

Strange Dew was clean-shaven with a long beard and people on the grassy bio-block would always notice this. They’d shout things like “Hey! Look at that smooth-faced dogbot with the long black and/or white beard that hangs down and drags across the muddy, sticky-dry pavement as he/she scuttles quickly at a slow pace!”

Keep it to yourself. Yep. That’s what I’d always scream under my breath. Keep it to yourself.

Conventional Dry Particle—also the dogbot’s name—and I (or You, depending on where you’re standing) were on our way to the local dogbot factory, which also functioned as the international morgue for dogbots. It all happens here, but not much goes on most days.

I’m serious!

It was raining inside, cool and dewy (yes, I know), which was fine because the two of us were equally outside where the both of us sweat like female dogs that are in season to mate and have babies.

I took Strange Dew/Conventional Dry Particle into that sun-shower of a birthing room and watched her (or him, depending on the time of day) die. I don’t know why I did this, aside from the fact that I knew that it positively needed to happen. I had no choice and limitless alternatives, so you see where I’m coming from, don’t you?

I looked at the tightly squinted eyes that were wide open and realized that at the end of the day, which is also when the cock roosts or something, that no matter what time it is, or whichever ground you choose to stand on you’ll always be a dogbot.

It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

For further reading on multiverses and simultaneous realitiesgo here.

Terrible Delicatessen -- 7.22.13

Kreemie Dunbar is a writer with no money. He pays the bills by working at an awful, awful deli. Gary will stop at nothing to make something of himself in this world. Which is why he ate all the rye chips.

7.22.13

NEXT WEEK: Double-sized strip! Kreemie goes to the gym and feels more or less inadequate! Gary flexes and acts like he uses Icopro! Macte animo! Generose puer sic itur ad astra!

Asinine Beliefs I Held As A Small Child

As a young boy I was rather insane. There were a handful of world views I held (and thankfully dropped) until the age of seven or so. Here is a short list.

  • I used to believe that it was possible to pick up a girlfriend or a wife at The Girlfriend Shop. I wasn't sure where it was located, but the three-year-old Justin knew it existed. It was probably somewhere in North Jersey. After I'd seized my woman I was convinced she would bore me three boys. I planned to name them Tommy, Joey and Dopey.
  • I thought "skim milk" was called "skin milk" and used to think it did wonders for my four-year-old skin. "Grandma, come feel my hands! They're so soft!"
  • I was under the impression that in a movie theatre the lights were to be kept on at all times. The first flick I almost saw was Return of the Care Bears, though we had to leave early because I kept screaming "Hey! Hey! Who turned out the lights?!?"
  • I was convinced that a giant fountain at a local mall was my grandfather from another planet. Anytime I'd go to the mall I say "Hello, Grandpa" in my head. I was telepathically communicating with the indoor geyser. Really glad I didn't share that with anyone at the time.
  • I used to think Poison were cool and The Grateful Dead were terrifying. That "Touch of Grey" video gave me the creeps. I suppose Poison were just less threatening because they looked like a bunch of Moms.
  • I'm pretty positive my first sexual feelings occurred for my Storm action figure. I suppose I got to second base pretty early if I'm allowed to count the foxy Ororo Munroe as my first hookup. My asinine belief was that she was my girlfriend.

That's all I can think of. I don't know why I thought about these things. I'm not sure where the ideas came from. They just happened and I remember them vividly. Alright, bye.

Terrible Delicatessen -- 7.15.13

Kreemie Dunbar is a writer with no money. He pays the bills by working at an awful, awful deli. Gary's Monday Morning Miasma is extra rank. Why and how? Because he went dancing and got lucky! That's why and how!

7.15.13

NEXT WEEK: You never want to be That Guy. You should know this. Homo homini lupus est.

Mind of Makiko

Makiko Suda is a fantastic cartoon scribbler based out of Tokyo, Japan. She also sings for the all-female grindcore outfit Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation. You should check them out. Here are a few of her recent works. Ice Cream Boy

It's that time of the season, folks. The air is dense, almost syrupy with humidity. Who else would you rather want to hang out with other than Ice Cream Boy? Makiko explains:

He claims himself "Real Chocolate Ice Cream", and demands you to scoop the ice cream and serve it on a fancy glass dish. He gets mad when you try to eat from him directly because he thinks he is a posh ice cream.

Robot Banana

A visual manifestation Melt Banana using a drum machine. If you're wondering what the band sounds like, just take a hard look at those googley banana eyeballs. That's what they sound like. Really.

Gremlin Man

This guy always reminded me of a gremlin hopped up on yerba mate and SSRIs. A-dor-ablay.

Hand Man

Makiko's description is the most accurate:

He is a egg, but has six flexible hands and no legs. He is really annoying, always interrupts people's talking. He sometimes gets cracked.

Fire Boy and Candle

According to Makiko, Fire Boy is rather quiet but nice. Since he consists mainly of fire he keeps a distance from most other people. It's a bit sad. Candle is one of his best buds, though. Here we see Fire Boy doing Candle a solid.

Consolation

Cheer up, buttercup.

So, what do you think?

On Repeat

Have you ever said something to yourself  over and over throughout the span of a day? Maybe it's a line from a movie or a television show, or maybe it's something funny your friend said. Have you done this? Have you ever repeated that phrase like a shitty mantra? I've done this since I was a kid, usually when no one is around. I'm not sure why I do it. It's an amusing tic that always results in me laughing like a total moron in an empty room. Today, for some reason, I can't stop saying "My name... is Hikaru Sulu." with George Takei's rich baritone. I try hard to match his octave register. In my head it's spot on, though I'm sure it's atrocious and embarrassing to someone else's ear. I was just making lunch and probably said it 15 times. What's my problem?

"My name... is Hikaru Sulu."

I did it again, out loud. And now I'm laughing.

Happy Anyday.

Mucopus -- "Undimensional"

This is the title track from Mucopus' second album. It was recorded at Shaark Studios in Bzenec, Czech Republic during the summer of 2007. I played guitars on the record.

Success in the arts (to me, anyway) is coming as close as you can to  sculpting out your vision as accurately as you possibly can. I feel like if at least 80% of your goal is still in tact at the end of your project you can and should consider it a triumph. This song ended up one of my prouder musical moments simply because the result was damn close to what I originally envisioned.

None of your creative projects will end up perfect. Ever. And that's totally fine. Stop wasting your time meticulously editing and tweaking your song, your painting, your novel, whatever it is. After you've put in the work (and make sure that you actually have put in the work), be malleable with your material. Finish it and let it go. And then make more cool shit.

The Sentient Castrum That Once Protected the Octopoids Now Has Nothing But Time

The Nimbus came again and breathed a biting cold against my façade. The array of wintry daggers reminded me of the great yesterdays of when I was a castle. The magnificent days. The brighter and lighter days. The days when the royal Octopoids I housed ruled over a gorgeous, desolate moon. I served them with patience, with sturdiness. I served them until The Pulse took place; the bursting wave that bent all things out of shape. As a castle I was helpless. I was stripped bare and mauled by The Pulse. I was violated by a happening with no face, by a massive tear in time. My rocky frontage was gone for the most part, though I maintained a strong expression on the left-hand side, the side that allowed me to visualize. Over centuries I saw all things fall, and for years and now I rot and freeze and watch.

I watch the Lonely Time Traveler from Afar. He stands in the same spot, trapped in the atmosphere of The Nimbus. There once was a time when he moved around slowly. He was a victim of The Pulse, a humanoid displaced out of time. Before he froze he attempted humor. And now he stands unmoving next to a garish time-displaced vehicle and it looks very poignant from a distance.

The gaudy auto came moments after the Lonely Time Traveler from Afar arrived on my moon. It came covered in filth and an air of excesses. It wasn’t sentient, either. It couldn’t communicate, and this depressed me. It became a toy for the surviving Octopoid.

The Octopoid that survived was formerly an Urchin, a small one without a family. She lived inside of me for months. I did my best to keep her small and slippery form warm, and when we felt The Pulse I did all I could to protect her, meaning that I couldn’t do much at all. She was the lone survivor and I watched her as I rotted and froze, watched her grow in size but not adulthood. She never had the chance to come of age. There was no one alive to teach her, to communicate with her. I watched her play with the lurid transporter and slide close to The Lonely Time Traveler from Afar. She still knows nothing other than physical pleasures and hunger.

I watch all of this from afar and do nothing, because I have nothing but time.

Pavel and Metiri

Pavel thought of his cold concrete floor as a king-sized bed. On the night before Loatia’s bi-annual Threnody, Pavel laid rigidly in his bed next to his best friend, Metiri. Metiri was a crescent and was twice the size of Pavel. Since Metiri was limbless, Pavel draped a paisley blanket over where its brain was to keep the kind lunula warm at night.

Pavel feared Threnodies.

“Why induce death?” he thought, his face propped up by two pillows, his eyes fixed on the ceiling of his room. His breaths were shallow. Slowly, he sank into thought. Moments later, he realized he was trapped in an asymmetrical section of his mind, cornered by the old intangibles Anxiety and Dread. Pavel was frightened, so he decided to search for irony in the situation.

“How can I be cornered in a room without symmetry?”

+

In Loatia, the Threnody was a sacrificial ceremony where local governments throughout the country would select citizens at random to be dissolved with nitro-hydrochloric acid and poured into the Sea of Murnan, to the east. The Orthodox Lecheorian priests would then sing dirges until sundown of the following day.

The ritual was relatively new to Loatian culture; it was inherited and instated by Lecheorian bureaucrats in the throes of the Lecheor – Jord conflict roughly three centuries prior.

+

After a few seconds, which to him felt like an eon, Pavel broke free from the immaterial, lopsided room. He saw the ceiling again. He turned to Metiri, felt its cool white light on his callused middle fingers.

“Your feet make me feel safe. They always make me feel safe.”

The moonlight that Metiri emanated gradually placed Pavel back into a trance. He was back into the asymmetrical room. He saw Fear now. Fear stood directly in front of Dread and Anxiety, forming a triangle. It was the only symmetry he saw inside of the room. The only symmetry until he saw Metiri enter the room from the east.

Metiri’s presence was brilliant, its bright white light quickly dissolving the phalanx. The room began to shift into a gorgeous symmetry; first into a rhombus, then into a perfect square. His mind was lucid. All was as nothing.

Pavel saw the ceiling again. His hand was now pressed firmly against Metiri’s feet. He felt liberated. Kingly, even.

Malconium

“Hypergnosis hovers over our planet in the form of a jellyfish.” “Our thoughts, our ideas, anything the collective mind has constructed in the past and into the future, is transferred from the human brain into a quantum form of mesoglea, travels up towards the sky and out of the atmosphere. It bonds to whatever mass already hovers above the planet. It adds context to the Hypergnosis.”

After he finished reading the transcription aloud, Caius slid his chair away from the screen. He looked over at Osella. She shook her head slowly as she stared at the floor.

“This can’t be right. It shouldn’t read like this.” Osella’s voice was weak, as though her breathing was shallow.

“Os, it’s the third time I’ve transcribed this section. We’re almost there.”

Osella gazed into the floor. Her presence was brittle.

Caius rubbed his neck, wincing lightly. “Hey, did you ever render those glyphs into coordinates?”

“So now they’re coordinates?” Though exhausted, Osella tried hard to savor the jibe.

“Come on. Did you get anything worth taking a look at?”

“Here.” She briskly typed a command into her desk. Within seconds, the coordinates appeared on Caius’ screen.

05h 14m 32.272s, −08° 12′ 05.91″

“Let’s try it.” Caius felt a velvet anxiety in his chest. He was out of ideas.

“You’re not serious. You can’t be.” Osella wanted nothing but sleep.

“What’s there to lose?” It was as though Caius had been infected by an idea.

“Listen, anything we’ve transcribed from this ‘bible’ has turned out to be roachshit. They’re wasting our time.”

“Osella, you know that we’re onto something. You know what kind of things those Malconites have been saying lately; the predictions of battle outcomes, the—”

“OK, just because those old mole-men spouted some vague gibberish from the Malconium doesn’t mean they’re clairvoyant. I could pick up a cooking book, read you a recipe and transpose all of that nonsense into an apocalyptic sermon. Sacred texts are meaningless works written by illiterate peasants from primeval planets. We’re wasting our time.”

Alright, OK. I’m just going to take a look. A quick look and then we’ll call it a night. Good?”

“Fine.”

Caius punched in the coordinates. He waited for a moment, thinking to himself and laughing. He then slid to another part of the marble table. “Let’s bring it up on the primary monitor.”

Osella fiddled with her own screen. “Stop acting so… optimistic. It’s weird and gross.”

Caius laughed again. “OK, OK, bring it up.”

A shot above Rigel appeared on the screen.

The two sat in a thunderous silence.

Caius gripped Osella’s hand tightly. She squeezed back as they stared at a jellyfish floating in the sky.

The Old Kingdom Is Not An Anomaly

The Household’s façade was dour except for its Bionicrustacean legs. It traveled to the rhythm of its own surly and sullen personality, which usually meant westward. It traversed only over the green rock formations of the Old Kingdom, typically near the Lake of Liquid Girls. When people first see The Household perambulating over the rocks on its white, crab-like Bionicrustacean legs near the Lake of Liquid Girls, the first thing they usually ask is:

“Who the heck lives inside of that super-ultra-mega sad thing?!”

It is a silly question. It’s also the wrong question to ask. They should be asking:

Who is that Very Depressed Walking House that mainly walks over the green rock formations of the Old Kingdom, typically near the Lake of Liquid Girls?”

The Household is not a home. It’s not a house at all. It is a living, un-breathing thing with a neurotic personality, windows for eyes, a unique pathos and white, crab-like Bionicrustacean legs.

It only strolls over the green rock formations of the Old Kingdom, typically near the Lake of Liquid Girls, because The Household thinks there is a party there. There is a never a party going on near the Lake of Liquid Girls. This is because the Liquid Girls are too busy trying on new brand new viscid clothes that were gifted to them from Father Time of the Brown Sky. The clothes were made from the finest hot gelatin in the Old Kingdom. Father Time of the Brown Sky only wanted the absolute best for his Liquid Girls.

It should be said, though, that Father Time of the Brown Sky did not father the Liquid Girls of the Lake. He claims that the Girls “were just there”.

“I just enjoy seeing them smile” he liked to bellow.

He sounded slightly like a pederast.

Is this why The Household is always in a bad mood? Is it because he thinks there’s a party over by the Lake of Liquid Girls when there’s actually just an eternal, arguably unexciting game of dress-up going on? It could be.

Is it because he secretly wants Father Time of the Brown Sky to give him a special gift? Does The Household want Father Time to accept him as he is, as a living, un-breathing thing with a neurotic personality, windows for eyes, a unique pathos and white, crab-like Bionicrustacean legs? It could be.

It quite possibly could be.

Oh, I think he’s spotted us. Look! Look at him scurry away! Look at his giant Bionicrustacean legs! Oh, that poor little-big walking house. He’s miserable, isn’t he?

Ah, well now! There’re viscid trousers dripping from out of Father Time’s mouth!

Let’s try on a few pairs, shall we?

An Elderly Man Is Not Phased By The Appalling Stench Of A Carrierfish

Acrid.

I am annoyed.

The scent of sidewalk muck and trimethylamine colonized my nasal passages again. Though I was more offended by the smell of that massive carrierfish than by its mighty presence… I could smell the other fish behind this one, floating through the air with crates of dragonphant’s tea strapped near their gills, reeking, reeking horribly of that translucent green seawater and vinegarberries.

But what jiggles my giblets is that everyone in town is always so surprised, so taken aback by the carrierfish deliveries, always in awe of their absurd actuality. It’s tedious, these reactions. It’s boring. Get over it, neighbor.

Things are much worse in Proatia Aloft. The walking crab-houses with iffy deliberateness always lurking around 40 meters from you; the overpriced fractal food found at the astral markets, which is always impossible to digest if you’re from down here; that terrifying Infinity Dragonphant who holds all of our memories tightly in his symbol pouch and hates letting us leave Proatia Aloft…

Oh, and the odor – that appalling odor!

Is it possible that a city’s stench could have evil intentions?  Could an aroma be depraved? I’d argue the possibility of such an absurd thing, especially if it originates from Proatia Aloft.

They must realize how good they have it here in Proatia Beneath – the neighbors, I mean. My friendlies next door, the residents so easily scared of the gigantic, mohawked carrierfish delivering the weekly supply of dragonphant’s tea.

Go inside, boy! The carrierfish aren’t the worst of things! The way of things is worse above! Much worse! I swear it! I swear it!!

Javros Doesn’t Understand The Plights of Others

Javros sighed at Mala. “Why do you let it sit with us when it doesn’t eat?”

“You know that’s just how things are for now. That’s the way they have to be with her.” Mala was worn out, tired from Javros’ badgering. “And it’s a ‘she’. You know this.”

“OK, well she doesn’t talk. She don’t even eat! What does she do?”

“Why are you acting out like this? What’s your issue tonight?”

“My issue is that we’ve been takin’-a care of this thing for four months, Mala! When will you take-a responsibility for it?!“ Thick white spit and crumbs of cod spattered out from Javros’ mouth and onto the dinner table.

“Unbelievable.” Mala pushed her chair away from the table.

“And now you-a leaving?”

“Yes. Now ‘I’m-a leaving’.”

“Don’t make-a fun of me. Where you goin’?” Javros’ question wasn’t rooted in insecurity, but in concern. He was sincerely curious.

Mala didn’t respond. She walked out of the kitchen and up the small staircase to her bedroom. Javros’ heard the door shut close from upstairs.

He looked over at the massive green being sitting to the left of him. He craned his neck upwards and to the right so that he could see her face.

“You look-a like one of them aliens on those old Earth TV shows.”

The large, olive-colored figure stared ahead into the empty space of the living room. Her hairless head knocked gently against the lamp above the table. She heard Javros speak, understanding none of it. She wasn’t there.

Javros looked away from the being. He shifted his seat so that he could catch a glimpse of the television that sat under the cabinets.

He shoveled a hunk of cod into his mouth. He chewed slowly and with his mouth open; the sound from his mouth was very similar to the sound of someone trudging through a swamp.

Javros raised the volume on the television. He adjusted it with his mind.

“Approximately 2,000 more émigrés arrived today at Commonwealth Isle. These refugees, like most others over the course of this past month, come from lower Jord. Citizens of Commonwealth Isle are expected to report to the Provisional Emigré offices at the beginning of next week to sign off on housing at least one more refugee.”

The oversized other-worlder still sat in a catatonic trance. A few moments later she passed wind, violently. Brown and green excreta dripped down her long leg and onto the kitchen floor.

Javros stared at the alien for five seconds. He then looked straight ahead and shoveled the last piece of cod into his mouth.