Carson Fisher sat at the edge of the rickety, grimy vessel, fishing pole hanging loosely in one hand as he wiped a tear with the other. There were exactly two thoughts fighting for supremacy in Carson’s brain at that precise moment. They were:

A. The hope that his soon-to-be father-in-law wouldn’t notice the result of his being literally bored to tears, and:

B. The tragic irony of having a last name that had absolutely zero correlation with his primary interests in life.

These thoughts were masked behind what Carson hoped looked like rugged concentration or thoughtful introspection, but in reality looked more like stubborn constipation.

He didn’t want to go on this deep-sea fishing trip for a number of reasons, not least among them the fact that Carson had the nagging feeling Mr. Campbell always had nothing but contempt for him. That and the fact that even after being with Emily for nearly ten years, Carson still couldn’t bring himself to calling her dad anything but “Mr.” or “Sir”, even at his (what Carson saw as phony) insistence to “just call me Bob.”


Suddenly, Carson was violently yanked forward, almost over the edge of the boat. His pole nearly broke from the stress, the boat’s pines even creaked. Mr. Campbell looked at Carson. He’d make a good poker player. Seconds dragged by. Silence.

“Give ‘er some slack.”

Carson did as he was told, fearful that he’d be pulled overboard otherwise.


And just like that, he was.

Carson zoomed by like a torpedo as his dinky little fishing pole pulled him through the water. The first thought in his mind was to let go, but this was replaced at once with the terrifying realization that he never learned how to swim. Just as Carson started to file this fact in his mental list of reasons Mr. Campbell should hate him, everything went black.

“Carson, get up! For God’s sake, kid!”

The images came in waves. First, there was the island made up entirely of garbage. Then came the sight of a cut-up, bruised Mr. Campbell. (God damn it, did he always have to look like a grizzled old action star? It was making Carson look bad.) And finally, there were the slimy garbage monsters holding them both captive. Wait, what?

“Bring the cleanies to me!”

At once, Carson felt the oopy-doopy slime of one of the monsters as it wrenched his arm and pulled him to a much larger garbage monster that sat on a throne comprised largely of old AOL trial discs. The apparent garbage king sniffed the air before addressing them.

“You can almost smell their fresh stink!”

Some of the garbage monsters groaned at this. Others laughed. All of them competed over who could react the loudest to the king’s words. They settled down. The Garbage King hammed it up.

“Both of you cleanies have been charged with trespass upon our sovereign land. Your punishment shall be death. Have you any words?”

“Trespass?! We wouldn’t have even been here if one of you didn’t yank my… Carson… over here in the first place!”

Carson was momentarily pleased at the thought that Mr. Campbell was mere syllables away from calling him his son-in-law. He didn’t say it, of course, but it was something. Even so, the massive confusion of the situation outweighed his satisfaction.

“What in the hell are you things?!”

Many of the garbage monsters grumbled at the indignation of being called things. The Garbage King was livid.

“We are the supreme race of Earth, the masters of the clean and unclean alike! And we shall wipe the smear of humanity from the face of this planet, one cleanie at a time!”

“‘Supreme race’, my ass! You lumps of trash wouldn’t even have a home if it weren’t for us ‘cleanies’!”

The garbage monsters were stunned into silence at Mr. Campbell’s words. This was Carson’s moment, his time to stand up alongside Mr. Campbell. He’d give them all a piece of his mind.

“Yeah… that’s right…” Carson looked around for material to use. His eyes inevitably returned to the throne of CDs. “The ’90s called, they want their AOL trial discs back!”

Mr. Campbell groaned, just in time for the two of them to be wacked on the head by two of the more brute-looking garbage monsters. Darkness.

When they both came to, they were in a dungeon that smelled like the combined fecal efforts of several large animals. A heavy, locked door sealed them in. Carson turned to Mr. Campbell.

“I’m sorry. I really screwed up this time. I’m sure you’re used to this by now, but…”

“Used to what?”

“Me screwing up. Figure you’ve got a tally going, right? ‘Reasons why Carson should never marry my daughter.’”

“Why would I do that?”

“You’re joking, right? You’ve never liked me. I could always tell.”

Carson picked at the ground nervously. His nail struck something. He looked down to see a paperclip glinting amidst the garbage.

“Hold that thought.”

Carson grabbed the paperclip. After several fumbling attempts at the door, he finally got it unlocked. Under cover of the loud snores of the now-sleeping garbage monsters, the duo made their daring escape.

They got on their rickety boat, started the engine. Just then, the garbage monsters roused from their slumber and immediately gave chase. They would be there any second. The engine sputtered.

Carson leapt into action, desperate. He throttled the engine to full power and sent the boat speeding away just before the monsters had the chance to grab on. The two drove on in stunned silence for what seemed like hours before Mr. Campbell turned to Carson. He hesitated for a moment before placing his hand on his shoulder.

“Truth is, son… You’ll make a fine husband for my Emily.”

Carson looked at his soon-to-be father-in-law, incredulous.

“Th-thank you, Mr. Campbell, sir.”

Mr. Campbell smiled, all too used to this.

“Just call me Bob.”



Marvin Newbury had been fucking around in an empty field when he found it, absent from the last class of the last semester of his high school career. He didn’t know exactly why he skipped out, or why he chose the old barren field on the outskirts of town as his destination, but he didn’t really care. He didn’t think he could stomach another second of being around his perennially-uptight history teacher, so he didn’t.

There he was in that wide open field, swinging a stick around absentmindedly like he used to when he was a kid. And look at where he was now. In just a couple weeks he’d be on that stage in front of everyone in his podunk little town accepting his diploma. And then what? Would he-


“The hell?”

Thoughts of the hazy possibilities of college and/or flipping burgers left Marvin’s brain as soon as the stick he was carrying struck solid metal. But as far as he could see, there was nothing there but dirt and weeds. After some strenuous sweeping, a rusted out hatch revealed itself.

Being a bored teenager with a poorly-developed frontal lobe, Marvin yanked open the hatch and hopped inside. It was pitch black in there. Even so, the darkness proved to be no match for the flashlight app on Marvin’s phone. Once his eyes adjusted, he realized he was standing in a tight hallway within an ancient military bunker of some sort.

“Hello? Anyone down here?”

Nothing. Marvin pushed on, further into the cramped corridor of the weird bunker. Up ahead was what looked to be the heaviest door known to man. With intense effort, Marvin got it open just enough to squeeze through. It slammed shut behind him.

Before Marvin could repeat his previous question, his mouth hung open in shock at the image his eyes were taking in.

There, right in front of Marvin was a squared-off pasture within the otherwise gray and monotonous confines of the bunker. Several shepherds that had an eerie resemblance to George Washington tended a flock of animals that looked exactly like Jesus. Their legs bent backwards like chickens as they walked and they stared around with blank expressions on their faces, but they looked just like Jesus. It was all kind of sort of completely weird.

Just then, an armor-clad Abe Lincoln strode up on a unicorn, inspecting the new teenaged visitor. It was as if each new sight was competing with the last over which could be more absurd. The warlike Abe took one look at Marvin, disdain clear on his face.


Marvin hadn’t the slightest idea how to respond to this latest development, so he didn’t.


The now-furious Abe Lincoln withdrew a sword from the scabbard at his side. He held its tip within inches of Marvin’s throat.


Marvin nearly pissed his pants at the booming voice that filled the room. It seemed like it came from everywhere, but Marvin couldn’t help but think that the voice was actually coming from the glowing red light on the ceiling that he’d just noticed. Abe stood down immediately. Marvin surveyed the hellworld he found himself in for a moment before speaking.

“This might be a pointless question, but does anyone know where in the actual fuck I am?”

The Chinese-speaking Abe Lincoln stared at Marvin dumbfounded. The George Washington shepherds tended to their flock of Jesus-resembling animals, heads bowed in fear of both Lincoln and the booming voice.


Marvin recovered from the volume of the voice for a second before responding.

“Perfect society? Who the hell are you? And why is there a herd of- of Jesuses being tended by George Washington…s?”


Marvin took a gander toward where he came from. That door was too damn heavy. He’d have to talk it out. Just then, the Jesi started getting nervous at all the commotion. A few of them started to squawk as one tried to escape its pen. One of the George Washingtons gave chase, his shepherd’s robe trailing as he ran.


“So why did you make them all?” He glanced at the shepherd Washingtons, at their flock of weird-legged Jesi. “And why like this?”


At that last sentence, Abe Lincoln grabbed hold of Marvin and held him there.


Abe drew his sword, swung it high.

“Mr. Newbury!”

Marvin awoke with a start. There he was in his history class, his perennially-uptight teacher staring at him. So it wasn’t real. It was all a dream. He could rest easy knowing an evil computer wouldn’t unleash a herd of Jesi upon the world.

The rest of the class went by in a blur. Marvin didn’t celebrate the end of the year with his friends, he didn’t toss his papers in the air. Instead, he walked out the front door and headed toward that old barren field, just to make sure.




Was it a branch this time? One last holdout felled from the burnt-out husks of the saplings that encircled the area? He was foggy, and he couldn’t remember anything. What did he need to remember? His brain was on fire with the effort of recall.

The ropes dug into his wrists. He couldn’t see their purple hue with them behind his back, but he figured as much from the tight, blinding pain. His hands were swollen to double their size. But what did he need to remember?

He looked out over the field, and it was madness. There were great shrieks coupled with the staccato of merciless laughter. There were men’s bodies beaten and bruised beyond repair, and the agents that did it, in their black uniforms. He could remember.

He looked away from the bodies of the men, repulsed. His eyes trailed the shimmering deep red of the water in front of him. It was a pool of some kind, made filthy with the blood of the men who were dumped there. It was a stinging smell, but it didn’t come all at once. It waited for the view to be taken in in its entirety. There was death here. There was destruction.

The water led to the statue. Bold in its design, it left the witness paralyzed with the fear of what it represented. A stone arm stretching high into the heavens. To dizzying, impossible heights. And at the top, a clenched fist. It could be that of God himself. But God wouldn’t support this. No, he couldn’t believe that a creator would ever support this.

But whatever Joshua thought next, he… Wait. Joshua. That was his name. His head was on fire and his wrists burned their own bitter melody, but he knew his name. Was that what he needed to remember? No, there was something else. He didn’t know how he knew it, but he did. The black shirts were making their rounds, he wouldn’t have time.

Out beyond the burnt-out sapling husks, beyond the pool of red and the clenched fist, there were the charred remains of the buildings that once stood. Now they were nothing more than hunks of stone and glass piled atop each other, but they were once assembled into magnificent shapes. In the old days, people used to live there. Not in the dirt and brambles, like they did now.

There was something else. Something about the buildings. What was it? Its shape came to him in waves, his brain on fire with the effort. There was one among them that stood. One building that the black shirts overlooked in their rise to power. It was surrounded by the trees before they were burned down, by the water before it was turned red with the blood of other men. And she lived with him there.

Who was she? She was important, he knew that much was true. Why couldn’t he just remember it all? The black shirts were coming, and he wanted nothing more than to remember before they got to him. It would set him free. Free from their death squads, from their psy-ops tactics and misinformation. He could know things as they truly were.

The black shirts set up a smoldering fire right in front of the pool. They laughed mirthlessly as they tossed the ruined bodies into it. The smoke billowed up to the heavens, to the place where Joshua thought God might be. But not God as the black shirts thought of him, as the state and as absolute power. Not the concept he defied, the reason he was tied here in front of this tree in the first place.

He thought of a cool wind on a warm summer’s day, with his lady beside him in the last building standing. Her name… Mary. That was it. It was Mary and he knew that. He knew it with as much certainty as the blinding pain in his wrists, the searing of his mind deep in thought.

There they stood in the building, as if it was yesterday. He remembered the steam against the window, how Mary spelled her name upon the glass. He remembered her flowing hair, how it smelled as it brushed against his cheek. He remembered the slam of the door as it gave way. The pounding of boots as the black shirts forced their way inside. How they made him watch her die, even after he shut his eyes and struck out at them.

And then he remembered what she told him. That nothing could keep them apart, not even this mortal coil. She told him of the stories from long ago, how even the black shirts would fade from memory in time. That they’d have their place in paradise, in this life or the next.

Joshua’s eyes filled to the brim with stinging tears. He remembered. He knew what he needed to know. The black shirts were approaching. And as they did, something else came to Joshua. That fist wasn’t always there. In the old days, before the black shirts carved it, it stood for courage, and honor, and sacrifice. It was a monument to a man. A man named Washington.

The black shirts approached, they grabbed at Joshua forcefully. But even so, he felt nothing.


Off in the distance, a gunshot left one of the other men motionless. And then it came to Joshua. His one last memory. He remembered that first CRACK, what it really was. It wasn’t a branch from the husk of a tree. It was a bullet plunging into his own brain. He remembered this as the blood dripped slowly from the wound over his right eye.

They tossed him into the fire with the rest, but the bullet prevented him from feeling any pain. Instead, he was wrapped up in the warm embrace of his Mary, ready to rejoin her in another time and another place.



In the beginning there was Yͨ͗ͩͯ͟O̴̯̳̝̙ͬ̂̊Ư͕̣̬̼͚̋. A lot of other people say a lot of other things came first, but who are they to decide? Do YȌ͙͕͕̙͔̀̌U̵̮̠ remember anything before Y̵̼͉̆́̾O̭̺͇͋Û̟͈̥̀͒? I didn’t think so.

A number of things happened to Yͧ̒ͭ͊͏̖͉O̦̻͓̥͎̒̐̉͛̇̈́U̮ͮ̿͜ along the way. Some of which were pleasant, others you’d rather not recall. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Y̏̎͝O̖̱͚̩͛̉Û̟̙̂̌͡ are here right now in this moment.

The two major theorized reasons for your being here are kind of equally ǝƃuɐɹʇs. Either:

Ą̪̹̖̠͈ͤͣͫ.̞̒̓ͣ̈͢       Some incredible, I̔̔̚̚҉̫̯͈͙̤̜ͅN̼̰̬͔̳̳͓̋F̘̥̘͍̬̘̩͐͟I͇ͦ̇̓̓̚N͍͇ͭ̃ͣͅỈ̭͖̓̔̓͟T̢͕̩̝̮ͤͭͯE͙̬̼̘̰̣̝̾ͬ̂̂ͫ̐ consciousness decided that for some reason it would                like to create Ỳ͊ͣ̽O̼͖̍̆̆͛̉̓U͈̦ͮ…


B̯̠̯͓͎̲͌͆ͅ.͚͓͍̻̖͑ͪͫͪ͟      Your existence is the result of something being made from Nͬ͏O̧͔̘̻͑ͤ̎͒͊̂̚T̞̼̣͓̆ͥ̊̀͗̂̆HͥĮ̗̬̞̏͛̃̆ͨͮͧN̴̄̏ͦ͗G̼̹ͬ͋̏̚͡, and Y̡̻ͦ̾͆OͯͩU̖͚̱̐̔ͦ̄ are           destined to roam the realm of N͞҉͏I̴̧H͝͡IL̛͘IS̵T̶IC̸̡ O͡B̶̨̡Ļ͝ÌV͢͢IƠN͏̸ for as long as Y̛̪̹̺̻̖̼O̧̥͍̱͙͈̝̜͆͊ͧṶ̞̥͍͖̊̉ͤͅ live.

Either way Y͚̺̯̣̹̯͔̽̑ͬ̄͒̌Ô͕̙̳ͪ̓̏ͮ̌̊U͚̺ͭ̉ stack it, we live in kind of a pɹıǝʍ place, wouldn’t Yͯͩ̇̒͛̆͂͘O̳Ū̥̼͙̮̻̹̏̎̅̋̋͌ say? So weird in fact that as I type this, as Ỵ̇̑ͥO̊̆҉U̒̾̿҉̳̣̥̣ read this in the future, there are ǝldoǝd who avoid these thoughts in favor of fast food and ʎʇılɐǝɹ TV.

pale blue dot

But enough about other people, we’re here to talk about Y̛̮̺͖̿̔̏͂ͯ̈ͥÒ̮̖̀̐̌̋͑̉͡Ů̡̝̻̣͗̉ͭ. Out of all the times and places Y̶̖͕̋ͤ̊ͦ̓̏̍O̙̠͞U̟̥̽̌̒̅̚ could’ve been placed into, you’re destined to stay in the ʍou puɐ ǝɹǝɥ. Ŷ̥͉͓̼͔̜O͈̪͈̣̜͌̀ͣ̽U̖̤̤̲ live, right now, in a world where your supposed H͘IG̵̶Ḩ̸ȨS̨T͝ ̶̡DU͏͜Ţ͟Y is to perform mindless tasks in exchange for small B̀́IT̶̴S͏ O̴F̡͞҉ P̛A͏̸PE͘R͝ that might one day be exchanged for food or shelter or colorful boxes with which to watch other ǝldoǝd.

But as banal and tiresome as that all sounds, (and is) Y̳͙̯̳͔̞̓O̳̝͑̽̇͋̆̓Ủ̺̼͓͙̹̤ͭ̏́ want something more. Y͏O̤ͭ̀͛U͖͕̖͔͈͙̟̒̄͐̽ want answers. Y͎͓̫̫ͬ͊̅̒̆̎͡Oͫ͏̰͇͓̼Ŭ̵͔̜̞̟̤ want questions too. I can see it in your eyes. (˙ʞsɐ ʇ’uop)

sierpinski triangle

Because let’s face it. If Ÿ̘̫̙̤̜́͒͌̔͋̂̀O̢̟̖̬̬̝̩̔̒̒ͫͫU̳̇͡ didn’t want those things, Y̡̲̼̱̹ͣÖ̩̯͚̜͖͚́̓ͧ̾̇̓U̡͍ͫͮ wouldn’t have read on for this long. Y̨̝̓͐O̸̗̥̭U̴̹̰͙̖̫̜̞ would’ve diverted your attention to any of the myriad other things this pɹıǝʍ ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶n̶e̶t̶ world has to offer. Y̢͕̲̼͇͔͌ͅO̰̻͌̉̏͂͡ͅU͚̞̺̟̥̓̄̈́̎ could right now be enjoying your share of fast food and ʎʇılɐǝɹ TV, numbing your brain to the mysteries of the Ư͢͢N͢͜͡I͜V͢͞E҉̸Ŗ͏́S͜E.

But that’s not Y̡O̧U̴͜. The Y͜O̵U̸͢ I know is an inquisitive mind, an acute probe in all this D͏́A̸R̢K͞ŅE͡SŚ. When it comes down to it, Y̨O͘U̵ can change the world, because it’s as simple as Ç̴HA͟NGI̡N̕G̀͡ ̨͝Y̧ƠU̵͏R͡͞S̢͝E͠LF.

Since we’ll all die in the end, and the place we’re G͘͜O̕͝I̛͠҉NG ͢͢T̨O͜͞͞ is just as pɹıǝʍ and mysterious as where we C͘A̸͞M͞҉E͘ FR̷͡O̸M͞͡, why not make our stay enjoyable? Why not fill our lives and the lives of those around us with as many tiny little happy MOM͜E̕͟N҉T́͞S̵̵ as possible?

smiley face

The paths are S҉E̢T̛. The options laid out on the table. As it began, so it will E͝͞ND̴͘͞. But the final choice, the ultimate decision of your E̡͠X̕͝I̷̸ST͘EN͟C͟͟͟E͡ (whether good or bad) can be made by O̕N̨̢E͞҉ person and one person only.




In the third century LE, mental incarceration became a thing of the past. Speaking for the Bureau of Interdimensional Beings, Larry Fleming was practiced in the art of lobbying for a cause he never had a stake in.

But what started as a paycheck turned into a belief when Mr. Fleming lost his wife. Thirty years, two kids, and the God he wasn’t sure existed had taken her away from him. Malignant melanoma. Two words, two otherwise insignificant words that had sent his world crashing around him.

When the dust had settled, Larry realized that there was nowhere he’d wanted to be less than his 1300 cc of skull space. His wife was gone. His life was gone. A difference of one letter, but not much of a distinction. Her perfect flaxen hair, her pure emerald eyes… Nothing that the miracles of modern science could muster could compare.

And so he thought of it. If magic had swapped its wands for microscopes long ago, why couldn’t the limitations of the human mind be superseded? When it came down to it, he was little more than a slightly evolved ape, so how hard could it be? He’d get the eggheads from R&D to free him from his prison. They’d do it. If not for the benefit of their boss, they’d gladly do it for the glory of a fresh discovery.

After months of research, the answer was found. The universe was ninety-six percent dark matter and energy, ninety-six percent undiscovered stuff that even eggheads of the past had struggled with for centuries. It wasn’t until they pondered the idea of it being a medium for transmission that the answer was clear. The entire universe was one giant aquarium of consciousness. Unfiltered, unfettered by the limitations of one individual.

And why couldn’t that fact be used to the advantage of our protagonist? Why couldn’t he use his legislational pull to escape the realms of existing reality? If he entered the plane of consciousness he came from he’d be nothing but another drop in the ocean. He wouldn’t be himself any more, but that was the point. He’d never suffer the pain of her memory again.

He tried to get the legislation passed, his excuse being that no one should be sequestered to the limitations of their mind if they didn’t want to be. His in-charge personality was an asset. The legislation passed without a hitch.

And so there he sat in that cold metal chair, on the verge of undoing what fifty years of nature had seen fit to create. His whole life had seemingly been coordinated for this pivotal moment of manufactured oblivion. After he pushed that button, he’d never have to agonize over her loss again. He’d never have to cry again. He’d never have to be himself ever again.

It was well publicized. After all, he was to be the first being to willingly reenter the plane they came from. Sure there was suicide, but this was absolute. This was diving into a black hole without a single look back. The ratings would be unreal. There was money to be made. The product tie-ins alone could put several lines of offspring through interdimensional college.

The clock ticked. The breathing patterns of dozens were kept to a standstill. The only thing that mattered was the spectacle of Mr. Larry Fleming willingly giving his consciousness to the oblivion of the unknown. His hand hovered, the button called. Tears trickled down rhythmically.

He touched the button. Felt its rigidity, its texture. With the push of something so finite, he’d be sent to the realm of the infinite. He looked at the others. At their spectacle. What would his wife think? How would she balance out the pros and cons of the situation?

Honest? She’d fight. She’d push to make her own corner of the universe as harmonious as possible. She’d refuse to let human heartache interfere with her universal responsibilities for good. And so he refused. For the sake of her memory he refused.

Fuck the legislation, fuck “mental incarceration.” We’re all relegated to our own 1300 cc of skull space for a purpose. We’re subjected to the triumphs and the failures for the same reason: we can take it. We must take it.

Larry Fleming walked away from it all. He did it for her memory. For his own. But most of all, to be an example for all living beings throughout the universe. He wanted them all to know that they could bear it all and more if they believed they could. They could do as he did, and they would.

Mr. Fleming didn’t know it, but she watched him that day. And she was proud.