Monday, October 17, 2011

Now that I got a little free time...

"You'll do?!?!" I squeaked. "What on Earth is that supposed to mean?"

"It means," said the staff in a voice that came from everywhere and nowhere at once, "that you aren't the greatest man that ever lived, and that, given my preference, I would take someone else. Someone stronger. Someone smarter. Someone for whom magic was an everyday occurance. However, seeing as how you have dug me out of the ice, and you're not that bad of a person, all things considered, I will make use of you to destroy those who created and imprisoned me whilst simultaneously cleaning up this planet. And, since I am an incredibly powerful, fully conscious instrument of pure, strong magic which lacks only the ambulatory nature needed to complese this task and since you, sir, are basically decent and, more importantly, mobile, I will allow you to function in a transportation capacity and my ends will be met. That is what I meant. I apologize for being brief."

I wasn't too sure how I was supposed to respond to that kind of honesty. I managed to get as far as, "Oh, well, then, if that's..." before the staff yelled at me.

"Quit dilly dallying and pick me up, you fool! The necromancers have surely detected my release and are most likely oozing this way through the shadow realm right now."

I ain't gotta be told twice. I may not have much of what you might call book learnin, but I know anything that can ooze through the shadow realm, whatever that may be, is prolly bad news. And if a stick is saying I should grab it to protect myself from the aforementioned oozy thing, I would be remiss not to follow. Of course, by the time I'd finished this rationalization for myself, the staff was already in my hand.

It's hard to say what happened then. It was like I was still lookin at the world, but I was sorta lookin through the world, too, like the world was made out of a bedsheet and I was dressed as a blind ghost for Halloween. I could still see everything that had been there, the ghost army, Alistair and the mech, but I could see more. I saw all the pain and suffering that laid over thr world. I saw the iron hard determination that Alistair had to defeat Clan Platypus.

And a monster. I saw a slimy monster that looked like someone had glued a bunch of elephant tusks randomly on the world's largest hairball and then dipped the whole thing in extra slimy slime. You know, not that regular slime you get down at the feed and slime co-op, but the good, importec kind you get over at the slime boutique over on 5th. The kind that comes from them fancy French snails and the leavins in a caviar can. Real slimy slime.

Well this thing was droolin and gruntin and speakin some weird language of the sort you would expect from a monster of the type I was seein. Me, I was scared, and I ain't ashamed to admit it. I froze right up, as one might be expetin to do in that kinda situation. Despite that, I found myself flyin through the air, staff spinnin over my head like a helicpter blade, and me screamin some gibberish language. It was like that time I ate a jar of peanut butter a month after its expiration date, only without the throwin up.

"What's goin on here?" I thought.

The staff spoke to me. Let me repeat that. I thought something, and this thing responded. "I've taken over your nervous system to allow you to fight the most powerful magicians in this galaxy and not die in the process."

"How bout that," I thought at the staff. "And what is that thing we're flyin at?"

"That is what is left of Genji Nakahura, the least of the thirteen."

"And what is it we plan on doin when we get to...uh...what was that name again?"

"Genji Nakahura. We're going to strike him in the face, pull all of his magic out of him, and fill him with all of the pain he has caused in others, which he will experience fully and sequentially until he has felt the full implications of his evil."

And that's what we did. Well, the hittin in the face part, I know for sure happened. As for the rest, if it looks like oil rainbows bein sucked through a crazy straw and sounds like a cat with worn out brakes, then it happened. If not, then someone's got a belly full of oill and a cat that needs to be taken to the shop.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Now, I ain't never been one to take on the hefty responsibility. When I was a lad, our class had to pick a hall monitor and, for some reason, all my school chums decided the job would go to me. I didn't want the job. I mean, it was bad enough havin to show up to school every day. But now I was expected to check every half hour to make sure the hall was still there?! It was too much, really. Of course, this was way back in the 60s, when there were giants roaming the earth, subsisting on the hallways of schools and, for some reason, Tang. In fact, that's why we sent all that Tang with them first astronauts, to lure them giants into space where they could be used to protect the planet from asteroids being thrown at us my Mars, but that story's not that interestin, and I'm pretty sure you know all about it anyway.

So, my school chums thought it'd be h-i-larious to give me the job of watchin the hall and makin sure it was still there. I felt it shoulda gone to Chuck, this kid that had a lazy eye. I mean, hey, he was keepin an eye on the hallway anyways, why not make it official? But no, it had to be good ol' Pat O'Neil to get up every half hour to check to make sure the hallway was there. I did that job for three thankless years. Did anyone say, "Good job, Pat?" No. Did anyone throw a parade for Pat O'Neil? Yes, they did. But it was entirely unrelated to my duties as hall monitor. Did they ever, once say, "Thank you. Thank you, Pat O'Neil for keeping our hallway safe from those giants who may be better suited to defending us against the terrible Martian hordes?" No. But the one time a giant DOES eat our hallway, guess who has to hear all about it? Me, that's who. "Why weren't you watching, Pat?", "What's wrong with you, Pat?", "I can't see you clearly with my lazy eye, but if I could, it would be filled with sadness and disappointment, Pat."

What was I going to do? I was eight. What eight year old is going to be able to stand up to the giants? Well, besides Genghis Timmy, the leader of the Martian hordes, who stood up to the giants, I mean.

That whole experience there soured me on doing anything that required responsibility. For the next fifty years or so, I tried to live my life with as little responsibility as I could manage. I didn't take on any extra jobs no one gave to me. I didn't volunteer for nothin. And when I played air guitar, I'd always play the rhythm guitar part. Who needs all the showiness of playing air guitar to the lead? That's just fancy for fancy's sake if you ask me.

Despite that, I found myself shouldering quite a responsibility there on Meth Earth. I was supposed to dig up this haunted stick thing, use that to drive off the cruel masters of the planet and restore the ghost dragon army back to some semblance of normalcy. I wasn't comfortable with it, but what can you do? When fate comes callin, you can't turn out the lights, hide behind the couch and pretend not to be home, like you can when it's your aunt or solicitors looking for donations to the Genghis Timmy Memorial Fund for the Prevention of Death in Children Due to a Severe Cultural Misunderstanding Resulting in a Serious Interplanetary War That Could Have Been Avoided by a Little Research on Behalf of the Martian Diplomat. No. You gotta get your butt up off that couch, quiet the dog, open the door, look fate right in the eye and then dig a couple hundred feet through antarctic ice.

"One problem," I said, "I don't have a shovel."

The ghost leader scratched his head. "Yeah, that's gonna be a problem. We're basically incorporeal, so we can't really dig."

"But you just brought me here on your back," I pointed out.

"Well, yeah," he said, "but that's different. We, like, don't have to work when we fly. Diggin's hard."

"Well, I ain't gonna just dig through the ice with my bare hands," I retorted. "So what were you expectin us to do?"

The ghost shrugged, "Dunno, guess I hadn't thought that far ahead."

"Wait," said Alistair, "I've got an idea. Can you guys wait here for a bit?"

It was my turn to shrug. "Don't see why not."

So we hung out there on the icy plain for awhile, played a little cribbage. It was beginnin to seem like I wasn't never gonna get out of this and get home. But at least I had time to rest my feet and take a little nap. I slept like a little baby; wakin up and cryin every couple of hours, then tryin to stick my feet in my mouth.

I'd just about got my right foot to my cheek when I saw the giant form on the horizon. The thuddin of the land grew as the enormous shape moved closer. It first looked like a man, but no man ever stood that tall. "What is that?" I asked the ghost dragon.

"How would I know?" one of them said, "it's too far away."

"Don't you have some magic powers or somethin? I mean, what good is it bein a ghost dragon if you're limited by a normal person's sight?" I asked.

"Tell me about it," one ghost lady replied. "I was near sighted when I died and, let me tell you, it's darned near impossible to get glasses once you're dead. Bein locked in a box doesn't help none, either."

A few of the other ghosts mumbled their agreement. By the time they were done sharin their optical complaints with me, I could finally see the shape. Alistair had gone back to where I landed and recovered the mech suit I wore during that first battle.

"Chuck's Chain-Chuck-o-matic!" the ghosts exclaimed. "Of course!"

I don't use the phrase stunning very often, but then again, I don't see a giant mechanical suit shooting chainsaw nun-chucks into antarctic ice over and over and over again that often. Then chainsaws punched through the ice like it was butter and they were still chainsaws. We cleared the path down to the staff in a matter of minutes.

It lay in the ice, shining in the sun, like some sort of snake made of mercury. It was beautiful and frightening at the same time. A low hum seemed to come from it, too quiet to be heard, but it made my entire chest tremble in fear.

"Well," said the ghost, slapping me on the back, "go on down there and get it."

I stood, staring. Then slipped and slid my way down the sides of the pit. It was all I could do not to run away. I was about to be judged by something more powerful than everything I'd ever seen or thought about. What would I find? What would it say about me?

I reached out to the staff, my hands trembling. As my fingertips touched it, a voice rang out in the silence.

"Yeah, you'll do."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sorry for the delay, babies are a ton of work.

"Well, now," I told them ex-meth addict ghosts, "that there was a humdinger of a story. Course, now that I give it some good thought, it seems like you never really answered my question."

"How so?" came the ethereal response.

"I mean, I know this story's gone on way, WAY too long, given the simple nature of the question, so I may be remembering all this a little wrong, but I sorta remember askin you what the Staff of Haruki actually WAS, not how it came to be and all that. I'm just as much of a fan of a good origin story as the next guy, but I think y'all been a little circuitous about tellin me what the staff actually is. You know, like what it does and why I need it to defeat the evil drug dealin ninja overlords of this here planet. That's really what I was askin about."

"We know," they chanted together.

"If ya know, then why'd ya give me all that rigamorale about killin gods and burnin a tree and giant fish eatin planets and whatnot?"

The leader of the ghosts, a bluish apparition that looked as if he had neither eaten nor washed his mullet in the last four years of his life, scratched the back of his head up under a trucker cap that read "Ask me how to lose ten pounds of ugly fat. NOW" and shuffled a bit. Then he cleared his throat a couple times and looked around like he was expectin the rest of this ghost army to speak for him.

Then, he alone spoke. After hearin that whole durned story told by a whole creepy group at the same time, I felt like my ears was gonna pop.

"Look," he said, "we all been locked into bottles, jars, shoeboxes and whatever for a couple hundred years. Tom over there died in the desert and all the necromancer had on him to store the soul in was a fresh sheep's badder that he'd been peein in for a week. And, let me tell ya, them things is like to get ripe after the first decade or so. Point bein, we been locked up inside that volcano for centuries and ain't had no one to talk to. We's just lonely."

"Oh." I felt kinda bad for harassin 'em. Of course, I was still standin on a post-apocalyptic plain, skies of death roilin above my head, and a group of ninjas prolly pretty angry that me and my copies had just taken over their planet with our robot army, so I was startin to feel a little sense of urgency, if'n you follow my meaning. Plus I was gettin pretty hungry, and I was bettin I wouldn't be like to get back to my tuna salad sandwich before we cleaned up this den of necromancers that was really pullin the strings.

I tried explainin all this to the ghost army, and they took it pretty well. Well, after the wailin and gnashing of the teeth, that is. But they agreed to cut the whole thing a little shorter and just explain to me what the staff was. Then, to make up for the delay they'd caused, they also agreed to give me a ride to where the staff was embedded in deepest arctic ice. Also, they offered to fix the Deus Ex Machina. I told 'em that was mighty kind, but I didn't really understand how they knew how to repair a machine that was built just a few weeks before.

"When you're trapped in a jar," they explained, "you got a lot of time for reading."

And that's how I ended up flyin over a scorched planet on the back of a ghost dragon being chased by a spaceship full of squirrel monkeys. I'm sure you can all relate.

"Now, about this staff thing we're supposed to be pickin up. What's it do?" I asked my mount.

"The blood of gods and dying screams of a tome of black magic made the staff magic absorbant," they began. "Haruki and his minions, the teenage sons of Clan Platypus' ruling council on this planet, thought it was entirely magic resistant. So, in their descent into black magic, they practiced their spells on the staff. If something went wrong, and it often did, the staff would simply absorb the bad effects.

"As the thirteen grew, they practiced more and more powerful black magic, stuff involving sacrifice and death and spirit power, and all of it was practiced on the staff. Once they realized their full power, they banded together to kill their fathers. There was a gruesome parricidal sacrifice that it's really best not to discuss, the power of which was all funneled through Haruki so that he could strike out into space, corrupting the minds of all the planets he passed. Of course, when you sacrifice your father, you can really only do it the once, so it's not like they had time to practice. The power proved too much for Haruki, and he exploded in a nimbus of black magic. It's that black magic that scorched they sky here. It also created the great meth mountains on the western plains. Those are gone now, by the way."

"Sure, of course," I agreed.

"But the staff was right there. It absorbed all the power of the sacrifice and the corrupting influence of Haruki, not to mention the bits of him that were flying about. With this final power and the strong will of the most powerful of the thirteen necromancers, the staff gained consciousness. It felt all the evil inside of it and, contrary to expectation, gained a pretty hefty guilt complex about all the black magic and death it had been involved in. In the first moment of self awareness, the staff decided that it would make people understand the suffering they caused. And that, now, is exactly what it does.

"Legend says that when one approaches the staff, it measures their heart. If they are judged to be evil, they are shown all the suffering they have caused others. But it's not like a movie. They like the lives of those who suffered at their hands. They feel every moment of pain and degradation.

"As you can imagine, with that thing lying about, Clan Platypus had a hard time doing their jobs. Planetary domination slowed to a crawl and no money was getting passed up to the real bosses. Finally, they had to bury the whole thing under a thousand feet of ice in the polar regions.

"Then they got back to work. They harvested the meth mountains and sold them back to us. Those of us who resisted the drug were sent to "reeducation camps" where we were fed meth in our food and then forced to clean tile for hours on end. But now, Pat O'Neil, thanks to you and your clone horde, we can get exact our revenge on Clan Platypus, scour the planet clean of their influence, and get back to our afterlives.

"Oh, here we are."