Perhaps an encore is in order as I am ahead of schedule…
Miss Lyme and her friend Anala Gupta were sitting in Miss Lyme’s basement that had been converted to a metalwork studio. Anala was a goldsmith and a professional jeweler by trade, and while Miss Lyme like to work with silver clay and was a capable metalsmith, she used her talents to make artwork.
“Maggie,” Anala said after she soldered a gold bracelet, “You have a fine work space here.”
“Yours is far superior to mine and is a delightful place to make the finest of jewelry.”
“Because that is my livelihood. Yours is a mere indulgence…”
“I used to teach it, or have you forgotten already?”
“Will you ever go back to it?”
“Not likely. I was blacklisted as a journalist when I began teaching, which lasted a year or so, and then I began my consultancy business as it was more lucrative, and in tune with my talents and strengths. Metalworking is the way I express myself creatively, although when I began to dabble in it, it was the way I thought out my cases when I was infiltrating the Circle in the Sky.”
“It is a pleasing solitary undertaking.”
“I never quite ever did it alone. My former boyfriend Hunter Colby used to watch me before he partook in it himself, though he would make art pieces, while I made jewelry. It was the way we spent quiet time together.”
“It sounds lovely.”
“Is there any improvement with his condition?”
Miss Lyme shook her head sadly. “No.”
“I am rooting for him.”
“As am I, yet nothing I can think up has helped.”
“It is possible that you need to find a new perspective elsewhere to ponder it.”
“Yes, but perhaps I ought to consider a trip to Latvia to go watch the White Wagtail. I do enjoy watching their beauty and grace.”
“I’ll join you. I would love to meet one of your former boyfriends to compare him to your current one, and it would be more interesting if he is conscious.” Anala got up to stretch her legs, and went over to the shelf to pick up a book that caught her eye. “This is a fascinating book, yet I do not recall seeing this in your collection before.”
“I lost my original run of them when I was forced in bankruptcy, and just recently re-acquired the entire set. That is Eugenia Voight’s book on the sculptor Edmonia Lewis. Ms. Voight was a scholar who studied female artists and wrote biographies on them…”
Just as Anala was about to reply, there was a loud banging at the front door.
“Ah, the frantic sound of a client.”
Miss Lyme nodded as she pulled her black turtleneck sweater. “Yes, I will have to see what the tintinnabulation is about this time.”
She walked up the stairs and answered the door where a cowering man in a business suit looked wild-eyed at her.
“Welcome to the Path to Paradise,” she said, “Where the greatest of fears are chased away with the kindest form of bravery.”
“You’re the Red Queen?”
“I need you to read the Tarot cards for me.”
“An economic crisis plagues you? Come inside for a cup of tea and we’ll discuss your impossible quandary with sensibility.”
“My name is Barry Stone, and I work for a banking president in New York City. Hatfield and Littlejohn,” the client said as he began to compose himself, “To be precise, I am a speechwriter and personal liaison to the press for my boss.”
“I am listening,” replied Miss Lyme as Anala sat beside her and listened intently.
“My job was simple: try to negotiate positive coverage regardless of whether the reporter was just a reporter, or was affiliated with either La Nuit du bas or the Circle in the Sky.”
“I see, but how would be in the business of discerning them?”
The man smirked. “My graduate thesis was on those two groups.”
“That is very intriguing.”
“I went the Bonhomme School – a private university in Somerset, Pennsylvania, which, you may be aware, are something of renegades who have a tangential connection to Queen’s Heights.”
“They are a tiny school founded by one the sons of the celebrated Hughes Brothers,” replied Miss Lyme, “It was Ethan Hughes’ son Morgan who opened it, and it is still in the family. Ethan’s eldest brother Hammond was the famous science fiction novelist married to Dr. Verity Lake and he lived in the Heights.”
“Ethan was an architect who designed his son’s vision, while the youngest brother Dr. Garret Hughes helped found the university’s psychology department that was similar to the one he guided in Queen’s Heights.”
“And you went to school there?”
“For both my undergraduate and graduate degree, but as you know, they are unconventional, and part of our education is to be aware of such cabals who wish to subjugate us.”
“But you took your talents to a bank.”
“My boss was paranoid about them both. He knew he had to do business with them, but in such a way that he didn’t have to be blackmailed or subjugated himself. I was his secret strategist, showing him how to avoid becoming their servant. I was fairly good at the job, but as I never was in either cabal, I didn’t know things the way you know them. I have both of your books, and they filled in gaps, though I understand both your books are required reading there now.” He looked at the walls nervously, until he saw something familiar on the wall and pointed at it. “They had that prose on the wall in one of the buildings at the foyer. I always thought it was odd, and never thought about it until I seen it just now.”
“That was Alena Love’s second to last musing,” Miss Lyme said warmly, “It was inspired by Hammond Hughes.”
“I had no idea who said it, but that it has a connection to a Hughes makes sense.”
“Alena was particularly fond of him as he was as eccentric and sensitive as Verity. He wrote later they were discussing what the best way to start a conversation was and how to set oneself apart from the others honestly and without gimmicks, and that was her answer to him.”
“I guess I missed that nuance back then.”
“Yet you are here because there is something else you missed.”
“I am not sure who is behind things or why, but someone has figured out my real job within the bank, and is trying to isolate me.”
The man took out his smart phone, swiped it several times, and then gave it to Miss Lyme, “That is my brother Nevil. He is the black sheep of the family, and a musician, who is sporadically employed. That’s him getting into a drunken brawl, and somehow, someone thought to record it, post it on social media, and now a newspaper is running an article about it.”
Miss Lyme read the article. “Mentioning you, though there is no reason for the connection.”
The man took the phone back, and then swiped several more times before giving the phone back to the Red Queen. “Then, forty minutes later, here is a video of my ex-fiancée having a row with her husband who is accusing her of having an affair, which I seriously doubt, but again, this hidden video goes viral, and another major daily reports on this non-story, and again, out of the blue, mentioning me, and even speculating that the ‘other man’ may be me, even though I live in another state, and haven’t had anything to do with her since she and I parted on good terms because our careers took us in different directions.”
Miss Lyme watched the video linked in the article, read the article, and returned the phone to her client. “It is a coordinated attack, and an opening salvo. It is a game of Go where the point is to surround you until you have nowhere to move.”
“Both newspapers are fronts for La Nuit du bas.”
“Yes, both had once been properties of the La Croix family, until they were killed in a plane crash a few years ago, and then both were sold to separate La Nuit-backed media companies, which makes this attack more insidious than you realize. Usually, they will pick a single media company, and have them disseminate information as to insure a highly-choreographed campaign.”
“Will you take my case?”
“Yes, of course, Mr. Stone. I will need to know of anything that your employer had asked you to do recently, and I will begin to make my inquiries from there. I would strongly recommend you stay here until I can get a firmer handle on your case.”
The man nodded as he kept looking at the musing that until minutes ago, was a mere quaint enigma.
You can just start at Hello
There are so many people spinning around the world.
There are so many faces to meet on your journey in life.
But some of those faces move you speak and you want to open up your heart so they can hear the chords of your heart roar their name.
How do you start talking?
How do you show who you are to those faces?
Should you be clever, funny, witty, wise, profound, gushy, or detached?
It is not the words that guide you.
It is the motive in your heart that brings you to the places you want to go.
You don’t need a plan or a script.
You don’t have to fret about the first word to say.
Because all roads begin at a single word.
Hello is the word that takes you everywhere you want and need to go.
It is such a simple word to say.
But it is the key that unlocks new worlds as it touches hearts.
Just say hello and your heart will take care of the rest…
As Miss Lyme was in her office making phone calls, and scouring her databases for information, her client burst in looking ashen.
“What has happened?” she asked.
“I just got a phone call from a journalist wanting to know what I had to do with funding some group to fund their use of a biochemical weapon that creates some virus! What is happening?”
“Who is the reporter? What group or virus did he mention by name? What did you tell him? Just write down everything that’s transpired so that I have information I can verify and follow.”
Mr. Stone sat down quickly wrote down everything as he then gave the notebook to Miss Lyme as he looked desperately at her.
“Nonsense, we will clear the matter up in a day or so. Whoever is behind this attack on you is in a desperate bind as well, and wishes to terrorize you because if you were rational, you would be able to easily figure out the scheme, its motives, and who was behind it.”
“I can’t even think straight.”
“That is the entire point of this exercise. Do not answer your phone or check your email. If you behave impossibly, this tintinnabulation will explode out of the control in short order, which is the point of this charade. I am sensible, and your tormentor doesn’t want sensible reactions. There is a guest bedroom, and I advise you lie down and rest. When it is time for action, I will let you know.”
Mr. Stone looked sad as he nodded and left, just as Anala returned with a notepad and sat down on the sofa in the office.
“He is terrified.”
“I have found out much about the newspapers who have printed those peculiar canards.”
“I am listening.”
“They are both La Nuit properties that are in much debt, and there is a rumour that they both may be sold to another La Nuit company that specializes in squeezing assets by selling their real estate holdings. It seems as if there are factions within La Nuit that are at odds with one another.”
“That is a very telling common thread.”
“Is it enough?”
“It gives me a map to the motive, here is the problem,” Miss Lyme noted, “Two embarrassing videos crop up within the same hour at two different newspapers – neither of which are owned by the same company, and the one newspaper that should have debunked both stories was completely left out of the loop and caught unawares.”
“The Somerset Ortgeist. While it is not owned by the Hughes Dynasty, they are neither a La Nuit nor Circle-owned paper. They have always been neutral and many of their students graduated from Bonhomme, and I am willing to bet, someone there would have been a cohort with Mr. Stone.”
“You think this is significant?”
“It is crucial to understanding this peculiar dilemma. Whoever benefits the most from this scheme managed to distract the Ortgeist. When I called the editor, she had no clue that one of Bonhomme’s alumnus was being targeted by other newspapers. She has assigned a reporter to look into the story, but they are having an uncharacteristically busy news day.”
“Do you know who is behind this complex game?”
“Mr. Stone’s ex-fiancée’s current husband is a likely player. He set up an argument with her in order to film it, or he was set up by someone else who did.”
“He is with La Nuit?”
“Or he is an affiliate to someone who is, but I have nothing as of yet to confirm or refute that theory. They are all about theatre, and this game reeks of it.” Miss Lyme took her laptop and loaded the video of the argument as Anala got up and came over to watch. Miss Lyme studied the video intensely before stopping the video and pointed to a hanging coat that was barely visible in the video. She enlarged the frame, and then typed in the address of a web database as she began scouring images before nodding confidently.
“What is this image that has gotten your attention?”
“It is a tactical morale patch.”
“I have never heard of such a thing.”
“They are military emblems to boost morale, always an inside joke to keep the insiders feeling smugly superior to the outsiders who do not know their Shibboleths.”
“Is it a clue?”
“It is a red herring used to confuse me, as whoever is setting this up knows that my grandfather Douglas Oxley was a renowned professor studying militaries.”
“You are certain it is a false clue?”
“Yes, I am. It is peculiar for a banking scandal to come along with the threat of a deadly virus, and a smear campaign, and someone with a coat that has a morale badge. It is overkill.”
“Meaning it is all a choreographed siege.”
“So how do we find out?”
“My cousin Danny had done stories on morale patches when he was a journalist in London, and he may know something about this peculiar one. Even though it is a false clue, whoever planted it had to have insider information all the same, and we can begin to see how this man is connected to this game. We can pay him a visit to see if there is a nuance to this one we need to know.”
“Maggie!” Danny Leo said happily as he greeted his favourite cousin with a hearty embrace, “It is great to see you! You are looking as lovely as ever.”
“I always like to visit my absolute favourite cousin,” she replied as she touched the sleeve of her form-fitting white dress. Danny turned and smiled at Anala. “I see your partner in mischief has come for the wild ride.”
Anala shrugged her shoulders as she gave a cherubic smile. “Each time I come, I am inspired in my goldsmithing, and come up with a bold new line. When I rescued that group of hostages from a king’s secret dungeon, I created one of my most popular line of bangles with chain links that open in various ways. One can sit and wallow about all the injustices in the world, or one can do something about it in such a way to bring levity and bravery to others.”
“Wallow? That has never been a Carrington trait. We are a family of proud adventurers.”
“Most of mine family is of the same ilk, save for my cousin Najina who wallows that she has not yet found a way to become enviously wealthy without having to earn it as she believes her beauty should have already done its magic trick.”
Danny chuckled. “Oh yes, I have heard about your cousin. She has quite the reputation in New Delhi, and, like many others, I have sympathy for your uncle Ritesh Gupta, especially after she auditioned for a reality show…”
Anala shook her head grimly, “Many still talk about the unfortunate incident. Needless to say, she did not make it to the program.”
“But we did make it to Toronto to ask you about this morale badge,” Miss Lyme said sweetly as she took her tablet and swiped it to show her absolute favourite cousin a clear image of it. “Do you know anything about it?”
Danny nodded, “That’s a very dodgy one.”
“Because represents two groups: the official military one, and the secret group of neo-fascists called the Foresight Bundle.”
“I have heard of them,” said Miss Lyme, “But as they do not have affiliations to either the Circle or La Nuit, I do not know as much about them as some of the other fronts backed by those cabals.”
“The Bundle began about ten years ago, when several US soldiers were dishonourably discharged. They murdered a Jane Doe, which our Jane Doe solved as part of her second article, but while their original leader is in jail, they are still operating as far as I know. I recognized that morale badge, and found out it had its origins in the division the founding member of the Bundle. He appropriated it as a secret code in his group.”
“And now they have some plot that is targeting my client. Of that I am certain.”
“They need money to stay in business. That’s why their founding leader killed that Jane Doe: she was tricked into bankrolling them until she stumbled upon the truth. Unlike other groups, they like the finer things in life.”
“Anything finer thing in particular?”
“French cigars. There aren’t many, but they smoked Robuste Chaud, which isn’t just expensive, but very hard to procure.”
Miss Lyme and Anala looked at each other and smirked. “I do believe one of the Feather Duster may have a clue for us. Arjana happens to be working for someone in the Parisian arm of La Nuit who is one of the owners of that peculiar brand of cigar. Perhaps the link is more intimate than what would first appear, and Monsieur Abdou Faucheux would have much to gain if Mr. Stone is out of the way as that company is hardly on solid footing itself.”
Anala nodded. “I am certain we will discover that Robuste is a money-laundering front for the Bundle.”
“I wish I could come along,” said Danny as he grabbed his blazer, “I’d like to see how this case of yours ends, but Jane Doe is going undercover for her latest story, and she won’t be checking in until tonight.”
“I am sad that you cannot come along, but we must make a point of doing a case together,” Miss Lyme said warmly before she and Anala headed for the airport where Miss Lyme’s private plane was waiting for her.
“Arjana! How wonderful to see you,” Maggie as she gave the beautiful and svelte African woman in the maid’s uniform a big hug and kiss as they entered the Faucheux mansion in Paris, “You radiate even more these days.”
Arjana pulled back while holding Miss Lyme’s hands, “Maggie! I am so happy to see you. You look beautiful in your yellow dress. It means a solution is just around the corner.”
“We are trying to cut a problem off at the pass. You know Anala.”
“We have met once before.”
“Arjana is quite the Renaissance woman,” Miss Lyme said proudly to Anala, “She specializes in Picassiette mosaics, speaks six languages fluently, and when she is not working as a translator, she is a professional welder.”
“A welder?” gasped Anala.
“Oh yes,” giggled Arjana sweetly, “I am autodidactic by nature and the strangest things catch my attention. I learn, master, and then I work in the field to learn more.”
“She makes her own cars to drive, too.”
“Wow,” Anala said impressed, “You can build motors, as well?”
“It was a challenge until it became child’s play. My brothers were all jealous at first, but now I make each one a new car for his birthday every three years.”
“And when you are not making cars, you are having another sort of escapade as One of the Feather Duster.”
“It is a fun and delightful adventure and more entertaining than watching television or surfing the Internet,” Arjana replied, “I watch the buffoons pretend to be important, and after I finish laughing, I tell Maggie, and then after we all laugh for another good long time, we protect the innocent and hold the guilty accountable for their games. It is like watching a play except I do not sit around and do nothing – I can make a difference by jumping right on the stage when the actors are too busy remembering their scripts and fixing their costumes.”
Miss Lyme smiled. “I need to know Monsieur Faucheux’s role in this current farce.”
Arjana led both women to the den where she pointed to the computer. “I already keyed in his password. All of his files are there.”
“Thank you,” the Red Queen said politely as she went through the files. “These are for blackmailing people within La Nuit.”
“It is how he maintains his wealth,” replied Arjana.
“Now, this is very interesting,” Miss Lyme replied as Anala looked at the computer screen, “A Mr. Renforth Arvin is part of that very dubious group of neo-fascists who is connected to this case.”
“Who is Renforth Arvin?” asked Anala.
“The elder brother of the man who staged that fight with Mr. Stone’s former flame, according to this file. His is the first file, and is marked a priority.”
“And yet the Bundle uses Robuste as a front to fund their operations. Why blackmail Mr. Arvin? To get a bigger piece of the profits?”
“Perhaps it is greed, or something an emergency has arisen requiring to cover the expenses quickly.”
Arjana nodded. “Faucheux has invested in a winery that hasn’t been accused of fraud.”
“That would do it,” replied Anala.
“But that would leave Mr. Arvin in a bind,” said the World’s Most Dangerous Woman, “They would need to replenish those funds themselves, and would go to a bank to cover their immediate debts, did not want the bank to do any digging and discover the connection between Mr. Arvin, the Bundle, and Robuste – or La Nuit, whom they would not want to be made aware of their games and vulnerabilities. Mr. Arvin knew of Mr. Stone through his brother’s current love, and saw an opportunity to find a bank not affiliated with either cabal, but to make certain their expert was removed or too distracted to see the ruse or who was behind it.”
“And so they began a campaign to discredit Mr. Stone.”
“Mr. Arvin went to a La Nuit bank, they would have forced him to use one of their banks with much higher interest rates where they had enough to blackmail him and keep him in place by making him do their bidding on far more dangerous games. He was trying to secure the best deal without being pressured or threatened. He must have heard about Mr. Stone through his brother’s significant other, and began to plot.”
“And then he planted the seeds of distrust in him, and they had their fight where Mr. Arvin recorded it.”
“He choreographs the optics, in such a way as to place Mr. Stone in the crosshairs, clearing the way to line his own coffers at La Nuit’s expense.”
“It is a risky way to become wealthy.”
“What about the virus?”
“That would be something the Bundle would seek, and Mr. Arvin most likely thought connecting Mr. Stone to them and their plans would make him panic. It did, but he came straight to me instead. It was the only flaw in his plan.”
Arjana nodded. “He needs funding to feed his ego and gain fortune. He thought he had so many wrinkles and tangles, that no one could follow the trail to him.”
“And yet we did,” replied Anala as she looked at Miss Lyme. “The remark about his single mistake in his plan reminds me of one of the musings on your wall from Alena Love.”
“About perfection? Yes, it is one of my favourites, as it reminds me to not become obsessed with flaws.”
“Mr. Arvin was obsessed with hiding the flaws of his plans to the point of having one that would be his undoing.”
“And that is the reason it is about to all unravel. I have a red dress to put on, and we have a scheme to stop as soon as our plan lands.”
“What should I do?” asked Arjana.
“Make a copy of these blackmail files, email them to me, and I will go to La Nuit with them to humble them and your now-former employer. You have cars to make and beautiful artwork to create. Your job here is done.”
The Persian Carpet weaves the riddles of time and space
For the Persian Carpet is wise enough to keep inside its very fibres the intentional mistake.
For only the Creator can be without flaw.
A beautiful carpet.
Intricate, complicated, colourful, and beautiful.
But one wrong.
So not to offende the Creator…
The two women arrived at Mr. Arvin’s office building as Miss Lyme wore her usual red dress to signal that the game was now over. He worked in a high-rise, but when she entered the building, there were screams of “The Red Queen!” as people began to run.
Anala whistled. “They know of you.”
“This place is crawling with La Nuit members. We must remember to keep a note of who is doing the running as they must have their own sins to hide.”
The two took the elevator to the top floor where the running and yelping continued while Anala used her smartphone to videotape those doing the screaming for future reference. When they reached the boardroom, Miss Lyme flung open the door where there was a meeting take place.
“Mr. Arvin, we have much to discuss,” she said sternly as the other executives in the room began to tremble and blanche, “You cavort with fascists who wish to unleash a virus on those who they erroneously see as inferior to them.”
“What are you talking about?” he said angrily.
“The Foresight Bundle. You and your brother are both members.”
At this comment, the executives ran out of the room.
“You’re going to destroy me!”
“Nonsense, you’ve done that to yourself.”
“Those brutes always want more, and I can’t do anything unless I keep them happy!”
“No denials?” asked Anala.
Miss Lyme looked unimpressed. “I do not care one whit about their demands or needs.”
“Don’t care?” shrieked Mr. Arvin.
“Or, as your defeated kind once said, ‘me ne frego,’” Anala quipped defiantly as she realized Mr. Arvin had no inkling about the Black Shirts or even the roots of fascism in the first place. She sighed and shrugged her shoulders, though she knew the effect was not lost on the Red Queen.
“They’ll kill me if I don’t deliver them each a Mercedes!”
“I have informed the authorities of their plans, and now federal agents are introducing them all to a holding cell. They will be too busy fighting for their freedom to worry about what kind of cars you can afford them. My concern is my client Mr. Stone…”
“They’ll kill me,” Mr. Arvin screamed, “Why did the moron Stone have to come to you? He was supposed to think he was smart enough to handle it himself! The Bundle will kill me…”
“Mr. Arvin, you have nothing to fear from the Bundle…”
“The hell I don’t! They’ll kill me!”
Before either woman could say anything else, a screaming Mr. Arvin grabbed his suitcase, smashed a window open, and jumped to his death just as security ran in and saw the scene.
Anala shook her head. “He feared murder by the Bundle so much that he saved him them the trouble.”
“He panicked when he saw me because he forgot that Mr. Stone had me as an option. He had planned everything meticulously.”
“Not quite. He allowed Faucheux to blackmail him.”
“The stress was too much for him. The police were supposed to be here in a few minutes to arrest him.”
Anala sighed. “And now they can remove what his left of him from the sidewalk. So much spectacle, and yet Mr. Arvin dies for no reason at all.”
“It is a dreadful end to any man, yet his fate was entirely avoidable.”
“He wished to harm your client and shame him into a grave. The human race has much to answer for, Maggie.”
“It does, yet the answers they give are as maddening and nonsensical to the questions they create. Do you need a ride to the airport?”
“Yes, if you do not mind.”
“Of course not. I do have to fly off to Toronto, but after I send you off back to India before then. I do cherish our time together.”
“As I do. It is never a boring visit. We must make it a point to go to Latvia to see the White Wagtail. After witnessing something as distressing as this turn of events, sweet birds would restore much serenity.”
“I will give you a list of dates when you return. Let us leave this depressing scene. My client is safe, my fee will be paid by his employer, and there is no reason to stay here.”
Her case was over, and she had one more stop to make before she returned home. She still wore her red dress as she made her way to the nursing home in Toronto where the staff knew her by sight, but did not understand the significance of her dress or the nature of her job. They greeted her warmly as she made her way to the room carrying not her usual briefcase, but a large bouquet of white roses.
Miss Lyme placed the flowers inside the vase beside the stand next to the bed, and sat down in the chair as she sighed sadly at the comatose Dr. Hunter Colby. She picked up his hand to feel his wrist as she did whenever she visited him. She would always begin by asking if he had enough of her, or did he wish for her to stay. His pulse would race until she asked if he preferred for her to stay. He wished for her company, and she complied. This time was no different.
“Hunter, I’ve come to see you again. Your father is doing well, though he wishes you were out of this horrible state, as do I. You and I worked on quite a few cases together when I was infiltrating the Circle, but why you cannot awaken is a mystery still beyond me. You indicate that no one is artificially inducing this condition in you. You express a strong desire to awaken, and yet, there is nothing I have been able to do to pull you out of this wretched slumber. If you awaken, I would be more than happy for you to stay with me. You’ve expressed as much yourself. Do you know why you’re stuck in this vortex?”
She felt his pulse and sighed. “You’ve no idea, either. I’ve asked my mother, and have spared no expense looking for an expert who could shed light on this horrific travesty. This is profoundly unfair. There must be some solution.” She shook her head. “It is beyond odd, Hunter, that this should happen to you, given we interviewed more than one person this way – and I had never done it while I was infiltrating La Nuit du bas. Hunter, I am going to ask one small favour from you. I am absolutely convinced someone is inducing this state. I have moved you to the finest and safest facility outside of Queen’s Heights, and I am trying to convince your father to move you to into a facility in Queen’s Heights because if there are dark forces harming you, then it is in your best interests to be there so no more harm can be done to you. If there is some way that you are being harmed, try to take some sort of note of it. I don’t think it is a hypnotic suggestion, for what it is worth. If there is a common person, phrasing, anything at all, try to remember. You know I will do my absolute best for you.”
She watched him sleep as she wondered how to undo the damage, and bring peace to his troubled soul as he was a kind-hearted man who did not deserve to be stuck in the horrific prison of sleep. All she could do was talk to him with kindness and fondness, knowing it lifted his spirits, yet it always felt like failure, no matter what she said or how kindly she said it to someone who touched her heart and moved her soul.
We have no female equivalent to Steve Jobs.
We have no female equivalent to all sorts of other Great Men.
How many Great Women with grit and gravitas do we really have out there that are labelled as such?
We have great women, but not Great Women.
The truth is we also have Great Women, but they don’t get their due or labelled as such.
We are starting to see a shift, and thank goodness for that, but it is still not natural or automatic. Grant Morrison can be seen as a Great Man for comic books, for instance, or David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino for movies, but they can forge a new path, rather than have to get distracted from having obstacles being thrown at them in the first place.
In 2014, Ray inspired a show about him.
That is the reason Ray is #27 on the List of People Everyone Should Know because much of his identity came from having TS.
And he was celebrated for it. He became depressed when his meds prevented him from his improvisations as a drummer, and the solution was not to take medication to suppress his tics on the weekends.
But Ray was a man. We don’t exactly celebrate women whose idiosyncrasies stand out and are used to an advantage. We just don’t give women that chance — not even other women.
It is the reason I went ahead and forged my own paths with both Matriarchal Storytelling with A Dangerous Woman Story Studio (created long before the Ariana Grande song, thank you very much, motherfuckers), and F.R.E.E.D. with the soon-to-be relaunched Chaser (the feminist Intercept before the Intercept, Open Democracy).
I am someone who has specific ideas that are well-researched on multiple levels, including me running myself as a test subject.
Something you do not see in either fiction writing nor journalism.
But I am writing while female. I am not writing patriarchal stories about a male Chosen One like J.K. Rowling.
I am writing matriarchal stories about The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, The Doyenne Assassin, Dr. Verity Lake and her sister Holly, the Mothers of the Mosaic, the Goddess Una et Dilectos, the Sparrow: Dream Detective, the hacktivist graffiti artist Danni La Croix, the Goditor, and many others.
All interconnected. They are standalone, or you can read them in conjunction with other stories, and the order you read them alter the effects of the stories.
I am not inventing stories, but re-inventing them.
The same goes for journalism and its education. It is not a matter of invention, but re-invention.
And I am not an armchair analyst.
We forget how much we need to update and re-invent things. The world recently said goodbye to a hero of mine, and #28 on the List of People Everyone Should Know — Chuck Harrison.
He was behind the scenes for many years, but he was a Great Man.
Because he saw where there were places for improvements.
That’s what journalism always needed: embracing a re-designers.
That’s what I am doing all on my own.
Even while female.
Even while Radical Centrist.
And even while eccentric.
On my own.
But it needs to be done, and I might as well do it…
I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, and I am the old school version: we work hard, play hard, laugh hard, will handily whip your ass and then have a beer with you. This was a scrappy city where even the nerdy kids were tough, and yet were friendly, open, and proud.
That version doesn’t really exist anymore. From being tough as nails steel workers who spoke by eloquently turning over cars during a strike to the town where a failed Basic Income project was parachuted in is a tumble in fortunes.
You know it was bad when the CBC was brave enough to open a digital location in downtown Hamilton a few years ago.
I can always tell who’s old school. Those are the tough, but perky survivors who always know how to land on their feet. There is never a thought of being nannied by a government. If you can get up and more parts on you work than don’t, you’re good enough to get back in the ring and beat the shit out of some obnoxious pantywaist who has confused voguing with fighting.
And fucking wipe the floor with them. Like nothing because you’re made of piss and vinegar.
By all accounts, Hamilton should have dominated Ontario. It is situated in a prime location, in the centre between the US border and Toronto. We have space, plenty of roads, a sterling university, top-notch hospitals, and had real and viable industry here. The unions were strong. Businesses were strong. We had cabinet ministers in the government. It could have been on par with Toronto, but Hogtown psyched this popsicle stand out, free trade turned our industries weak, and there was a real and serious brain drain because the children of steelworkers got educated in universities and left the first chance they could.
Then Hamilton started to panic and voted NDP who never win, meaning there wasn’t a cabinet minister who could infuse the city with, let’s be blunt, graft. Outside smaller towns voted shrewdly, and they got the perks that Hamilton could have had if they thought a few steps ahead.
Small-town Grimsby voted PC in the last provincial election, had a small, but viable hospital that was on the Liberal regime’s hit list, but when Doug Ford won, those worries were over.
Hamilton voted NDP and lost their Basic Income project.
Grimsby knows how to take care of itself. Hamilton use to be of the same ilk, but not anymore.
But Toronto has fallen under the same spell as Hamilton. They bought their own hype and thought by sheer numbers alone, they could always play kingmaker, and could always rig the board to their favour.
That’s not how elections actually work.
The provincial Liberals held the same delusion: they always pandered to Toronto, thinking that’s all they needed to cruise to victory.
Except when you pander too much for too long, the person or group you are pandering to starts to see themselves as kings, not kingmakers, and then will look for some better servant to appease them.
The NDP usurped those votes, and then thought they were brilliant, except they don’t actually have a feel for political strategy.
The NDP, like the Liberals, are antiquated, and believe journalists who call their bungling buffoons brilliant.
Don’t look at journalists: they fucked up their own profession.
The old playbooks don’t work any more.
Doug Ford figured that one out and won a majority.
Without Hamilton or Toronto. Or Windsor or St. Catharines.
Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne blew the election because they are, at heart, regional women. They play to Hamilton and to Toronto, respectively.
I am not a regional woman. I was never a regional girl. I am of true Steel City grit, but the world ain’t Hamilton.
And it is the reason I have had columns, articles, and books published in multiple countries over the last quarter century.
It is a global village, but I am not a regional player.
My brain was always wired to be global. I see the waves that bring the big picture into focus.
I can see a single grain and extrapolate, and vice versa.
Because I am an emotional learner, not a script-memorizer.
Regional boys and girls can play certain crowds, but they cannot adopt. The ones who can do it can expand their base and refine and modify their strategies, When we had strong local newspapers, the journalists who could adapt went on to daily metros before going national and even international.
But local got decimated, and now we have a generation of journalists who can’t play it local, national, or global. They can play to a regional crowd, on the Left or Right, but they don’t have the ability to build to form a sustainable base because they always fall on stunts and tricks that work regionally and hinge on impressing the crowd by knowing their Shibboleths, but when they can no longer crack the code of the bigger crowd that plays completely differently than the smaller partisan venues, they tank.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel are regional women. They pandered until it blew up in their faces. French President Emmanuel Macron is finding out just how not “centrist” he actually is. Only months before, the Independent praised him silly with this opinion piece:
Emmanuel Macron is the centrist that Europe deserves – and so desperately needs
His speech at the European Parliament has earmarked him as the voice of sense that we are lacking in the UK and across the world
Only if Europe deserves to be set on fire and have rioters tear down the street.
Speeches mean nothing. Those are pacifiers for the middle class to reassure them and make them feel smart and important.
Mastering various regions is a hard game to play, and that is the reason so many politicians and robber barons are desperately pushing globalism.
Pseudo-globalism, that is.
Not the real mosaic.
But creating a global village where the variety of regionalism they mastered applies to everyone; so they can rig the board, always win, and always predict things and look smart and right.
This is not real globalism: this is just like the Mean Girls who make up rules in high school, and then try to shame, bully, bribe, blackmail, and otherwise terrorize all the other students to agree that they are “popular” and superior to them.
It’s total bullshit.
A global village is nothing more than regionalism.
Force the whole world to wear cheap H&M garbage and shop through Amazon as you forsake cars and are dependent on the government sticking you on some smelly bus with a bunch of pervs that cannot be shamed because they don’t read the Troll Scroll.
Governments do not want people to have cars. They don’t want them to drive around and experience the Big Picture.
What if you see that what you thought was a great life was shit?
Or that there is crime and poverty three blocks over?
We can’t have that; so let’s say cars are bad for the environment; so down with cars!
As if we can’t make clean cars cheaply.
But the rigs of pseudo-globalism aren’t going the way those overlords wanted.
They are trying to put a genie back in the bottle, and they are rapidly making the situation worse.
Because both their regionalism and their global village are fake, their solutions don’t work.
They managed to piss off the French. They managed to unseat more and more European Establishment types who kept trying to paint their detractors as fascists, but to no avail.
It was simpler times when Europe and the US could bully Serbia during the Civil War. They held all of the cards, after all, and controlled the message coming through the press. They could paint Serbs as killers, monsters, and rapists with no opposition or questioning the giant holes in their canards.
Yes, there was war, and there were a few Serbs who were free out of prison did bad things as did everyone else there. Fuck you.
And because the focus was entirely on Serbs, organized criminal elements in Albania could do whatever they wanted, and get rewarded by Western Europe. The beginnings of Al-Qaeda started then because the US and Europe inadvertently helped train and fund those terrorist operatives.
It didn’t matter because everything was rigged. Systems were cracked and those loopholes were easy to exploit. Serbs didn’t know what hit them.
I knew, however.
I was a teenager and I could easily figure it out because my brain is set to Global.
Not Global Village, but Global.
It is a quirk. When I volunteered as a recreationist at a psychiatric ward when I was a teenager, I noticed people watched a lot of soap operas. I brought art supplies and new magazines for diversions for patients, and I also started buying Soap Opera Digest, and read about every single soap’s storylines past and present so that I could instantly converse with people because it was a nonthreatening topic of conversation.
I could tell you what was unfolding on the Y&R as easily as what went down on Loving. I knew who was the head writer, and every actor’s name. I knew how many actors played a certain role and in what order, and for how long. I became the encyclopedia of soaps. I even knew about soaps cancelled long ago, such as Capitol or Search for Tomorrow.
My grandmother loved one soap: As the World Turns, and I used to schedule my university classes so I could come home at 2 PM to watch it with her. I appreciated the complexities of the stories, and thought Douglas Marland was a genius.
But that was the only one I knew from actually watching it.
The rest I read the recaps as if I were studying for a history or English lit class.
It came in extremely handy. I could make small talk and break the tension.
But soaps may have taken place in fictional small towns, but they weren’t regional. They were global.
Because they appealed to multiple generations of viewers across North America (and beyond) as well as multiple socioeconomic levels. There was nothing remotely regional — or patriarchal about them.
Like comic books, soaps were matriarchal in structure. They were epic, and spanned generations with storylines from decades ago still in play and impacting current and future storylines.
But patriarchal social structures consistently put down soaps as being “girly”, and comics as being “childish”. Both were dismissed as being unsophisticated.
And that’s bullshit.
Patriarchal is regional. Matriarchal is global.
The Global Village is Patriarchal. Globalism is Matriarchal.
I can see that very clearly. You are not going to try some misdirection on me by trying to claim that I am too stupid, nerdy, or regional to know what’s what. Jеби се, говно једно.
But in a world that has the global medium of the Internet, how can it be so…regional?
That’s a dilemma that is an enigma to solve.
The confines of regionalism and its mask the global village have made people feel crowded and frustrated. Global regionalism is now facing a real pushback. People do not want to indulge someone else’s regionalism that takes away their liberties as the ways of others surrounds them. The game of go is like quicksand, and people are drowning in the homogenization of structure and content of thought.
But I am not a regional girl. I don’t do a globe village. I believe in true globalism where there are multiple accepted structures and contents of thought. I believe in ideological flexibility that is sensitive to the zeitgeist and ortgeist.
I believe that rigs are cheats used to hold back natural ideological evolution.
The trouble with the Internet is that is can be rigged to be Patriarchal, when its natural, default structure is Matriarchal. Like #MeToo, the Internet was hijacked and co-opted by the Establishment, which is both Patriarchal and Regional, and now that the shit has hit the fan, people are getting angrier.
But they do not actually know where their illusions of anger are actually coming from.
Chaser is the curator of emotions. It is not just about intellectual facts, but the neglected emotional ones.
Because emotions are more than just global: they are universal, and I am willing to bet omniversal.
Yet we don’t explore that realm. Journalism shunned it outright by claiming to be “objective”, but any system that mimics a psychopathic mindset has a shitty filter to look at reality.
Not happening with Chaser.
We have people who go nuclear on a drop of a hat. We have cheaters who use fear-mongering to keep a fake status quo in place.
The war in the former Yugoslavia showed the deficiencies of journalism because it exposed that they had no feel to cover the raw emotions that explode during anarchy. They had their little preset scripts and narratives and stuck to them like glue.
How to finesse this model is something I am refining at the moment. Emotional reportage isn’t a thing, but it will be very shortly…
I find Truthout to be very silly.
Here they are slagging a dead president in an article, and then beg for money because fewer people are reading their slagging.
You are not “independent news.” You are Left-wing propaganda, and it costs no money to say something easy like George 41 was an Establishment president. Duh.
But welcome to the world of the Reality Deniers who do not know what is real and what is fake.
They think they know, but they always run to the lie.
I had my fill as a teenager of the lies of the press, and I said enough.
People treat Reality Deniers with kid gloves, lest the snowflakes are inconvenienced.
Never mind the kind of hell the rest of the world endures in the name of protecting a few psychopathic and manipulative cowards.
The fortresses Reality Deniers have created are huge and thick, but they are built on lies.
They rigged the battleground, and then covered up the battleground with distorting mirrors.
Enough is enough.
It is time to uncover the battleground, and show the rigs, but not in the old ways that no longer work.
The Reality Deniers are getting brazen, thinking they can just do whatever they wish. See drunk drivers ride around, and one police department want to shame them because nothing else is working.
Because Reality Deniers are allowed to throw tantrums, feign victimhood, misdirect by villainizing people who they destroy, and rig laws to work in their favour.
But there is another method to dealing with Reality Deniers.
And it is more than just exposing them.
It is turning over their own rules, and being the Nightmare of Reality.
But not in the traditional way that journalism once did.
That doesn’t work because that profession got infected with Reality Deniers, and fucked up the profession.
So, there comes a time when you have to get the joke, and find the right mindset to deal with those cowards and liars.
And turn the world into a laboratory, and a stage.
That’s what I intend to do.
And that is your message from…
It looks like there will be one more One Shot coming in a week.
It is one that was half-written since about 2014, and was patiently waiting its turn in the queue, and now seems like a good time to finish it.
I didn’t think I would have the time, but there is actually one more One Shot from this series, along with a couple of stories in the magazine, but I want to finish them all in 2019 because I want to get to the next leg of the story arc.
As for the first wave of Magnus Lyme Mysteries, there are three more in the popper, and I am working on the next one called Chick Bait. I am eager to get through these as well so the second wave of stories can be done — ones where Miss Lyme is infiltrating the Circle in the Sky and romancing Dr. Hunter Colby. We know a lot about her first love Dwennon Garrison as he has been spun-off into his own mystery series of short stories, but very little about the enigmatic Dr. Colby. Dwennon wasn’t supposed to be a character: he was to be her unnamed first boyfriend with his older brother Felix in one of her short stories; but then Dwennon seemed to speak to me, and my plans had changed.
I make no secret that I adore four male characters: Dwennon, Hammond Hughes, Phil Lipton, and Theodore Nathanial, and out of that list, Phil is the most patient as I had him in an unpublished manuscript since my early twenties with no connection to Magnus Lyme. Eventually, when I began writing in a Matriarchal-style, the two characters clicked, and paths opened wide for me.
I have an art book I have to do, and that means A Dangerous Woman will most likely be on hiatus until June, and it is the reason I want to squeeze in one more short story.
I have another series in the works that is structural in nature, and the novella will have two separate and unrelated stories told in the same novel style. When this will come out, I have no idea.
I have a course to finish, a move, and a book to write, among many other things, but I am still actively working on Dangerous Woman stories and venture in general. My problem is to find a profitable way to take it to another level. There is a definite readership for them, and there is a supportive base for them, but I need to shore up and settle a few things after surviving a shocking, unpredictable, and horrific year.
I need to look after myself, as well. It has been a shitty year, but I triumphed. It is hard to believe that I got through everything that fell on my head at the same time. You heard of the trope “dropped a bridge on him”?
Well, someone dropped a universe on me, hoping to keep me dead and buried, but never mess with an eccentric Serbian punk.
We survived holocausts and oppression, and we are still around to tell you how much all the Establishments suck.
And we don’t forget. We are stubborn little punks.
So there is much in the cosmos that has a lot to answer for to me personally, but my life still goes full steam ahead.
The scoreboard this year?
Universe 0, Alexandra Kitty ∞.
And I wasn’t looking for a fight. I was looking to teach others innovative and important things as I write books, and do constructive and kind things in the world as I looked after my family and animals.
C’est la vie, motherfuckers.
I go on with my life with my favourite character of them all, a prim and proper punk by the name of Magnus Demeter Lyme, who is there with her adoring creator all the way.
People who know me, know me. They can tell you that my favourite colour is red, I love black turtlenecks, Turkish coffee, Sherlock Holmes, boxing, the Theremin, Kintsugi, The Hives, Flesh For Lulu, the Eurhythmics, the Monkees, Spy magazine, the movie People Will Talk, the book A Confederacy of Dunces, the artists Han Hoogerbrugge and Salvador Dali, and the restaurant The Broken Gavel.
And Ted Kord the Blue Beetle.
I have the entire Charlton run (his publisher of origin and also the name of the street where the hospital of my birth is located) and many others published by DC Comics in the 1980s.
I have multiple action figures, books, and other oddities all regarding the character whose name is an acronym for Odd Trek.
People wonder why I have such a deep reverence for Ted Kord even after all these years.
The answer is simple: he is what every person should aspire to become.
He is both strong and gentle, serious and funny, extraordinary and mundane, wise and naive, but most of all, his word is priceless.
He promised the previous Blue Beetle that he would be take on the mantle as the original was dying in his arms.
No one heard this promise. No one could hold Ted Kord to it, but he did keep his word, even though it cost him his business, and essentially made him a broke transient living with the Justice League.
His life fell apart, yet a promise is a promise.
And that is the very definition of morality.
Doing what is right, good, just, kind, and moral under the worst of circumstances.
There are very few people in the real world who can say the same.
But I know I am one.
And like the Blue Beetle — who put himself in danger though he was but a mere mortal — I have kept my word under shockingly dim circumstances.
But I did it.
It can be done, and it is the reason I can sleep soundly every night.
And I will continue to do it with kindness and levity.
The difference is Ted Kord’s promise had a name and it was Blue Beetle.
And mine is called Chaser…
When I was in grad school, I took a creative writing class, and for my short story assignment, I wrote about something that happened in my childhood.
I had a classmate my own age who always called me Mommy.
I wasn’t his mommy, nor did I want to be the mommy-figure in his life.
It was a pain in the ass. I was a nice kid, but I didn’t want to be a superheroine or a social worker to some kid.
I was an explorer and an adventurer as much as I was a thinker, a philosopher queen, and an inventor.
Having a kid cling on to the back of my coat all recess long, calling me Mommy cramped my style.
It also cramped my style that my First Grade thought it was a bright idea to use me as a “buffer” in the class, meaning I was stuck in a separated row of students, right in the middle of the class’s naughtiest boys because she thought I would have a “calming” effect on them. The entire class faced the blackboard, but The Row was apart and faced the desks.
With me stuck in the middle. When my mother asked my teacher about it, she gave her reasons.
And right beside me was the boy who called me Mommy. He would hold on to my arm and declared that he loved his mommy, and then the teacher would yell at him and then try to pry him off my arm, and I fell down once because of it.
That is not the way you punish good students.
But the lesson stayed with me.
Young, well-behaved girls get no support and will be repeatedly thrust in baby-sitting roles for enabled boys.
And I wasn’t going to have any of it.
Nor was I ever going to be subservient to anyone.
Because either way, it is always rigged for women to be maids and nannies to a collective at the bottom — or at the top.
But the radical centre is a different story, and the place I decided to create mine.
I do not believe in being a follower. You need courage by entourage, you have problems.
I also do not believe in being a leader. You need courage by entourage, you have problems.
I don’t like to mom people. I deal in truth. I deal in reality. My dreams are my own. My theories are for me to test to see how closely aligned they are to reality.
People do not want to take risks. Part of the reason is mental laziness, part is cowardice, but there is that conniving little part that likes to get things on someone’s else’s work, and you get to ride on the coattails thinking you’re smarter than the genius whose sweat and grit paved a road for you to take.
I am on to you, you worthless little motherfucker.
And not happening.
I do not have a messiah complex.
I have an Alexandra Kitty Complex.
Because I am Alexandra Kitty.
It is reality.
And thats’s what my material.
I make better realities. I have dreams, and I have reality, and I use both.
But I am not a follower, and I am not going to lead people to the promised land.
You make your own map and go there on your on blood, sweat, and tears.
But I will deal with reality here.
Not as a leader or a follower.
But as someone who chases out in front.
And that’s where Chaser will be, from the radical centre…
When the thugs of NATO bombed Serbs in the late 1990s, the Serbs didn’t whine and botch like the American loser youth who are demanding pensions and wasting their fucking pathetic existence on social media rehashing propaganda memes all in the name of getting their own way, never having to admit they are wrong, and trying to get everyone to agree with their selfish assessments and demands.
You know, if you get perpetually offended because you want to rig a conversation to get pity and validation as you micromanage and find fault with the words you measure, then the best course of action is not stop talking to people. Just shut up, and deal with your own problems, and break the cycle.
Or just learn a few lessons from Serbs.
Serbs, when they were being murdered by your various governments as you and your parents cheered them on, held concerts out on the bridge where they could be bombed.
You have snowflakes of the West write articles how people should talk to them because heaven forbid someone call them on the carpet for their manipulative woe is me bullshit.
The Greeks protested the bombings at their own concerts, and called it out for what it was.
But the Leftist West could bomb people without batting an eye, but when their candidate lost an election journalists did their best to rig, the howling, screaming, and tantrum-throwing just turned people in North America into spiteful little trolls who no longer use a single brain cell nor moral, but will just opposite to whatever someone who didn’t vote for Clinton just to prove some nonexistent point.
Fuck you and your bad lying.
If a person who voted Republican likes ice cream, you will see endless trolling on social media about how bad and immoral it is to like ice cream because by the default delusion, the opposite has to be the right answer.
If Republicans want to permanently fuck up Democrats — you should all praise sex as beautiful, having children as glorious, being happy as wonderful, and having a life in a nice house as something to cherish.
Just do it. Watch what happens.
Watch as journalists declare having sex as demented, ensuring the next generation as fascist, being happy as immoral, and living in a home as treasonous and most likely some nefarious Russian-backed propaganda campaign.
They are miserable, and want the whole world to be as bitter and worthless trash as they are.
I sit here and have a very good laugh. I went to a place worse than hell in 2018, and my life was hell for two years when I had to basically give up everything to look after my grandmother when the paramedics dropped her in her own home on a hard floor in front of my mother who developed Post Traumatic Stress.
People who know me and my family can attest to what we went through. Nurses and social workers who came to our house to look after her were so impressed, that my mother won an award from CCAC two years in a row.
And the second time she received two different nominators independently of one another.
That was hell.
2018 was below hell.
And I fought back.
And happily so, grateful, smarter, wiser, and better than I was before.
And here are people in their twenties, staring at their godphone like a bunch of cowardly dummies, who have no idea what life is about, making royal decrees as if they were authorities in the matter and not a bunch of ignorant motherfuckers who didn’t get enough love as children.
They are collectively depressed, but too gullible and conniving to know why.
They should all be placed on a bridge and told that bridge is going to be bombed, and they aren’t escaping or going home as their godphones are cut off.
Okay, we are giving you an hour. Tell me of all the things you did on social media that will bring you comfort.
Tell me about the trolling on Twitter that will make you feel like you didn’t waste your life.
Explain how posting your ugly pouty mug with an animal face on Instagram will influence future generations.
Who is going to give a flying fuck a year from now about the propaganda memes you puked out on Facebook?
No one, that’s who.
And then, with a loudspeaker, make bitchin’ explosive noises with your mouth as you then shout, “Punked!”
Watch the trauma those little brats will have, and the lawsuits, and the sad, doe eyed Instagram pictures they’ll post with doggie nose and ears.
An empty shell.
Serbs threw a fucking party.
People in the West should be ashamed of themselves.
I clawed out of the place below hell. I was thrown in even though I never did a thing to warrant that kind of cosmic abuse.
And yet, when my grandmother needed constant care, I spent time with her and began an epic venture A Dangerous Woman as I became an art teacher. I have no regrets. My grandmother was loved until her final breath, and she knew it.
And even though 2018 was even worse — I came out with a published book, one new one, and a new lease on life. I am still transmuting, but I have new ideas and I am ready to take on the world with a big smile on my face.
No mid-life crisis for Alexandr Kitty. No wallowing or cowering for me. I am eccentric and I don’t have a single flying fuck to give to my haters.
You’re miserable. I am not.
I call them as I see them. I am not your cheerleader or ass-kisser, If you are fucking up or fucked up, I am going to tell you it to your face.
I am not wallowing or pining for socialism. I am not a bigot who is blaming Russia for random shit.
Life tried to bomb Alexandra Kitty back to the Stone Age, and I took those stones and built a brand new castle, fusing it with gold, and made it out of Kintsugi.
And there is a saying among us Kintsugi artists: broken is better than new.
I am still an upbeat, perky person who is enigmatic, eccentric, and filled with silliosity. I write outrageous stories, and live a Bohemian life as I have grand and futuristic visionary ideas about what the world can do with idealism and happiness.
Those stones I built my castle are precious ones. They weren’t just rocks.
Each one had a history, and I got to know and love them all.
And some of those stones were known as Chaser.
And I looked at them, smiled fondly, and said, Alexandra, try it again.
Chaser is going to be a party.
Shitty and petty losers can sit in their soiled underpants and stew in their stink.
I am excited and happy that I could land on my feet, and when I couldn’t, I learned how to soar.
I am a tough little Serbian punk.
The West was always envious of Serbs. They always hated our spirit, reverence for our families, and stubborn nature that compelled us not to be ass kissers.
So to all you moral masturbators: get over yourselves. I am not buying your bullshit. I didn’t buy it when the Catholic Church pulled that shit, and you’re no church.
Chaser is going to be a wild ride.
Chaser is not WikiLeaks.
I get the joke.
I understand the psychological and propagandistic bombing the overlords has done with impunity.
You don’t fight bombs with bombs.
You become bomb-proof.
And then you gain strength by getting bombed.
If 2018 left me with one amazing gift, it was to teach me how to gain knowledge and power with every kind of bomb people in power throw at you — as well as the ones life throws at you.
I am a very good learner.
You now have a generation of Reality Deniers and Life Wasters who think they are playing it safe, when they have done nothing but gamble their blessings and opportunities away living in their self-imposed bubbles and prisons.
Chaser is coming…
Get the party started because the world’s most dangerous woman is ready to arrive and deliver…
It is here.
This is the last one of 2018, unless I can sneak in a One Shot, perhaps another The World’s Most Dangerous Woman story, but I am not sure I will have the time. I have a book to write in five months for a US publisher, and three more lessons to finish, and I am taking my studies seriously, as usual.
And other stuff.
The archangel Michael was my closest friend and partner in mischief, and we had oodles in common. We both were around since the very beginning, and we still were immortals living in the Otherworldly While I had my office with every war manual ever written, Mick divided his time being an angel in our realm, but then went to the waking world for two things: teaching underprivileged children fencing, and coming along with me to solve a war mystery.
We were in my office where many of our escapades always began as he scoured my shelves, looking for a book to challenge as it always meant an antic in the staid old waking world, and then a story when we were done.
“Looking for a mystery?” I asked as I put my feet up on my desk and relaxed in my chair.
“I was just in a bad mood because someone prayed to me that their favourite reality show contestant win a competition by devious means. Can you imagine a more wasted prayer?”
“What did you do?”
“Not answer the prayer.”
“So, you did something by not doing anything.”
“Well, I do not like to be vindictive, but if there is a queue of prayers, that person’s priority goes down the list. Angels cannot be expected to grant wishes like a genie. I protect people from harm with integrity and truth, not rig contests and rewarding deceits. So now I am looking to your books to work out what is bothering me so much.”
Mick kept looking until he nodded and took out the original copy of Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War.
“Ah, here it is,” he said cheerily, “The book that was the first to declare that war is deception.”
“No, no,” I said as I rolled my eyes, “War uses deception as a weapon, but war is fear.”
“That makes much more sense,” Mick said as he nodded, “I always said as much, but really, we need to prove our mutual theory.”
“Great idea. So, let us test how much truth is there about the game of lies, peaches,” I said as I hopped up, “And then when we’re through, I will just have to tell you a story.”
Mick jumped for joy. “I love a good story! It gives me strength. Let’s go!”
“So how will we prove it?” asked Mick as we found ourselves in Los Angeles and were walking around feeling rather groovy.
“Well, since you had the prayer to meddle in a reality show competition, we might as well find one that has players telling lots of lies to win.”
“That would be Everyone Loves a Scoundrel.”
“Not everyone loves a scoundrel.”
“There’s the first lie right there. The point of the program is for contestants to lie to their friends, neighbours, coworkers, family, and even strangers in order to get certain peculiar items in a scavenger hunt without getting caught, and the person who gets away with the most lies and items wins.”
“You watch this show?”
“No, the person who prayed thought to tell me all of the details including the biographies of all the players threatening the odds-on favourite to win.”
“How helpful, but if the person is on the show and is recording everything, then all of these people must know this person is lying to win.”
“No, it is all hidden-camera, and the faces of the unwitting victims are blurred.”
“The person praying told you this, too?”
“So that I wouldn’t accidentally protect the person who was being lied to by the scoundrel.”
“We wouldn’t want to protect innocent victims from being exploited, now would we?”
Mick roared with laughter. “And now that we are both on the case, that is exactly what we will do.”
“Let’s get to the studio to start the case.”
“I know where it is.”
“I was even informed in the prayer who was the executive producer.”
“That must have been a very long prayer.”
“You don’t want to know the longest one I ever received, believe me.”
“Not even a clue?”
“It involved a yo-yo, a spurtle, a sprue, seven rancid lemons, a will, and revenge on a sibling whose supposed transgression happened when they were toddlers.”
“And you say I have all the great stories.”
When we reached the studio where they filmed the show of conniving deceivers, we were immediately let in as our exotic and distinctive looks had given people the assumption that we were actors who were auditioning for very specific role, with more than one smitten employee wondering if Mick was a famous male model.
“What now?” asked Mick.
“There are four contestants left. Point them out to me one by one, and I will take care of the rest.”
Mick’s angelic tracking skills were superb and it did not take long for him to find the first who was the one the person who prayed had asked for him to help win. I walked over to her and shook her hand as I looked at her with utmost seriousness.
“What would you say if I told you that there could be a very important director looking for his next big star by watching how well you tell lies?” I asked as the woman squealed.
“I knew it! Just wait until I tell the biggest lies ever! I’m gonna be a movie star!”
As the woman ran triumphantly out of the room, Mick looked at me and shook his head. “You told a lie to her! Evie!”
“I did not tell any lies. I just asked what would she say if I told her that. She never answered me or let me finish my thoughts.”
Mick roared with laughter. “That was skirting a very fine line, Evie.”
“She heard what she wanted to hear because she has been telling so many lies, she doesn’t know how to see truths; so she doesn’t realize that she’s setting herself up to believe them, too.”
“And she is hoping for a big payoff.”
“If we asked the same question of the other three remaining contestants…”
“Our case will get solved. You are a fun detective.”
“Remember, peaches, I was originally put on this Earth to amuse you angels with my antics.”
“And you’re a natural.”
It was the final episode, and thanks to the executive producers seeing Mick and wanting to increase their ratings by writing in an attractive and strapping black man with broad shoulders and a handsome face, they decided a live finale was what the ratings doctor would prescribe. The network was excited at the last-minute prospect, and Mick insisted that I was his assistant, and that we were a package deal.
“What is your role in this finale, Mick?”
“The producers have decided they all must lie to me in order to get access to a night club where the final challenge takes place. Unbeknownst to them, I have already been informed that they are to deceive me.”
“And unbeknownst the producer, they have all met you and think you have an in with some A-list movie director. So, how did they tell you to choose who gets in?”
“They have already decided who the final two contestants will be.”
“And one of them is the prayed for woman?”
“No? What an interesting twist.”
“If she won, it would be too predictable; so they want her to lose because many viewers despise her. It was the reason she got that prayer in the first place: that viewer knows the formula of the show, and was hoping this time would be different than the last ten.”
“Are you going to listen to their advice?”
“You can do whatever you want.”
“Me? I thought you were the fake decider.”
“I never said to them I would do it. I just nodded and told them I understood them.”
“I am surprised at you.”
“They interpreted my actions as compliance. I never agreed to their terms. Let’s see how far these fibbers will go when they realize they may be lying so much that they can no longer see a truth that hits them in the nose.”
We were instructed to go stand on our marks in front of the nightclub as the program was live to air.
The first of the four contestants ran up and began to dance in a modern style, shocking and confusing the director who could not stop the camera from rolling.
“Is that good enough to be in your movie?” he asked.
“You’ll have to get in the nightclub to find out, peaches,” I said.
“I don’t have to lie to you?”
“It wouldn’t be very nice of you. How will anyone see your natural charm if you tell lies?”
The contestant ran inside just as the second one did – the devious one who had the prayers of a fellow deceiver, but not of the executive producer.
“I knew you really wanted me!” she said, “Do I get to go inside now?”
“No, the executive producer said they didn’t want you to win,” I replied.
“What? How dare he?”
The director glared at us as we waved for the camera.
“He thinks you don’t have star quality, peaches.”
“I have star quality! I was destined to be famous! Well, I’ll show him! I am going inside that club to have a date with destiny!”
“Hello, America! We’re letting in the other two contestants,” I shouted to the camera, “How boring is it if we always have to decide between two scoundrels, instead of four…”
“What are you doing?” screamed the director who marched on camera, “You’re ruining everything!”
“How so?” asked Mick, “Isn’t television supposed to be exciting and unpredictable?” Mick suddenly looked mischievously at the camera, “And to Rachel Bigelow, of Sandusky, Ohio, the one who prayed for her deceptive contestant to win, you really should use prayers for real emergencies, and not frivolous games! The next time you pray to me, make sure it is for a good reason!”
“Are you insane?” shouted the director.
“No, I am the archangel Michael, and this is Belle Eve, the original Eve from Eden who left before she had to marry Adam.”
“You are insane!”
“No, he’s telling the truth…”
Just then, the third contestant ran up, asked if he could go inside, and I nodded as I pointed to the door.
“You can’t do that, you loons!”
“We already did, and here is the last contestant…yoo hoo! The party’s inside!”
The last one ran in as the director began to swear and curse.
“I know this show is all about lying, but you shouldn’t be lying!”
“But why not?” I asked.
“Because, it’s just crazy! Losers lie and we exploit those idiots!”
Just then, the four contestants marched over to the director and surrounded him. “We heard that!” shouted one of the contestants, “How dare you lie and exploit us like that?”
“Who are you to talk? You lied to your daughter about getting her a pony if she gave you her favourite toy for you to break on the immunity challenge!”
“That was different!”
“No, it wasn’t!”
“You called us losers in front of America! I’m going to sue you!” said another contestant.
“You’re all a bunch of cowards who scheme and backstab people for five seconds of fame!” roared the directors.
“Cowards? We’ll show you who’s a coward!”
The five began to brawl as Mick and I looked at the camera.
“Well, darlings, that is the reason we should never deceive anyone or exploit them.”
Mick nodded, “And to prove how fearful they really are…”
He clapped his hands, and the sunny skies turned black as a bolt of lightning hit an inch away from the brawlers, who all screamed and ran away.
Suddenly, it was sunny once again.
“No one won today’s game,” I said, “But it is a victory for one bolt of lightning. Goodbye, and watch something more constructive next time!”
The cameraman gasped as he stopped filming. “Great special effects, guys! This is classic and the ratings will be through the roof. I don’t know how you managed to pull off that lightning gag, but I was impressed! And I loved the whole Eve and Michael angle – it serves all those cowardly fibbers right! What a bunch of babies.”
The crew left without the contestants or director as we looked at each other and went back to my office where a promised story was about to be told.
The truth about war is that it is fear and not deception!
War is deception who will hear the mindful muse time and again. War is all about lies, they decree as they tell more of them, hoping to win and conquer battles, games, and bloodbaths.
But lies are a weapon of war, for war is nothing more than fear.
For those who fear being weak and insignificant, they do all that they can to run away from their vulnerability and insignificance.
People draw all sorts of silly lines in the sand, and make enemies with children and strangers just because they are fearful.
There once was a game where scoundrels waged war on each other, all afraid of being obscure, poor, and weak.
So, they betrayed all those who loved them for fear tells you to hate those who love you, and love those who wish to exploit you.
They began to lie to themselves before they lied to others, until the day they thought they heard a truth, when it was merely an echo from their empty hearts that told them the same lie.
For to wage war on others, you must declare war on yourself first.
And those who do not love themselves will always spread their fear through war, until those with brave hearts fill it with love and truth, and end those wars with the bravery that comes from kindness!
Michael may have been an archangel and the one whose sword put an immediate end to the Great Angel War that was sparked when one of the angels noticed that I had flown the coop before the great revealing of the Big Guy’s greatest show on the Great Story Machine known as Earth, at least to the waking world. My replacement was not as daring as I was, and I left Eden because when I saw Adam, his arrogant ways made me sick to my stomach. He was selfish, self-entitled, and always preening, and I was too free-spirited to put up with his antics.
So, I left paradise and eventually became a war detective, with my good friend Mick joining the fun, and when he wasn’t busy answering prayers, he took the form of a black man in the waking world, teaching underprivileged youth the art of fencing.
He was always so adorable that way.
That, and how he gets all silly and excited whenever I tell him a story.
It was one of those days when he came to visit me after his usual fencing lessons when he looked at my bookcase and marvelled at how many war manuals were written over the ages – and that I had every single original print of them all.
“It is the most extensive collection of war manuals ever gathered, but that is hardly me bragging, peaches. It is downright depressing.”
“You have texts written on stone tablets, clay, papyrus…”
“I read a silly article where a writer was complaining that psychology studies have studied only fifteen percent of the planet. I’ve studied the entire planet of every culture since the beginning of time, and not one of them got through with writing war manuals.”
“It is depressing, though most of them aren’t very well known. Do you have any other sorts of books?”
“I do have one from a female psychologist who wrote an anti-war manual in the 1940s after she and her true love escaped Europe during the Second World War. When all those war manuals get to me, I pick up her book and see there is hope for the human race yet.”
Mick picked up another book, “Her book isn’t well known, but this one is one of the best known. Clausewitz on War.”
“But unlike her book that is all right, his book is all wrong.”
“We’ve tested a few of his ideas, and every one proved to be silly.”
“There weren’t the only silly ones in there.”
“His most famous observation was that war is the continuation of politics by other means.”
“He had it backward, peaches. Politics is the continuation of war by other means.”
“That is an interesting counterargument, but how do we prove it?”
“There is always an election somewhere.”
“The United States is having one.”
“Let’s make some trouble, peaches, and when we prove Clausewitz wrong, I’ll tell you a story all about it.”
Mick clapped his hands happily, “You know no angel ever can resist your stories. What are we waiting for?”
We left my office and headed to Washington, DC, a place that loved its wars, both the literal, and the figurative ones of elections. There was crime and homelessness on the street that always made Mick sad and willing to give generously to the dispossessed as he also stopped no less than five muggings with his sword and fencing skills, while I was busy looking around for clues.
And that’s when we ran into a friendly goddess doing the same.
“Tommie!” I shouted as I ran over to give Her a hug, “What brings my favourite goddess here?”
“George and I are here to stop that ridiculous religion that proclaims to worship Me and My ways, but then does everything I would never do under any circumstances.”
Mick nodded thoughtfully, “Murphy says the same thing. It frustrates many gods.”
“Well, I am gathering information to know what I will need to do bring some sensibility to these impossible people. So, what are you two troublemakers up to here?”
“We are testing a theory,” I said, “About the correlation between politics and war.”
“Yes, Washington, DC, loves it wars in the battlefields where other people’s children are sacrificed, or on the campaign trial where people vote for their next set of exploiters. Good luck with your latest war mystery. I am off to find George before he gets himself into any more trouble.”
“Where is George, by the way?”
Tommie rolled Her eyes. “He was invited to the White House.”
Mick and I gasped in unison. “Was he invited?”
“Yes, by his number one fan. Can you believe it? I will be lucky if he doesn’t spark a new religion just as I dismantle the first one he inadvertently started when he mourned My premature passing.”
“Good luck with that,” said a sympathetic Mick, “Once new religions start, they are very hard to control.”
“As if I hadn’t had enough on my plate as it is. Good luck you, two, and if you are ever in Grimsby, Ontario, come on over.”
“I thought you were in Paris, Ontario,” I asked.
“Oh, I was, but then George caused something of a riot there, and now we are in Grimsby. I was hoping to travel somewhere out of Canada, but he has been causing Me no end of grief. First, in Selkirk, then in Paris, but I am keeping My fingers crossed that he doesn’t make trouble in Grimsby. I will see you both later.”
Tommie smiled as She waved goodbye as Mick whistled. “There is a new wrinkle. George the Edenite Sentry is friends with the president of the United States. It complicates our test.”
“Actually, as he is preoccupying the president, we can focus on a more ignored race, and then test our theory about war and politics.”
“Sounds like a very good plane. Let’s see where we can set up our laboratory to test our ideas about the lunacy of war.”
Mick sat down across from me at a diner in the heart of the Beltway as he drank his milkshake and then ate his apple pie. “So, Evie, which campaign do we start with?”
“It doesn’t matter. They are all the same.”
“Isn’t there any particular candidate you had in mind?”
“They are all the same, peaches. We pick any one, and show how they using the election to wage war on the people and lord over them.”
“Well, then that’s easy: the first candidate we see, we can follow that person and the rival, but how do we test whether that war is the continuation of politics by other means or is that politics is the continuation of war?”
“But proving that politics the war against the people.”
“That’s right. Politicians always wage war against the people they want to rule. If they cannot subjugate them with bombs or guns, then they will try to do it with politics.”
“Now I see what you mean. Dictators rule with over violence, but today’s leaders do it by manipulating people into thinking they want to be ruled with psychological violence.”
“No wonder you are a war detective. You see through it all.”
“Yes, and it is time to begin to show the electorate just how their leaders are waging war on them these days.”
“By getting a couple of signs and marching in the streets. What we will write will get us instant attention, peaches.”
As good as my word, we got our placards and began marching in the streets of Washington, DC as we sang protest songs of politicians oppressing the people by always waging war on them, and terrifying them from seeing how abusive they were with their psychological savagery.
It did not take long for people to snap pictures of us with their smartphones and post our antics on social media, and soon after, a television journalist came to cover our protest.
Mick and I waved at the cameras as we held up our placards: Mick’s sign read, “Ballots are bullets!”, while mine declared, “And this election is a bomb!”
A television reporter ran toward us with a camera crew as she looked at us with a smirk. “What are you two protesting?”
“We want the politicians to stop waging psychological war on their citizens with their elections,” I said passionately as Mick nodded.
“But we live in a democracy…”
Mick shook a finger as he looked stern, “If by democracy, you mean terrorizing people with threats if they do not elect the candidate, then perhaps it is time for a new definition of democracy.”
“They are both war-mongers of the worst sort,” I added.
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
“Both candidates are having affairs with their interns, both have been taking money from wealthy tycoons to rig the laws in their favour, both uses dirty tricks, sexually harass their workers, and neither has ever done a thing for anyone but themselves; so why are all these people fighting each other over the likes of those two buffoons?” asked Mick.
“We are protesting everyone, from the politicians to the voters,” I said to the stunned reporter, “We want a real democratic process where we find the most qualified, dedicated, and kind-hearted person and ask them to run very nicely. There is no need for war, and there is every need for peace. Anyone who wants to run for office is obviously not qualified.”
“But are you suggesting a monarchy or dictatorship…?”
“That’s hardly democratic, peaches,” I replied, “A true democracy gives real choice; not having to decide between two egotistical buffoons…”
Just then, both candidates marched toward us. “We’ll sue you for maligning our good names!” shouted the candidate on the right, “How dare you say that we are anti-democratic and against free speech?”
“But you are threatening my free speech and economic freedom if you sue.”
“It’s all lies!” shouted the candidate on the left, “I am highly offended by your accusations. I will mobilize my followers on social media to put you both in your place! You two are devils!”
“Devils?” said an outraged Mick, “You are threatening a psychological stoning of people who are expressing their right to free speech?”
“Well, you started it!”
“We’ll destroy you treasonous, Russian-backed agents!”
“I thought you two were mortal enemies,” I said, “So why are you two getting together to make the same threats with the same logic as you make the same unfounded and false accusations?”
“That’s right,” said Mick, “Why are you declaring war on peaceful protestors? If you two were different, you wouldn’t be uniting and behaving and thinking identically.”
“Now there is something for voters to ponder,” I said as I smiled and waved to camera before looking at the reporter, “Now, why don’t you be a good journalist and ask them how they are different from each other?”
All three blanched before they all ran away in unison.
“See? I told you they are all alike, even the reporter. All three are war-mongers trying to make war and division instead of peace and unity.”
Mick laughed, “You were right as usual, Evie: politicians are forever declaring war on the people they want to conquer.”
“One day, the people will see that, and make their own paths. Let’s get back to my office so I can tell you a story.”
Mick put his placard in the trash before lifting me up to give me a big angel hug as he cheered.
Politics is the continuation of war!
The war strategists who always tell you that war is the continuation of politics by other means, but it is always war to politicians who use politics to create a siege of panic in the populace.
It is politics that keeps the flames of war alive as people quiver as they vote for one side thinking the war will finally end, and one day, the politicians will not raid and pillage their wallets and freedoms, but they always pillage more of both as they proclaim they are waging war in the name of peace.
There once were two political rivals who always promised the people that they were as different as night and day, meaning they had the entire earthly rotation covered.
They both made threats, told lies, and lived their double lives as they vied for the same office playing the same games, and using the same stratagems of war.
Buy with all war-mongers, what the detest the most are words of peace, and words of truth that comes from love and bravery.
And when they saw the signs that threatened their war-mongering, they banded together to try to annihilate a different way to see the spinning world – without their meddling.
But when they were revealed as war-mongers to that spinning world, they ran away like cowards, as all warlords do, and if people could remember to always speak the truth with kindness and bravery, those wars would cease, and peaceful ways of guiding the world could finally begin!
Patient is a virtue.
And I am patient as well as persistent.
I make mistakes and frequently, but I work at improving myself, admitting errors, correcting them as I learn and improve, and then move on.
I don’t know everything. That is the reason I am such a rabid researcher.
I think and I muse, but I also test and experiment.
You’d think journalism would be the same way.
It is the reason the profession flounders. When you cannot admit your weaknesses, you lose your strengths in the bargain.
CNN’s resident clown Jim Acosta may have gotten back his hall pass, but principal Trump has new rules, and even though reporters say they will still ask follow-up questions, the problem is a briefing is a canned, event, and hence, meaningless because it is pseudo-order used to mask chaos.
Participating in it is a disingenuous act that keeps the charade going.
It isn’t just the truisms and rote habits that have the profession behaving impossibly.
It is an impossible strategy that is doomed to fail.
Chaser is about sensibility, even during impossible times.
It will not follow rules, nor will it be dysfunctional.
It is based on a flexible matriarchal structure based in emotional literacy.
It doesn’t ignore content or intellectual literacy.
But it is about a multi-faceted balance.
Even in the worst of times…
When you have two bickering sides of the same basic entity, it is only the in-group who see their differences and think that there is a pecking order as the two fight for who will be the victor with one being decreed right and good and the other wrong and bad.
But outsiders see one big dysfunctional mess and see that the entity is is just bad and wrong — and not as morally superior as the outsider’s group.
Watching the slap fighting in the US is such a case: the Left and Right are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both tweak, both judge, and both backstab one another.
And the outsiders just wait on the sidelines hoping to take advantage of the same group for their own purposes.
It is the reason why I have always been a Radical Centrist. Fight all you want. Scheme all you want. Create narratives all you want.
I am not interested in being your hero or villain.
Or victim. Fuck that.
I have my own life and my own dreams, goals, ideas, aspirations and plans.
When I did Chaser News the first time, I wasn’t political in the traditional sense.
And in Western culture “political” is defined by running in Left circles or Right circles.
It is binary, and so boring.
As if everyone is following the same stupid script, but are just standing on one side of a line or the other.
That is not being political.
That is being a follower.
You might as well play dodgeball and get exercise instead.
Politics has always been a milquetoast version of war the way dancing is a milquetoast version of sex.
Both are thought of as two parties getting together to either create or destroy with one as the dominant and the other as the submissive.
It’s the competitive streak that always gets in the way.
Sex is Eros, but war is Thanatos.
Dancing is Eros, but politics is Thanatos.
And in the centre of these peculiar dynamics, is a radical centre that sees the rigs of both.
Because both are just a pretext to control the other half of the equation as if one side is more right than the other.
And they are equal.
What is on the left of the equal sign is another way of expressing what is on the right of it.
If I seem as if I am speaking in Gibberish, I am.
But I am not talking nonsense.
Just the language of the birds.
Chaser News played around with the concepts of alchemy, and heavily so.
A Dangerous Woman Story Studio came from it, right after I did a peculiar website called Monsters and Queens that was storytelling told in a pure alchemical tradition.
But had my previous bluechrome not gone under, that would have been my follow up book to Consumer-isms in 12 Easy Steps.
Monsters and Queens had no overt narrative online, but the book did and an outrageous one, but they were told in short vignettes and musings.
But after bluechrome was gone, there would be no publisher who could possibly take it one. It was too exotic.
So I started playing around with the outré elements.
As alchemy sees everything as having a soul, Truth become Alena Love, and Love became Vivian Love.
And so, A Dangerous Woman Story Studio came to be.
And is still going on. It is a quiet little venture with zero publicity, but I have regular readers and consistent ones.
But I never abandoned Chaser.
I just wasn’t in the place in my life where I could relaunch it.
Technically, it’s still not, but who the fuck cares?
I have been given enough lead to last an eternity.
And I prefer turning it into gold.
That’s what journalism used to proclaim to do: turn lead into gold.
Find problems and then when the lead is exposed, it turns into solutions.
Journalists turned the problems into facts.
Lead into gold.
What they have done know is turn lead into cyanide.
Definitely in the wrong direction.
They are making problems into the fodder for war.
And that’s not journalism, but propaganda.
But they got poisoned by the lead and cannot tell the difference.
But I still can.
The Radical Centre is the centre of alchemy.
You don’t move lead from the Left and have gold from the Right or vice versa.
You do not reduce things into simplistic or binary quantities.
You expand, not constrict.
As alchemy’s Axiom of Maria states:
One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth.
Psychologist Carl Jung was fascinated by it as I was, but our interpretations of it greatly differ.
But they do not conflict.
He merely sees one application, and I another.
Chaser is slowly coming back to life.
And when it does finally arrive, it will not be the same as it was the first time.
Yet the alchemy will still be there, but in a more subtle and sophisticated way.
Start small, and move on to something bigger without getting lost in the translation.
As above, so below.
That’s not alchemic.
And propaganda has no place in Edenic equations.
Because the goal of all alchemists is to die and go to Eden.
You aim higher, or settle for more.
Alchemy is not well understood by the emotionally illiterate, but for those of us whose hearts and souls are naked for the world to see and are brave, we get it.
It is the noble art of taking your broken pieces and fusing it with the gold of wisdom.
And it makes Kintsugi a form of alchemy.
But it is not the only one.
If journalism was once a form of alchemy, then its alternative is a better version of it because it didn’t stumble blindly.
It crawled before it learned to walk and then soar.
It understands the four stages: nigredo, albedo, citrinitas, and rubedo.
Blackness, whitness, yellowness, and redness.
It is also the four colours of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse.
But it all depends if you understand the direction alchemy is supposed to take you.
Higher than you thought you could reach, against all impossible odds where nothing and no one can either stop you or move you.
You cannot be intimidated, nor can you be manipulated.
You are the core. You are in a radical centre.
You are the atom of truth and reality.
Even in dreams.
And when you become unleashed, you can alter outcomes because you have the combination of facts that actually get people to take notice.
Journalism lost that sense.
And it is why they died.
But for those of us who resurrected ourselves, we learned from our mistakes and o the mistakes of others, and like the Phoenix, we are reborn from lead and allow ourselves to make gold no matter how strongly those who do not understand our ways try to stop us from doing what comes naturally to us.
We don’t take sides. We see both sides and bring them together.
With the glue of gold.
And not even broken pieces deject us or stop us from working from our own little worlds.
It is not about left or right.
But expanding a core that has no use for artificial boundaries and linear divides.
It is about truth.
And creating life where there are nothing but omens of violence, despair, and death…
In this instalment of The Sport of Queens, Joan the Mad unleashes her insanity for the sanest of reasons…
Cleopatra looked at the Mighty Queen Nzinga and shook her head. “You just had to tweak Joan the Mad’s nose again, didn’t you?”
“This force blocking our path is made from the madness of those who have lost their sanity in the waking world. Joan is the only one here who understands that mind’s fragmented language.”
“But what if she breaks and we cannot get her back to us?”
“Then I will jump that wall and join her as my penance. However, I do believe she can converse with that wall and come out of it in one piece.”
“But why is there a wall?” asked Victoria, “To block us?”
“Perhaps,” said Nzinga, “But after I had been drenched in that sporkle, I had wished to find the solution to our dilemma, and then Joan came to me, and she never does. I believe this substance is the essence of stars that compels it to make wishes come true. It is a spore with sparkle.”
“Sporkle,” sighed Mary.
“Joanie!” Queen Maria shouted as her sister in arms began to walk unsteadily toward the Vortex of Living Insanity, “Be careful! It is not worth losing your essence to a wicked beast.”
“It is not a beast,” said Joan she reached the outer layer and went on her hands and knees to examine it, “It is my mind on the outside.”
“It’s a trap! Be careful!” shouted a distressed Grace O’Malley, “Joanie! It’s not your madness! It causes madness to those in the waking world! It is a virus that feeds on the souls of those who become infected.”
“It is my mind. It is my own mind…”
Just as Joan the Mad touched the vortex to caress it lovingly, it nipped her finger.
“Traitor!” she howled with rage, “I gave you love and you gave me hate!”
“Oh no,” said Catherine the Great as she pushed herself to the front, “What has she done? Joanie, come back here before it devours you!”
Queen Joan began to scream as her words suddenly became visible, but unintelligible – each was frozen and shattered into razor-sharp shards that caused the vortex to bleed.
“Joanie!” screamed Cleopatra as she ran toward her, “Come back!”
But Joanie began to laugh, grabbed one of the shards of her broken words, and tore open the vortex as a sea of blood surrounded her before it became a wall separating her from her companions.
Then the wall became a thunderous cloud and shattered, leaving nothing but a laughing vortex in its wake, causing the queens to feel its madness as if it were their own and Queen Victoria grabbed the queens as she pushed them aside to safety until she got them all safely away from the vibrations of madness.
Himiko held her head as she looked around. “I have been in the Otherworldly for many moons, and never I felt something so wrong and overpowering.”
“That’s madness for you,” said a grim Grace O’Malley, “It knows our wavelengths and it tried to take us, too.”
“Nina,” said Vikki to Queen Nzinga, “That madness just devoured Joanie.”
“I had not anticipated that.”
“Because it feasts on insanity, and now it has a queenly version of it. We are now without a queen and with an enemy that can unbalance us at any time.”
“What can we do?” asked Queen Elizabeth the First.
“Wait,” said Mary, “Juana la Loca is a queen regnant.”
“So?” asked Cleopatra.
“Now it knows the ways of a queen regnant, but there is another sort of queen – a queen consort. We replace Joanie with a consort until we figure out how to reverse this nonsense.”
“A different kind of queen, meaning a different set of rules.”
“Any particular queen consort in mind?” asked Catherine.
“There is Queen Draga of Serbia, who was slaughtered. She already knows the ways of being devoured by an army.”
“Her husband was smitten with her against his mother’s wishes, and he exiled his own parent,” said Grace, “The people never liked her, and when rumours circulated that her brother would be made heir to the throne, the army was sent in to kill them both rather gorily, stabbing them to death in their pajamas and then throwing their bodies over a balcony right into a dung heap. She isn’t an Edenite, and I doubt we’d find her in Heaven.”
“I don’t think she’d be in Hell for what it’s worth because it’s not a sin in the Sport of Queens,” replied Maria, “But where would we find her?”
Nina smirked as she raised an eyebrow. “She was murdered.”
Himiko gasped. “Of course, one of the Women of Orchid would know. They give orchids to the Fallen and Draga would qualify.”
“Draga would seek them out,” added Vikki pensively, “She’d want everyone to know of the injustice of her waking world fate.”
“Where are the Orchids these days?” asked Lizzie, “I hear the male companion has flown the coop to go back to the waking world to cause a ruckus.”
“There are three of them hanging about, and my best guess is if we post one of us at the Sorting Station, we’ll run into one of them,” said Mary.
Catherine nodded. “Some of us will have to deal with that Vortex. If this sporkle that Nina found has any wish-granting powers, perhaps we can wish for Joanie to come back to us unharmed.”
“Agreed,” said Maria, “But one of us does have to pick up a replacement queen first.”
“I’ll do it,” said Nina, “After all, it was my idea to send Juana la Luna to reconnoiter that mass of insanity in the first place. If I speak to their leader, she will tell me.”
“And if she doesn’t” asked Vikki.
“I am certain I can decollate her even in the Otherworldly and use her head as a reminder that no one defies the command of a Queen.”
“I pray for her sake, that she is the accommodating sort,” said Himiko.
Nina nodded regally and walked toward the Sorting Station as she used her own will to create a mighty sword that looked as sharp and fierce as the queen holding it.
The Mighty Queen Nzinga sighed as she looked regally bored at the groups of recently arrived at the Sorting Station. Some were the sort to immediately get whisked away to Heaven, while others were the sort to wind up in Hell. None would be queens, and their lack of good breeding showed. She waited patiently until a beautiful black woman came to console a group of children who were murdered by their mother and pinned orchids of their shirts. The woman had one blue eye and one brown eye.
That was the leader of the anarchist activists known as the Women of Orchid.
Queen Nzinga sauntered over. “You are the leader I wish to seek.”
Belinda Markey looked up. “Who are you? I can tell that you weren’t murdered.”
“I lived to a ripe old age and died peacefully. I am Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba and I have come to speak with you.”
“With a sword?”
“It has its own message should my first fall on deaf ears.”
Belinda looked angry. “A threat to my essence? What kind of nonsense is that? I had a murderer kill me because things like that wouldn’t persuade me! Now if you want something, put down the toy and speak your peace, Your Majesty.”
Queen Nzinga looked impressed. “You are a sister in arms. I have heard much about your valour and bravery.”
“They couldn’t put me in Hell or stop me.”
Queen Nzinga made the sword vanish. “I am looking for a Queen consort that may be among your ranks. Queen Draga of Serbia.”
“What about her?”
“There is horrific imbalance in the universe and ten Queens have been dispatched to stop it, though one of our rank has fallen into a sentient vortex of living madness, and now it knows the sport of queens regnant, but not of queens consort…”
“And Draga is a queen consort.”
“She managed to exiled her mother-in-law and nearly got her brother to be heir to the throne when her mother-in-law’s army slaughtered her and her husband.”
“The son who exiled her.”
“Yes, her mindset is cunning enough for the job. We need to speak with her immediately. The fate of existence rests in finding a replacement to Juana la Luna.”
“Juana la Luna?”
“Joan the Mad.”
“She wears an orchid, I can tell you that much. I can relay the message, but it is up to her to decide if she wishes to join you – or if you can trust her.”
“She is not an Edenite. We must do our best given the horrific turn of events. Joanie was our friend and we all loved her despite her sorrowful disposition.”
Belinda looked sympathetic as she nodded. “I will do my best, your majesty. If the Orchids can do anything more…”
“We will let you know.”
Queen Nzinga walked away and vanished to rejoin her fellow Queens as the clock begin to tick louder and the air felt darker and colder around them…
To be continued…
Author’s Note: This is not a regular Story Studio offering. It is a Shibboleth for those familiar with other Dangerous Woman stories, and if you don’t know anything, it will make no sense. This is literal alchemical Gibberish — the language of the birds. This is under the “Everything!” banner, and it is a meta-story with nudges, winks, nods, and in-house humour. You have been warned…
“Verity? Verity! Is that really you?”
“Yes, darling. Are you all right?”
“We’re back on Viking Island, aren’t we, Sweetness?”
“It seems that way. Beloved Holly? Are you here?”
“Sure am, big sister. Eli?”
“He’s not here…”
“But I am…”
“Wait a minute, I know that voice…”
“It’s me, Vendel Langston…”
“Vendel? How did you end up on the edge of Viking Island?”
“I left the Otherworldly to help you all to inspire that soldier Holly’s great-granddaughter…”
“I thought that was you. You’ve really changed…”
“Well, I was stuck in Hell for several decades before winning my freedom on a game show.”
“You’re kidding. They have game shows in Hell?”
“Only one, but it is the one that counts. I left and joined the Women of Orchid who find those who were murdered to bring them together. We stumbled upon something important and I took it upon myself to find you all to warn you.”
“It was very good of you that you did.”
“Which reminds me…”
“What are you doing?”
“Pinning an orchid on your lapel as well as Verity.”
“That would suggest that were had been murdered.”
“The both of you were the first time.”
“What? Murder? I thought I died of a heart attack in my sleep.”
“It was murder. I have a sense for those things. Verity’s marking pens were poisoned. You both were going to Africa and that would have exposed the truth of who was behind all of your town’s problems. They thought if Verity was distracted by your death, she’d retreat. She was heart-broken, but then decided to find the missing Beverly Stoney, and she would have stumbled upon the truth. They couldn’t allow it.”
“My sister was murdered?”
“But why did they kill us when we did nothing to them?”
“To keep secrets hidden. The same people who killed me killed the both of you.”
“I am absolutely devastated. Why didn’t I see it? That’s my sister!”
“No one could have seen it. That was the way they operated for centuries. Since I started pinning orchids on the Fallen, I had to pin many flowers on the victims of that wicked cabal. I am sorry to tell you something so distressing, Holly.”
“Where are they now so I can unleash my righteousness of them?”
“Verity, it is thanks to your ideas that the Otherworldly and a Goddess are dealing with them all as we speak. Your job is done, and it is the reason you all were brought back here. And I am truly sorry.”
“For what, Vendel?”
“For not being friends with any of you when we were all still alive. I was in madly in love with Holly, and admired Verity and I never said a word. I owe you a world of apology, Norton, for standing by and allowing others to abuse you as I was very envious of you. Please forgive me.”
“Of course, Vendel. We were all different people back then.”
“I am relieved that you are out of Hell, but if you are here on Viking Island with us, it means your words are sincere and we happily accept you as one of our own.”
“Beloved Holly, what is the matter?”
“Verity, someone killed you and I died of a stroke before I ever had the chance to…”
“You knew Holly. Deep down, the moment you sensed it, it killed you before you had a chance to act. It is not your fault your body was given a fatal blow.”
“Beloved Holly, do not be distressed. We are back home, and together. Time and space could not tear apart the Lake Sisters. Never forget it.”
“I have to go find Eli. I have a lot to think about right now.”
“Where’s Eli?” Holly asked her grandmother Alena Love who smiled.
“You still haven’t found him?”
“I second I was thrown back here, I find out Verity and Norton were murdered.”
“You do not know how outraged I am…”
“Well, so am I. How dare they? They are the two nicest, sweetest, kindest, gentlest people you could ever get to know and love, and to kill them? It’s disgusting. I want to unleash more than just my righteousness.” Holly folded her arms and looked agitated. “What am I going to do now?”
“Your husband said it’s been dealt with…”
“Eli didn’t say anything. I still can’t find him…”
“He’s not your husband here, Holly.”
“What are you saying? Vendel can’t be my husband! Can he?”
“Something has changed between the time you left and the moment you came back.”
“But what made you call him my husband, Nana?”
“I just did.”
“And you’re always right. But how did that happen?”
“A glitch!” a young man’s voice chirped brightly as Holly and Alena turned around.
“Kirkland! You’re back!”
Kirkland Hughes hugged Holly and then Alena who both greeted him warmly.
“I am, and I just spoke to the Goddess’s Messenger, and he said when you all went back to the waking world to right wrongs so you could bring your friend Jane Carrington here, you fixed quite a few glitches, but not all of them.”
“So a switch in husbands was a glitch?”
“Reality is made up of many layers and sometimes they get tangled and snarled. So, for Jane to have been able to come without a glitch the first time, you and Vendel would have fallen in love, and he would have gotten divorced and left with you to go to Queen’s Heights, giving up being a professor and become a victims’ rights activist. Verity and Norton would have still gotten married, and with the four of you all going back, Jane would have gone back because her house would have accidentally exploded…”
“Exploded?” Holly and Alena gasped at the same time.
“Right. She was too attached her home in Ottawa and that’s why she didn’t come back, but Vendel and Norton would have been bickering all the time if they were related by marriage, with Vendel trying to prove he was better than Norton because he would have felt inferior because he was married before, and Norton would have come out of his shell for the first time to stand up to Vendel because he would be emboldened by Verity after they worked it out when he confessed he used to be a cat burglar, and when Jane would have thrown a farewell party in her house, Vendel and Norton would have accidentally caused it to explode, and Jane would have seen it as a divine sign and come to Queen’s Heights with you. Nifty, huh?”
“Shocking is what it is,” said Holly, “And how could Vendel just up and go when he had children…”
“Oh no, his wife was having an affair with some poor musician, and those were all his kids. She actually loved the musician, but her parents made her marry Vendel because his parents always thought he was gay because he was really sensitive, and her parents owed his parents a lot of money. Vendel doesn’t remember her at all, but someone in the Otherworldly keeps records. She was a nice young lady whose meddlesome parents really ruined her life by selling her to decrepit people, and made her really crazy and bitter, not that you can blame her. I hear she and her kids reunited with that musician in the Orchid’s garden, and are doing great now. Vendel was even the one who pinned an orchid on them a long time ago, and he never knew who it was, and neither did she or the kids.”
Alena raised an eyebrow. “You are certainly up to the Otherworldly gossip young man.”
“I come from a small town; what else was there to do back then? But isn’t that neat? They can take an alternative reality’s outcome and bring it over here as if that is what happened all along. That’s why it’s official that Norton is now my actual brother…”
Both women gasped anew.
“I know. Mom had to bring him into the family as Hammond Hughes, but there was another glitch and Norton was actually supposed to be the eldest Hughes Brother, but his essence got mixed up with some other one, and he ended up a Dunlop, which was flagged as being a place that was deemed unsafe for him, but there was a clerical mix up somewhere. He wasn’t supposed to be born so early, but all that red tape can cause a lot of screw ups. If he was the first born, he would have talked mom into moving to Queen’s Heights, and he would have married Verity much sooner and the two would have had a daughter, but still ended up as novelists.”
“Patrice must be thrilled,” said Alena.
“That’s why she told me to find everyone to throw a party. My other three brothers are moving here permanently, so it will be the first time where all five of the Hughes Brothers are together.”
“Do you know where Eli is?” asked Holly.
“He’s with my mom right now and she’s scolding him as usual.”
“Does he know what happened?”
“Sure, and he’s fine with it. Your daughter will still be your daughter and his; and that’s a glitch, but it’s like you both were never married and got divorced at the same time. That’s why the Otherworldly can be so confusing. Oh, and Jane’s here with her son Douglas. Verity and Norton are welcoming her right now. Are you two coming?”
Holly nodded, but she never felt so lost or devastated before. The shock of her sister’s murder was a blow, but that a single turn in the Otherworldly altered her marital state was an equal blow. Somehow, she had to sort things out for herself.
When Holly was alive and she had problems to work though, she would sit under her grandmother Alena’s birch tree and doodle. The birch tree was still growing strong in the waking world, and though Viking Island was filled with beautiful trees, none of them were the tree.
She frowned as she looked at all of the beauty and remembered this was the same way Verity behaved when she first came to Viking Island. Trouble was outside of paradise and Verity knew it. Their dear friend Jane Carrington wanted to come, but the Otherworldly said it was impossible, and that unleashed Verity’s righteousness and she left to inspire people in the waking world to wake up.
It worked, and the Otherworldly relented, and Jane was now officially here along with her grown son Douglas.
Jane was even given the title of Matriarch, and that meant she was their advocate and guardian.
Everyone was overjoyed, and Holly was happy that was resolved.
But something was not sitting right with her.
And she was certain she could find it. Verity always had a knack for finding presents, and when she went back, she found the gift they all needed: truth.
But Holly had a knack for finding lost things, and she knew it wasn’t in Hell or below it, and it wasn’t on Earth or Heaven.
It wasn’t in Eden or else Holly would know where to look.
There was only one other place to look and she look up, raised her eyebrow, and snapped her fingers.
No one ever thought to look in Eden’s attic.
The sky could be the limit, and she wondered if there was something above the cloud up there that would hold some sort of answer.
The question was how to get up there, until she saw Florence Tenney who was co-owner of Queen’s Heights’ hardware emporium Weavers and Tenney.
She walked up to her old friend and told her what she needed.
Florence nodded. “You need a ladder.”
“Do they even have ladders on Viking Island?”
“Are you kidding? This is part of Eden now, and how could this place be paradise for me if there aren’t any ladders?”
“Why do you need a ladder?”
“I want to examine that cloud. I think it is hiding something.”
“Trouble in paradise?”
“Or hanging over our heads.”
Florence went to get a ladder and she returned with an opulent one made of gold. Holly climbed up to reach the cloud, and gasped before coming quickly down.
“It is an attic! And there are two very shocking things.”
“Do not keep friends in suspense.”
“There is a Hell above us if you open the latch.”
“There’s a latch in a cloud?”
“And there is a Hell?”
“They were all having some sort of cocktail party, and if you die in the Otherworldly, there is a level above.”
“And if you were bad in the afterlife…”
“You go to a different Hell. It’s still for the bad, but for the not-as-wicked. It is very strange. They thought I was some hayseed beneath them.”
“My word, Holly, you do find some strange things. But you said there are two things you found.”
“I found glitches.”
When Holly told Verity of her findings, they immediately climbed up the ladder to examine the cloud that was an attic-warehouse filled with them.
Verity examined them with interested as Holly animatedly explained her findings.
“When Kirkland said there were glitches, I thought he meant in the hypothetical sense,” said Verity pensively, “But these little orbs are peculiar, and remind me of a snow globe.”
“Everyone in the Otherworldly talks about them, but they stick them all up in that cloud not to litter the place with them. It is bad enough that there are so many ducks in Heaven that poor people keep stepping on.” She picked one up. “I can feel its essence and it is familiar to me.”
“They are in different states of evolution. They all vibrate on different frequencies, and they have a soul, too, and they keep chattering about needing to be repaired. I don’t like them.”
“It’s like everything is so tenuous, and less certain. Who’s to say someone else doesn’t fix a glitch and then you’re not my sister anymore.”
“I will always be your sister, Beloved Holly. These glitches to affect what transpired in the waking world. It merely removes the barriers of alternate outcomes and merges them together to get the best of all worlds.”
“But if Norton was born a Hughes, you never would have had your three boys.”
“Perhaps, but I do have them no matter how many glitches a corrected. Norton and I would have been together no matter what. We were together based on impossible odds in the waking world. There are two other possibilities and we managed to be together for both. When we went back to the waking world to inspire others, we reunited and found one another.”
“But I didn’t stay married to Eli. We were very happily married.”
“But you would have been happy with Vendel.”
“But you and Norton are soul mates.”
“As you were with Eli. The only difference is you would have been with another had circumstances been different. You have always been grounded, and you followed your dreams wherever they took you. You should be grateful that your life is one with many happy outcomes.”
“Except not finding Beverly Stoney…”
“We inspired two others to find her. We did find her in a different way…”
“But the matter of your murder…”
“Again, we went back to inspire those same two women, and we prevailed. One does not need to be confined by a few decades of a lifetime when there is eternity. Your fateful painting turned our town’s fortunes around. There is much to celebrate.”
“Except that orchid on your blouse. You have one, and I don’t. It’s like a huge dividing line.”
“How so? This flower represents how you were wronged as much as I was. Your death was triggered by mine, and you were no less a casualty.”
“It’s just not what I expected when we came back. I am just shaken, Verity.”
“As you were when Norton came to Queen’s Heights to propose to me, and then you embraced his survival and his inclusion in our lives and it was many years of joy that blessed us. Jane is here with us as is Douglas. The entire Hughes clan is here, and Norton is formally recognized as being part of the family he cherished and loved with reverence and gratitude. Eli is safe and happy, and no worse for it. He will find love again as he deserves it. Vendel is out of Hell, and here where he always longed to be as he has triumphed over every one of his demons and your essence inspired him to do it. Besides, everyone who left Viking Island is back, and we even have a Goddess as our guardian as Her parcel of Eden has merged with our own.”
“I didn’t hear about it.”
“She came to congratulate us along with Her companion and Messenger. Thomasina is a lovely woman who is as kind as She is brave. Her companion is quite an endearing sentimental oddball, and he adores Her. We should go back and inform the others of these glitches. Perhaps if we sort through them, listen to them, and repair them, there will be less trouble in the universe, and it can finally begin to heal. You did well, Beloved Holly. You effortlessly found the source of many vexing troubles, and we may soon be on the way infinite solutions.”
Verity gave her sister a reassuring hug as Holly closed her eyes and was grateful that she always had her big sister to guide her and calm her, but now she had someone else she had to speak to before she could begin to feel at ease.
Vendel held Holly tightly as he swayed with her the moment she came to speak with him. He longed to hold her ever since he first met her, and now she no longer seemed upset by the fantastical turn of events.
When she explained why they were never together in the waking world, he was shocked.
“So these glitches are real entities?”
“Very much so.”
He sighed. “They may be a buffer between Eden and the upper level Hell you saw.”
“They are not the most pleasant neighbors around.”
“The Hell below it was even worse, though I suppose Eden is their Place Below Hell.” He chuckled in amusement. “What is up is down and what is down is up. It is a spiral staircase where you encounter all of the same problems as before, but only a story higher.”
“You think it can help your friends find their loved ones?”
“If some of these glitches are responsible, then it is a matter of finding them. Belinda and Sharon was be thrilled if that happens to be the case, but to think one of these glitches kept us apart is heart-wrenching. I always thought there was no way you could love, or would have considered a divorced man with children. It pains me to think how shallow I was, but that I no longer remember them is no less painful.”
“No memory at all?”
“I could not tell you how many, their names or genders, and not even how old they were and what they looked like. I know I was married with children because when I was sent to Hell, the reason was how I treated my family.”
“What about your parents?”
“I used to remember them at first, but when I left Hell, they began to fade from memory. They brought me nothing but sorrow, but when I forgave them and let go of the pain they brought me and the consequences that plagued my tortured life, they no longer were in my memories, but that is far less unsettling than forgetting about your offspring, even if they turned out not to be mine.”
“It would have to be. You did raise them. There are attachments and bonds, and I never would have stood in the way of your relationship with your children, Vendel, even if they weren’t your flesh and blood. There is nothing wrong with being attached to children you raised and nothing wrong with being a stepmother.”
“I must have made them all profoundly unhappy in the waking world, and when they found the man my wife truly loved, they bonded with him. It’s as if everything that I had done wrong in the waking world corrected itself here. There are no more bad memories of me to plague them, and it is just as well.”
“What about your friends the Orchids? Do they have memory gaps?”
“Sharon still recalls her husband, but only because he murdered her. Belinda recalls her father abusing her. It was the traumas they brought that keep those memories alive, but neither has seen either tormentor. I think they keep those memories alive to fuel their drive in bringing attention to the Fallen. Jenna has no one in her life that brought her misery, and she remembers her family vividly, but she is no less passionate an advocate.”
“They sound like fighters with grit.”
“They are three wonderful women and you will like them very much when you meet them. I still need to help them, and I will always be an Orchid myself, but now that Viking Island is my home, it will be a place where I spend much of my time.” Vendel looked at the orchid on his lapel and sighed.
“It’s hard to see that flower now. I see it on Verity and it shakes me to the core.”
“It is a symbol. We are those who are the Fallen, Holly. We were ordinary, extraordinary, and yet have that one thing in common. We serve as a reminder of how cruel we are to one another. They hide it in the waking world, but not here. Once the Orchids began to draw attention to it, things here began to change, and glitches were exposed because life would have taken very different turns had we lived. Your sister did the right thing in going back to inspire. She retained all of her memories and she could guide those in the waking world. Belinda does it with her detective friend through dreams, and when she was in a coma, met her here, but even then, she had forgotten everything she wanted to warn her about because the chords of time work differently here.”
“Maybe the glitches hold a key.”
“They must. When my friends come her for a visit, I will have to show them that cloud.”
“We can invite over for dinner.”
Vendel looked surprised at Holly, and suddenly felt his soul expand with joy as he pulled her in for a long and loving kiss. Glitches may have kept them apart, but they were now doing their penance and seemed to be working overtime to bring them together the way it was always intended.
Verity was busy talking with Jane when she saw Holly running toward her just as Thomasina’s messenger summoned her to come over and the women went their separate ways, but not before promising to have a feast of manna later on.
“What is it, Beloved Holly?”
“Verity, have you had any revelations in the Otherworldly?”
“None at all.”
Holly looked at her and smiled. “I think it’s the glitches that gave them to you.”
“Because these cosmic mistakes that get all thrown into the same pile, and then it all is supposed to work themselves out.”
“The is the very definition of chaos.”
“This is the reason you had revelations, Verity. You kept stumbling on these glitches. I just don’t know if they were meant to distract you or warn you.”
“I saw them, and I worked them out, improving on things already in existence. Perhaps some of us are given a few of them in order to work out their equations. They are a very peculiar notion, and difficult to see.”
“But I can see them, big sister. Vendel was never supposed to be born outside of Queen’s Heights. He’s one of us. Norton was supposed to move here as a teenager from Somerset along with Patrice and her four sons. There are so many things that should have been, but weren’t. Kirkland wasn’t supposed to die young, and you, Norton, and Vendel weren’t supposed to be murdered. It’s as if the glitches are some sort of interference. It’s not as if we never have problems, but these are major shifts and upheavals. Vendel and I have been examining those glitches, and that’s how we know.”
“It is utterly fascinating, but have you had any revelations about their essence?”
“Yes. Glitches do get corrected, that’s why people who were obscure in the past become icons a century after they die. The glitch in the Otherworldly gets flagged and corrected, and eventually, the waking world gets wind of it. Norton was never supposed to become a cat burglar, let alone get arrested and held a hostage where he got abused. You found him in the nick of time because that glitch got discovered because your watch broke open and you saw his message. The glitch would have killed him, but it got straightened out.”
“You always had the gift of finding lost things, Beloved Holly.”
Holly smiled. “And you always had the gift of finding presents before you were supposed to get them.”
“Perhaps finding revelations was a form of me finding presents.” Verity paused. “You seem deep in thought.”
“There is a mystery here, but I was thinking about something you said to me when I was down thinking about everything I found out since we got back to Viking Island.”
“I was shaken that Eli and I weren’t considered married anymore.”
“He is still with us, and neither of you forgot one another.”
“I thought about that, and it’s just strange seeing Vendel like that.”
“Happy? Easy-going? Modest?”
“Gentle and strong at the same time. If he had been like that from the beginning…”
“He would have never wished to be a professor and you two would have most likely met each other at some protest or another as you became in love while you were both unleashing your righteousness.”
Holly chuckled. “That’s why he doesn’t remember big chunks of his life.”
“They weren’t supposed to be there, and the Otherworldly corrected it.”
“It just got me thinking about free will and fate.”
“There is plenty of free will, even if there were no glitches. There are infinite possibilities. The glitches occur when we just think we our intellect and forget to think with our hearts with equal measure.”
“It explains a lot, and of course you would know so much about them. You kept stumbling on them in the waking world and they gave you revelations.”
“That I no longer have, Beloved Holly.”
“Because here they are right in front of us in that cloud.”
“They are peculiar.”
“If you touch one, you can feel the possibilities that glitch stymied. It is like a story with many threads, but one big knot tangled it and prevented it from weaving.”
“They are inspiring little mysteries and they have inspired me to become a detective here.”
Holly looked at Verity. “A detective?”
She smiled. “Why not? You were one when we were in the waking world, and you a brilliant one.”
“I never thought you’d want to do it.”
“I had many responsibilities back then. First my career, and then when I married Norton, he had been physically weakened by the horrid abuse his captors had done to his body. He had been traumatized, but determined never to hold me back, and then we had our boys and our novels. We joined you on your little mysteries frequently, and we enjoyed them, but we also had to guard our own from predators, and we had to guide the Heights to make it strong and prepared. Now that we are free from those responsibilities, we can indulge any way we wish. Jane has her Matriarchal duties. Nana has returned to look after Viking Island. Vendel is still chronicling the Fallen. You have glitches to explore. I need my own purpose, Beloved Holly, and it is to be a detective of the Otherworldly.”
Just then, Norton came over, placed his arm around his wife’s waist and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “What’s going on?”
“I have decided to become a detective in this realm.”
“To amuse myself.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“I’d love nothing more.”
“I think I may have a mystery for you to solve already.”
“My chest feels funny.”
“It hasn’t stopped tickling me since we came back.”
“Have you been thinking of something humorous?”
“The idea of Vendel and I being related by marriage is quite strange…”
Verity watched as Norton suddenly made a comical face of surprised and looked around.
“Is there a problem?”
“No, but I’ll be back, Verity.”
“What is it, darling?”
“I have to jump over this roman numeral because I think I have stumbled on to something important.”
“Excuse me? You, the one typing.”
“What is it, Norton?”
“You’re the Author of this story, aren’t you?”
“Can you hear me?”
“I can read your words as I type them.”
“What was the meaning of having me lose my left leg? That wasn’t very nice.”
“I hadn’t thought of going to that extreme, but when I was writing Dr. Verity Lake’s Journey of a Thousand Revelations, my own grandmother had her own leg amputated, and then I dealt with her loss that way, and the story made more sense.”
“That’s still a rotten thing to do.”
“Listen, I gave your leg back to you; besides, it was a rotten thing to have happened to a nice lady like her.”
“So, what now?”
“What do you mean what now?”
“What bad thing is going to happen to me now? I became a cat burglar, got arrested, tortured, nearly killed, went through a war zone, was murdered…”
“And you’re still a living figment whom I adore. What happens to you in paradise is going to be surreal and fun. Besides, you have the love of your life by your side, and Verity loves you. What more do you want?”
“I wish I could meet you to see what you’re like. Are you more like Verity or Holly?”
“Everyone says I am just like Holly.”
“Interesting. How did you come up with her?”
“She came to me in a dream, and so did Verity in another dream, but they weren’t presented to me as sisters. When I started writing, Verity was never supposed to be present in my stories, but then I changed my mind. Holly and Eli would talk about her, but she would not be a character.”
“I suppose it’s a good thing because then I wouldn’t be mentioned in those stories.”
“You would have as Hammond Hughes.”
“What about Norton Dunlop?”
“That was another character separate from the Hammond Hughes stories. Norton was supposed to go to jail and die. The end.”
“I took two different characters and then merged them: villain and a hero. That’s how you got a second reprieve.”
“What do you mean second?”
“After I wrote the Turning Leaves, I thought you had another story in you; so I wrote one more where you didn’t die after all, but would have after a botched assignment, and then realized I was too hard on you, and then saw what you had in common with Hammond Hughes and inspiration struck.”
“The man divided?”
“So the Turning Leaves is the story where I began?”
“Yes, and then the Man with the Broken Stick, but then I was inspired to write a novel called Dr. Verity Lake’s Journey of a Thousand Revelations where your heart and soul spoke to me, and I learned to appreciate you. Then came the novella The Future According to Hammond Hughes, and all those stories based on your three sons.”
“I am in shock.”
“It was your sweet disposition from both your halves that told me there was more to you than being a mere thief.”
“So, you write the way I wrote. My characters did the same thing with me.”
“We have that in common, and from that, a bond.”
“I understand it completely. It’s the same way I feel about Pillar Rivers. So, if I have a need to talk to you, will you be there for me?”
“Of course, Norton. As long as I am alive.”
“Please be kind to my boys and my wife.”
“And don’t do something to tear us apart.”
“Your marriage is safe, Norton. I know it means the world to you and Verity.”
“I didn’t like that whole part where I was coming on to Holly in that story where I stole a book, the Turning Leaves. That was so shameful.”
“All right, Norton.”
“That was also very cruel and disrespectful, and I wasn’t even in love with her. I knew it was just not like me in the slightest.”
“I got the memo.”
“And marrying me to some very mean woman was just horrible.”
“Do you even remember her?”
“No, but I know it happened, and that was just not the kind of dramatic plot twist I would have ever signed up for. I am a very romantic fellow, you know, and a bad marriage is just not in the cards for a passionate man like me.”
“I mean, I love Verity with all my heart.”
“I was there when you proposed to her, Norton.”
“Were you there on our wedding night?”
“I wrote about it…”
“Because it was part of the story.”
“Look, just because you’re the author, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need ground rules: no writing about our love lives. It’s too…too…”
“Don’t say it!”
“For a figment, you are very bossy. I have cats for that.”
“I am lobbying for our rights, you know.”
“You ought to go over to the stories of the Dream Detective. Her friend Atticus the Soulfinder is an advocate for figments. I am going to bed, Norton. It is past two o’clock in the morning, and besides house hunting, I have homework to finish from Harvard University. I will write the last scene of you and Verity dancing together in paradise. All right?”
“Then, I’m off to the last segment of this story.”
“See you on the other side of the roman numeral, my friend.”
“I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Alexandra Kitty.”
“That is a very nice sounding name, Alexandra.”
“So why did you give me a name like Norton Dunlop?”
“It was symbolic. Norton means a farm to the north. Dunlop means a muddy hill.”
“No, I want to dance with my wife in paradise as we bask in our love and good fortune. It’s what every good-hearted man could ever ask for, and you gave to me. Thank you, and good night and pleasant dreams!”
“Is that supposed to be a sly reference to one of my other stories?”
“What other story? The one about the dream detective?”
“We’ll talk about that some other time. Your sweetness awaits you!”
Verity chuckled as Norton told her of his exchange with their Creator as they danced in the home on Viking Island.
“It is a she?” Verity asked they waltzed effortlessly across the floor.
“And her name is Alexandra.”
“It is a lovely name.”
“I thought so.”
“It must have been quite the exchange.”
“I didn’t know someone could just go and do that – talk to the one who created you, and then they talked right back, and had nice things to say about you. I am starting to enjoy our second spell in the Otherworldly.”
“As am I, darling.”
“We all seem to have new things to occupy our time. Holly has her glitches, Vendel is back chronicling the Fallen, Jane is our Matriarch, I have made a major discovery in how we came to be, and you have a new job as a detective.”
Verity kissed Norton on the lips. “As thrilling as our new escapades shall be, I would rather be dancing with you here. I always knew you were a strong and capable dancer.”
“I used to enjoy it as I wasted it on those I never loved, and when we finally got together, my cane got in the way. Now, where were, Sweetness?”
“In paradise, my darling. In paradise.”
And the two danced as they laughed and swayed to the rhythm of their hearts and souls as the Author smiled as she felt those figments’ kindness and love.
But just as Verity touched Norton’s chest, she jolted her head back.
“Norton, I do believe I have solved the mystery of why your chest feels funny.”
Norton stopped dancing. “Don’t keep loving and devoted husbands in suspense.”
“I do believe there is a small child in there.”
“A small child?” Norton gasped with a comical expression of shock on his face, “Now how could there be a…”
Just then, a beam of light flew out of Norton’s chest and when the light vanished, a small boy appeared before them. Verity looked surprised, but Norton gasped and began to weep as he crouched down and held the boy tightly.
“Billy!” he shouted as the boy cried, “How did you get in there?”
“When I hung myself, I saw myself there, and when I was floating to go away forever, you came into my room and tried to save me, and I jumped in your heart and stayed there.”
Verity crouched down and caressed the boy’s head as she looked at her husband. “This is the young orphan you were asked to study, but could not find an adoptive home after his parents were murdered.”
Norton nodded he kissed the boy and continued to hold him. “You’ve no idea how happy you have made me just now, Billy. I never forgot you. I always mourned you, and my last novel when I was alive, I wrote about a little boy named Billy because it was the light I could light to keep you alive in the world.”
“You did that?” asked Billy who nuzzled in.
“I wish I was a braver man back then. I was just a psychology student who stole from people, and if I had the courage back then I would have fought to adopt you.”
“You can adopt me now, can’t you?”
“What about your parents?” asked Verity, “We would love nothing more, but your parents would long to see you again.”
“I don’t remember who they are anymore. It’s been too long.”
Verity and Norton looked at each other and smiled as they nodded in unison.
“Well then, Billy,” Norton said brightly as he lifted the boy up as he sprang to his feet, “You’re our son now.”
Billy looked at Verity. “Is she your wife?”
“My wife, my best friend, my hero, my partner in mischief, my everything.”
“Do you have any kids.”
“Three grown boys still in the waking world,” said Verity, “Winslow, Malcolm, and Rufus.”
“Can I call you daddy and mommy?”
“That’s what sons do best,” said Norton.
“You used to tell me the best stories in the world,” said Billy.
“We both can tell you all the stories you like, but we can also be in stories together, Billy.
“What kind of stories?”
“Well, Verity has decided to become a detective.”
Billy’s face lit up. “Wow, that’s exciting.”
“It is quite thrilling, but perhaps the mystery we should solve is finding out who you are and what you wish to be now that you are here with us. There is always an escapade on Viking Island, and many people who would love to get to know you.”
“Viking Island? Is it dangerous here?”
“It may be the strangest place of them all,” said Norton as he looked up and winked as he smirked, “But I have an in with the Author, and She promises never to make our adventures here dreadful ones.”
Billy sighed in relief as he held Norton tighter, relieved that his biggest wish had come true as Norton sighed dreamily as he looked lovingly at his wife. Their lives were always eccentric in the waking world, and yet it would be their afterlife that took all of those eccentricities to a whole new level – and Norton could hardly wait…
Journalism is still a very misogynistic industry.
The managanda from the National Post is obnoxious, and the fact that they pay women to spew self-loathing propaganda doesn’t make it okay.
The structure is still Patriarchal. The assumptions are still skewed and rigged to favour those who oppress others. You can pretend to be politically correct all you want, but if you have a system that shames people for thinking differently than you do, then you are not a free or democratic society.
And sexist it remains. We see articles on white male doctors who have breakthroughs, but I doubt you know Person #23 on the List of People Everyone should know.
Dr. Jane C. Wright.
You may have heard of her breakthrough treatment from the 1940s.
That’s right, for those of you who fought against cancer and won thanks to that treatment, that’s the African-American woman who saved your life.
Yet do we talk about her at all? Do you know who we are discussing?
Not at all.
The whitebread folks never do.
Women have a lot to contribute, but when they do, they are not appreciated.
And it takes years for them to be able to see their plans through.
I have been fighting that fight for over a quarter of a century.
Try getting j-schools to listen to a radical new approach to journalism.
I am white, but female, and the road is no easier for me.
And yet, Google sees me as a person of note.
Twitter won’t give me a blue check mark, but the biggest search engine does.
And so does Bing.
McMaster University recognized me with their Arch Award — and I was the first female to receive it.
I am referenced in academic articles. I am referenced in serious scholarly books. I have students from Ivy League schools interview me for their own scholarly work. I give talks, as I did to one lovely book club yesterday. I gave interviews.
And yet, I am shut out. Repeatedly.
My work is sound. My research goes beyond thorough — one of the members of yesterday’s book club marvelled at me having 61 pages of references.
Nice catch: I did have 61 pages of references; almost 14% of the book contains references I used.
That is thorough research.
I was as thorough with Chaser News, just as I was that thorough as an author, journalist, and academic student.
I use references from multiple countries and multiple languages. I use references from the distant past to the present. I have used interviews, studies, legislation, transcripts, you name it.
And I am certain many of you have stumbled upon my site, and have to click on the Who Is She? page to figure out who is this fiery woman who keeps saying journalism is dead?
How would she know?
I know because I am the creator of Method Research. I know because I have no trouble doing the legwork and seeing things up close for myself.
I work tirelessly on this problem and have done so for many years. I have had comments that I should be creating programs at the university level to change journalism’s ways.
And as I have said, I have.
Read When Journalism was a Thing, and see how much I have crafted the blueprints for such a thing. Read Don’t Believe It!: How lies become news because that is a textbook for information verification for journalists.
But I am routinely ignored.
I do not stop trying.
And I am still actively working on it. Chaser as well A Dangerous Woman Story Studio figure into F.R.E.E.D. and Matriarchal Storytelling and prominently so, and both have been around for a while now.
But unfortunately, too much of the toiling could be entirely avoided and placed where it should be placed: at creating something innovative and new — not having to create the space to make it.
And don’t think I am expecting a statue, building, or huzzahs for this work.
Dr. Wright invented chemotherapy, and you all still don’t even know her name…
It is the Age of Propaganda where lies are believed and truths are feared.
The middle class — the soft layer who neither have to find where the path must go as the wealthy classes do, nor have to do the heavy labour of paving them as the poor do — are having meltdowns.
Once upon a time, the crib sheets for the soft layer came form journalism.
They had the façade of being authorities who knew what the fuck they were babbling about.
I learned as a teenager that it was pure bullshit, and I suddenly found myself no longer being of the same mindset of the rest of the middle class.
I had to find paths, and I had to make them.
My mother’s maiden name is Puharich — hard to pronounce unless you know the trick of saying it:
Poor are rich.
Then it’s a breeze.
Meaning I became an army of one woman. I was the general and the foot soldier and my method of combat was Method Research.
But I could think outside the box because I was Eastern European, which is another universe from Western European.
When arrogant morons talk about something being “Eurocentric”, they, in fact, are confessing to being culturally-illiterate trash who don’t know what the fuck they are are spewing.
What they mean is “Western Eurocentric”, because Western Europe sees Eastern Europeans as being lesser humans to them.
Yes, it’s true.
East and West have nothing in common. Zero.
And if you say “I don’t" care”, what you are actually saying is that you are an ignorant dumb fuck who makes up your mind without any facts, sensitivity, intelligence, feelings, or basic logic or research skills.
Which is fine, you know how stupid you are. I am not going to argue with the level of your incompetence.
But do not expect me to have a grain of respect for you, either.
Deal with it.
But I do like facts and logic as well as emotionality.
Free will gives me superpowers.
And I see that the West has placed itself in a corner, and is once again eying fucking around with Serbia to get themselves out of their jam.
Except it is a different world.
It is not the 1990s where the Internet wasn’t entrenched in every day life as it is now.
And the tables are turning rapidly.
The usual suspects are not having an easy time these days.
And neither are journalists.
I have never lived a conventional life. I am Bohemian and eccentric.
But also extremely ambitious and logical.
I have always been a radical centrist: the best of both worlds for me.
And I am stubborner than the average Serb, making me somewhat a freak of nature.
Meaning I have had always to struggle more than what one would expect of someone who skipped multiple grades and excelled at being experimental and creative.
If I came from wealth, I’d have no trouble, but I am from a middle class social caste.
But I never resented fighting. Not once. My grandmother survived the Second World War where her entire family got slaughtered by fascists; so this isn’t as big of a deal.
Yet journalism is struggling to stay relevant. Watching Jim Acosta making a jackass of himself at that fateful briefing reminded me of my grade schools classes where you had some dumb, unruly boy not be civilized and thinks tweaking the teacher and not sitting in his seat is going to lead to him taking over the class and winning.
You know where it is going to end.
In grade school, the brat would be in trouble. Journalists got away with it for decades.
And now they don’t.
They lose their jobs and see their fortunes crumble even if they are inciting the masses with propaganda.
Something is happening in the world that is beyond anyone’s control, rich, poor, or middle class: things are turning on people in unlikely ways.
Social media is in the doghouse. Their influence is rapidly declining.
Journalism is an inert profession.
Some say karma is a bitch, but not quite.
Karma is a switch. Up is down and down is up.
Left is Right and Right is Left.
Because everyone is so focused on the content of their messages and thoughts, thinking they are different from their perceived rivals and enemies, but that’s bullshit.
Their structures are the same, meaning they are no different.
Rich is poor and poor is rich.
Left is Right and Right is Left.
And then there is the ambitious Bohemian in the Radical Centre.
I am still doing A Dangerous Woman Story Studio. I am resurrecting Chaser. I am doing other things, but the lone maverick Eastern European female is still in the middle of a war zone.
But she has other ideas now.
She is not going to fight battles.
She is about to dismantle wars.
And the way to do it is alchemy.
It took me years to develop an alternative to Patriarchal, they propagandist’s choice of structure.
And I did with Matriarchal.
Because until the structure of thought is confronted, there will be a never-ending war.
And fuck that shit.
I have turned on a switch, so to speak.
I made a vow a long time ago that I would see my purpose through, and I kept it.
The fact that I kept it through 2018 is no short of a miracle. I have proven that my word is my bond and that bond is made with gold.
And 2019 will be the year I breakthrough with both.
Because both challenge the propagandistic structures of patriarchal narratives.
I am not looking for applause, but improvements, innovations, and fortunes.
Journalism is still in the midst of the five stages of grief.
Denial has now turned to anger. We are in stage two almost in stage three of bargaining, where we have a few weasels thinking they can get some well-heeled propaganda-seekers into funding their garbage.
We still have depression and acceptance.
If you want to stick around for those downer things.
Not me. It is time for a switch.
It is time more levity, even as the world throws big hissies because all of the scripts they were bamboozled into following turned out to be bullshit.
You were played, middle class.
And are still being played as we speak.
So snap the fuck out of it. It’s making you look like nerds and goobers who don’t realize that scripts do not play in the real world.
But I play in the real world, and that’s all right by me…
When she was still among the living, Belinda Markey was a famous Hollywood movie star. She was stunningly beautiful and had real talent as a thespian. She had a sweet smile and women around the world envied her glamourous lifestyle. Some called her the most beautiful woman in the world and it was not a stretch to see that she was.
They all thought she had it easy.
What the world didn’t know was that she was a lesbian who had been brutalized at the hands of her stepfather and his brothers, but her older brother was her guardian who protected her and then they ran away together. They were on the streets, but he sold himself and forbade Belinda from doing the same.
They were without protectors, and then he tried to ensure she had the beautiful and glamourous life as an actress because he thought that would bring her the happiest and most beautiful life in the world.
It never worked out that way. They both changed their names from Gordon and Janna Vine to Rod Hardstone and Belinda Markey. He toiled in adult movies, and never allowed her to tell anyone they were related.
He was murdered and she was forced to watch it, and then when she tried to avenge his death as she fought for her survival, she was murdered.
But the shock of being on the edge of Hell where she was to spend her eternal afterlife along with her brother who had already resigned to such a fate was catastrophic.
Until her soul felt a loving presence of a detective who was dispatched to solve Belinda’s murder and the kind-hearted sleuth saw Belinda as a benevolent soul.
And she broke away before she walked into the portal to Hell.
The love and admiration of a stranger gave her more than just willpower: it gave her purpose and inspired her.
That detective trying to solve her murder touched her soul, tearing down every fortress in time and space and Belinda’s heart became forever connected with a woman she never knew.
The detective was honest, dignified, clever, and brave, and was everything Belinda wasn’t, yet to the detective, Belinda was someone to cherish and celebrate for her essence. It was not to pity or judge; the detective somehow bonded to Belinda and now there was a link between the two women. The detective showed her that she was also honest, dignified, clever, and brave, but it manifested itself in its own ways and the detective admired her and vowed to do all she could to keep Belinda’s spirit alive.
It was Belinda’s awakening: the world was big and cold, but time and space could be brought together at a single point where two people could connect despite it all. She then took another look at the portal to Hell, laughed at those trying to drag her in by means of deceptions and empty threats, and promptly looked to make an afterlife for herself elsewhere. More specifically, one that used her talents and her heart to create meaning to others to give them the peace she never had. She had developed a link with the detective and the two seemed to subtly guide each other.
The link flowed strongly to this day: the detective inspired Belinda just as Belinda continued to inspire the detective. Their hearts never stopped chattering as they somehow got their hearts together and the detective decided it was far better to come on the scene before there was murder and help those stuck in abusive situations to get out.
It was Belinda Markey’s greatest magic act and her proudest achievement. Whatever her afterlife took her, she knew she had a friend who championed her as much as Belinda returned the favour.
But by then, she ran into another woman who was also mulling the future of her own afterlife.
Her name was Sharon Hedley and she was pregnant when she was murdered. The two had something else in common: the same gentle detective solved their murders, and did so with a perspective that opened their eyes to see themselves as being stronger and better than they ever saw themselves in their lives. While Belinda rejected the notion of spending her eternity in Hell, Sharon rejected the notion of spending her eternity in Heaven as Belinda was denied entry and she walked away in solidarity. They decided to strike out on their own together, bonded as friends, and found out they had many more things in common: they both wanted to find loved ones stuck in Hell and Heaven as Sharon’s unborn child died before she did, and they shared the orchid as their favourite flower.
They got to talking and it was then the two got ambitious: perhaps good and evil weren’t the designations the Otherworldly should focus on, but look at every person who were murdered.
And so, the Women of Orchid was born.
Their new activist job had a simple purpose: find every murder victim and bring them to another place in the Otherworldly: their own little garden they created themselves. For some, they could spend the rest of eternity here with those who shared their same final fate, but for others, it became a meeting place where they could use their essence to protect others from being taken down before their time.
To their absolute astonishment, no one had ever done it before, and the two women caused a shock and a scandal.
Now, the Otherworldly’s configuration was beginning to change in a short span of time. There were so many people who died at the hands of another that bringing them together was proving just how treacherous life could be at the hands of another human being. It showed the rich and the poor that when it came right down to it, they were vulnerable prey.
When those who aligned with their race or ethnicity were suddenly brought together by the Fallen, those lines in the sand suddenly erased.
Young, old, male, female, none of it mattered.
The were all the Fallen.
And they had an orchid pinned to their shirts to reveal the truth.
Those killed in a terrorist attack wore the same orchids as those starved by their parents or shot by a robber or spouse.
There may have been a thousand ways to be murdered, but the orchid spoke of a single outrage.
The Orchid became the symbol of all those who died by murder.
The Fallen began to make their home in the tiny garden where Belinda and Sharon planted their own spiritual roots: once they came to the garden, the person could leave, but most chose to stay because it was a message to the gods of their broken hearts and unanswered prayers.
Belinda and Sharon had two others who joined them on their quest: a murdered man by the name of Vendel Langston, a troubled professor who lived in Ottawa in the 1930s who was murdered and sent to Hell before he won his freedom on the outside, and Jenna Shaw, a young photojournalist from London who was given breast cancer by a secretive cabal as her own investigative story was close to revealing their existence and died from the disease in her late thirties. She left Heaven after sensing that Vendel was looking for someone to join their fight.
Both Vendel and Jenna were friends and invaluable Orchids who both knew about the injustices of the world, and while both had dedicated their waking lives to fighting in different ways, neither had ever expected they would be felled by the very injustice that moved them.
And though Vendel spent a spell in Hell and Jenna in Heaven, both were allies as they had the one thing in common that changed everything.
Belinda looked around her and sighed sadly. There was too much to be done and four Orchids to fight a battle with pacifism. Violence ended their lives while each one was on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Belinda was about to break away from a brutal cabal that had enslaved her for her entire adult life as she made the decision to flee to a small city-state the cabal despised for protection.
Sharon was pregnant and decided to divorce her abusive and wealthy husband.
Vendel was about to walk away from drugs and the university that he felt was a sham and, ironically, make his way to the same city-state where the women he truly loved lived.
Jenna had begun to stumble on a peculiar story that would have exposed another cabal that controlled too much of the world, one that had an unnatural interest in her husband and his small family.
Just as each reach the same crossroads, they were destroyed.
And yet, it marked their beginning even as it marked their end.
If there was one pair of Orchids who mutually worshipped the other as a near deity, it was Belinda and Vendel. Vendel adored Belinda with deific passion as she was the one who inspired him to fight to get out of Hell. She became his goddess and the one he revered the most.
Belinda, on the other hand, loved Vendel and had wondered how differently her life in the waking world would have been if Vendel was her and Gordie’s father.
It was a peculiar thought, but the second she saw him, she felt it. She felt a familial connection. He understood her more than anyone else ever did, and she could see it all very clearly in front of her how both of them would have thrived with the other had the circumstances been different.
It was not to be in the waking world, and yet their peculiar bond thrived in the Otherworldly.
She did not like being away from him, but today, she had her job, and he had his: he was determined to create a tunnel where they could get into the layer of Hell where her brother Gordie refused to leave to rescue him, and then go to Heaven where they could find Sharon’s unborn child. Most times, unborn children would be returned for another chance on earth to be conceived by someone else, but there were exceptions, and Sharon’s final memory was of her infant kicking, and it was that kick that made her convinced this one refused to go back to some other family.
So far, he had managed to find materials to build it. It was not hard as the Otherworldly was filled with peculiar materials lying around unused as many deities were stripped of their powers of the Goditor, and their peculiar materials were no longer needed.
Vendel merely went to the Deific Junkyard, took as much as he could, and then began to build something.
Not a wall, but a tunnel.
But today, he felt as if he was missing the mark as he sat on the ground and tried to put the pieces together with Jenna helping him.
“What’s the matter, mate?” asked Jenna in her sprightly British accent.
Vendel looked around as he frowned. “We have hit a brick wall. We have truly gone as far as we can.”
“How so? This contraption of yours is sturdy…”
“But I have no idea where to put it or how it will go through either Heaven or Hell. The demons don’t like us because we don’t fear them. The gods fear us after the Monster of Unanswered Prayers devoured a slew of them.”
Jenna looked puzzled, “The Monster of Unanswered Prayers?”
“Thomasina Darlington’s pet puppy-like creature.”
“That’s a monster? He is so sweet and friendly!”
“She tamed it.”
“That’s a goddess for you.”
“I wish She could go to rescue Belinda’s brother.”
“Maybe it’s not for Her to do it.”
“I keep hoping it will be one of us who does. Belinda is distressed about it, and I do not blame her. Hell is not a pleasant place to be. I’ve been there for decades, and if it weren’t for Belinda, Sharon, and Suki, I wouldn’t have pushed myself out.”
“So why doesn’t Gordie want to leave? He loves his sister, and if she is longing for him, he has to feel it. That should be the incentive to get out of that place. You didn’t have anyone on the outside, but you did it. If Belinda’s kindness stirred you, then why not Gordie?”
Vendel looked lost and shook his head. “There has to be more to it. There is something he’s not telling her – or us. There could be some sort of threat made, and he is protecting her.”
“She stood up to Hell and she stands up to gods. What’s bigger than defying them both?”
“I don’t know, Jenna. I was a JNE – Just Naughty Enough. I wasn’t in deeper layers, which concerns me.”
“You think he may have done something bad that Belinda doesn’t know about or could face.”
“She idolizes him. She knows him better than anyone else, and he is in a deeper layer of Hell, and he doesn’t push for a ticket out of there.”
“Could there be some sort of pull that compels people to stay and not walk out?”
“Anything at this point is possible. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been conducting research there and found truths. When I was alive, I was a professor who conducted studies. I wasn’t very good at it because my doctorate was in philosophy, but then when a visiting professor and her sister came for a year, I picked up her methods, and my abilities vastly improved. When I died, I thought all of that knowledge was for nothing, and didn’t apply myself.”
“But you could apply yourself now.”
“The problem is I can no longer go back to visit. If I could somehow conduct an experiment, I could gather truths, even in that den of lies.”
“You could teach someone the way that professor taught you.”
“They’d have to be on their way to Hell, and they wouldn’t be likely to be truthful or helpful.”
“What did you study, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Not at all. I was studying the authoritative and tyrannical nature of police during protests. I observed and recorded actual demonstrations, and I…I…”
“Have stumbled upon a way to get Hell to open up its secrets to me.”
Belinda stared at Vendel as they sat in his clear spherical office. “You think we can get people to start a riot in Hell?”
“There are people who are always marching in there with some bee in their bonnet ready to prove they are mightier than the Devil himself. They are humbled within moments with an unpaid internship, but if there are enough of them, we could always speak to them before they enter. They won’t listen to reason or think of rejecting of entering as you did…”
“But if we can light a fire in Hell, we can start smoking out a few truths.”
“We need to start challenging various authorities in an indirect way in order to study how they rig their battlegrounds to maintain dominance. I used to study that as a professor, and once the department I taught was scuttled and I was shipped back to philosophy, I couldn’t do that anymore.”
“You talked about the strange department, but what was it?”
“It was called Philosology.”
“I never heard the word.”
“Most people didn’t. It was a peculiar mix of psychology and philosophy, which was a ridiculous notion as psychology had its roots in philosophy, so having an empirically-based philosophy was psychology. It was doomed from the beginning, but it was the only way a philosophy professor was going to get the chance to do that kind of research; so I took advantage of it.”
“And now you get to apply it in the Otherworldly.”
Vendel smiled. “It is almost as if it was meant to be this way, Belinda.”
“It’s a lot of work for the four of us, and it’s maddening. You’d think gods wouldn’t care or at least help us along. They all know what we went through and wanting no one else to go through it is not a bad or selfish thing. What a bunch of meddlers.”
“They have blacklisted us, and have decided to have nothing to do with us because we haven’t been playing by their autocratic rules and decrees, knowing full well all four of us were murdered by rule, decree, or both.”
Sharon came into Vendel’s office and sat down with her friends as she sighed.
“Tell me about it. Our problem is that we are not going to get any further unless we have a deity who sees the merit in our work. Vendel’s right: most of them don’t want to have anything to do with us after that whole god-eating episode, but there has to be one who is willing to help us.”
Vendel made a face. “But who? They all have their agendas, and see us as irritants who should retreat as we give up our hopes, dreams, and free will.”
Belinda thought for a moment before snapping her fingers and smiled. “Thomasina will join our cause.”
Sharon’s eyes widened, “The One they call Una et Dilectos? How can you be so sure? She’s a goddess who does Her own thing. I mean, She walks around in jeans and a t‑shirt!”
“Because She is a friend to demgels, and She was murdered when She was a mortal.”
Sharon nodded. “You’re right. She knows.”
“And She understands,” added Vendel.
“She also tamed that god-eating monster.”
“Thomasina has the right mindset.”
“You have some good ideas, sweetie.”
Belinda blushed as she looked proud. “Vendel can start a Hell riot, and find out some truths for us with Jenna. You and I can talk to Tommie Darlington to see if She wouldn’t mind having a few allies who need answers.”
Sharon and Belinda looked at Thomasina seemed in deep thought before She smiled and nodded. “I do understand your situation. When I was murdered, I waited for Clementine to come right after Me as I didn’t think she’d survive that attack, but George and his brothers protected her and saved her life. I finally met her when she died of a ripe old age, but had she gone to Heaven or Hell, it would have been agonizing for Me. So yes, of course I will help you four any way that I can, though I must warn you that I am also splitting My time between Earth and the Otherworldly trying to dismantle that very religion that was loosely based on My teachings. I may lose My powers, and that may make Me of limited value to you.”
Belinda nodded. “We are fine with that, believe us. We haven’t been around as long as You, but this is our first alliance with a god. We always thought we’d have to go this one alone, Thomasina.”
“Please, call me Tommie.”
“Thank you, Tommie. All we are looking for is my brother and Sharon’s baby. Vendel is building a drill that is attached to a tunnel so we can find Gordie and Sharon’s child in Hell and Heaven.”
“That is an ambitious undertaking.”
Sharon smiled. “And he is also trying to start a riot in Hell.”
“A riot? Gracious, whatever for?”
“To study how Hell reacts. If we had some notion of their strategies, then we can account for them and come up with our own counterstrategies.”
“You four are ambitious. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you,” said Belinda, “We truly owe You, and if there is anything we can do for You, give us the word.”
“I’ll have my Messenger Denny Garber give you ladies messages as I am rarely on this side of the realm these days. Your friend Jenna was familiar with him, as I am sure you two are aware, and he would be thrilled to come visit you, considering he was murdered the same way all of Us were when We were alive in the waking world.”
Jenna squealed in delight as she jumped and clapped her hands. “Denny’s going to be here? That’s fantastic news!”
Within seconds, Denny showed up at Vendel’s office as his old friend looked overjoyed at the sight.
“Denny!” Jenna shouted she ran up to hug her own friend who returned the embrace. “I am so happy to see you!”
“I’m happy to see you, too,” he said warmly as Jenna introduced him to Belinda and Sharon. He whistled when he saw Belinda.
“Man, I used to have a serious crush on you when you were an actress. You are even more gorgeous in person. You must have had a lot of men at your feet.”
Belinda smirked. “And not one of them got any further than that.”
Denny’s eyes widened. “You’re gay?”
“Destroy my teenaged fantasies, why don’t you? Is Sharon your girlfriend?”
“No. She’s not gay.”
“So, you two are just friends?”
“You two seem very different…”
“We were both murdered, Denny,” said Sharon, “Whatever differences we had in life were gone once we came to the Otherworldly. It’s funny how everything becomes meaningless when they served as no barrier to someone who wants to see you dead.”
“We have more in common than not,” said Belinda, “We were both murdered, we both lost loved ones over here, we both defied our eternal fates, we both love orchids, and our murders were solved by the same detective…”
Sharon looked at Denny before turning to Belinda, “He’s murder was solved by her, too.”
Belinda jolted as she looked intense. “It was.” She became excited, “Jenna knew her, and you did, too.”
Denny looked surprised before he laughed. “Hey, that’s right. I had no idea, and then when you said it, it’s like I always knew it.”
“It’s a funny trick in this realm,” said Sharon, “You begin to develop a sense for some things without knowing them before, but other things are an enigma.”
Belinda look deep in thought. “It’s funny how so many of our connections have to do with that detective. Our murders were solved by her. Jenna was related to her by marriage, but she doesn’t realize Jenna was murdered just yet. She worked with Denny, and solved his death, and Vendel’s colleague was her great-grandmother, and yet, she doesn’t know who actually murdered him.”
“And Tommie is her ancestor,” said Denny, causing all three women to gasped as they shouted, “What?”
“It’s true,” said Denny, “But that detective – as you call her – doesn’t know of Her at all. She doesn’t know that religion has some sort of obsession with her family. Tommie figured it out when She came back to the waking world, but even She doesn’t understand all of it just yet.”
“That explains why She was willing to help us,” said Sharon, “It’s the same connection. Tommie’s one thread, and all of us are another.”
Jenna sighed. “That means I was related to one of her ancestors by marriage. All this time I had a huge perk, and I never even knew it.”
Belinda winked. “She’s our ally. She knows we like a couple of her descendants: our detective, Vendel’s unrequited crush, and we had no clue until now. We’ve always been orphans in this realm, and this changes everything. We just have to make the most of it, and hope we can help Tommie any way we can.” She turned to Denny. “That’s our message to Her, new friend.”
“Cool. I’ll let Her know when She comes in to check Her messages.”
Jenna waved to the group. “I’ve got to go help Vendel with his experiment. We’ll let you all know how it goes.”
Vendel and Jenna watched the scene near the Portal to Hell from the Sorting Station where the recently arrived came to find their eternal resting place. They pinned orchids on the murdered, but this time, whenever someone was making a beeline for Hell, the two Orchids would implore the person to turn around and fight to stay on the outside.
Between the shock of being murdered and the indignance of being warned not to go to Hell because Hell had no parties or debauchery, just gruelling and boring unpaid internships, the new arrivals refused to listen to the repeated heartfelt warnings.
It was predictable on one level, but when those who wished to party in Hell were given tomes of paperwork to fill to apply for unpaid internships, they were enraged.
Usually, they were broken and crushed, but that a former bookish professor and an equally intelligent former photojournalist who both looked like naïve goody two shoes were more street smart than the mobsters and killers, that was an absolutely humiliating blow.
Hell had been the goal for many, and now they had to be marked with some girly flower in on their lapels as they toiled filing papers and taking dictation. There was no having cool demons as pets. There was no promiscuous women to torture and bed. There was only unpaid internships in miserable positions.
And those two straight-laced flower people knew it all along.
Worse, one of the future residents in Hell flat-out asked Vendel what would he know about Hell, to which he coolly replied that he had spent decades in there before winning his freedom.
That meant he was not the rube they had believed him to be.
It became an ugly scene where the newest arrivals began to scream and throw fits as they were being dragged in by bored demons who were vexed at the tantrums.
It was loud and distressing, but somehow, the protests did not seem to produce any usual data. The demons were as stony-faced as ever and had no trouble dragging in their latest residents.
Jenna frowned. “Well, that didn’t go to plan.”
Vendel raised an eyebrow. “We could talk to the JNEs at the edge, or at least, observe them. That was the way Belinda and Sharon talked to me, and how you talked to Denny.”
The two made their way to have a peak in Hell, but the usual small gatherings of JNEs were no longer there.
“That’s odd,” said Jenna, “I wonder if they were removed.”
“You go to the edge because the inside is soul-crushingly boring.”
“So something else is happening in there.”
“Something that deviates from the norm.”
“The problem is that we aren’t privy to any of it.”
“But we’ll hear about it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because the loudest ones were wearing our orchids, and they are going to claim victimhood and use those flowers as proof that they do not belong in there. Hell will be livid at us, and let us know. We have to be careful…”
“We don’t want Gordie to become a bargaining chip in all of this mess.”
“But if we play our cards right, he will see those orchids and know Belinda is not going to rest until he is out there.”
“It’s like we’re pollinating Hell with those flowers.”
“It is a deific pollination. We can do the same thing for those going to Heaven. If we start getting to them both in a more confrontational way, they will begin to feel threatened that our strain of defiance is getting deeper into their layers.”
“We are making serious trouble.”
“It is the only kind worth making. My only regret is that I didn’t make serious trouble when I was still alive.”
“Ah, you have an eternity to catch up.”
Vendel leaned on Jenna and kissed her check as she leaned on him and patted his arm.
Sharon sighed. “I have to admit, Belinda, there hasn’t been a dull moment since I ran into you. You are a clever one.”
“I survived on the streets, Sharon. What’s making our way through the universe in comparison? Once I realized that death isn’t the end, I stopped being afraid.”
“Vendel and Jenna weren’t afraid today.”
Belinda smirked. “What did our favourite human thesaurus call it?”
“A deific pollination.”
“We have demgels, and now who knows what our orchids will flower in those places.”
“Hopefully the two people we want in our lives.”
“Heaven and Hell are going to get mad at us.”
“At least we have Tommie in our corner.”
“We’ll owe Her.”
“I’m okay with it.”
“Me, too. I’m glad I met you, though. Pulling something like this on my own would have been terrifying to me when I was alive, but with you, it’s an escapade. You really are the best friend I ever had. You’re up for anything.”
“And you’re the best friend I ever had. I mean it, sweetie. You’re the sister I always wanted.”
Belinda beamed with pride, “And you’re my best friend and sister, too. I never thought in a million years I’d have one ounce of peace, and you’ve given me the serenity I never had.” She gave Sharon a kiss on the cheek. “Let’s go see if we can help Vendel with his strange tunnel. We have another orchid to plant in our garden, and my detective friend on the other side is going to bed soon, and we always have a nice little chat in her dreams.”
“You enjoy that.”
“She always listens to me, and she doesn’t even have to see me to do it.”
“I wish she had some ideas about springing our family. I am so worried I’ll never see my child. That would be a victory for that horrible man I married.”
“We’ll find that kid. If Tommie and her daughter reunited, you and your child will, too.”
“What about your brother? Do you think he’ll ever get out of Hell and join us?”
“He will, just as I know your daughter will sneak out of Heaven and find her way to you.”
Sharon sighed. “She went in without realizing I wasn’t going there. I just wish I knew before she had the chance to get inside.”
“Gordie was murdered in front of me, and I lived a long time after that. I had no way of knowing or saying to him not to go to Hell. Never in a million years did I think he deserved to go there after everything he did to protect me.”
The two women looked at each other sadly, and embraced. They were a family in their own right, but longed to make it a bigger one with those they loved in the waking world. They knew in their hearts they were making progress, but it was slow going and it pained their hearts all the same.
The Wink scurried over to his master who was busy studying military plans on his wall. The other thirty-nine Winks were all terrified of their ruler, but this Wink seemed to be the bravest of the cowardly lot.
“Sir,” the Wink said, “The Orchids have made an alliance with The Frightful One.”
General Rem cursed. “That cursed flame-haired witch retreated into Eden and I thought she’d stay there forever. Now that she’s awakened, she is ruining everything. Those Orchids are nothing but Trouble – the lone male in the group is close friends with the Dream Detective, and I’ve a feeling he is seeking ways to repay her for her kindness. If the Sparrow and her former flame get back together, it ruins everything.”
“I thought you said your nightmare elixir’s effects were permanent.”
“So long as no deity is made aware of it. The Orchids are far shrewder than they look, particular their leader. She was supposed to be an obedient sister and follow her brother into Hell. I knew then she’d be nothing but trouble.”
“And her blonde companion?”
“She is just as feral as her friend. They’re sisters-in-arms and they have disrupted the Otherworldly with their insolence. Worse, they brought those other two rabble-rousers to cause more anarchy. The Otherworldly is supposed to slumber in pleasant enigmas, not become enraged and devoured everything in its wake. If they figured out the Otherworldly is a spirit and not a place…”
“Reality alters, and then my plans to take it as my slave are jeopardized for good. We have to sow seeds of discord between the Frightful One and the Orchids, particularly the one with the one blue eye and the one brown eye. Her I would relish to destroy for her insolence. There is no other way to rid myself of them all.”
Clementine Darlington sat on the edge of Eden to have a good, long think. She was the daughter of the Goddess Thomasina, and it was still a sad life to grow up never knowing the mother who was murdered protecting her. Clementine grew up with seven schizophrenic brothers whom her Mother protected as She hid them, and they raised her with devotion, love, and appalling permissiveness.
She learned seven languages by the time she was five. They doted on her education and spiritual guidance. For a group of insane men who spent their entire lives being disfigured and tortured in a dungeon by their rapist father and mother’s kidnapper and captor, they were very wise and loving fathers to her.
They let her get away with appalling antics because she was their only connection to her beloved Mother. Clementine couldn’t complain, and when she finally joined her Mother in Eden, they hit it off immediately.
Now they were separated and the idea saddened her once again.
Her Mother did pop in to visit. She now had a very attractive black man named Denison who worked as Her Messenger, though he seemed to have ideas of his own, and exercised them frequently, and it was always an escapade with him.
But Clementine had been a keeper of a secret that she had told no one before, and now she wished she told her Mother before the business of stopping that religion became a priority.
That the Otherworldly wasn’t so much a place, but a person. A spirit.
Clementine knew as she was an alchemist, and alchemists knew that everything had a spirit; so it stood to reason so did the Otherworldly. Her first experiment was a resounding successful.
But it was a very strange spirit to say the least.
It had an unproducible name, and a very peculiar personality, and considering that Clementine was raised by seven schizophrenic men who had delusions of being her Mother’s monks, it was saying something about the eccentricity of the Otherworldly.
For one, it talked. A lot. It had a peculiar sense of humour, and always liked stories, magic shows, and flowers.
It also had a crush on some man named Vendel Langston.
It fell in love with the man who came all the way from Hell to be manly and yet be known as an Orchid, as he openly worshipped its leader as his own personal goddess whom he revered.
That apparently, was the sign of a perfect soul.
But the Otherworldly also knew he was in love with someone else, and realized human-realm relationships weren’t logistically feasible, and no hard feelings.
But the Otherworldly had all sorts of questions to Clementine, who, despite being very clever, didn’t know the answers.
She had to consider her options before she could start answering some very silly questions from the most uninhibited place ever created.
She wished she could ask her Mother because if anyone had the answer, it was Her…
When in doubt, go bold, and see what patterns emerge from your bravery.
You have to shake the fabric to see how sturdy it is, but it is the patterns that tell you the code any time or place rolls by.
I learned this as a teenager when I dared challenged the Western media on the vile coverage of the the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia.
If DC Comics’ Wonder Woman mythos is based on the Second World War, mine is based in that Civil War.
Because that was the needle that popped my bubble and jolted me awake.
And I don’t need a lasso of truth to gather facts. I am honed to find them, even if I do not want to know it.
But the civil war there proved to me that the West’s Left-wing players were as corrupt as the ones on the Right.
President Bill Clinton has the blood of Serbs on his hands, but there were too many deals to be made, and Serbs, being stubborn and recalcitrant were an easy target to demonize. They are exotic, non-Western and enigmatic.
Easy to slap a villain label on them and then bomb them back to the Stone Age for being different and unashamed for it.
But the Left in the 1990s were very, very naughty. They made all sorts of dark deals with extremists, and stayed in power for two terms because Americans roll that way with presidents.
Clinton was the exception because H. Ross Perot was a spoiler and fucked up George 41’s second-term coronation.
But Clinton reaped the benefits. The Democrats rolled the way the extremists wanted them to roll for the most part. Serbia is a strategic country. It’s ideas for a united Europe predate the European Union, for instance, and Europe reaped the rewards of that nation, even as they stomped on Serbs and stole their ideas inspired by others like Alexander the Great.
But then the Republicans took over and as they had no deals with the previous extremists who parachuted in the Yugoslavia and caused the most carnage, those extremists got angry, and September 11 was a form of punishment.
They pushed back, and had their own deals with different players, but that was very tense, and then the Democrats crawled back with Barak Obama, and smoothed things over with those irate players, doing what governments do best: do shady things and sell it as middle class friendly morality.
And the Democrats got cocky and thought they could go against the Two Terms Per President Rule, and pushed Hillary Clinton, a member of the regime who caused much pain and suffering to Serbs.
You can tell it was going to be a repeat as NATO — right out of the blue, told Serbs they had unfinished business with them and that they had to be bombed for their own good. Those who want to steal Kosovo were behaving as if it were a done deal, as other members of the Clinton clique, such as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright had very capitalist interests in those wanting to conquer a part of a foreign country, in this case, Serbia.
But then Hillary Clinton was always the fuck up, and Donald Trump wiped the floor with her face.
That meant all of the shenanigans the US Left were planning got fucked up beyond all recognition.
But Trump isn’t a Republican, either.
He is an outsider and a spoiler.
He is bold and unpredictable, and that made problems for both the Left and the Right.
Because he shook their core and proved their arrogance didn’t translate into cunning, he revealed their patterns.
And it was the same pattern in two different colours. One red and one blue.
The problem is Trump’s boldness has destroyed the plans of those in the West who wanted to go back to pillage Serbia again.
Those such as Germany’s Angela Merkel got cut off at the knees because the predictable compliance they hinged their schemes on was thrown out the window because Trump was not the factor they took into their calculations.
And now it is a Chaos Narrative.
Saudi Arabia tried to take advantage of it, but the neophyte got clumsy, and now the US is in a bind.
It is the reason why suddenly, all sorts of things about that fateful civil war are starting to come out.
Those secrets were supposed to be under lock and key.
Like how Serbia was supposed to be sacrificed because who the fuck cares about the Serbs.
We survived concentrations camps in the Second World War, you psychopathic assholes.
Those are Serbian bodies left up to hang by the Croatian Usashi.
Where were you fuckers then?
Where were you when these Serbs were slaughtered during the Civil War?
Oh, I remember, telling me so what?
Where are you now when scores of Serbs have gone missing in Kosovo?
What about the Toronto Star’s endless lies?
Fuck you, Daniel Dale for your pathetic gambit at misdirection.
What about the Star’s every false claim about that civil war, and all the press releases you liars used pretending it was an organically discovered fact?
That politics is a shady and filthy business, there is no doubt. Every single one made it there by spewing bullshit stories. Let us not use a confirmation bias to prove a lie.
But journalists were always complicit. They see those mistresses politicians bed and then give patronage appointments to in order to get rid of them. They see the drunken messes. They see the sexual harassment and abuse of power.
They have seen it all for decades and played along, keeping it quiet.
Until someone make a bold movement and destroys the rigged pattern.
Then all hell breaks loose.
Journalism lost its power the day Trump won, and it is the reason you know see moneyed Democrats pour money into partisan outlets to spew propaganda.
That is a pattern of panic.
They have real cash money riding on deals based on a status quo. They have sold their children’s souls to the devil and do not want those things ever coming out.
But all it takes is one disrupter. Trump broke the pattern and we are now in uncharted territory.
The mid-terms mean nothing as they have their own patterns that will no longer work because the machine got broken in November 2016.
Chaser is the chronicler of the fallout of that disruption.
There will be the cowardly old middle class biddies of all ages cowering in the corner screaming so what! so what! like squawking parrots, and they, too, will be fair game to expose.
It is a sucker circus in the West, my friends, and one where the fun comes from making bold moves to turn over the rules to show just how fragile they really are.
It helps that I have Serbian roots and Canadian leaves.
But it is a sucker circus and it is time to show the comedy of it, and just what shit the West has settled for when the world could have truly flourished.
Fuck that shit.
And soon, the show will begin…
Author, Artist, Actrivist, Matriarchal Storyteller, and unrepentant angelic hellraiser…