An archive of short stories and essays from the days of the Black Hole Coffee House, and The Black Hole Literary Review.
Short Stories-- Stuff I wrote beginning in 1978.
Letters From the Ashram -- Starting in 1982, I wrote a regular column for Kallisti Komics. KK went on to be the longest running underground comic that Clifton Heights had ever seen.
The Journey -- This is an online novella that I co-wrote with my doppleganger, Shaman on the Black Hole Literary Review.
The Great Mastodon Hunt -- In 2004, I wrote this as a lark over on 24hourcampfire.com on my lunch hours. It was sort of a Clan of the Cave Bear thing.
Log of the Hole 1/9/2004 1700 EST
So there we were. Blowtorch, Shaman, Sysop, JW Bear-in-Heat, and John D. all camped out on the flight deck, looking out over the Heights and trying to make sense of it all.
"I am often reminded at times like this of something Graham Greene wrote, " he began.
"John, everything reminds you of something Graham Greene wrote." Said JW.
"The reason I called you all here," interrupted Sysop, "Please, just give me a minute. The reason you're here is to give me some idea of where this should all be going."
"I think," chimed in Blowtorch, "That we should call up that bimbo that had connections with the limo service and get a carload of that crazy trim over here and--"
"Please, go ahead." said John. "I don't really feel up to it."
"Sit down, John," Sysop replied.
"No," JW said." Iím with Blowtorch. You can come up with some of the most boring ideas for a party sometimes. John, youíre no better."
"Weíre not planning a party." Sysop replied. "No, I donít think bimbos should be the first order of business. You must remember, Iím re-married."
"Bunch of wankers." said Blowtorch.
"Itís Friday night, for chrissake! You expect us to just--
"Damnit! If I thought it was going to be like this, I would have gone over with crazy Jim to see his string collection."
"I donít care what you think about Graham-stinking-Greene. . ."
"Itís too freaking cold to be just sitting out here. If we donít . . "
And so it went. Off to one side, Shaman had decided to make the best of the situation and began grooming himself, taking his broad paws and giving the backs of his ears a thorough cleaning. It wasnít that they really needed cleaning; that is, they were not all that dirty. However, it was just the right thing to be doing at the time. It was nearing sundown. It was Friday. The backs of the ears were the next in line for preventive maintenance, and there was no food and no danger in sight. He was largely uninterested in the bickering, and seemed wholly involved with the process. He was only briefly disturbed when Gummer, the house cat, peeked his head up once from below to see if it was all right to come out. Gummer locked eyes with Shaman for an instant and immediately decided to put two floors between him and his nemesis.
The scene, save the argument was simply ideal for Shaman. It was snowing a bit, and in his heavy coat it felt just right. Occasionally a large flake would catch his attention, and he would pause for a moment from his grooming to watch the flake fall and meld into the accumulation already up there on the deck. The scenery was picturesque. In the growing gloom of late afternoon, the city was taking on a timeless snowbound quality. It could have been 1942 or 1974 or 1968. It didnít make a difference to the snow and it did not make any difference to him. Timeless. Yes, that is what was so nice about this eventide. It was timeless. Timeless. It sounded so good, just thinking the word made him feel alert and calm, all at the same time. Ta . . . Ta-eyeh-mmmmmmmm-llllll-eh Ė
"ROAR!" Shaman rolled to his feet and was ready to spring on something. Tear itís neck off. Yes, tear itís neck off. Find something and tear itís neck off.
"Sorry, old boy." Said John, with his palms turned out. " There, now. Iím sorry. I didnít m-mean to step on your b-b-b-beautiful t-t-tail. Please donít be offended." The 600 pound Siberian Tiger was unimpressed.
"Shaman!" boomed Sysop. "Come here, NOW!"
Shaman backed off from springing on John, but paced back and forth for a bit, eyeing him, or more precisely a single point in the middle of Johnís throat.
"Okay, now you see what youíve all done. You frightened Shaman." Said Sysop. "Look, hereís what weíre going to do. Weíre going to take this new virtual coffeehouse concept and try to make something attractive out of it. Itís no longer a simple matter of leaving the door open on Friday night and expecting the world to show up. "
"Not as a primary objective." Sysop replied. "I donít want this to be just another cum site."
JW thought for a bit and then said, " I suppose we can talk shopóreloading and stuff."
". . .And I suppose we could discuss things of a more esoteric nature," said Shaman, calming down a little and trying to get a bit more engaged so as to placate Sysop.
"Blowtorch, youíre frowning." Said Sysop. "Whatís the problem?"
"No bimbos? No body sundaes? No-"
"Letís just let those ideas percolate for a while." Said Sysop " Iím certain it will be fertile ground, but letís work on it slowly."
"I could start a book club." Said John.
"I have no doubt that you can," said Sysop." The main thing is we need to open the door, but also stand there and look friendly and inviting. Weíre new in the neighborhood. You know how that is."
"Iím going up to Joeyís." said JW. "Anybody want anything?" JW started to leave, but gave Shaman a wide berth.
"Letís finish this off right," said Sysop. "JW, stick around for a minute. Come on. Tighten up the ranks. Don't want 'em thinking we're a bunch of bloddy amateurs."
And so they all stood and faced the West Rim, line abreast. Sysop took a step forward and spoke to the gathering evening. The group began the drone, and as Sysop chanted, the disembodied voices of the Great Omnipresent Mutant Choir joined in. Suddenly, the sun peaked out from the base of the gray sheet of clouds, over the West Rim, and for a brief time, shone on the group in an amber brilliance.
"Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold
Then, all knew at once the spell was brokenóthe moment had passed. Shoulders haunched, old shoes shuffled off and in an all too brief moment, a much older Sysop sat alone in the glare of a laptop, typing an ending in an office twenty years removed. Although he had been inside all afternoon, the long breath he allowed himself still had a cold sting to it as it his his lungs still yearned for that roof now many years gone.
"It is done." Said Sysop. "This Hole is open. Let it begin."
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