Dark Secrets Of The Dog Park

…mostly, they’re about eating poop
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After The Change Came

Series 4

A Day For Books And Walking


Greetings, Dear Readers. I’m back for another entry in the blog. Today, I’ll be telling you about my action packed yesterday. Well, action packed if you call a 24 mile walk to a used book store “action packed”. In point of fact, it was a pretty mellow day.

My favorite used book store here in the Sacramento area is Booktown Used Books, which is just about 12 miles from here, near downtown. It has been in that location since 1928. Arliss Brantner owns it and he is the 4th generation of his family to do so. It’s the largest bookstore in Northern California. The fantasy/science fiction section alone is twice the size our our living room, and our living room is big.

So, with the kids in school and Grace puttering around the house, I set off walking to Booktown. The weather has been great lately, with the spring rains mostly behind us and the summer heat a few weeks away. As I’ve said before, after the Change, downtown Sacramento was moved away from the rivers (American & Sacramento) to a spot 6 miles northeast and now high enough to never flood. As with all cities, towns & villages in the world, we have a Ring Road running in a perfect circle around town. It is located exactly 15 miles out from Sacramento’s Central Tower, where our City Dragon lives.

30 roads and streets run out from city center to the Ring Road. Grace and I live on Greenback Lane, one of the main roads. It meanders like a river toward downtown. Lots of curves, up and down hill, passing through our many greenbelts and farms and residential areas. It’s a nice walk.

Actually, almost all roads in Sacramento meander. There are very few that run straight for more than a mile or two. I probably ought to also point out that you’ll see very few cars on the road. People walk, ride bikes or horses or other animals, roller skate/skateboard, ride flying carpets (Mahmoud’s Enchanted Carpets has, like, 9 locations), or take the anibuses, which run every 15 minutes.

So there I am, at 8:00 in the morning, walking along, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. Birds are singing in the trees, bunnies & squirrels and other wildlife are out doing their thing. I see neighbors tending their gardens or livestock. A few are just sitting on their porches, drinking their morning beverage. Other folks are walking along, including one young couple who are going on a picnic outside the city limits.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Ring Roads also double as city boundaries. They are enchanted to keep dangerous creatures or sapients out, and to a lesser extent mitigate really bad weather, wildfires and earthquakes. That’s why San Francisco will never again have a really terrible earthquake.

I tend to walk a bit faster than most non-mutant humans, so even pausing frequently to look at things or talk to folks or buy a peach milkshake at Bonnie’s Burgers, I’m doing 5 miles an hour. As with any city or town, the closer you get to downtown, the more urban things get. Now, that does not mean houses crammed right next too each other, since by law every home in California has to sit on at least half an acre of land and all urban areas must have extensive greenbelts. That latter is why you often see deer or even elk strolling through our downtown.

At just about the 2.5 hour mark, I reach Booktown. This may well be my 1,000th time there, since I’ve been going there for decades. My first visit was in 1970, a couple of months after I got my driver’s license. It was while I was on Easter break from Hobart’s School for Young Ladies & Gentlemen and on that visit, I bought about 30 books to take back with me, mostly pulp reprints.

Arliss and his wife, Olive, gave me a hearty greeting and advised me that they had gotten in about 5,000 books a week earlier that were now on the shelves. I grabbed a complimentary cup of tea and started looking around. Arliss had British Invasion rock & roll playing and coconut incense burning. Despite being born in 1985, Arliss and Olive are a couple of hippies.

90 minutes later I had a stack of 40 books and magazines, including the British mag “QuestWorld Spectator”, issues 1-4. I paid for them, said goodbye to the Brantners and left the shop to go grab some lunch. On my way to a great Indian buffet, I put the books on Ralph, a dogbus that runs up Fair Oaks Blvd to the Ring Road. He transferred them to Fancy, a bunnybus who transferred them to Waldo, another dogbus. Waldo dropped them off at our front gate and Ben, our main House Elf, transported them to our library.

After a wonderful lunch of Indian food and a mug of pale ale, I began my walk home. I decided to use the footpaths found in the greenbelts and had a great time birdwatching, looking at and talking to various animals, and generally grooving on nature. The walk home took 3.5 hours and when I arrived at the old homestead, I was greeted by the twins and their friends. They were making up a game that I won’t even try to explain, but for about 10 minutes, I was a moving goal post.

Once I got into the house and sat down, Ben showed up with a cold iced tea. After I finished the tea, I was considering a short nap. This plan was abandoned when my green skinned hottie of a wife came and sat on my lap and whispered saucy suggestions in my ear. Later, we ate dinner with the kids and then played some dice games.

All in all, a pretty damned great day.

More bloggage later.

Doc

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The Cupcake Gnomes Meet The Pie Pixies

…it was a sweet meeting
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This blog is in part made possibly by my wonderful patrons on Patreon. If you would like to join them in helping me out, go to https://www.patreon.com/DocCross

 

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Sasha Explains It All

Sanctuaries

Hi, folks! In this edition, I’d like to talk about the many Sanctuary areas that the Non-Human Terran Alliance has set up around the world. Some of them are set up just to give NHT a place to live other than small enclaves out in the wild, while others are set up to allow endangered or even extinct species a place to survive. All of them were set up with the use of very advanced technology. I know, because I provided it.

Our first sanctuary, Dog Mountain, was started on January 4th, 1979 and finished 6 months later. This was done using very large robots and lots of nanotech. It was also done 2,000 years ago right here in California, down north of San Diego, where Camp Pendleton is now.

Dog Mountain is really more of a big hill. It’s about 3.5 miles across at the base and rises up 900 feet at the center. It is honeycombed with tunnels and open areas and places for dogs and other species to live. The majority of the outside is very park-like. 200,000 NHT live there, 90% being dogs. I own a rather large home in Dog Mountain. It is a great place.

Our second sanctuary opened a month after Dog Mountain and is located 4,000 years ago in Lake Superior. Wolf Island is actually a chain of three large islands that float just on the surface of the lake. The largest island is 50 miles wide and 80 miles long, the next largest is 90 miles long and 35 miles wide, and the smallest is 45 miles long and 22 miles across. The bridges that connect them are all 5 miles wide and from 11 to 29 miles long. The bridges are heavily planted and hardscaped, so you never really know you are on a bridges.

Due to wolves being, well, wolves, there are only 3,000 on the island, which, like dog island, has tunnels running through the hills for them to live in. There is a very small area at the southernmost point of the southernmost island for visitors of other NHT species. Humans are never allowed on Wolf Island. Given the millennia of mistreatment humans gave wolves, their attitude is understood.

Game, from mice to moose, is plentiful on the island and the wolves manage things very well. NHT wolves live one of the most traditional lifestyles of all NHT species, so they hunt their prey just as their ancestors did. Wolf Island has very little technology.

When the wolf population exceeds 3,000, the excess are given the choice of going into our time to live, or making a journey overland to Wolf Valley, 300 miles away in Canada. Most go there, but a very few decide to go live in the present, usually in another NHT Sanctuary. About half of the young wolves who do this adjust well to the NHT lifestyle. The rest go back to Wolf Valley.

Traveling again to the San Diego region, and then 2,500 years into the past, you come to Rabbit Valley. Set with one end right at the coastline and the other 30 miles to the northeast, this valley is actually protected by mindscreens that keep predators (including humans) out, with the exception of 10 north/south passages that are about a half mile wide. These passages offer easy travel, the better to get predators past the valley.

The valley is designed with wide meadows, many small streams, a few ponds, shady trees and…technology.

Of all the sapients on earth, only rabbit come close to humans in their love of tech. Rabbit valley has electricity (solar & wind), radio & tv stations, a subway (that’s how they get across those predator trails), telephones, theaters, internet…just about everything a modern city might have, except for guns and crime.

Here’s another jaw dropper: Rabbits are the financial wizards of the NHT world. Every NHT company, including my own, has bunnies keeping the books. My own CFO is a rabbit, Sundew Thumper, and I would be lost without her. The NHTA is worth about 5 trillion dollars and rabbits are the reason why.

I should note here that since the creation of the Ottopus, many young rabbits have moved away from finance to study the sciences. These young bucks & does are doing great in their chosen fields.

Of course, every once in a very great while, a young bun decides to completely rebel and go off on a different course. A couple of prime examples are my sister Daisy’s boyfriend, Max, and his best friend, Ollie.

One more note: No other NHT species has as complex a family setup or genealogy as rabbits. We dogs probably come closest, but are still a distant second.

Okay, it looks like I’ve written a lot here, but I also have two kids about to come home from a day out with Uncle Luke and Auntie Misty, so I need to get ready to hear how much fun they had. I’ll continue this piece in the next edition and discuss Sanctuaries outside North America.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross, PhD (x6)

Obviously, Including The Koreans In The Plan Was A Bad Idea

…they ran off to form a boy band

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LETTERS FROM SISTER BOMIA

Dear Sister Arilloni,

Well, here I am at Karrak City on the shore of Lake Vardestar and I’ve got to say, it truly is a beautiful city. The main portion is made up of rose marble buildings rising as high as 8 stories. This is primarily the administration and shopping hub of the city, although there are several very exclusive hotels and restaurants here. All of them are too rich for my pocketbook, or even my tastes. I’m staying in the southern portion of the city, which, while tending to the more economical traveler, still provides a wonderful stay.

I must say that being away from both my adventuring friends and the convent is sometimes a bit odd feeling. I have seldom in my life traveled alone and despite Amella assuring me that it would do me good to get out and about on my own, I sometimes feel a bit adrift. Of course, it has only been two days and I’m sure that the next 5 will find me doing just fine.

As you know, Lake Vardestar is really an inland freshwater sea, 200 mules long and as much as 80 miles across. The northern end is fed by the many rivers and streams that come from the Frozen Land. That end is deep and cold. The southern end is drained by the Great River Utas and the Serpent River. It is much shallower, warmer and has a huge wetland to the west and southwest.

Karrak City is at the halfway point of the lake and gets the benefit of fishermen from both ends selling their catch here. Last night I had a delicious platter of assorted smoked fish and various local cheeses. My breakfast this morning was a wonderful crawfish chowder. I will have to get in some exercise later, or I might come home with some extra pounds.

Well, I must be going now, Sister. I’m heading up into the nearby hills for a nature walk and picnic put on by the local Bird Watchers chapter. Give my regards to Mother Superior and the rest of the sisters.

Your friend,


Bomia

The Springtime Fresh, But Also Rather Spicy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Great 4th Of July Bicycle Race

…co-starring her Auntie Griselda Weeks
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Life On The Magic Bus

 

Chapter 9, Part 1: Across America At Random


Doc makes a case
Grace has doubts

Destination Sign: Suffragette City

6/16/2009

Doc Clay was reading his email when he suddenly let out a loud “Hot Damn Yes!”. Grace, Lucy, Winker and Sasha all looked up from their own emails and gave him varying degrees of the same curious but wary stare.

What now?”, Grace asked.

“Phil Lacewood just suggested a totally cool idea for all of us driving from the West Coast to GenCon this year: a road rally along Interstate 80, from San Francisco to Milwaukee. This would be using roads near the interstate, but not I-80 itself.”

“Sounds like fun!”, Lucy exclaimed with her usual joy.

“Cool! We can see lots of stuff.”, said Sasha, who was still an innocent pup where Doc’s plans were concerned.

Winker sighed and said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Grace just looked at Doc and said “Go on.”

Having been given the spousal green light, Doc continued.

So, we would leave San Fran at sun up a week before the Tuesday before the con. There will be a fishbowl with routes and stops in it on index cards. One will be drawn every morning and we’ll all leave at first light and stop at 4:00 in the afternoon. It will be hella fun, baby!”

Having been through nearly 40 years of “hella fun” plans, Grace gave this about a 70% chance of actually being fun. Considering all the things she had done in her life that had far less chance of success, she decided to give it a go.

“Okay, we’ll give this mad idea a try, but you tell Phil that I haven’t forgotten the scavenger hunt at GenCon 1998.”

Doc did a fair job of looking shocked and wounded.

“Aw, baby, that was a whole different thing. It would have turned out perfectly fine if the Milwaukee police hadn’t overreacted.”

“Overreacted? You were all stealing hubcaps! You had to hide in a tree for 3 hours and Phil jumped into the river to get away. One other guy hid in a dumpster.”

We were going to put those hubcaps back at some point.”

“MmmHmmm”

Everyone in the room, including the dogs who were now pretending to watch an exciting commercial on television, knew that “MmmHmmm” was Gracespeak for “Better change the subject”.

Doc blinked and quickly launched into a speech about how fun it would be to hang with friends and get off the interstate and maybe, just maybe, see a few roadside attractions that they might have missed in years past.

Winker let out a laugh. “And that sound you heard was the other shoe dropping. He’s gonna use this trip to write another series for Roadside Attraction Quarterly.”

Doc looked at Winker with fake anger. “Laugh it up, old girl, but money is money. And now, I’m off to start getting things ready for the trip. It’s only 6 weeks away!”

After he left the room, Grace and The Girls looked at each other, smiling.

“Well,” Grace sighed, “At least we’ll know what he’s up to between now and July 28th.”

Not In This Issue: Fig Parrots, Playing Strip Bingo, Singing Tree Pruners

… do NOT play Strip Tree Pruning
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After The Change Came

Series 4


Hound Dog Tails


Roscoe here with a badly late entry to this blog. As Dad said in his last post, I’m still working for the State of California Department of Nature as a wildlife surveyor, and I still work at ManDog creating QuestWorld scenarios. In fact, since his post we have finished scenarios #97 (Return To Venus) and #98 (The Floating City Caper). #99, still awaiting a title, is about 30% finished. And that will bring us to #100, which is about halfway plotted out on paper and will be a real mindblower when we release it. More than that, I cannot say.

It just occurred to me that some of you in other realities may not know what the whole QuestWorld phenomenon is. Let me explain.

After the Change restructured our world, the internet and everything about it got way more fun and way more strange to use. This was because you could just slip on a helmet and step right into a virtual world. There would be all sorts of websites and stuff laid out before you like a huge city. To help you navigate this confusing new world, there were Computer Guides, entities based upon people who had died years before. They could get you where you needed to go and help you find what you needed. They were, and still are, pretty much indispensable.

Anyway, this new cyberspace was just crying out for games and a bunch of folks either wrote new games or ported old games. I can still remember when I was a pup and I’d play Joust with Dad. Believe me, it’s a much different game when you’re riding on the flying ostriches with all sorts of shit happening around you.

At some point in 2004, at GenCon, a group of young folks got to talking to Dad and Uncle Spike and a bunch of other Old School roleplayers and the topic turned to adventure modules and intro adventures and adventure seeds. By the time the evening was done, a young lady named Shema Oliver had an idea for an online game that used “modules”. Three weeks later, QuestWorld Inc. was a company and six months later QuestWorld the game made it’s debut.

The main concept about QuestWorld is that you, ordinary citizens, have been transported to the Multiversal Nexus and told that you must find parts of a McGuffin in several worlds, then return them, assemble them and go into yet another world and stop the big bad guy. You can go into the various worlds, all of which are small, but richly realized, by computer game standards, in any order you like. There are also many ways to get the job done, but some work better than others. Most worlds are set up for four to eight players, but you can play with smaller groups or even solo.

Another thing that is very cool is that your characters pick up skills and powers in each world. Some of those don’t port over to every world (magic is a good example), but you never lose these skills. Believe me, first things you want to learn is stealth and some sort of edged weapon. Useful anywhere.

The first QuestWorld had four initial worlds (Zombie New York, Sinking Atlantis, The Old West and Shogunate Japan) to fetch McGuffin parts from and the Boss world (Jungle of Death) to use the McGuffin in. 150,000 people signed up to play it the first week. That number tripled the second week. By the time the company celebrated their first year, they had four different adventures and 19 worlds.

And then they did their version of the Open Game License. Anyone could create adventures or just modules, but they could only be played on the official QuestWorld site. Developers got 50% of the take and prominent credit (in neon lights) for their company and everyone working on the game.

This opened as floodgate of adventures and modules. Many sucked badly, but some were great. The initial McGuffin/Big Bad concept began to get massaged into something different in some adventures. Sometimes, you might be searching for spell components or map pieces or evel lost family members. It was a chaotic and wonderful time.

After about two years, the QW folks had to start setting up minimal quality rules. That weeded out a bunch of developers. Another thing that happened, and this caught most of us by surprise, it that people who weren’t QW players started to actually pay to watch QW games. Pretty soon there were QW cons and cybershows and then the official online QuestCon, which now draws half a million people.

The big event at QuestCon is the Speed Challenge. 24 teams of 6 people go on a quest that covers 5 worlds (chosen by a panel of QW fans selected a couple of days before the event picking from a large number of excellent scenarios) and a Boss World. Fastest time wins $100,000.00. The world record was set in 2016 by Team Fluffy Kitty with 5 hours, 50 minutes, 11 seconds. As a long time Speed Challenge fan and sometimes participant, let me just say that time is fucking insane. Of course, they did finish with only 2 PCs left alive. I’ll note that as of 2018, the Speed Challenge was drawing above 4 million viewers worldwide.

This year, as we have for the last 7 years, Team ManDog will be in the running to participate in the Speed Challenge. Our team consists of me, Dad, my son Nick, Auntie Avis, my daughter May and Uncle Spike. I think we have a good shot at making it.

Okay, I took way to long writing this, so I’ll end for now.

Talk to you later,

Roscoe

We Never Stopped Liking Monkeys, We Just Took A Short Break.

…okay, it was 7 years
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Confessions Of A Time Traveler

If Nobody Ever Finds It, Is It Really Lost?

As you may or not have heard Sasha mention in her rants, time travel is strange and wonderful and you cannot change history. You can cause history, you can spin off new timelines and you can kind of “cheat” history, but you can’t change it in any meaningful way.

It’s that cheating part I want to talk about today.

Sasha and I have told you about the “have your cake and eat it, too” way of duplicating a famous person (Abe Lincoln, Jack Kennedy, Ada Lovelace, Frank Zappa, etc) and bringing them to a point way in the future so they can live another, hopefully beneficial life. I’ve done it a couple of dozen times.

But what about stuff? Things? Can you bring those back to the present?

Yes, but…

You can do it with pretty much anything, but the more you bring or the rarer it is now, the harder it is to explain. I love my complete collection of comics from the 50’s & 60’s, but since they are in brand new condition and complete runs, explaining them would be very difficult. Same goes for my DVD collection of every Doctor Who episode, even the lost ones.

Now, what I mostly want to cover is bringing loot from the past. Gold, silver, diamonds, artwork, etc. Stuff worth a lot of money. I’m not saying you go back and rob a bank or an art gallery or something, but then again, maybe you consider it.

Generally speaking, you can’t do that easily. For one thing, if somebody gets a picture of you as you leap into your getaway car, it can cause no end of headaches later. Of course, there is also too much chance of getting shot or caught. But what you can do, is research “Lost (fill in the blank)” and then go find that stuff. Why? Because if it was never found by the time of your Absolute Now, who’s to say what happened to it.

An example: A gang of 1920s bank robbers hit a bank for $100,000.00. They get away, but two days later all of them die in a shootout with the cops. The money is never found and the folks in the 21st century who make television shows about lost treasures have another story to try and solve.

But you, Friend Time Traveler, go back to the day of the robbery, put a small tracking device on their car, then use a drone to follow them. You learn that they put the money into an old well in Nowhereville, Kansas, so you get there after they leave, grab the cash and go back to your present secure in the knowledge that the well gets filled in sometime in 1933 and has a bigass grain elevator built on the spot in 1953.

Art the Nazis stole? It’s yours, dude! You could keep it in a private collection or you could “find” it at some point and get huge rewards and your name in all the papers. Same could go for all the artwork the Nazi scum destroyed, but that is trickier to get hold of.

Did you ever wonder why they don’t find more wrecked ships full of gold, silver and other loot? Time travelers! Ancient treasures, like, say, what was in those looted Egyptian tombs? Time travelers! Movies, recordings, television shows that are “lost”? Yep, time travelers.

So remember, kids: Finder’s keepers, losers weepers.

Oh, and to keep from having to write another variation on this piece, collecting extinct animals or lost humans (IF they were truly lost. Many “lost” folks just get new identities) is WAY easier to do. Assuming you have a place in the present to hold them.

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DUDE! A Doclopedia Milestone!

…Seriously!
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Well spank my ass and call me Pinky, this is my 1,500th Doclopedia post!

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The Doclopedia #1,500

Well, Since You Asked: Here’s How It Went Down

It started out with me leaving Penny’s house before the party started…no, not the after party, the PARTY party. The one she was giving for Walt and Debbie after they said they were going to get married, even though none of us figured that it would really happen because Debbie has commitment issues and Walt pisses off every woman he gets close to and Walt doesn’t have a good enough job to afford Debbie’s high maintenance ass. But anyway, I’m leaving her house to go get ice because Penny never get enough ice, like that time when we were in high school and had to drink most of a case of Buckeye beer that was really warm because her idea of enough ice was a 2 pound bag on a 90 degree night. Jesus, that stuff tasted like hot horse piss and one of the bags leaked water all over Paul’s backseat.

So I’m walking to the store, the 7-11 on Grand, not the one on Wilton because Grand is 6 blocks away on level ground while Wilton is 5 blocks away up a steep hill and my knee was not having that shit. I’ve never liked that hill since Old Man Rinski lost his brakes and ran over my bike before plowing into the dry cleaner’s that used to be on the corner of Maple. What the fuck was an 86 year old man doing driving anyway? And then he died a few months later and everyone had to wait for his estate to be settled. Of course, Dad used the bike money to help buy us a scooter. Yeah, Old Red! That was a great scooter.

I’m about a block from the store when I see the front window come crashing out because some guy wearing a werewolf costume has jumped through it. I looked around because I thought “are they filming a movie or tv show?”, but nope, no cameras. Only it isn’t a guy in a costume, it’s a real fuckin’ werewolf because he grabs Dirty Ernie, tears his fuckin’ arm off and starts eating it, which is pretty gross because I don’t think that druggie had bathed since Clinton was president. Dude, did he ever get close to you when he was panhandling? He smelled like 10,000 dirty socks that had been soaked in piss and left out in the sun. Disgusting!

So there’s Dirty Ernie bleeding out and people are running and screaming and three cop cars come screaming up and a fuckin’ zombie…one of the slow kind, thankfully, but still a goddamn real zombie…comes out of the 7-11 and I didn’t know whether to scream, run or just shit myself. I chose running, by the way.

The cops yell at the werewolf and it charges toward them and bullets start flying and I dive behind an SUV which proceeds to catch about 30 bullets which is a damned shame because it looked like a sweet ride. It took about 10 seconds for at least 7 bullets and a shotgun blast to hit it. Once the shooting stopped, I peek around the front tire and I see two cops on the ground all ripped to shit and the werewolf is blasted full of holes and deader than hell. The zombie is dead, too because somebody thought to blow his head off, which is even grosser and messier in real life than in any movie. After seeing all that, I lost my lunch in the gutter. I will live a long time before I see that much gore in real life again.

I get up and run over to a cop and ask him what the fuck is going on and damned if he isn’t Marty McCabe, that kid who was two years behind us in school and lived on Cimmaron Drive with the dad that wore a toupee and drove a sports car and the mom who always wore the fake jewelry and had that yappy little dog. Nobody liked that dog and I heard that a big alley cat kicked it’s ass good and Mrs. McCabe lost her shit while she was calling animal control from the vet’s office.

Marty tells me that all kinds of monsters are popping up all over town and I had better get my ass somewhere safe and then we see a Predator alien running up Grand toward us and the cops start shooting but the Predator is fast and dodging but then I notice it doesn’t have any weapons, just bigass teeth and claws, which, when you think about it, is probably good enough. I’m thinking that over when I stumble over the dead werewolf and realize that the cops didn’t use silver bullets to kill him, which would have been crazy expensive even if you could find any, and really, who the fuck has actual silver bullets you can fire from a pistol? Silver is pretty soft and I’ll bet it would fuck up your gun fast.

Anyway, that Predator is closing in and the cops need all the help they can get and so I grab a half full 40 ouncer from off the curb and lob it at that alien asshole. It hit him it the chest and he stops to look at me and then one of the cops rams him with a cop car and two more cops run up and shoot the shit out of it. It was dramatic as fuck and I could imagine Bruce Willis as the cop driving the car.

I’m thinking I need to get back to Penny’s place and warn everyone, when I see my cousin Tony and his pal Rigo come barreling up in his Impala, the red one, not the yellow one because that one is in the shop getting a new engine and transmission and I think maybe an exhaust system. So I ask Tony what the fuck two crazy Mexicans are doing out here in the burbs and he says that my sister, Kate, who I thought was on a trip to Seattle, but then I realize that was my sister Bonnie and it was Portland and you got to cut me some slack because keeping track of 5 sisters isn’t easy, told him I was going to a party at Penny’s and since there were more monsters popping up on this side of town, he figured he’s come over and see if I was okay. That’s the kind of guy Tony is, a crazy fucker, but one who will look out for you.

So I jump in his car and we head for Penny’s and one block from her place we see a fuckin’ troll. Not one of those wispy haired ugly doll little fuckers, but a goddamn 15 foot tall troll straight out of a Hobbit movie and it’s got a woman in it’s hand getting ready to eat her and Tony says “Oh fuck no!” and Rigo, who says maybe 10 words a week, shouts out something in Spanish and we ram right into the troll’s left leg. You could hear the leg bone snap, the car’s front end crumple, the lady scream and the troll let out a roar. We got out of the car and run around to the trunk and Tony pops it open and we grab crowbars and sledge hammers and a set of bolt cutters, none of which Tony is supposed to be carting around because he’s still on parole, but I’m damned glad he had them.

Rigo and I start wailing away on the troll’s busted leg and he drops the lady into a bush. I think it was a camellia bush, because Grandma Becky used to have a couple of those in her front yard and she got pissed off if her neighbor’s dog whizzed on them. The bush broke her fall enough that she wasn’t hurt bad, but that freed up both the troll’s hands and it started to pick up a Smart Car to drop on Tony. But just then, Dave Lawrence, you know, that friend of Penny’s who rolls into town for a visit 2 or 3 times a year when he’s not out surfing or snorkeling or diving or climbing a mountain? I’m pretty sure he mostly visits so he can play hide the weenie with Penny’s sister Andi, but anyway, he’s got a spear gun in his hands and he shoots the troll right in the junk. Even though I wanted that fuckin’ troll dead, I still winced and crossed my legs a bit. So did Rigo and Tony. Sympathetic spear to the dick pain, dude.

As you might think, the troll screamed and grabbed his, like, 3 foot long johnson, and was not thinking about us and can you really blame him? So Tony reaches up with this 5 foot crowbar and whacks the troll right in the left nut. Turns out, a troll falls over and screams just like we would, except way louder and it sounds kind of like two gravel trucks having a head on collision. Once the troll was down, we started whipping on it’s head until it stopped moving. Tony’s car was fucked up, but nothing the guys over at D&J Auto Body and A-1 Mechanics couldn’t repair. Those guys are great. They fixed my truck up like new after Rabbi Bob and I rolled it down that hill back in 2003.

So, with this humongous troll dead, still holding his dick, and blocking the street, we push Tony’s car over in front of Mr & Mrs Tong’s house, because we knew they’d be okay with it. Then we hoof it over to Penny’s and are just thanking Dave for spearing the troll in the dick when Nina, who is Penny’s cousin and a lawyer or a doctor or something like that, look up in the sky and screams.

Now, I’m thinking it’s gonna be a goddamn dragon or something, I dunno, a wyvern or giant bat or, well, hell, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s bad news. I was right, but it was Dracula. Not Bela Lugosi Dracula, which would be bad enough, but oh no, this is motherfucking Christopher Lee Hammer Horror fucking Dracula. I mean, Christopher Lee was a 100% certified badass in real life and his Dracula was the best ever and now here he is, red eyes and cape and big sharp goddamn teeth and he’s coming right at us and I may have pissed myself a little. Don’t you fucking laugh! You would have pissed, too.

Anyway, Dracula comes swooping down and lands in front of us and he grabs me by the neck and lifts me right up off the ground and I’m scared and pissed off and I see Tony swinging that crowbar so I kick Dracula right in the chin as the crowbar whacks the arm that is holding me. The arm breaks and Dracula drops me on my ass and I see his jaw is busted where I kicked him and I remember these monsters aren’t the real deal and then Penny blows a hole right through Dracula with a shotgun I didn’t know she had, but then I recognize it as her dad’s old shotgun because he used to go hunting with my dad and my Uncle Ray up on Elk Mountain.


We all ran into the house and locked the hell outta the doors and I grabbed a cold beer and chugged it down. There were about 20 of us in there, including Lori Diaz and you know that was a bit uncomfortable for her and I, or it would have been if the fucking town wasn’t overrun by goddamn movie monsters and D&D monsters and shit like that. I mean, Lori and I had a good 2 years, but then she started getting promotions at work and I got that job in Philly and then the one in Miami and, well, things just ended. The problem is, we still kinda have feelings for each other. It’s complicated.

The TV was on and the chopper cam was showing a shitload of kobolds, yeah, the dog faced lizard kind from the first Monster Manual, raising hell in the Taco Bell down at the Southside Mall, which was really no big deal for most of us because Taco Bell sucks and that Taco Bell sucks even more. Then the news guys showed a scorpion about the size of a bus heading up Main street until a guy runs out of the Arco station at Main and Third and lobs a few gallons of gas onto it, then lights it up. Dude, that things went up like a bomb went off and it went bugfuck for about a minute before it died. I’m thinking it probably smelled pretty gross, although since scorpions are related to lobsters, maybe it smelled not so bad, maybe like a busy night at Red Lobster.

By the time I got to beer #4, we had all calmed down a bit and some folks were talking about maybe trying to get out of town when Walt looks out a window and starts yelling and pointing and we all run over to see what’s what and fuck me sideways if it’s not Cthulhu, CTHU-FUCKING-LHU, coming towards us as he steps on that Vietnamese place over on Harper street, which I heard made a killer pho. He’s every fucking bit of 200 feet tall and tentacle faced and all that shit and even though we know he’s not REALLY Cthulhu, he’s still pretty fuckin’ scary because he’s 200 feet tall and stomping on ethnic restaurants and houses and cars and shit and he heading RIGHT TOWARD US! I may have peed a bit more, but dude, FOUR BEERS, okay?

We all run out the front door just in time to hear a big boom and see old tentacle face get hit by an artillery round fired by the guys from the National Guard armory over on Baker and 6th. Blew a bigass hole in him and then another round hit him and blew off his arm. He fell down and took out about 4 houses and the 7-11 I was just at. We all cheered and hugged.

Now, here’s where it gets really strange, which is sayin’ a lot considering the fucking Weirdfest-O-Rama that has been going on up to now. See, Cthulhu starts to glow and then fades away. Same with the troll and any other monsters we can see. We run back in the house to catch the news and the newsguy is saying that all the monsters are fading away and that the Air Force shot down a UFO west of town. Tony wanted to go out there and see it, until I reminded him that there would be a shitload of soldiers and FBI and CIA and NSA and cops out there and maybe it wasn’t the best place for a crazy fucker on parole like him to be. He agreed, plus his ride was trashed anyway, so he and Rigo decided they’d walk over a few blocks and see how some lady friends of theirs were doing. If it was the ladies I think it is, I’d say they were doing pretty well once Tony and Rigo showed up.

Things having died down, the party pretty much just turned into people talking and getting drunk and the next thing I know it’s morning and I’m waking up in Penny’s bed and she’s cooking bacon & eggs and her cat, Socks is laying on my chest and I’m thinking it’ll be a long time before I have a night as strange as that one. But you know, never say never.

Anyway, that’s how it all went down.