Saturday, February 28, 2004

TNT: Ch. 23

The plan for tomorrow night turned out to be somewhat better. They were sleeping at Vlad's house. After a little bit of discussion they decided it would be best to stop by Indy, so Eric could pack for a long trip and try to get leave from work and Vlad could pack and try to salvage his chances of keeping his job. As they calculated, they could stay the night in Indy, get up at six, and make it to the community by 10pm -12am, the perfect time for the cover of darkness. Hopefully by the time they arrived there there would be a plan, and it would involve cover of darkness.
They spent the trip to Indy trying to formulate the plan. They needed one that would keep everyone safe, including the lobster (Vlad was insistent), get them the artifact, and get them out. By the time they reached the city they had several plans, none of which produced the desired effect and were feasible. They came up with this chart, which adequately sums up the hours of discussion.

Plan 1 and 2: Gina or the Lobster is traded for the artifact
Problems: The sacrificee is trapped there.
In all likelyhood the rest of us won't be allowed to leave with the artifact anyway.
Plan 3: We all sneak in, under cover of darkness, and steal the artifact - ninja or mission impossible style
Problems: We aren't Ninjas
Our knowledge of the defenses is dependent or Gina's not entirely reliable memory. [She protested at this, but wasn't able to describe what part of the room the heating element was in, so she conceded the point]
Plan 4: Get help from Gina's brother.
Problems: He may or may not help.
He might turn us in or betray us.
Plan 5: Call in the cops to break up the whole operation.
Problems: They must have some means of not having been shut down yet.
If the cops are on their side, we're in trouble.
Even if they're on our side we'll have a hard time convincing them the artifact is rightfully ours, because it isn't.
[And now in different handwriting]
Plan 6: Send in the lobster, who knows the layout and defenses of the vault perfectly well and has proven he's on our side.
Problems: None [which is crossed out and replaced with , in the original handwriting]
It's BS.
The lobster is too stupid.
Vlad's a moron.

That's what they had to work with when they hit Indianapolis. Not the most promising plan or the most comprehensive list.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Google randomness

I am now number 1 on Google for the phrase "Sacred Lobster" (go ahead, try it) and number 9 for "just toaster". Also number 1 for "Eric Smellick" and the only result for the word Floobel. I hope this information is as exciting to you as it is to me.

TNT: Ch. 22

They found a nice hotel. It was clean and the staff was helpful, but it was amazingly cheap. Vlad was having a wonderful night. Unfortunately, he was sharing it with the rest of the room. When he finally stopped snoring he had started talking and now, at 1:00, he was singing. Gilbert and Sullivan. Out of key. The worst of it was, Gina seemed to be sleeping. So it seemed to be just Eric who was having such an awful night.
It wasn't just that Vlad was making a ruckus, although it certainly didn't help. It was also that Gina was asleep just five feet away. In her flattering lilac nightgown, she look so peaceful and pretty and... awake?
"What are you looking at?" she asked groggily, "And will he ever shut up?"
"I was trying to tell if you were awake," Eric lied, "So we could try to deal with him."
Gina said something else, but it was drowned out by a chorus from the Mikado.
"What?" asked Eric.
She leaned it closer to him. "Let's try to wake him. Maybe he can fix it."
So they tried. When yelling failed they phoned the desk and asked for an immediate wake-up call. The bewildered help desk tried it, but it didn't work. Nor did splashing water on his face. Finally, they decided to roll the singing Norwegian off the bed. They pushed and shoved and heaved, and finally he fell and abruptly stopped singing. They collapsed on the bed and almost instantly fell asleep.
So it was that Vlad woke up the next morning to discover himself on the floor and Gina and Eric in bed together. (Clothed and an inch apart, but in bed together nonetheless)
"Eric! Miss Gina!" he exclaimed, "Let's have a little chivalry and respect for the other roommate! If you two wanted a room together," he said winking, "you only had to ask."
"No, no!" Gina exclaimed still confused but awake enough to catch Vlad's insinuation, "We just, well, you were snoring and singing opera and we wanted to sleep, not together, just period, but we couldn't so we tried to wake you but we couldn't, and what are you smiling about?" she said to Eric suddenly.
"Nothing! It's just a funny situation. Irony and stuff."
She just gave him an 'I'm not stupid but I'll play along because I don't want to know the real answer' look.
"Anyway," Vlad interjected, "That's ridiculous. I sleep like an angel."
"Yes," agreed Eric, "Like an awake angel taking a break from hymns to sing light opera."
He scoffed and went off to feed the lobster.
Eric and Gina looked at each other for a minute.
"Look I-" Eric started.
"Don't worry about it," said Gina, smiling, "We'll just make a better plan for tomorrow night."
And when she smiled, Eric wouldn't have been worried about anyway. And he realized something in that instant. 'Starting now,' he thought, 'I'm fishing for cod.'

Thursday, February 12, 2004

TNT: Ch. 21

"So," asked Eric when they got back into the car, "What's with this Red Snake?"
"I'm trying to remember. We had to memorize the contents of the sacred vault in school, but that was a long time ago," replied Gina, who was now taking a turn in the driver's seat, "I think it was supposed to have something to do with the Lobster, actually. Same story, anyway. I'll get it in a minute."
"Okay," said Eric, "Speaking of that, how is our sacred lobster?"
"He seems fine," replied Vlad, "He's been picking at the ring. I wonder if he knows what we're talking about."
"He doesn't!" snorted Gina, "Nothing my father collected is really supernatural! It's just a poor old lobster that got painted with symbols! I've never seen it act smarter than that, and I've known it since childhood."
"Since childhood?" asked Vlad.
She nodded.
"And the symbols have been the same that whole time?"
"Yeah, so?"
"A lobster molts five times a year. If they were painted they'd have to be repainted frequently. I'm surprised no one saw how normal the lobster was when it molted."
"It was kept in the vault. They probably pulled it out just before then."
She laughed suddenly. "We haven't been feeding him blessed food! They'll be furious!"
The others chuckled uncomfortably.
"Wait a minute," said Eric, "Have we fed it at ALL?"
They were silent.
"We probably should pick up some lobster food. We've only had him for a day."
"It's getting late anyway," said Eric, "Let's stop at this next hotel, and we can work out a plan in the morning. We'll get two rooms, I guess."
"That's silly," said Gina, "We'll get one room and you two can share a bed."
Eric looked over at Vlad and resolved to get back at her for that somehow.

Monday, February 09, 2004

TNT: Ch. 20

"And what would that be?" asked Eric.
"Back home, we have a vault of sacred objects. They're various things that played a part in my father's fake scriptures. One of the items is called Briksol Ip, or the Red Snake. It's also referred to as the Heating Element of the Eternal Flame."
"Yeah," Eric agreed, "That's a stronger lead."
"Unfortunately, it involves going back home," she said glumly.
"Well then," said Vlad, "We will go without you. We can drop you off somewhere with the lobster, and go in oursel-"
"No," she said in a final tone, "You'd never get in and out without me."
"Maybe it would help if we new more about the... cult," Eric suggested, "Here's the rest stop, and there's a Waffle Shoppe. We'll stop and have waffles and you can tell us."
"Sounds good," Gina agreed, "Then you can listen without getting us killed."
They went into the restaurant and ordered. Comfortable, Gina began her story.

"My father started the Followers of the Whey ten years before I was born. In his version, that was when a great White Stag came to him and told him a great story, which he wrote down in the Book of the Whey. The story was about the four antlered ungulates of old - the stag Engren, the moose Floobel, the elk Gerdam, and the caribou Brim. They had once been warring creatures, always locking antlers against each other, until they discovered the Whey. Now, whey is basically the liquid part of curdled milk, but the Whey was some mystical drink that would bring them peace. Apparently they wanted to share it with humans, and as soon as my father got enough people to follow him they would. He started a closed community on a plot of land in Maine. I grew up believing all this.
"Of course, it's a load of hooey I found that out as I got older. I started noticing how my dad, the great prophet, never showed respect to the idols when he was at home, only among the community. How the money and goods given to the community to facilitate reaching out to new followers always ended up in his pocket. How the community never actually grew bigger than the plot of land. By the time I was 16 I knew it was all a ruse. A talk with my older brother, four years my senior, yielded the rest. As the chosen heir to my father's position of Golden Stag, he was privy to the truth. He of course didn't want to tell, but we were close and I used my charm to weasel it out of him. The truth is my father, down on his luck and low on money, wrote the Book of the Whey off the top of his head. Somehow, through great speech and finding gullible people, he drew people in, building and acquiring more "artifacts" as he went to make him more credible. It was artfully done.
"Now, as a 16 year old girl who was growing up treated like a princess, this information by itself didn't matter to me. I struggled with it and lived with it for three more years, but when my father told me it was time to marry Rob, I started looking for a way out. Rob was one of the worst, who had risen to a high position by being stupider and more gullible, and therefore more devout, than anyone else, and I was to be the final rung in his ladder of success. (Marrying me would bring him into a new order.) I finally made it out at age 20, the day before the wedding. I bought my way to where you found me with smuggled money, and the rest is history. You came when I was out of money."
"Wait a minute," said Eric, "You were hitchhiking from Maine to New York and ended up in Illinois?"
"No, I got out by smuggling myself in the back of a semi truck shipping lobsters caught by the community to where I thought was New York. Actually it was New Mexico, and when you think about it that way, I got off pretty good getting off the truck in Michigan."
"Hmfw Wmfng wf yrn trmnft?" asked Vlad. Reacting to the blank stares, he swallowed his waffle and repeated.
"How long were you in transit before you met us?"
"Three weeks. Enough to take all my money. Speaking of which, who's paying for this?"
"Master Lin," said Vlad, holding up a credit card he had been given, "But you two have not touched your food. Eat up. I will talk."
At once they started shuffling food in rapidly.
"I know another old tale," Vlad continued, "About a walrus and the true meaning of Christmas..."

Thursday, February 05, 2004


I do not mean any offense to Republicans, Native Arctic Peoples, Atheists, non-Christians, Christians, Walruses, Bananas, Penguins, or people who wanted to read the toaster story.

How Willy the Walrus Discovered the True Meaning of Christmas

At this point, I don't want to go forward right away because the last post was so cliff-hangery and there's no new perspective I want to switch too. So in lieu of actual content, I'm writing a short one post story.

How Willy the Walrus Discovered the True Meaning of Christmas

Willy was a walrus. He was not a big walrus or a strong walrus. He could not perform songs from HMS Pinafore or precise calculus calculations. He did not look good in a tutu. But out of all the Walruses, he was the best at showing Christmas spirit. Every Christmas, he would be the first to put on his Santa hat, make hot cocoa, or build snow velociraptors. He always gave the most thoughtful presents and threw the most extravagant parties.
One day not too far from Christmas, Willy was putting up his lights when a very small meteor fell on his head. It caused him to wonder if he really knew the true meaning of Christmas. Deciding he didn't, he set off to find it.
The first thing he saw was a hungry Eskimo.
"Hungry Eskimo," he asked, "What is the true meaning of Christmas?"
The Eskimo, unfortunately, neither spoke Walrus nor celebrated Christmas, so he merely lobbed his spear at Willy. Luckily, Willy was small enough to dodge it.
"I guess the Eskimo does not know the true meaning of Christmas," Willy thought.
The next thing he saw was a GOP convention.
"Republicans," he yelled, "Do any of you know the true meaning of Christmas?"
"The true meaning of Christmas is to put an end to abortion and re-elect GW Bush!" cheered the republicans.
"I do not think that is the true meaning of Christmas," thought Willy.
After walking for a while, he saw a discarded banana.
"Discarded banana, what is the true meaning of Christmas?"
The banana was silent.
"Discarded banana, please tell me."
Still nothing.
"I guess the banana is an inatimate object and therefore cannot tell me the true meaning of Christmas," thought Willy and walked off.
"What a stupid walrus," thought the banana.
Finally, Willy encountered an injured penguin.
"Injured penguin," he asked, "What is the true meaning of Christmas?"
"Help... me..." the penguin stuttered.
"That's it!" said Willy, "Christmas is about helping people, just like Jesus did. It's the day when we celebrate the birth of he who died to save us all! Thank you Injured Penguin, thank you."
But the Penguin did not answer because it was unconscious. Willy shrugged and headed back to his house to spread Christmas joy. The penguin died.

(The penguin didn't really die because the banana healed him with it's super powers, but then the Eskimo ate them both which just goes to show you that stuff happens.)