I am an anarchist: recently, I’ve come under the influence of the anarcho-communist ideas of Peter Kropotkin. I consider the State and capitalism to be the two great evils of society, and greed is the worst of the deadly sins.
A truly good society, and a good world, would be made up of federations of freely associating communities that rule themselves. Thus no one would have power over others. No hierarchies or power systems would exist: in other words, there would be no boss/employee, royalty/peasant, bourgeois/proletarian, or leader/follower relationships. Businesses would be collectively owned. As far as religion is concerned, though all religions would be tolerated, there would be no coerced belief in a monotheistic God who would rule over us or judge us. No gods, no masters.
With the end of capitalism would also come the end of the wage system and of money: a gift economy would replace it. With the end of private property would also come the end of a need to pay rent to landlords. A society of competition would be replaced by one of cooperation and mutual aid.
By eliminating money and its seductive power over mankind, there’d be little incentive to start wars, since war is essentially a racket anyway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_is_a_Racket), a plundering of foreign lands for oil, etc., to fill the pockets of the rich with money. With the end of hostilities against foreigners would come the end of racism, or at least a drastic reduction of xenophobic feeling. Indeed, with the end of all hierarchies, fully realized in every conceivable way, one could quite possibly see the gradual withering away of patriarchy, since the political and monetary basis of male domination (the State and capitalism) would be annihilated. But even if some inequalities were to linger, I’m confident that eliminating them would become much easier without the divisive propaganda of the media, which is controlled by the State and the corporations.
Instead of monotheistic religion, perhaps people might find pantheistic mysticism more appealing, its monism more catering to an egalitarian mindset. Still, conventional religions would be tolerated, as long as they don’t try to impose themselves on those who don’t share their beliefs. Atheism and agnosticism would also be fully respected. People’s beliefs would be no one’s business but their own.
The evils of capitalism and government continue to exist because their minions have learned clever techniques to keep the people in line. Unhealthy food and time-wasting online nonsense saps the people of their energy and sense of purpose in life. Charismatic leaders lull the masses into submission, making them love and hate whomever Big Brother wants them to love or hate. The media selectively presents world events in a way to make the people believe what it is required of them to believe. Heroes are vilified, and scoundrels are celebrated.
And when the people rebel? Militarized police, those bullies with their bullets and batons, thrash the masses. Innocent people are incarcerated for the smallest of misdemeanours, or for habits, such as the recreational use of marijuana, that shouldn’t even be deemed crimes. It’s all a depressing spectacle to see on the news.
For these reasons, I see no hope in any future government or in any reform of capitalism. Those two villains have been lovers throughout history: they’ll never be separated. State socialism is no answer–the failure of the Soviet Union, as well as that of the European State-generated social programs, many of which have crumbled in the present economic crisis, proves that Bolshevism, in whatever guise it comes, moderate or extreme, is a fool’s idol. But neither is so-called ‘anarchist capitalism’ an acceptable alternative. Its supporters imagine a cleaning up of corruption in the free market, but under such a contradictory way of doing things, I predict the speedy build-up of a plutocracy, a government to protect the nouveaux riches and their coveted privileges.
No, one can’t have the one power structure without the other: capitalism and the State are like conjoined twins, sharing one avaricious heart. If one wants the one to stay alive, the other must live, too. If one truly wants one of them to die, one must accept the death of the other.
These beliefs of mine come from years and years of watching one corrupt government after another, on both the Left and the Right, as well as everywhere in between on the ideological continuum. I’ve never seen a government, or a corporation, or a church, sufficiently without fault that I could wholeheartedly stand behind it.
Anarchist communism, brought about by the trade unions seizing control of the means of production, is the only answer. May a repeat of the 1936 Spanish Revolution come, and soon; and may it not be crushed by the forces of Fascism, as it so tragically was in the Spanish Civil War. Let us unite, comrades, and free ourselves. As Marx and Engels said years ago, ‘You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win. WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!’
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Act One: Theseus, the Duke of Athens, having recently captured Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, plans to marry her. Egeus complains to the duke that his daughter, Hermia, refuses to obey him and marry Demetrius. Instead, she loves Lysander, who fights for his right to marry her. Lysander tells everyone Demetrius used to love Helena, who still “dotes” on him.
The Athenian law punishes those who disobey their fathers with the death penalty, and Egeus wishes to use this law to intimidate Hermia into marrying Demetrius; still, she boldly refuses. The duke must uphold the law, but offers her a third choice: if she won’t marry Demetrius, instead of suffering death, she can devote herself to the chaste worship of the goddess Diana, and abjure the society of men. She has until Theseus’ wedding day to decide. Theseus, Egeus, and Demetrius then leave the room, and Lysander and Hermia are alone.
Lysander comforts her (see first quote from my ‘Analysis of MND’ post), and tells her his plan to take her out of Athens and away from its cruel law. They’ll go through the nearby forest and stay at his aunt’s home. Then they’ll be married. This gives Hermia hope.
When Helena joins them and tells them of her dejection from Demetrius’ preference of Hermia over her, they tell her of their plan to leave, Demetrius then having only Helena to love. Lysander and Hermia leave, and Helena is alone, complaining in a monologue of her loss of Demetrius’ love (see second quote from ‘Analysis of MND’). Finally, she foolishly decides to tell Demetrius about her friends’ plan to flee to the woods, hoping this will win Demetrius’ favour.
Peter Quince, having chosen the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe to have his ‘actors’ perform in a play before the duke, gives each actor his role. Nick Bottom, every director’s nightmare, is to play Pyramus, lover of Thisbe; but Bottom wants to play every role. Francis Flute, a boy, is to play Thisbe, but he doesn’t want to play a girl because he’s starting to grow a beard. Bottom wants to play Thisbe, but Quince insists he’s to be only Pyramus.
Snug is to play a lion, but he wants to see his ‘lines’ quickly because he’s ‘slow of study’; Quince assures him he only needs to improvise roaring–this reassures Snug. Bottom offers to play the lion, and boasts of his ability to roar; Quince says he’ll frighten away the ladies, so Bottom offers to roar softly. Still, Quince insists Bottom is only to be Pyramus, and tells everyone to meet in the nearby forest that night to rehearse, because he doesn’t want the Athenians to watch how the play is being put together.
Act Two: In the forest that night, a fairy chats with Puck, and Puck tells her of the pranks he likes to play on people.
There is trouble in fairyland. Oberon, the fairy king, is angry with Titania, his queen, because she, not even willing to share a bed with him, refuses to give him an Indian changeling boy for his page. She says that the boy’s mother honoured Titania while the mother was alive, and out of friendship with the mother, Titania wants to have the child, and should have him. She and her fairy retinue leave Oberon.
Wanting revenge for this ‘injury’, Oberon commands Puck, his fairy servant, to go off and find a special flower that one of Cupid’s arrows was shot into. The arrow filled the flower with a potion, called ‘love in idleness’. When the ‘love juice’ of this flower is poured onto the eyelids of anyone sleeping, he or she, when waking, will fall in love with the first person…or animal…or thing…he or she sees. Puck flies away to find the flower.
Oberon plans to put the love juice on Titania’s eyelids as she sleeps that night, making her fall in love with something ‘vile’ to humiliate her. While she’s thus distracted, he’ll get the Indian boy.
While Oberon is waiting for Puck to return, he sees Demetrius walking through the forest, chased by Helena. Invisible to them, Oberon listens to what they say to each other.
Though Demetrius insists that he neither will nor can love her, Helena says she loves him all the same. He warns her of the dangers a maid may encounter in a forest at night, when Demetrius has no inclination to protect her. He continues to try outrunning her in his search for Hermia, and Helena complains of how men are supposed to pursue women, not vice versa.
Oberon, taking pity on her, tells Puck–when he returns with the flower–to put some of the love juice on the eyelids of a sleeping Athenian man who is disdainful of a woman’s love. Oberon tells Puck, who’s never seen Demetrius before, he’ll know the man by the Athenian clothes he’s wearing. So Puck takes some of the flower and searches for the Athenian, while Oberon takes the rest of the flower and finds Titania, whose fairies are singing her to sleep.
When she’s asleep, Oberon pours the love juice on her eyelids and chants a magical poem to make her fall in love with a hideous monster. He tells her to “wake when some vile thing is near”, and leaves her.
Meanwhile, Lysander and Hermia are wandering elsewhere in the forest, and they are tired and lost. They decide to sleep, Lysander’s hopes of getting close to Hermia disappointed when she, out of maidenly modesty, tells him to sleep further off. He does, and when Puck sees them asleep, he assumes that Lysander, in Athenian clothes and sleeping apart from the girl (presumably out of disdain for her), is the man Oberon wants Puck to use the love juice on. Puck pours it on Lysander’s eyelids and leaves them.
Soon after, Demetrius and Helena walk by that area, Demetrius still scorning her. He leaves her alone, and she looks at her reflection in a pond. Her reflection distorted by the ripples in the water, she sadly concludes, “I’m as ugly as a bear.” Then she sees Lysander sleeping, and worries that he could be dead. She wakes him, and he falls in love with her. Shocked at this sudden change in him, she assumes he is making fun of her. She leaves the area in tears, him pursuing her, and Hermia is left alone there. Later, she wakes from a terrible dream, and, frightened, wonders where Lysander went. She then goes to look for him.
Act Three: The ‘rude mechanicals’ arrive in another area of the forest and begin rehearsing their play. Bottom points out that the lion may frighten the ladies, so they decide they will tell the audience the lion is really Snug.
Quince then mentions ‘two hard things’: they need a wall on the stage to separate Pyramus and Thisbe; and they need the moonlight to shine on them on the stage, but they doubt that there will be a window to let the moonlight in. They decide that Snout will portray, as it were, the wall, holding his fingers in such a way as to indicate a chink through which the lovers may speak. Robin Starveling, holding a lantern, will represent the man in the moon.
As they rehearse, misspoken lines abound: instead of ‘odorous savours sweet’, we have ‘odious’ savours; the lovers won’t meet at ‘Ninus’ Tomb’ but at ‘Ninny’s Tomb’.
Bottom walks away momentarily. Puck has been watching all of the rehearsing, and he’s much amused by the actors’ lack of talent. He uses magic on Bottom, changing his head into that of a donkey. When Bottom returns to say his next words of love to Thisbe, all the other actors run away from him in terror at his ‘monstrous’ transformation.
Bottom, not yet knowing what’s happened to him, pretends not to be afraid at what he thinks is a prank, and he sings a song, waking Titania. She falls in love with him and takes him with her to be waited on by her fairies.
Meanwhile, Oberon is angry with Puck for putting the love juice on the eyes of the wrong man. Later, Hermia finds Demetrius and demands to know where Lysander is; she suspects Demetrius may have harmed Lysander. When Demetrius insists he neither hurt Lysander nor knows where he is, Hermia leaves Demetrius, and he falls asleep.
Now Oberon puts the love juice on his eyelids, while Puck finds Helena and uses his magic to bring her near sleeping Demetrius. Lysander, still in love with Helena, follows her, and Puck, amused, observes the young lovers’ folly (see ‘Analysis of MND’, third quote).
Lysander, weeping, pleads with Helena that men who love in jest don’t weep as they woo. Helena retorts that his jest increases in cunning, and chides him for forgetting his true love, Hermia. Lysander says he was foolish to love Hermia, and that Demetrius loves her, but not Helena. This wakes Demetrius, who immediately calls Helena, “goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!” Now Helena thinks both men are making fun of her. Lysander and Demetrius start to show hostility to each other as rivals for Helena.
Then Hermia appears, happy to have finally found Lysander. When she asks him why he left her, he bluntly tells her he hates her and now loves Helena. Hermia can’t believe this, while Helena imagines all three of them are in ‘confederacy’ against her. She chides Hermia for it, saying it’s unladylike, while Hermia says it’s Helena who scorns her. The fighting between the four of them continues, with insults directed at Hermia’s shortness. Lysander and Demetrius leave the girls to fight elsewhere.
Oberon blames all this trouble on Puck, who explains that Oberon told him he would know the man by his Athenian clothing, so it was an honest mistake. Still, Puck doesn’t mind the mistake–to him, causing mischief for the four Athenian lovers is all good fun.
Oberon then orders Puck to use his magic to separate Lysander and Demetrius so they won’t hurt each other. Soon, when all four lovers fall asleep, Puck is to use the love herb on Lysander’s eyes, correcting them so he’ll love Hermia again. When everyone wakes in the morning, all the night’s folly will seem a dream. Puck must hurry, for morning is coming soon. Oberon will go to Titania and get the Indian boy. Then he’ll release her from her love of ass-headed Bottom, “and all things shall be peace.”
Chanting, “Up and down, up and down,” Puck leads Lysander and Demetrius away from each other by imitating their voices, fooling each man into thinking he’s chasing the other. They soon grow weary of the chase, and fall asleep. The girls also grow weary and fall asleep. Puck squeezes the love juice on Lysander’s eyelids, and chants a magical poem to ensure that he’s in love with Hermia again. “Jack shall have Jill/Naught shall go ill.”
Act Four: Titania is in bed with ass-headed Bottom. He asks for her fairy attendants, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, and Mustardseed, to scratch him. Itchy, he feels “marvellous hairy about the face,” and needs a barber. When Titania asks him what he wants to eat, he asks for hay, though she offers to have one of her fairies fetch him nuts. They decide to sleep, and Titania tells her fairies to leave them. Holding Bottom in her arms, she says, “O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!” They sleep.
Oberon and Puck watch, and the fairy king begins to pity his queen for her foolish ‘dotage’. Now that he has the Indian boy, which she quickly gave him, he will “undo this hateful imperfection of her eyes.” He also orders Puck to change Bottom back to normal. Then all will think “this night’s accidents but as the fierce vexation of a dream.” First, Oberon chants a magical poem to change Titania’s judgment back to normal.
She wakes up and tells Oberon, “Methought I was enamoured of an ass.” Indicating Bottom, Oberon says, “There lies your love.” Shocked to see Bottom’s ass head, she asks how all of this happened. Oberon says now that he and Titania are reconciled, they’ll go to Duke Theseus’ house tomorrow midnight, “and bless it to all fair prosperity.” There, all the lovers will be happily married at the same time. Puck changes Bottom back to normal, saying, “Now when thou wak’st with thine own fool’s eyes peep.”
The next morning, Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus, and their attendants, hunting, come by the forest. They find the four young lovers sleeping there. They wake. Theseus asks what happened. Lysander confesses that he eloped with Hermia to escape the Athenian law. Egeus demands that the law be enforced, but Demetrius says–though he doesn’t know by what power–his love for Hermia “melted as the snow.” He now loves Helena again. Theseus overrules Egeus’ will, and they will all be married together in Athens.
Bottom, with his human head again, wakes up, and is amazed at his dream of having an ass’s head. He says only a fool would tell people of such a dream, but he’ll tell everyone anyway. He’ll have Peter Quince write a ballad of it, called “Bottom’s Dream”, and Bottom plans to sing it towards the end of their play. He leaves the forest to find the other actors.
Back in Athens, the other ‘mechanicals’ are worried about what happened to Bottom. Not knowing where he is, they conclude the play can’t be performed. Snug tells them the Duke is coming from the temple. If their play had gone forward, they’d have been all made men. They are all disconsolate; then Bottom suddenly appears, and everyone quickly cheers up. He tells them to hurry and get ready to perform, for he says, “our play is preferr’d.”
Act Five: Theseus and Hippolyta talk of love in his palace. (See the fourth quote in my post ‘Analysis of MND’.) Philostrate, master of revels, presents Theseus with a paper showing all the plays to be considered for the evening’s entertainment. After rejecting several proposed plays, Theseus chooses “A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus and his love Thisby: very tragical mirth.” Fascinated with these paradoxes, he asks Philostrate about the play. Philostrate insists it’s unfit, but Theseus insists on hearing the play. Philostrate reluctantly leaves to tell the ‘mechanicals’ to get ready to perform.
The play begins with all three married couples as the audience, and with Peter Quince as the Prologue: “If we offend, it is with our good will.” As he continues speaking, it is obvious to Theseus, Lysander, and Hippolyta how inept Quince is. He continues, introducing Bottom as Pyramus, Flute (in drag) as Thisbe, Snout as the Wall that separates the lovers (his hand shaped like a chink through which they can whisper to each other), Robin Starveling (with his lantern, dog, and bush) as Moonshine, and Snug as the Lion.
Quince gives a brief synopsis of the play: Pyramus would be with his lady Thisbe, but a wall separates the two lovers, and they can communicate only through a small hole in the wall; they agree to meet at Ninus’ Tomb; Thisbe arrives there first, but a Lion appears, and chases her; she gets away to safety, but only after a piece of her clothing is bitten and torn off, it being stained with the blood of a recent kill of the Lion’s. Pyramus arrives, and sees the bloody piece of Thisbe’s clothing; he assumes she’s dead, and kills himself. She returns, sees him dead, takes his sword, and kills herself, too. Then Quince tells the audience his actors will now act out the story. He leaves.
Snout presents himself as the wall, holding his hand out to represent the hole. Bottom as Pyramus enters, reciting some ludicrous poetry about the night: “O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,…And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,…Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne.” Wall holds up his fingers, so Pyramus can look for Thisbe. Pyramus thanks Wall, and looks, but sees no Thisbe. Disappointed, Pyramus says, “O wicked wall,” and curses Wall. Theseus thinks the wall, being able to speak, should curse back; but Bottom comes out of character and tells the duke that Thisbe will be coming out now.
Francis Flute, in women’s clothes, enters as an absurd-looking Thisbe, hoping to speak with Pyramus. They speak to each other briefly, and try to kiss through Wall’s chink, but obviously cannot. Pyramus asks her if she’ll meet him at “Ninny’s Tomb”. She says she will, and they leave. Wall, having finished his part, says good-bye to the audience, and leaves also.
Theseus, Demetrius, and Hippolyta comment on how ridiculous the play is. Snug and Robin Starveling enter as, respectively, Lion and Moonshine. Lion reassures the ladies, “whose gentle hearts do fear,” that he is really Snug the joiner. Robin Starveling tells the audience his lantern represents the moon, and that he is the Man in the Moon. Thisby appears, but Lion, roaring, scares her. She runs away, and Lion tears her clothing. Thorougly entertained by this unintended comedy, Demetrius, Theseus, and Hippolyta respectively shout out their compliments to the actors: “Well roar’d lion”; “Well run, Thisby”; “Well shone, Moon.”
Pyramus enters, thanking the Moon for its light. He sees the piece of Thisbe’s clothing, “stain’d with blood”, and assumes she’s dead. He takes out his sword and stabs himself. He dies a slow and melodramatic death. Moonshine leaves, and Thisbe re-enters. She asks, “Asleep, love? What, dead, my dove?” She takes his sword, and says, “Come trusty sword; Come, blade, my breast imbrue.” She stabs herself, and dies. Theseus and Demetrius note that Moonshine, Lion, and Wall will have to bury the dead.
Bottom gets up and asks the audience if they’d like to see the Epilogue, or hear a Bergamask dance. Theseus says no to the Epilogue, but will have the Bergamask. The actors dance.
Then Theseus tells all the lovers, it’s “almost fairy time”, and so they must all go to bed. They all leave, and the fairies enter, saying magic poems to bless the newly-weds, and singing and dancing. They all then leave, except Puck, who addresses the audience. (See the fifth and last quote from my ‘Analysis of MND’.) He wishes a “good night unto you all.”
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy William Shakespeare is believed to have written around the mid-1590s. It is not known what Shakespeare’s independent source was, if there was any, for the main plot: it seems to have been his own original idea. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe, however, comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the characters Theseus and Hippolyta are from Greek Myth.
The story revolves around the actions of three groups of characters. In Athens, Theseus (the Duke of the city), who has just captured Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, plans to marry her. Meanwhile, Lysander and Hermia, two young lovers, wish to escape from Athens and its laws, which Hermia’s father (Egeus) wants to use to force her to marry Demetrius. Demetrius used to love Helena, who still loves him.
The second group of characters is a group of would-be actors, including writer/director Peter Quince, Nick Bottom, Francis Flute, Snout, Snug, and Robin Starveling. They want to put on a play (the story being Pyramus and Thisbe) before the duke and his bride as part of their wedding celebration.
In the forest outside Athens, there is trouble in the fairy kingdom. Oberon, the fairy king, wants an Indian changeling boy from Titania, Oberon’s queen, who refuses to give up the boy. Oberon therefore tells Puck, his fairy servant, to fetch a magic flower with a kind of potion, or love-juice, inside it–he will put this love-juice on Titania’s eyelids as she sleeps, making her fall in love with whoever, or whatever, she sees upon waking, and during her foolishly amorous state Oberon will get the Indian boy.
Much of the humour of the play comes from the interactions between these three groups of characters. The play is set in ancient Athens during the day, and in a nearby forest at night. Here are some famous quotes:
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read/Could ever hear by tale or history,/The course of true love never did run smooth. –Lysander, to Hermia
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,/And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind. –Helena
Lord, what fools these mortals be! –Puck
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,/Are of imagination all compact*. –Theseus
*composed, made up
If we shadows have offended,/Think but this, and all is mended,/That you have but slumber’d here/While these visions did appear./And this weak and idle theme,/No more yielding than a dream;/Gentles, do not reprehend;/If you pardon, we will mend. –Puck
The central theme of this play is the foolishness of being in love, as most of the above quotes imply. “Dote”, which used to mean “foolishly love”, is said many times in the play.
Demetrius foolishly abandons his true love, Helena, for Hermia, who will never love him. Helena foolishly continues to love Demetrius even after he’s proven himself untrue, and has scorned her many times to her face. Lysander’s and Hermia’s foolish love puts her in danger of the Athenian death penalty, then exposes them to the dangers of a forest at night, with its fairy magic. The love potion in the flower makes Lysander foolishly love Helena; and while it’s also used to correct Demetrius in making him love Helena again, the absurdity of both men loving Helena, so suddenly, underscores the idea of love’s capacity to make fools of us.
The supreme example of this absurdity, though, is Titania’s being in love with Bottom, when he has his ass’s head! Finally, the foolishness of Pyramus’ and Thisbe’s love, so emphatically displayed by the incompetent production and acting of Bottom and the other “rude mechanicals”, is seen in Pyramus’ suicide, him mistakenly assuming Thisbe is dead, followed by Thisbe’s own suicide. (A tragic example of this kind of misunderstanding between two young lovers would soon be seen again in Romeo and Juliet, which Shakespeare may have been working on at the time.)
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The following is another excerpt from my upcoming horror novel, ‘Sweet’. This scene comes immediately after the other excerpt from ‘Sweet’ that I posted two nights ago.
Larry woke up in a hot, confined space, pitch black. He bumped his head, arms, and feet against what felt like wood. He could barely move his limbs more than a a few centimetres; his head no more than a few millimetres. Bits of dirt fell on his face and hands. He spat out the dirt that had fallen on his mouth, then agitatedly reached for a pen light in his pants pocket. His sore back rubbed abrasively against a flat wooden surface.
In such a small space, it was hard to get his hand in and out of the pocket, but he managed. He switched it on with a trembling hand and tried to make out where he was: he had been put in some kind of small, rectangular box, his legs bent uncomfortably so he’d fit. His body was forcibly curled into a tight fetal position; and there were thin slits between the boards of wood that the box was made of, with dirt falling through the slits and onto his body.
He’d been buried alive!
He gasped, then screamed and shuffled in the box, but more dirt fell on his face, silencing him. Not wanting any more dirt to fall on him, he just sat still, and started to sob in despair.
Connie, you crazy bitch, he thought; What have you done to me?
Already, the air was getting thin.
Suddenly, he thought he heard faint digging sounds, which grew louder. Was somebody digging him out?
Soon, he heard the sound of a shovel knocking against the wood and causing more dirt to slip through the cracks and onto his face. No matter: someone was saving his life!
Is it Connie? he wondered; Did she only briefly bury me alive to scare me away? No, that’s ridiculous: she murdered her own son; murdering me would have been all the easier for her conscience, assuming she even has one.
When pretty much all the dirt was dug off, a hand started pulling on the wood to rip it off. Larry tried to kick and punch the wood, but still he could barely move at all. He pushed up with his hands and feet, and with the help of his unknown helper, finally the top board was ripped off.
Larry saw a hoary man, in his sixties, it seemed. The man reached down to help Larry up.
Larry came out of the box, shaking and with trauma beaming from his agape eyes. He spastically walked a few steps toward the old man’s nearby truck.
“You OK?” the old man asked. “Stupid question, I know, but I don’t know what else to say.”
“I-I’m better than a few m-minutes ago, anyway,” Larry stammered. “Thank you.”
“I’m amazed I had the strength to dig you outta there,” the old man said. Then he put out his hand to shake Larry’s. “I’m Joe, Joe Hill.”
“Larry Goodman,” Larry said, not able to tell if his hand was shaking from shaking Joe’s, or from his continued state of shock. “And I am more pleased to meet you…than anyone else ever has been…and ever will be, I can confidently say.”
“Yeah, that was a close call, all right,” Joe said. “I got here right after that woman drove away, down that road.” Joe pointed in the direction he’d seen her car go.
“You know her.”
“Of course,” Larry said, finally beginning to calm down. We had a…disagreement about what our baby’s future sh-should be like.”
“She’s your wife?”
“No, a one-night stand…gone psychotically wrong.”
“I can see that,” Joe said. “How old’s your baby?”
“Not born yet. Connie’s about a month pregnant, and she has plans…for that baby, plans she knows…I won’t ever accept.”
Larry looked Joe hard in the face, took a deep breath, and said, “She wants to wait…till the baby’s about…a month or two old, I suppose.” He leaned closer to Joe. “Then she’ll kill it, cook it, and eat it.”
“Jesus Christ, what a sick bitch.”
‘I’ve gotta stop her. Look, I hate to impose on you after all you’ve done, but can you please drive me to Toronto, to the police?”
“I can drive you there tomorrow,” Joe said. “Right now, I can barely stand, I’m so exhausted.”
“Same here. I understand.”
“Let’s come up to my house, and you can sleep there for the night. I have a spare bedroom with your name on it. You hungry?”
“No, she fed me well at her house earlier tonight. Normal food, of course,” Larry said as they got into the truck. “She drugged my wine, though, then took me here.”
Joe put his key in the ignition switch. “This may take a while,” Joe said as he started the ignition. “This beat-up old truck takes forever…” The truck started immediately. “Well, thank you! Goddamn piece of shit. Why couldn’t you start this quickly before? I could’ve gotten Larry out sooner.”
“Truck’s seen better days, eh?”
“Everything on my damn farm has seen better days. I don’t even have a decently functioning cell-phone or computer.” They started going back to his house.
Larry checked his own phone, for he was eager to call the police. “Oh, dammit. My phone’s battery just ran out. I’ll have to inform the police tomorrow.”
“Let’s just go up to my house and get a good night’s sleep, OK?” Joe said.
“OK, but after what just happened, I’m not sure if I will sleep at all tonight, or any night.”
Larry saw black all around him. He was hot, and cramped in, barely able to move more than fidgeting. Dirt was falling on his face. He spat the dirt out, found the air getting thinner and thinner, his life slowly leaving him…
“Unh!” he gasped, waking up with a jerk. He looked around his dark surroundings nervously: under him, a soft, comfy bed; to his left, white curtains around a large window that let in just a little moonlight; in front, across from the foot of the bed was a mirror over a dresser drawer, allowing him to see the shadow of a reflection of himself; and to his right, a closet with folding doors. Immediately to the right of the head of the bed was a bedside table with an old Mickey Mouse telephone on it. A clock radio was beside the phone: it was about 4:25 am.
Larry remembered: old farmer Joe’s spare bedroom. Larry let out a big sigh of relief, let his head drop down on the pillow, and tried to relax. After an hour or so of fidgeting fearfully, he fell asleep.
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John and Kay were walking together in a park in Hamilton, Ontario, one night. They were in their mid-twenties, and in love…or at least she thought she was in love with him.
It was a beautiful night in May, around 9:30 or so, and a gentle breeze caressed their bodies as they, arm in arm, slowly approached a playground. They sat side by side on the swings.
Behind them was a forest, shadowy as death, though they ignored it. They didn’t even notice rustling noises back there, the sound of feet quickly shuffling in the grass and bushes.
“I have good news, Kay,” John said softly.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“I got a promotion at the office,” he said. “I’m in management now, and I’m getting a big raise.”
“That’s great!” she said, grinning and kissing him on the lips.
“No more eating in cheap restaurants together. We’ll be dining in style. Also, I have something here.”
“Oh?” She was feeling a mix of delighted anticipation and worry: if this was an engagement ring, it would thrill her, but also pressure her into a level of commitment she wasn’t sure she was ready for.
There was more rustling of the leaves that the couple ignored, rustling that was coming closer and closer to them.
John fumbled through his jacket. “Where is it? Where the hell did I…?” he said angrily. “I didn’t drop it, did I? Oh, dammit, this is ruining what I…fuck!”
Uneasy with another of his frequent fits of temper, she said, “Oh, don’t worry, we’ll find it. Let’s not spoil the mood.”
“Finding it in this fuckin’ darkness? Not likely.”
“Oh, come on.”
Suddenly, a hand scratched John’s face, giving him a glowing yellow scar, three golden jagged lines on his right cheek.
Kay shrieked, looking over at his attacker. A woman with glowing golden eyes and shiny yellow skin was grinning malicious glee as she and Kay watched John screaming in pain.
“Join the commune, or die!” the bestial woman said in a growling vocal fry.
Kay, screaming, had no idea what her boyfriend’s attacker meant by that, though he instinctively did. He would never want to be a part of such rampaging chaos, and his body rejected the yellow substance that had entered his body through the scratch wound and informed his instincts of his attacker’s revolutionary mission. Therefore, death was his only choice.
And what an excruciating death it was.
His skin began melting off his body, revealing his whole eyeballs, his teeth, and the muscle fibres underneath where his skin had been. His hair fell out, his ears and nose shrivelled up, and soon his muscle fibres were melting off, revealing his skeleton. All he could do was scream, until his vocal chords had melted away.
Even his bones flaked, crumpled, and became as ashes, blown away by the breeze; and all that was left of him was his evaporating blood, mixed with the oozing yellow of the substance his killer had put into his now-annihilated body. His clothes and shoes just lay on the grass in a clump, soaked in the pool of yellow.
Had his attacker noticed any skills of value to her cause, she would have put her hand on his head and absorbed them before he melted away; but there were no such useful abilities. She now set her fiery eyes on Kay.
“Y-you’re one o-of those ‘Berserkers’ I heard about o-on the TV, aren’t you?” Kay said in almost unintelligible sobs.
“Join the commune, or die,” the Berserker repeated.
Kay ran towards a baseball diamond, screaming hysterically. At first the Berserker, knowing she could easily catch up to Kay in no time, just stood for a moment and, amused, watched the girl run in terror. Then she went after Kay like a lightning bolt.
Still running towards the baseball diamond, Kay got to home plate. The berserker was right behind her, though she didn’t want to scratch her just yet. She had Kay cornered, with a backstop behind her. The Berserker made Kay back up into it, then she stopped advancing, toying with Kay, to give her a seeming chance to run away and escape.
Kay, shaking and sobbing with fear, stood there at first, confused and not knowing what to do. She tried running to the left, but the Berserker stopped her; then she tried going to the right, and was stopped again.
Now the Berserker, grinning and slowly approaching, made Kay back further into the backstop. Kay just trembled helplessly.
“No, no!” she sobbed.
The Berserker got closer.
“No, please, no!”
Her attacker continued closing in on her, step by gradual step.
“What do you want?”
“Join the commune, or die!” the Berserker hissed.
“What are you–?!” Kay screamed. “Help me!”
Suddenly, the Berserker’s long fingernails scratched Kay’s face in a long, yellow slash. She fell to the ground, shaking, groaning and writhing in unendurable pain.
But she wasn’t melting.
She was turning yellow, glowing more and more. She looked up at her attacker with the same fiery, golden eyes.
Kay now understood. She knew what had to be done.
Kay the Berserker stood up and smiled at her liberator, who grinned back at her.
“Thank you,” she grunted with the Berserker vocal fry.
The two ran out of the park together, in search of more prey.
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