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Chapter 14: Meeting Our Protagonist

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

– 1 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

A long time ago, when evaluating the Earth, the space princess assassin Lucy Souvante identified two key threats; two key opponents — two individuals capable of playing rock-paper-scissors at her level. By the time she’d got there, one of their signatures was gone, missing, disassembled and put into boxes; she could not track it down or even identify it.

The other was a goat, crawling its way upwards from under the surfaces of things.

It was no ordinary goat. It was, rather, an extremely sharp goat. In a way, it had started it all.

It has spent millennia sharpening itself.

Even its softest, most gentle of sentiments could slice through a diamond now; its fuzzy underbelly can split atoms, or conceptions, or light; the touch of its teeth can kill empires: they are singularities, and what knows them is never thereafter the same.

Even so —

It used to be kind of a dull goat.

It used to be the kind of goat that would stick around for a fight with Jeremiah Clean, thinking, if it were just sharp enough, it could cut him, and then it could move on to sharpen itself against the continents, the oceans, and the atmosphere, before finally slashing up the screaming fire of the mortal sun.

It isn’t that dull. Not now.

It has become a goat sharp enough to recognize a losing battle when it sees one.

It is sharp enough to see Jeremiah Clean, and be sore afraid.

So it cuts its way down an alley into freedom.

When nobody is looking, it slips the city. It shatters into images. It clip-clops away to the south, to the wastes of Antarctica, where it imagines it will fatten and wait.

It will deal with the janitor when it is a little bit sharper, it thinks, or he a bit duller.

When the world’s just a little less clean.

– 2 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

In boxes in Eldri’s basement, powered down and disassembled, there is a rock-paper-scissors-playing robot named Navvy Jim.

He doesn’t lose. He plays it a lot, well, played, I mean, before the scissors fell, he played it;

And never once Navvy Jim’s lost.

For instance, let’s play him right now!




If you played scissors, then the story continues much later — skip to section 3, chapter CLEAN.

If you played paper or rock, read on from here.

– 3 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

If you forgot to play anything, or played something really weird like “hobbit,” then I guess this game doesn’t count. Or you can go back to section 2, if you want, and try your hand at playing again.

It’s totally up to you.

He won’t mind waiting, for clarity. He’s in boxes. He’s disassembled and in boxes. Don’t expect much impatience from Jim.

– 4 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

Paper against paper is a tie. His hand is flat. Navvy Jim’s in boxes.

If you played paper —

Well, you can try it again!

– 5 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

Tom dreams unsettled dreams.

In them he is a lump of a Loggins. In them he is useless, helpless, he is scrabbling at the outside of the great wall of death while the Yama Kings laugh; he is climbing the inside of a sphere, he is digging through a Möbius strip, he is an ant in a chalk circle, forever turning at right angles to the direction that it really wants to go.

He wakes.

He oversees the construction of the space station. He clutches at his head.

“I do not like this,” he says.

He retreats from building the station. He leaves that to others.

“Cobbling is for losers,” says Tom, praying silently that there are no brownies to hear him, in space. “I shall focus on the life support systems, and the mechanism for stomping; and on reclaiming Hell.”

Unfortunately Hell appears to be empty.

He lowers his experimental spiritual bathysphere into the land of damnation. He tries to rescue all the souls there from Hell. He tries to cast down the demons that rule it, but he can’t.

They’re not there.

There’s just a fiery landscape, and the scattered dead ants.

“Well,” says Tom. “That’s inspiring!”

He tugs on a cord. Stephan drags Tom’s bathysphere back up to his dorm room. Tom steps out. He scratches behind his ear puzzledly. He says, “I pray that the world is not hinting that I am Faust.”

He dreams that the wolf is hunting for him. It is sniffing him out.

“I have seen the ending of things,” he whispers to Stephan, in the morning after. “I have seen Gotterdammerung. Fools are we to think of riding that storm. Fool was I to think of guiding it. I thought I was awesome, Stephan. I thought I was a god. But we are only the mindless tools of fate. We are prisoners of our circumstances. That’s all.”

Stephan rumbles, softly, and brings him coffee laced with svart-drink.

It is an ancient remedy for such dream-weirds as these.

Over the course of the day these feelings pass from Tom. Working with his peers in the House of Dreams — it comforts him.

When the energy begins to pass from one of them to the other — when the black lightning of their inspiration and their svart-drink flows — then they are none of them alone.

And when there is no place for him in their working —

When Amber is hard at her hula hoops, and Harold is mucking about with semiotics, and Cheryl is distracted with matters of boots, and svart-elf technology, and origami —

Then he may at least ride up to the observation deck and watch the world spinning below him, and know that he stands in space.

That is where he is standing when he conceives it.

“I will cut her free from the serpent,” Tom says. “I will make her a hat, and it will stand between them.”

The gravity of the world has slipped from him.

There are no obstacles to such unreasonable concepts. Not when one can climb up a bootstrap and stand amidst all this great Tom-wroth emptiness and project one’s hopes and dreams and hungers out onto space.

– 6 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

If you played rock, then Navvy Jim’s eyes must’ve lit up for a moment —

When he was playing against you, back when.

He would have given you a secret smile.

“Paper wraps rock,” the rock-paper-scissors-playing robot would say.

He likes people who throw rock. It means love to him — love given, love known, love received. He’d smile at you and you could tell that he loved us; all we vivid, peculiar residents of the world.

– 7 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

He even loves people who play Dynamite —

But don’t you play Dynamite now.

In my capacity as book judge I won’t approve it. I will just take it as a thumbs up. I will take it as a sign of your approval for this, my marvelous optimismanuscript, which I hope someday somebody shall see.

I can’t let you play actual Dynamite. Dynamite beats rock and paper.

It would break this story and the robot’s heart too.

– 8 –

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments

Someone is screaming.

Who is he? He can’t remember. He is someone, who is screaming.

There is a transparent dog that is panting. It is calling him to the paths where only bad dogs go.

Something is missing.

His stomach rumbles. There was a mop. There was a squeegee —

He closes his eyes. He staggers towards the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth. He can’t find it.

“I am Linus Evans,” he says. Wrong.



“I am —”

He can’t find it.

He is bleeding heavily. A bomb has gone off in his stomach. It is leaking from his orifices. He is leaking from his orifices.

He cannot really understand why it is he remains alive.

Oh God, he thinks, and at least that thought still hurts him. He clings to that, like a thin film of antichrist atop the emptiness. It hurts him. He is still blasphemous, at least. He is still unholy. Oh, God.

He is empty.

He is somebody’s enemy. He clings to that. He is somebody’s enemy.

He is Mr. Enemy.

He is lost.

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 14 | 0 comments