Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: The author, the character, and Gurta the Demon

Gurta drew one of his fingernails along the sand dune. It wasn’t a proper fingernail, but an iron nail jutting from the tip of the demon’s finger. The Character couldn’t tell if it was infected or not, but all the flesh around the nail had turned a shade of purple that didn’t look native to the otherwise tomato-red demon.

It spoke in a voice that, if the Character was pressed, he would describe as similarly infected by purple.

“The Author enjoys cuteness and doesn’t see it detracting from His attempts at seriousness.”

The desert erupted in hundreds of geysers. The water fell and splashed into unnatural shapes, forming the outlines of trees, rocks, a road, and a general landscape. All conveniently froze in place. The water and beige pastoral remained for a few seconds before colored washed over it, and suddenly the Character and Gurta stood on a lonely stretch of highway, next to a bleach-blonde in a yellow sundress, standing beside an apparently malfunctioning cherry red convertible.

“After all, cuteness is often merely seriousness with broader perspective,” elucidated Gurta. “A child is very serious at opening a lock. It’s only with the adult’s withdrawn perspective, knowing that the child is using an oversized plastic novelty key on a 200-year-old Slavic liquor cabinet, that the serious situation is recognized as cute. It is similar to how chaos is merely order observed too closely, or something utterly negligible given attention. Observe.”

The bleach-blonde pursed her lips at her cell phone. She cursed, then complained. It all came out like the wa-wa’s of Charlie Brown’s school teacher, yet the Character got the gist. She didn’t understand how her cell could possibly not work.

The earth pulled back and spectrums shifted. Suddenly Redge wasn’t seeing in colors anymore, instead seeing signals pinging out of her cell, bouncing off of forests and mountains, and those that made it through dissipating into nothingness with several more miles to go before reaching the nearest cell tower.

Probably for effect, the earth pulled forward until the Character could read her cell phone bill, somewhere in her glove compartment. The figure was only three digits, which convinced the Characters that this zoom was for humorous effect.

Then everything fell apart into sand again, starting out all colored, but beige by the time it splashed into dunes. Even the bleach-blonde melted to dust.

“I don’t think I get it,” lied the Character.

“Or do you not want to get it?” clarified Gurta. “I can’t really blame you.”

The earth pulled forward again, flying in on just one grain of sand. Infinitely deep within it sat twelve grave men in grey suits, muttering about how to end the war.

The world pulled back and thousands of men in various tattered uniforms charged at each other, exploding in sprays of heroism and gore.

Things pulled so far back that the Character wondered if he still had eyes. There was the universe, so many splotches of color like crayon marks on a child’s placemat. Otherwise, black. The Character had no notion of where his home was in all of it. The Character pointed at the center.

“Is that where earth is?”

“No,” said Gurta. “It’s actually three trillion kilometers to the left of the earth, in the middle of the void of space. But the Author will move earth there now. A good change of pace. Break away from a norm, you know?”

The Character frowned and wondered what would happen to the tides.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Do Not Hug the Golem

A golem is the best friend you could have. Forget slutty eternal elves. Forget conniving humans. Just because they're your species, or have blood in their veins, or brains and personalities to match that blood, does not make them good friends or reliable business partners. In fact, all those features make them distinctly bad business partners.

One reason you want the golem as a best friend is that he'll never hog the seats during travel. If there's only room for one on the carriage, he'll let you sit. If you only have one horse, he'll let you ride it. He will walk.

Another reason you want the golem as your best friend is that when you're stranded in the middle of the wilderness, he won't kill the carriage’s horse for food. He doesn't eat except when he's nervous, and then he only snacks on dirt. You can't ride dirt to safety.

Also, once the horse has been cooked and gone bad, your golem best friend won't turn on you. He won't try to cannibalize your left arm under the rationalization that you're a righty.

The golem best friend also won't run off in the middle of the night, abandoning you once it's obvious that he can't eat you in your sleep.

The golem is a better friend because he will actually carry you back to civilization. You’ll be sick from hunger, utterly useless to him, and he’ll cradle you in his craggy arms until homes are in sight. Even when the villagers run at him with pitchforks and torches, he'll stay with you until you get a hot meal.

Now after that, he will run away. To be fair, all best friends will run away once you're safe and people are stabbing them with farm equipment.

However very few best friends will then loiter on the city limits, hiding behind the biggest tree available, until you're healthy and ready to disembark.

The only downside to the golem best friend is that he'll break your ribs when he hugs you upon seeing you again.

Do not hug the golem.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"He" Attacks The Bijou

Today's story is "Possible Origins For Him. 1." It remains the most popular recorded version of a monologue I've ever done. Something about a laugh at the end.

You know, there never was a "2." That will have to change.

Anyway, the monologue is appearing at Kate's Bijou. The Bijou is a spot for various pieces of short fiction and reflection, largely by the thirty-three (or so) authors from the upcoming Harbinger*33 anthology. The anthology will hopefully be out later this year. I've got two pieces hidden away inside it.

Don't worry. One of them is funny.

"Possible Origins For Him. 1." and its corresponding audio performance went up this morning. There's also a little message on upcoming places my fiction is going to appear, if you like spoilers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Be Both, My Son

Today's Bathroom Monologue comes with a performance. You can download or listen to John Wiswell's "Be Both, My Son" here. Just click on the arrow to stream the monologue.

Am I deep or shallow? A silly question. I have my profound regrets and trivial pleasures, my deep loves and petty grievances. What is a man without all of these ingredients? Deep or shallow? Do you mistake the sea for a thing only deep? What sea lacks shallows can never come ashore, and what use would be in a sea that never bordered land? No ships could dock it, no men jump into it – no way to wade, dive or plunge into the dark depths, if not by a shallow purchase from which to begin. No different than the ocean of love I once had for your mother, which toppled out of simple lust for her bosom. Fair dame, she wore a corset and deceived even that. Is one better, the trivial or the profound? Is one a superior state? Is one a minor manifestation? Is one a mistaken magnification? I suppose you could have a preference, over whether you dampen or drown those who fall into you. Yet never will I make the choice, to be only a wading pool, or only an implausible sea. Be both, my son. Both the trivial and the profound have their charms, their merits and beauty, their vast utilities, in their own times.

If you like this, please give it a tweet/Stumble/Digg. John's away this week and can't promote it himself. A bunch of comments would probably make his day when he gets back.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: What Happened at the Race

Most runners couldn’t even see the starting line. Thousands of people filed up the streets in jogging shorts, pulling on numbered tees and wishing they’d done more cardio. They stretched, and either guzzled sports drinks or sniped about how drinking fluids before a race made you puke.

The announcement came and the stragglers cleared to the sidewalks. The runners all bent in preparation, several hundred rows of humans looking ahead to spandex-clad butts, save the front row, which looked down the empty road.

“And…” said the mayor, pausing for a moment of drama. Nobody was listening to him. When he saw no eyes come to him, he frowned and fired the starting pistol.

There was a loud cheer joining the echo of the shot. The runners leapt up. It was like sudden thunder in the subways.



Then a startled cry.

It was the cry of twenty people, the former first row, as they toppled into the pavement. All twenty went down, limbs akimbo.

The second and third rows let out slightly more amateur cries as they spilled onto the first row, then went face down on the pavement.

The mayor was forced to watch as nearly everyone in eleven rows of marathon runners slammed into the heap. It was like watching a third car slam into an accident, that unnecessary crash, except this was the equivalent of eight more cars behind it, and twenty lanes across. People screamed, many coming at the mayor either exaggerating ankle injures or demanding they start over and perhaps put me in front this time.

The mayor waved them off, looking at the street. He followed the sidewalk down into the gutter across from where the first runner had fallen. Something glistened amidst the grey.

He picked it up and quickly it went taut in his hand. It was a wire. He cussed and looked down the gutter, but the assailants were already gone. He yanked at it and saw it run into the mass of humanity still struggling and complaining in the road.

Yes, someone had used this wire to trip up the racers. And the mayor knew who. The bloody racists had struck again.

Monday, March 8, 2010



1. Plug toaster into an electrical outlet.
2. Place one slice of bread in each slot.
3. Adjust dial to preferred toasting setting.
4. Push lever down.
5. Once the lever pops back up, remove toast.

Witches on Thaumatrope

Today's story is via Thaumatrope. They're a neat a Twitter service that pays pro per-word rates, but only for stories one tweet long.

Mine's about witches, haunting and law enforcement. It's Thaumatrope's story of the day. You can read it here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Bubble Branes

God reclined in His cosmic tub. The bubble bath was so high that one couldn’t tell where the bubbles ended and His beard began (secretly, they didn’t end and begin – but to know more about that would spoil the surprise). The room was two-dimensional and beige as He was feeling, respectively, frugal and beige today.

One hand stirred the water from beneath the layer of suds, while the other held up His new Kindle. It wasn’t a real Kindle, but it was a good knock-off suited to extradimensional leisure reading. It had to be pretty big and sturdy to function outside the M-branes. How big? So big that something as small as a planet might look up and mistake it for a universe.

His thumb scrolled down the list of book reviews, switching back and forth between Romances and Science. Being omniscient, nothing really caught His eye, but He liked to pretend they did.

“Ooo,” He cooed, vibrating all the strings of the omniverse for a voice. He leaned up a little, reading one product description.

“ Kaku skillfully guides us through the latest innovations in string theory and its latest iteration, M-theory, which posits that our universe may be just one in an endless multiverse, a singular bubble floating in a sea of infinite bubble universes. If M-theory is proven correct, we may perhaps finally find an answer to the question, "What happened before the big bang?" ”

He knew how this one ended already, but it was amusing. He propped one ankle on the opposing knee and greased two of his fingers on a beige bar of soap. His toes splayed. He rubbed the fingers briskly between the toes until rainbow bubbles poured down from between them and hummed to a few bubbles in particular.

“You’re getting warm, little guys. Keep it up. I’m rooting for you!”
Counter est. March 2, 2008