Apophenia

Apophenia
D. Paul Angel
881 Words

Grunting, Kristoff heaves the last stone into place. He knows full well how close he is cutting the time, but each of the five stones weigh at least 600 lbs and their wooden carriages are unwieldy at best. Sweat runs in rivulets between the well toned muscles down his bare back as he leans against the last stone. He only just catches his breath before cladding himself in a heavy, dark cloak. His full beard just emerges from underneath the hood; but his dark eyes remain hidden within its shadow. He walks around the stones three times clockwise, and once counter-clockwise as he rallies his remaining breath and energy.

He walks to a cabinet by the door, opening its intricately carved doors to reveal thick, knotty shelves. He grabs five well burned candles, their sides undulating wildly from the wax runoff of their burning, and places them in between the stones. He then grabs a sixth candle. Its sides are so smooth it requires extra concentration and dexterity just to hold. Its wax is so black that it doesn’t even catch the glare from the room’s harsh, portable work-lights. He stands between the stones, carefully judging their distance, before setting the large, final candle equidistant between them.

Returning to the cupboard, he draws out a coarse, brown sack. Ever so slowly he tips the bag to let a stream of fine, white salt pour into a steady line on the bare floor. He carefully draws a pentagram, with each vertice pointing to a stone, and with the black candle in its very center. He sets the bag of salt down and carefully positions each of the gnarled candles within each of the pentagram’s five triangles. He makes the minutest of adjustments while checking their positions before nodding in the satisfaction that comes with repeated perfection.

With the bag of salt in hand once more he lays a circle completely around the stones, leaving a foot long gap in the direction of the cabinet. Carefully walking through the gap he returns to the cabinet to bring three large mason jars back into the circle. He exits the circle again, making one final circuit, just to be sure; before setting a timer on each of the work-lights and returning to the circle. He pours the last of the salt across the gap and completes the circuit just as the work-lights click off, one after another.

He smiles to himself in the complete darkness of the room. Although he can see no difference, he still closes his eyes before inhaling deeply and beginning to chant, “Ignis, Incado, Cumbusto!” flaring the of the smaller, irregular candle closest to him to life.

Ignis, Incado, Cumbusto!” he repeats four more times until all five of the white candles are burning.

With another deep breath he begins a new chant, “Lucemeho! Lucemeho! Lucemeho! Lucemeho!” he thunders, his arms outstretched above his head, bringing the black candle to life with an audible roar of flame. Sourceless light, well beyond what the the candles can cast, floods into the circle.

His chants continue; his inflection, voice, timbre, and cadence ever changing  as he speaks arcane words feared since antediluvian times. He opens the three jars at his feet in turn, and one by one flings their powdery contents into the air.

He waits patiently  in silence.

Soon, shadows begin to stream through the ghostly light. Outlines of faces coalesce as wisps of smoke swirling through the cylinder of light bound by salt.  Faces cast in fear, in anger, in hatred; in torment.

He moves his hands as a conductor before a score of orchestras. Gestures both familiar and unfathomable flick through his hands and arms as he turns his attention to each stone in turn. Soon the shadowed shapes of smoke no longer move freely through the air, but instead race only between the five stone’s precisely hewed edges.

As his hand gestures slow, he kneels before the pots. Once more he grabs a bit from each, but instead of tossing the powder, he begins to mix them in the air between his hands. His chant grows in force as he bellows, “Scelero! Scelero! Scelero! SCELERO!!!” over and and over again. Standing as he mixes and shouts, he raises the powdered mix above his and casts it down on the black candle with all of his might roaring, “Perpetuii!!!!!” His words echo through the room as all six candles extinguish themselves simultaneously.

The reverberations fade and soon the room is dark and silent once more, save for the ragged gasps of him catching his breath. Mere moments later the work-lights come back on with a sharp click. He sags where he stands, but he doesn’t quite fall. , The floor is bare again, with all the salt simply gone.

~~~

“I wish I knew where your mine was, Kristoff, I would pay a fortune for it.  The veining in your marble is incredible. Its intricate, its fluid, Hell, sometimes its almost like you can even see faces! You sure you won’t sell? You name the price, however high.”

“I’m sorry old friend, I have paid a higher price than you can imagine to bring these stones to you. Just remember, what ever you do, don’t ever let the slab crack, eh?”

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The Call of Parcel Post

The Call of Parcel Post
D. Paul Angel
23 May 2014
295 Words

“Anything hazardous, liquid, perishable, or fragile?”

“Just a die.  An aptly named, Cthuhlu Dice.  Through arcane rituals darker than a moonless night I have secreted deep within it a sliver of the tormented soul from the First Priest of the Elder Gods.  With the right roll it will awaken the Old Ones from their dreams in ancient R’lyeh, returning them to the human world.”

“So it’s fragile then?”

“It is cast from a singe piece of nickel, it is next to unbreakable.  The Old Ones shall rise again! Enslaving the weak and cleansing the Earth to rebuild it in their horrible visage.”

“So.  It’s not fragile then?”

“Not as such, no, but-”

“Is it liquid?”

“It’s a die! A Dice! Of course it’s not liquid!  It is touched with an ancient evil so powerful that it will open the floodgates of insanity in a world unready to feel the Old One’s indifferent wrath!”

“Uh-huh. Is it perishable?”

“The only things that will perish are the minds of the weak and the souls of the strong!”

“And nothing hazardous?”

“Hazardous?  Hazardous!?  Of course it’s hazardous! It shall beckon forth an antediluvian evil that existed before God himself to enslave humanity, melt our minds in a crucible of horrors, and then recast the dregs in their own hideous image!”

“Is that what the MSDS says?”

“The N-D-S? The wh-?”

“MSDS.  Material Safety Data Sheet.  Does it have one or not?”

“Well, no, of course not.  Words do not exist to describe the horror within.”

“Then it’s not considered hazardous.  Do you want Overnight, priority, or parcel post?”

“I just-”

“A line’s forming.  Overnight, Priority, or Parcel Post?”

“Overnight, of course!”

“Fine, that’ll be $34.73.  Fill out this form and stand over there.  Next!”

“WAIT!  How much is, uh, the Parcel Post?”

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Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 2)

This is the conclusion to last week’s #FridayFlash “Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 1)” 

Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 2)
D. Paul Angel
852 Words

Bernhard stepped back from the man panting.  Despite the crimson color of his jumpsuit, there was still obvious blood splatters across it.  He was surprised at the blood, really, even though he was expecting the reality of Vampirism to sharply diverge from the myth.

“So this is my fate then, huh?” the man asked in a weak, raspy voice, “A 25th Century Sisyphus?”

“I wish,” Bernhard answered ruefully. He could see now that the numerous cuts and slices he had inflicted were indeed healing.  It was too slow a process to actually watch happen but, over time, there was no mistaking the wound’s improvements. “It would be extremely convenient after all.”

“Then why not?” asked the man, straining to lift his eyes to look at Bernhard.

“I’m certain you feel pain.  Your screams proved that.  But, your eyes…  Your eyes betrayed you.”

“My eyes?”

“There’s no fear.  No urgency of life.  A man who knows he’s going to die lives his regrets.  But not you.  No sir.  Not you.”

“Then what?”

“Perhaps a partnership of sorts?”

“Why would I partner with someone who just spent hours torturing me?”

“Because you’re going to need blood, and…” he looked longingly at the knife in his hand before continuing, “And my hobby happens to oblige you.”

“So every stowaway will become a victim, even with me forever at your mercy?”

“Alas.  But the best path is usually the hardest.  So… yes.  A man’s gotta have a hobby after all.”

“I see.”  The man’s body had almost completely closed all of its gashes.  He lifted his head and looked at Bernhard with a hardness that started him backing up before he realized it.  As Bernhard watched, the man’s arms and legs began moving toward each other.  It was slow, but should have been impossible.

“Computer!” shouted Bernhard, backing up against the far bulkhead and holding the knife out in front of him, “Force field to 110 percent.”

“The force field can not be strengthened further,” the Computer replied with unemotional finality.

As Bernhard looked up at the Computer’s speaker to curse it, the man brought his hands together resulting in blue flash and BANG!, loud enough that Bernhard dropped his knife with a clatter.  As he bent down to pick it up, the man brought his feet together with a second bright flash and loud BANG!, which awkwardly flung the man away from Bernhard.  The man didn’t land on the floor this time, however, but adroitly landed on his feet.

Bernhard guessed the man’s rush would be coming again, and that the force field wouldn’t stop it.  He dove to his right, expecting to roll and perhaps buy some time.  Instead he was halfway to the floor when he was scooped up by the man in an iron grip, even as the flash and accompanying BANG! reached him. The man held Bernhard off the ground, pinning his arms against his sides.  He looked Bernhard square in the eyes and flatly said, “I am afraid I can’t allow that.”

Bernhard began violently kicking and squirming as the man started moving towards the airlock.

“Put me down!” shouted Bernhard.

“No.”

“Then why now when you could’ve stopped me anytime?”

The man’s face showed neither exertion nor emotion as he walked, “I thought I could still be a surrogate for your illness.  You made clear, however, that I cannot; since by your own admission you will continue to kill.”

“If that’s all you want, I’ll use you.  Just you!”

“I do not believe you and I cannot allow you to kill anyone else.”

“What the hell kind of vampire are you?”

“I am not a vampire.  I am an android.”

“An android?  You’re a robot?”

“I am internally a robot with an organic outer layer exactly mimicking a human male.  My mission is to record humans and their interactions for psychological and sociological research.”

“Then your AI is bound by the Three Laws!  You’re incapable of killing a human!”

“What the Three Laws became in reality are far more complex than even Asimov dreamed.  Although though he did, eventually, see the need for the Zeroth Law.”

“Zeroth Law?”

“In Asimov’s terms, ‘A robot may not harm humanity.’  The internal coding is far too complex too explain, but suffice to say that I cannot allow you to continue killing.”

The man walked into the air lock with Bernhard, and shut the door, sealing them both inside.

“So you’re going to hold me in the air lock until the authorities arrive?”

“No.  Neither an android nor a robot can invoke the Zeroth Law and continue to function.  It is a failsafe.”

“So because you have to die, I die too!?”

“Yes.  But please know that my memory files are saved in hard storage and will survive, even though I shall not.”

“How is that the least bit comforting!?” demanded Bernhard as the air started cycling out of the lock.

“It means I shall record the fear in your eyes for all of posterity.  You indicated earlier a keenness for its observation.  So tell me while you can, what do you regret?”

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Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 1)

Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 1)
D. Paul Angel
734 Words

Bernhard sat on the edge of the metal table, deliberately picking his finger nails with the tip of a large, sharp hunting knife.  White tufts of chest hair poked out from the unzipped top of the crisp crimson jump suit he was wearing.  He lifted his head to look at the man laying on the floor.  He had ruddy cheeks, a day’s worth of stubble, and piercing blue eyes that seemed to be coldly laughing at a cruel joke no one else had heard.

The man on the floor was naked and in excellent physical condition.  He was built with an athletic form that looked graceful even when awkwardly slumped on the floor.

Bernhard cleared his throat.  When the man didn’t respond he did so again with stage emphasis.  He spoke when the man still remained comatose, “I know you’re awake.  Your kind always are, eh?

“You really need for me to come over there and kick you?”

“No,” the man said with a deeply sonorous voice as he rose with adroit quickness, “that should not be necessary.”

The man looked at Bernhard with easy, mocking comfort.  He showed no unease or modesty at being naked, nor did he flaunt it.  It was simply his state of dress, or lack there of.

“What do you mean,” the man asked as Bernhard rose and stood facing him, “my kind?”

“Are you are really going to pretend you’re not a vampire?  I did, after all, go to considerable effort to bring you here.”

“Quite,” the man said.  His mouth turned up in a quirk and then faster than Bernhard could react the man lunged.  There was an immediate, bright blue light and a loud BANG! before the man was on the floor again.  He wasn’t quite unconcious, but he certainly appeared stunned.

“Force field,” Bernhard said simply.  “Surely you watched Star Trek at some point, if not even, perhaps, when they were first run?”

“What can I say,” the man said with instantly regained composure, “I was never a fan of Science Fiction.”

“Well, I’m sure you get the basics, and I doubt you care for the details.  Suffice to say, the force field stops you, but it won’t.  Stop.  Me.”  Bernhard’s eyes twinkled with unconcealed lust.

“So this is it then?  Do you think I infected someone you cared for?  Bit a family member perhaps?”

“Oh no, my friend, you are, shall we say, practice.”

“Practice for what?”

Bernhard held the knife up with a flourish as the man’s arms and legs suddenly went rigid as the force filed suspended him in the air with his arms and legs splayed out.

“The force fields provide for more than just walls.  It is also a 25th century pillory of sorts.”

“I noticed,” the man said, “but it still doesn’t explain what all this is for?”

“For?  For?  Why it’s to hone my new craft.  My first couple subjects chose death over pain.  But you, you have no choice but to choose pain now then do you?”

“How many more subjects have there been?”  the Man asked.

“Not many, unfortunately,” Bernhard answered.  He ran the knife gently across the man’s body in a grotesque parody of tenderness.  “I fought the urges for years.  Wasn’t proper.  Plus, with the near constant surveillance on Star Ships its nigh on impossible to get away with sneaking a smoke, let alone playing with someone.”

“Isn’t this still the starship?  It looks it.”

“Oh we’re in Space, alright, just not on a starship.  This is a Way Station.  No surveillance and just me to man it.  There are always stowaways, and the visiting Captain’s only concern is that the stowaway’s voyages don’t continue with them.

“For a long while I sent them back.  Then one came at me.  I stabbed him.”

Bernhard’s eyes danced with a squalid fanaticism as he made the Man lock eyes before continuing, “He freed me.”

“Freed you?”

“Yes!  Freed me from the binds I’d put on myself to keep my urges under control. Freed me to live as I was supposed to.  I’ve lost so much time.  So much time, you understand?”

“You’re sick.”

“No, but I was.  Oh yes.  I was sick from denying my true self.  But now…  Now I better than I have ever been,” Bernhard said as he began cutting the Man, starting at his neck and then slowly pulling the knife down.

The conclusion is now up at “Bernhard’s Hobby (Part 2)

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Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle
D. Paul Angel
888 words

“Look, I know you want your money, but I am so close.  So close!  And then you’ll have more money than you know what to do with.”

Mr. Roberts pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of his pristinely white suit and dabbed the sweat beading on his round face.  The late summer humidity stifled the air; begging for relief from the approaching storm.  He didn’t answer Jim right away, but instead looked around the mechanic’s shop with a tight smile as though thinking.  Engine and body parts were strewn about with enough rags to leave no doubt that this was a working shop.  All the tools though hung meticulously within their drawn outline, and Joe’s workbench was wholly free of clutter.  Petroleum fought tobacco for domination of the air, despite Joe lighting a new cigarette even as he stamped out the last.

“I like you Joe,”  Mr. Roberts began, gesturing to include the entire garage, “and this is an impressive shop, but the Highway’s gone Joe.  The Highway’s not just gone, but its not coming back either.  They say airplanes are going to be the way of the future.  That every man will have one in his garage.  Even now you can cross the country, the entire U.S. of A. Jim, in only 2 days.

“I appreciate your ability Joe, but,” Mr. Roberts shrugged, “where is the business going to come from?”

“I do more than fix cars, Mr. Roberts, I also…  Well I invent too,” Joe said with overly fierce pride, “and I’m close to something.  I swear it.  I just need to catch lightning in a bottle and a little time and then I-”

“Stop.  Just stop, Joe.  I may like you, but the Bank, the Bank only cares about money.  And, it wants its money, Joe.  Now.”  Mr. Roberts held up a hand at Joe’s inhale and continued, “And the Bank doesn’t care about maybes.

“What I can do, is offer to take this place off your hands.  We can square it so you walk away a little ahead and you can set up shop someplace with actual cars.  What do you say Joe?”

Joe’s shoulders sagged.  He looked out the window at the growing storm.  It seemed to match his mood; dark and only getting worse.  Before he could say anything the closet burst open, flinging Jesse into his arms with a whirlwind of tears and shouts.

“You can’t Pa!,”  he was saying over and over again, “You can’t! You can’t! You can’t!”

Joe slapped Jesse, instantly turning his wailing to a sad whimper.

“I told you not to spy on me boy!” Joe thundered, “I promised your Mama I’d take care of you, but that don’t mean you can spy on me.  Now git!  This is grownup talk.  Go on, git.  Or you’ll get worse than that.”

Jesse ran from the garage, the door banging in the wind after he left.  Joe stalked over and closed it, before returning to the bench and leaning over it in a deep sigh.

“That boy, ok, Joe?”  Mr. Robertson asked, “I uh, well, I never knew you had a son.”

“He’s a little slow is all.  He doesn’t do well with people, most of the time, so he usually just keeps to himself.  Doctors said there’s nothing for it, and I promised his Mama, on her deathbed, I’d take care of him.  This is all he’s ever known.”

Joe turned and looked at Mr. Roberts before finishing, “This is his world, and you’re asking me to take it from him.”

“No Joe,” Mr. Roberts said with outstretched hands, “I’m giving you a chance to settle your debt and get something out of it.  One way or another the Bank will be paid.

“Evening, Joe,”  he said as he put on his ivory fedora and headed for the door with a nod.

“Mr. Roberts I-”  was as far as Joe got before the room lit up from a bolt of lightning just outside.  The sound hit simultaneously with a booming crack.  Mr. Roberts and Joe both staggered and looked at each other in a moment of relief before Joe remembered Jesse.

Panic swelled his eyes as he went running out of the garage to find his son.  He blinked away the spots in his eyes and shouted for Jesse.  Even though it was twilight, the ground had turned dark after the flash.  It was a few moments before he saw a flickering glow next to a dark shape, halfway down the driveway.  He sprinted unevenly to Jesse’s limp body, shouting for him.

“Don’t you die on me boy!  Don’t you dare die!”  He started shaking Jesse once he got there and started crying when Jesse started moving on his own. “Oh thank God, thank God, Thank God!”

“I got it Pa,” Jesse said feebly, looking at his dad with a proud, albeit unsteady, grin, “I got what you need.”

Joe traded a quick look with the equally confused Mr. Roberts when Jesse brought his hand up holding a glowing bottle, the source of the light that that had been Joe’s beacon to his son.  Blue and white tendrils of electricity flicked the edges of the glass and danced around its center.

“I got the lightning in the bottle for ya Pa!  Now we can keep the garage!”

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His Fairy Godfather

His Fairy Godfather
10 January 2014
D. Paul Angel
901 Words

Sea lion barks punctuate the wave’s melodious rhythm with their own staccato pace.  The wave’s triumphant finale vary from a hissing of foam to the dull, wet thud of slapping rocks.  The night may have been in December, but nobody told the weather.  The sky is brilliantly clear and, save for the wind, the air’s more warmer than not.

Alone on a bench at the base of the Lighthouse, he watches the lights on the far side of the Bay while awaiting the moonrise.  He looks up to Orion standing guard over the stars, the sky dark enough to make out the finer details of Orion’s sword. A shooting star rip across Orion’s torso as he watches, briefly flickering out before continuing its fiery plunge.

I’ve never seen a shooting star wink out on its path like that he thinks, simultaneously considering the physics behind the sudden disappearance as well as the artistic effect from the illusion of it vanishing inside Orion himself.  With a tiny chime almost lost to the Ocean’s roaring voice, his face lights up from the glow of his phone.

That meteor was too cool not share with- Share with… Who?

That is, after all, why he’s here; alone on a bench.  Because she had made very, very clear that she did not want to share her life with him.  Not even a little tiny bit.

His turns over thoughts of FaceBook and Twitter, but he knows in his heart they’re false panaceas of inclusion at best.  He wasn’t without friends of course, and easily half a dozen of them would enjoy the story immensely…

Before returning to their lives.

And their Loves.

With a sigh he puts the phone away to look up at the stars again when he sees a man approach.  I wasn’t that out of it, was I? he asks as he looks around to see if anyone else is approaching.  The man comes directly at him and sits on the edge of the bench, despite the seven empty ones on either side.  The man’s wearing a fashionable leather jacket and looks incredibly familiar.  The man turns and leans forward regarding him.

“You remind me of Rossi, from Criminal Minds,” he blurts out to the man before he can stop himself.

“Joe Mantegna?  Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“Are you?”

“You think I’d be here talking to you if I was?” the man snorts, “No, I’m the sorry schmuck who got tasked with being your Fairy Godfather.”

He laughed with a mix of nervousness and mirth before catching his Fairy Godfather’s eye and suddenly feels his humor shrivel up.

“You think that’s funny?” asks the Fairy Godfather.

“No. I… Um. Kinda?”

“Kinda.  Kinda? Huh.”

Not sure what to think, let alone say, he does nothing and waits for his Fairy Godfather to continue.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m waiting for the moonrise.  Maybe get some good pics.”

“That phone helping you?”

“No, I was thinking of texting someone and thought better of it,” he answers truthfully before wondering why he’s saying anything to this guy at all.

“That your first choice for the evening?  Pictures of the dark and unsent texts?”

“No, I…” remembering his wish moments ago to not be so forthcoming he finishes lamely, “They’re pictures of the Moon.  Not the dark.”

The Fairy Godfather cocks his head and looks at him.

“It’s better than being home alone,” he adds as if compelled.

“True,” the Fairy Godfather said, making it linger, “But not really.”

“Well-“

“Shut up,” the Fairy Godfather says, pointing a finger at him.

“I-” is as far as he gets before the Fairy Godfather raises a finger silencing him.

The Fairy Godfather continues, “You could have been out here at sunset to take your pictures, with far more people around.  A lot of them women actually.  Maybe… Maybe even the one for you.”

She was here?  The One?”

“You weren’t here so you won’t ever know, will you.  You want her?  You want, ‘The One?’ Find her.  Don’t sit around and hope she’ll fall in your lap.  Don’t pretend to be a photographer when you know damn well the Moon isn’t going to rise for another 3 hours, and don’t whine you have no one to spend your life with if you don’t have a life worth sharing!”

He sits there in stunned silence as the Man, his Fairy Godfather, gets up and looking down on him says, “We’re done here.”

The words wash over him. He feels hallow inside even as a cold ball of fail burns into his stomach.  “That’s it then? No ideas on how, just, ‘do everything you’ve ever done, only different.'”

“Exactly.  You already know how, you just need to do it.”

Before he can speak his Fairy Godfather shushes him with a look.  “Just f’n do it, k?”  His Fairy Godfather pats his cheek before turning and disappearing between the Lighthouse beam’s flashes.  If not for the warmth and feel of the Fairy Godfather’s hand against his face he would have thought the whole thing a delusion. Cause tactile illusions can’t exist? he asks himself.

He stands and looks around.  Frustrated by the encounter he shouts to the Ocean, “You know in the stories, the Fairy Godmother actually helps people.”

As soon as he finishes, he hears his Fairy Godfather’s disembodied voice answer, “That’s probably why the bitch divorced me.”

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The Balrog Goes to State

D. Paul Angel
1,063 Words

“And here come the Bumsqueak Chickenhawks!  They’re led by their Captain, Quarterback Jeremy Alders who has already signed a letter of intent to A & M.  He’s followed closely by- What in the Hell is that, Jimmy?”

“Hell is right, Charlie, because unless I am very much mistaken that would be a Balrog coming onto the field with the rest of the Chickennhawk’s defense.”

“A Balrog?  Like, from the Hobbit?”

“Lord of the Rings, actually, but yes.  One of the dark things unearthed when the dwarves mined too deep in Moria.  And now, apparently, starting Inside Linebacker.”

“Coach Carlson looks rather pleased with himself-“

“As do the Chickenhawk fans.”

“Well I can’t say I’m surprised by that at this point, but on the other sideline Coach Tucker is beside himself yelling at the refs.  In fact they are done talking with Coach Tucker and heading over to Coach Carlson.”

“Looks like they’re done explaining now.”

“Now I’ve seen everything!  The refs just backed away from the Chickenhawk sideline when the Balrog walked over.

“Did I mention the refs are volunteers?”

“Even if they were getting paid, I doubt there’s enough coin in Texas to tell a 17 foot tall Balrog he’s ineligible.

“Looks like this is happening.”

“Sure enough, they’re lining up for the kickoff.  Miller kicks it away for the Chickenhawks to Johnson at the five.  Johnson runs up the middle past the twenty to the twenty five and there’s the Balrog!  Johnson is now fleeing the Balrog in terror towards his own endzone.”

“I don’t know if that’ll be a fumble or illegal forward pass.  Hard to tell with that much panic on the throw.”

“Luckily for the Cougars they ruled it a fumble and they’ll keep possession after it went out of bounds.”

“Would you look at that!  A third of the starting offense is refusing to take the field!”

“Coach Tucker with the timeout as he meets with his team.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me if they concede at this point, Charlie.  Gandalf was at least in his early thousands when he faced the Balrog with Glamdrig.  For these kids the sharpest thing they’ve ever touched was a razor, and for half of ‘em that was probably last week.”

“How do you know that Jimmy?”

“It’s called reading Charlie.  You should try it sometime.  Looks like some kids have come out of the stands and are convincing Coach Tucker to keep playing.”

“Nerds Jimmy.  Call ‘em as you see ‘em.”

“Well, geeks maybe, but they definitely have the look nailed if nothing else.”

“And they’re lining up behind their goal post as time is returned and play is resuming.  Not sure what the nerds are going to do behind the goalpost but it’s emboldened the Cougar’s enough to come out and least snap the ball.”

“They’ve got dice and books, Charlie, I think we all know what that means.”

“And there’s the snap and ‘Moose’ drops back to pass.  He looks left, well away from the charging Balrog and throws in the flat to Heim…
“Only to have it batted down by the Balrog’s wing.  Is that legal?”

“Dollars to donuts there’s no rule against it.”

“Clock stops, and the Cougar’s look back to the geeks who have spread out and are rolling dice, one by one.  Except one who’s behind a little cardboard screen.”

“That’d be the Dungeonmaster, Charlie, and I think things are about to get real interesting.”

“I don’t believe it Jimmy!  There are now five, huge, robot lions at the back of the endzone!”

“Those are the Voltron Lions, Charlie!  The kids did it!”

“Is that, that allowed in Dungeon of Dragons?”

“Dungeons and Dragons, and it looks like the DM is going to allow it!  The kids are in the Lions!”

“And just like that the Balrog responds with a fiery whip around Blue Lion’s throat and throws him well clear of the stadium!”

“Ouch!  I just hope these kids don’t get too cocky.  Best just to form Voltron and be done with it.”

I don’t know if they can hear you or not Jimmy, but it looks like that is exactly what they are doing, even as the Balrog is trying to engage them one at a time.”

“That whip is pretty devastating.”

“The Black Lion just jumped and the other three in the stadium are following.  There’s Yellow, Green, and Red are right next to the Black Lion, but no sign of Blue Lion yet.”

“He’s a baller.  He’ll come.”

“And there he is!  Adding Blue to the rainbow streak high above the stadium.”

“Would you look at that sky!”

“Can’t say as I’ve ever seen it flash primary colors quite like that Jimmy.”

“Wait till he draws his energy sword.  It’s like that but ten.”

“You’re right Jimmy!  What a sight!  That sword alone is easily as long as the Balrog, but he doesn’t look the least bit concerned.”

“Such is the nature of ancient, antidiluvian evil, Charlie.”

“And Voltron is putting on quite a show with that energy sword of his.”

“You know, you hate to see that, Charlie.  I know it’s a big deal for the kids to have summoned Voltron, they’re vanquishing a Balrog; but really, you gotta look like you’ve been there before.”

“Looks like they were doing too much dancing in the end zone as the Balrog’s whip snare’s Voltron’s Yellow leg, pulling him down!

“Voltron’s back up… he dodges… he parries… and he cuts the Balrog’s whip in two with the energy sword!

“And in two slashes I’m not even sure I saw Voltron cut a ragged ‘X’ across the Balrog’s chest!

“The Balrog just exploded in light and is just gone.  I mean totally gone!”

“Nothing left but a smoldering spot of bare Earth.  Guarantee nothing will ever, and I mean ever! grow there again.”

“No doubt about it.  And Coach Carlson is furious at the loss of his ‘Star’ linebacker.”

“The refs aren’t looking to sympathetic, either.”

“They sure aren’t an- Oh my! Just when you thought it was over, a giant scaly claw has erupted from the very Earth itself and grabbed Coach Carlson!”

“I haven’t seen a fan that unhappy since my days in Cleveland.

“Though, truth be told Charlie, Hell might be easier than explaining to the Boosters that you lost the game and your Balrog to a twelfth seed’s D&D Geeks.”

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