lost time incident 61 – the cult has a great health care plan

a lady using a ViewMaster

lost time incident 61
Last night, the wife and I finally got around to doing something about our dwindling social life and we tried attending a Meetup event for the first time. We took a Lyft to the home of a stranger and figured that whether we met new friends and had fun playing board games— which was the theme of the Meetup event— or whether we got murdered by strangers who enjoy disguising their murder lures as board game events, at least it would be something different.

We didn’t get murdered.

Unless it was one of those rare murders where your soul roams free afterwards, and you keep living your life, sleeping in your own bed, waking and making coffee, totally SIXTH SENSEing yourself because no has told you you’re haunting your own life.

I wouldn’t mind that either, actually. I would love to be the first ghost to successfully type out and send an electronic newsletter after the events of their tragic murder.

BOO!

Ha! Did I get you?

Can you see this? Are you the only person who can see this, you little Haley Joel Osment newsletter subscriber? Ask the person next to you if they can also read this.

Anyway, yeah, we played board games all night. Three of ’em. All cooperative games, where it was us against the game itself. We lost every time. The theme of the night (“Losing”) was set early with PANDEMIC: REIGN OF CTHULHU. Do you know this game?

In it, all the players are characters who are aware that terrible occult things are happening in their neighborhood. For one thing: There’s friggin’ cultists everywhere. Doing cult things. They want to summon elder gods from other dimensions, even though anyone could tell them that’s a bad idea. Lesser monsters keep hopping through gates to other realms, which is awful. In short, the world is falling apart and our task is to do something about it.

Using our wits (and some cards representing magical artifacts), we race from town to town, knocking cultists on the head (with a hearty “Hey, jerks, knock it off!”), trying to shut down portals that would otherwise invite the otherworldly evil to enter our world and muck it up. Get evil all over everything. Tough to get off. Bleach and a lot of scrubbing required, I’d imagine.

There are many ways to lose this game and we lost in perhaps the oddest way: We ran out of cultists. Yup. If you ever reach a point where the game says you need to put new cultists on the board, but there are no more cultist figurines available that aren’t already on the board, the game just says: Okay, you’re done. You’re not keeping up. Just assume that the cult gets more and more popular, their recruitment campaigns have posters all over town, there’s sign-on bonuses available, steak knife sets, even your nice grandma joined just to have something to do on weekends now that she can’t bowl. Your grandma, in a hooded robe, baying for blood and having a great old time while the sky is rent open and winged forms with strange geometries erupt like cosmic hernias.

So we dusted ourselves off and set up a different game, and then failed to defend a town from being overrun by the undead. In the last game of the evening, we failed to keep the submarine we were on from exploding. All in all, it was a great night!

Anyway. This week, we’ve got some miscellany which started their lives as blog post headlines I stole from womens’ magazine websites, and an original short piece exclusive [a-a-a-a-a-air horn!] for you kind readers.

But first: some politics…

 

cw
You may dislike the President, but I admire his form. Not many people know this, but he’s made from a single sheet of flesh, carefully folded and crafted by a talented Flesh Origamist. If you were to unfold him, he would stretch halfway to the moon, which would be a good start, especially if it’s the further half away from us.

 

4 of the biggest myths about pregnancy and childbirth
1) You can always tell if your child is destined to overthrow you. Honestly, most soothsayers make this call based on whether you act like a jerk when you ask about what forces threaten your kingdom. Always tip!

2) Playing music for a baby makes it smarter. Nope! Not with your musical taste, poseur.

3) The fae want to swap a mushroom baby for your child as soon after birth as possible. Actually, the fae are quite patient and have even replaced teenagers!

4) They only let experts write these articles for mothers. Actually, any idiot can just write anything.

 

15 weird things that are making you anxious
1) That strange figure standing among the fruit trees, just there. Can’t you see it? When the lightning strikes, briefly?

4) The unknown fate of numbers 2 and 3.

5) The known fate of numbers 7 through 10.

11) Life’s fleeting nature. Every bird and bug, every enemy and friend, just ripples on water.

12) The taste of your own tongue. It curls back. What are you?

13) The crying sound the number 8 makes. But it’s just looking for attention. QUIET DOWN, 8!

14) Lists from health/beauty magazines that make you think your life could be better if you just read one more list.

15) Capitalism.

 

fast-forward
A typical-looking white family in a station wagon: father, mother, son, daughter, dog. The car whips along winding roads, each of the family’s faces seen in rapid sequence as they talk and laugh. There’s luggage attached to the roof of the car which stops in front of a multi-story house. Sun’s shining.

Credits fly by, unreadable at this speed, while the family unpacks.

Dinner is take-out around a table in a mostly empty room. Lights flicker, probably, or maybe it’s the flickering of the tracking on the film… no, it’s the lights. Father’s got a flashlight, looking in the basement. Outside, from behind, an unfamiliar figure stands by a tree, looking in through the house’s windows from a distance.

In the basement, red lights, the flashlight fails, father’s face is terrified. Upstairs the family has candles lit and the father returns from the basement, uncommunicative.

Night time. Panning shots around the house. External, internal. Low to the ground, rising up the stairway, zipping along to the doors that line the second floor. The children share a room. Whispering in the dark. The daughter sees something outside. The brother doesn’t get out of bed.

>>

Play.

A priest yells “YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE” and for a split second, you can see his head replaced with a latex replica, right before it explodes.

>>

Shuffling legs, black with age, come creeping up basement steps. The mother is pinned to the ceiling by an unknown force as her children cry, jumping and failing to grab her and bring her back to the safety of the floor.

Somebody is tossed through a window. There’s a fire in the house. Lots of flashing lights. A glowing portal and children, pushing forward against a powerful wind, throwing something through it. A few seconds of darkness, then a bright day and a subtitle that included the words “years later” but went by too fast to see the detail.

PLAY

A basement door slams shut. Lights glow through the cracks between the door and its frame. A heavy concentration of dust or smoke causes the light to separate into almost solid branches.

Credits. Credits. Credits. And finally, a Muppet Special, taped off the television years ago, interrupts the credits with song and a soft parade of felt.

THE END…… ?

 

ending theme song
Oh man. What a twist! Did you see that coming?

I didn’t. And I wrote the thing!

I’m just a vessel for The Muse, man. The characters, they just speak to me, and I am but a humble transcriptionist. I can’t take any credit for any of this. I’m a random collection of electronic impulses in a meat machine. But thank you, thank you for all the effusive praise. You really don’t have to do that.

Not for more than 10 minutes minimum, to maintain your subscription privilege level. This month only, we’re offering a special upgrade package. For 15 minutes of praise, you can get bumped up to PLATINUM VELVET level, with all that that entails. You’ll be taught an additional secret handshake. You’ll have 2 weeks of bonus time in the catacombs. Plus: frozen yogurt!

But for now that’s it. We’re done. Just… as soon as we’re done… typing this. And this. One last thing: THIS. Okay, now we’re done. Okay. That’s it, we’re at the end. Goodbye. GOODBYE.

—Michael Van Vleet

looking to subscribe? sign up now to get the LOST TIME INCIDENT delivered directly to your inbox!

4 of the Biggest Myths About Pregnancy and Childbirth

1) You can always tell if your child is destined to overthrow you. Honestly, most soothsayers make this call based on whether you act like a jerk when you ask about what forces threaten your kingdom. Always tip!

2) Playing music for a baby makes it smarter. Nope! Not with your musical taste, poseur.

3) The fae want to swap a mushroom baby for your child as soon after birth as possible. Actually, the fae are quite patient and have even replaced teenagers!

4) They only let experts write these articles for mothers. Actually, any idiot can just write anything.

15 Weird Things That Are Making You Anxious

1) That strange figure standing among the fruit trees, just there. Can’t you see it? When the lightning strikes, briefly?

4) The unknown fate of numbers 2 and 3.

5) The known fate of numbers 7 through 10.

11) Life’s fleeting nature. Every bird and bug, every enemy and friend, just ripples on water.

12) The taste of your own tongue. It curls back. What are you?

13) The crying sound the number 8 makes. But it’s just looking for attention. QUIET DOWN, 8!

14) Lists from health/beauty magazines that make you think your life could be better if you just read one more list.

15) Capitalism.

4 Tasty Ways to Hide Vegetables in Your Favorite Foods

1) Find a young orphan vegetable. They’re pliant and learn fast. Teach it the art of camouflage. How to be still. To mask its scent. To distract. If you see it, strike it, until it learns you will only love it when you think it’s gone. Its desire to please the only source of love in its life will drive it to perfection.

2) Shape a vegetable into a spoon or fork! Use it to shovel melted cheese into your face. More! MORE!

3) In the pale moonlight, cut a bouquet of Maiden’s Wort. Cure it in otter bile. Consult TANFORTH’S FOLLY vol. 3 pp. 18 and cast INVISIBILITY FOR BEETS.

4) Wrap ’em in bacon.

FULL E3 TRAILER: ‘FAMILY FUNERAL’ [4K HD] 3:02

Either in Story Mode, or with a party of friends, take a journey of discovery into a high definition world never before experienced on your console or computer!

Select your character and perks, then navigate a family funeral, marking relatives for sympathetic comments, nodding knowingly at anecdotes and racking up points by handing facial tissues the bereaved.

Metacritic: 82
Redleaf Funeral Home: “It’s… accurate.”

COMING FALL 2018: GRAVESIDE SERVICE [DLC $14.99 (preorder discount)]

4 Worries People With Anxiety Have When a Friend Doesn’t Text Back

1) Their offering to the bog witch was insufficient. Even know, their mouth is filling with mud, their gift– maybe a $10 iTunes card?– chucked under the roots of a mangrove, a crone’s cracked heel on their back, pushing them down into the muck. Bog witches prefer physical media!

2) Our friend’s phone is possessed. An 18th century dandy has entered it by mistake, distracted by its bauble-esque qualities. S/he knows nothing of texting!

3) Did we text the wrong person?

4) Our friends don’t exist when they’re not physically present. This entire world is an illusion. Or their phone died?

witches.town miscellany

Pity the poor Australopithecus ghost, stuck in a loop of regret and unfinished business, walking the paths it walked in life which are now sadly dozens of feet under new sediment, a haunting witnessed only by tunneling creatures with dim eyesight and no sense of the wonder.

You may dislike the President, but I admire his form. Not many people know this, but he’s made from a single sheet of flesh, carefully folded and crafted by a talented Flesh Origamist. If you were to unfold him, he would stretch halfway to the moon, which would be a good start, especially if it’s the further half away from us.

A million angel chorus, singing full-throated for aeons, but if you could record it, and could play it back at a faster speed, it would resolve itself: The words “I’m soooo booooored” repeated in slow variations, lazy chords weaving in and out, over an over eternally.

Nobody talks about how Santa, a powerful thoughtform, manages to take over the minds of millions of parents to make them do his bidding annually. They sign To/From cards on his behalf. They purchase toys with their own money! Gladly!

Your garden variety psychic sensitive or card-guessing ESPer is no match for this monster from beyond the snows.

So we just let it happen, year after year. We celebrate this psychic parasitism. Only in these summer months, when he’s weakest, can we even post about it, disguising it as jest.

lost time incident 60 – octopus bidding

A man wrestles with an octopus. TEXT: The octopus... following... her bidding!

lost time incident 60
This weekend was a writing weekend and I’m still writing. That’s how these words appeared in front of you. Just a short while ago, there was nothing here, but now there’s words. I’ve got this writing project I pitched at the end of February and I’m still not done with the first draft, so… I’m trying to knuckle down.

To bolster my efforts, I’m also reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s a book about writing, full of good advice like: If you want to write something, you should write something. Try writing a thing and if it doesn’t work out, change it.

Good stuff, good stuff.

A friend of mine named Rich pinged me yesterday from a book expo in Chicago, IL. He was browsing a table full of “bizarro” literature, which is a sub-genre dedicated to high concepts, surreal plots and characters, and oftentimes a desire to let one’s id do the driving. I love the creativity on display when it comes to, say, the output of a Carlton Mellick III, but as you might guess, you’ve got to dig through a lot to find the rare title that lives up to the promise of its cover. Bizarro fiction is not immune to Sturgeon’s Law.

There’s a work ethic there I wish I had. Mellick III has over 50 books published with titles like “The Cannibals of Candyland” and “Every Time We Meet at the Dairy Queen, Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes”. Chuck Tingle can come up with, write, and release a book within a day or two of a news item hitting the popular consciousness (such as “England’s Ass Is Haunted By A Hung Parliament”, on sale now).

It’s inspirational. I gotta get to work.

But first, another mirror universe beauty tip:

 

4 genius tricks for the smoothest legs ever
1) While you are still an idea, unformed, before you’re drawn to this material plane, influence one of your parents to be an octopus

2) Distribute 2-for-1 discount coupons to every hair on your legs. Thanks to financial incentives, your hair will keep doubling until you have a smooth pelt like an otter.

3) Replace your legs with mathematics. Run your hands along smooth sine curves and explain to the curious that your lower limbs are now leg-orithms.

4) Let two seals attempt to eat your legs, but ask them to stop at the hips.

 

because witches.town has a higher character limit, i will no longer be constrained by twitter’s limits
You, a buzzard-brained fool: I hope to join the Mile High Club. Me, a genius: If I ever have sex, I know that time/space is relative and I'm light-years above so much in every galactic direction and my club has the human race as members!

 

top three draculas in the tri-city area
1) Jerry the Dracula – Runs that nightclub where they got the red strobe lights and the blood showers go on at 3 a.m. out there on Route 4. Real nice.

2) Maybelle Dracula – Just a sweet lady, full up with stories. You’ll find her luring in folks with sweet tea on her white porch, friendly as you please, but them folks don’t come back.

3) Chuck the Double-Dracula – College boy, says the word for ’em all ain’t “Dracula” but “vampyr” so we call ‘im DOUBLE-Dracula. Heh. College boy. Nice, otherwise. Helps folks with their taxes and whatnot.

To all runner-up Draculas: better luck next year!

 

ending theme song
Okay! That’ll do it for this week. The sky is blue and there are hummingbirds zipping from flower to flower on the tree outside the living room window. Time to put on some coffee and hunker down on the current writing project.

As a reminder to anyone who missed it, my last writing project (written under a pseudonym) is still available over at Horrible Vacuum: SWAP MEAT! Only 99 cents for (possibly) the best (of not only) cannibal/bargain-hunting tale you’ve ever seen!

What else, what else. If you were following the LOST TIME INCIDENT Facebook page, you don’t have to do that anymore because I unpublished it. It wasn’t adding much to the experience.

I think that’s it! See you the next time one of these comes out!

—Michael Van Vleet

find me elsewhere
signalstation – home
TinyLetter – archive/subscription
witches.town – short nonsense Twitter – even shorter nonsense
Tumblr – reblogging
Goodreads – reading
Bandcamp – listening
Amazon – wishlist

4 Genius Tricks For The Smoothest Legs Ever

1) While you are still an idea, unformed, before you’re drawn to this material plane, influence one of your parents to be an octopus

2) Distribute 2-for-1 discount coupons to every hair on your legs. Thanks to financial incentives, your hair will keep doubling until you have a smooth pelt like an otter.

3) Replace your legs with mathematics. Run your hands along smooth sine curves and explain to the curious that your lower limbs are now leg-orithms.

4) Let two seals attempt to eat your legs, but ask them to stop at the hips.