Category Archives: lost time incident

An archive of the tinyletter newsletter content, but hosted on my own site, just in case.

lost time incident 77 – down among the animal youth

lost time incident 77
Welcome to another lost time incident. The seconds keep ticking along and getting away from us, forming a chain hand-to-hand that drags us into the future against our will. According to clocks and pendulums, stone circles and star charts, it’s been about a month since I sent one of these out and there’s a good reason for that: I only just this morning clawed myself out of a deep pit of muck in which I was imprisoned by the Verdant Monarch as revenge for attempting to usurp the throne. I’m covered in mud and ready to type.

Okay, actually, I was playing host the last few weekends to some work colleagues from India. So it goes. I showed them the ocean. I made sure they tried fresh strawberries and chipotle salsa (not at the same time). All the wonders of this part of the world.

All of which means my book project has been untouched as well. What I did instead, to create the illusion of progress, was I paid an artist to create some artwork for the project. Here’s two images from maddison (aka DataErase). I love her animation/glitch aesthetic and wanted to see what she would come up with after seeing a bit of my writing. The results:

I really should get back to editing that project. But not today!

Today, I’ll send out this newsletter and that will feel like enough of an act of creation that I can go back to laying on the couch reading books, listening to the sounds of passing planes and trains through the open window.

Anyway, here are some more words!


get it?
“I’m not here to make friends.” – Dr. Frankenstein, consoling himself when his corpse-son has nothing in common with him when it comes to interests or hobbies


monster self defense ($80 M-W-F)
Mummy: This one’s easy and a good monster to start with when you’re learning the art of self-defense. Get in a ready stance, feet planted wide, and find your center. Then, give the mummy a compliment and offer a high five. When it puts its hand up, slap its hand so hard the whole creature falls to dust from the impact. This technique’s so easy, there’s room for me to teach you in the course description, which I just did.

Want to defend yourself from Dogmans? Draculas? Fishwitches? MANY MORE?!? Gotta pay $80 for the rest and these are just the tip of the monster pile of self-defense knowledge I can impart. See you on the musty mats of the community centre!


morning affirmations from my rejected manuscript of inspirational living advice
Each of the following affirmations are free to a good home, because apparently the publishing world is not yet ready for my truths, even though they look amazing when placed on a photo of a natural landscape.

Repeat as required daily:

  • I am strong. I am valued. The world will burn and I will learn to breathe ash.
  • The world acts through me and I act through the world. I am one with shadows and fate.
  • I am a person deserving of success. I will drink water. I will walk on two legs. I will maintain my form, all day, even when startled by earth fauna.


we are updating our occult privacy policy
You are receiving this communication from us because at some point in the last few years, we have:

  • Viewed you through a scrying pool and/or mirror
  • Crafted a double of you from blood and willpower and used it to manipulate your moods and actions


  • Sunk into a dark liquid pool then rose again to the surface, but the surface was your eyes, through which we saw as you saw, thought as you thought, pressed against your iris as intimate as breath.

Due to new legislation, now we have to ask: Is it okay if we keep doing that?

ending theme song
Oh boy, that was fun, wasn’t it? Wow. Sure, some people like riding roller coasters, or falling in love, but subscribers to this mailing list know that nothing compares to idly scrolling down a long column of words.

The wind just knocked over a screen we put in front of our open front door to keep our neighbor from peering in, which means that either our neighbor now has control of the weather, or maybe it’s a windy enough day that we need to reconsider our open door policy.

If you don’t hear from me again, just assume I’ve ascended into the heavens, snatched up by powerful gusts that managed to lure me to the door with the screen-toppling ruse, and that from now on I can be found in the clouds.


—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

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lost time incident 76 – personal slime time

lost time incident 76
Hey, party people, what’s happening. I’m writing to you from the middle of wide-open/do-nothing vacation and it’s been a delight. Got time to let the slime drip all over me and just hold my breath ’til it’s over.

I’m just pullin’ your leg there. That’s not me in the banner image. I’m just givin’ you the run-around. Just joshin’ ya. Just … just lying right to your face with no consequences, 2018 theme of the year.

I just spent a week in a lakeside cabin in the middle of nowhere. I went down by the water once and confirmed that lakes are full of bugs and fish and moist plants, just as I remembered. Then I read a lot, moving from couch to other couch to chair to rocking chair to bed and so on. Lots of different places to be and read stuff. Could I have saved money and read while not at a lake? you may be asking. Well. Aren’t you impertinent.


But the way I did it was: I was by a lake.

Saw brightly colored birds. Watched geese lead their goslings across a neighbor’s lawn, eating fresh shoots of grass. Saw a moth the size of half-a-fist. (It wanted to smash itself against a ceiling light and we did not offer this opportunity, offering a screen door by way of exchange for the unreachable false-moon-lightbulb.)

It was a good time, this lake time. I guess. The wifi was kinda slow and spotty, if I’m being honest. I’m hoping I live long enough to be able to journey to the heart of nature, set up a sleeping bag in a hibernating bear’s cave, and still have high speed wireless internet so I can check my email before the bear eats me.

Some day.

Anyway, here are some words.


you have been judged by experts and found wanting
By 35, retirement experts say you should have replaced at least one of your eyes with a dark mirror that separates truth from lies, crafted a hutch of sticks and leaves outside the village, and said at least 300 sooths a year on average to build a sooth stockpile for lean years.

By the age of 35, retirement experts recommend that you have your entire body replaced with a crude straw replica with buttons for eyes. The trained wolves sent by debt collectors will tear apart this effigy in your stead while you safely hibernate beneath the cracked earth, waiting for the rainy season.

As soon as you become 35, all clocks stop. The Retirement Experts descend through the clouds, lightning heralding their coming, blackening the sidewalk out front where you’re expected to meet them, clutching your documents, your net worth tallied. There are four of them this year. You heard the fifth was struck by a plane last year, but no one can confirm this news because the remaining four don’t answer questions: they ask them. “Do you believe in the passage of time?” they ask you. From behind curtains, your neighbors watch you trying to enter your bank password into your phone to show them your savings account, which would look better if you didn’t still have a few birthday checks from relatives you haven’t deposited yet. You’ve been busy. “How much longer could your retirement last if you didn’t eat anything now?” one of them asks. It’s hard to tell which of them is talking because their faces shine like new coins that have never kissed a coin slot, never been idly chucked into a change bucket, never ridden around in a pocket with keys.

Retirement experts agree: they’ve never been retired themselves but even so, they maintain a matchless confidence about their expertise.

By the age of 35, you should remember that the average rock is 2 or 3 billion years old and they don’t work at all. Never did. They’re all retired. What if you just quit your job and became a rock?

By the age of 35, retirement experts expect you to boldly wear the red sash of the Duelists Society, have won at least 3 duels with peers, trained a young ward, and accrued no more than 2 dashing scars. If you manage this, you’ll be on track to retire on a bed of swords, or to die before retirement in a duel with a masked opponent, their identity revealed during your last few breaths… It was your young ward! They of the mysterious background, now revealed to be full of cunning and vengeance, their parents having previously fallen to your flashing blade— but you haven’t taught them every trick you know, such as the value of having your blade envenomed, and as they fall at your feet twitching with poison you tell them at least they never felt the dread of being 35 and knowing that they’ll never retire… they’ll never lose their savings to a medical emergency and be chased by debt collectors until they die in a break room, clocking in to an hourly job where they had to place goods on shelves for 8 hours.


the trifold brochure may have excluded a few key points re: the experience
Hey, get on the boat!
Going for a cruise!
Parasols and drinks!
Shuffleboard and naps!
Clinging to the nets!
Salt encrusted hair!
Gems around our necks!
Seaweed in our eyes!
Swearing a new oath!
Vengeance of the sea!
Death to all who sail!
This cruise ends in blood!
Blood and endless shrimp!


ending theme song
You’ve made it through another email! How many more unread emails in your inbox? Let’s see… Oh. Oh my. How did you even find time to read this email?

Tell you what. I’m going to help you out. Here’s a coupon. Use it.

| Good for 1 email       |
| BANKRUPTCY         |
just delete them all |
——-clip and save—–|
—Michael Van Vleet

[image credit: Zachary Darren Corzine: (from a video on Super Deluxe)]


Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

You’re in luck! You can subscribe to the LOST TIME INCIDENT newsletter and finally class up your inbox. 

lost time incident 75 – last train out of town

Hey, readers! Thanks for waiting here while the airlock cycled and while the decontamination showers did their thing.

Do I have any actual news for you? I do not.

You don’t want to hear about all the board games I played yesterday with friends, celebrating International Tabletop Day. You don’t want to hear about how slow progress has been on editing my microfiction project. You don’t want to hear about how waiting for to disappear at month’s end feels like watching the last train roll out of town.

Dang. There’s a lot you folks don’t want to hear about. Picky, much?

Oh, here’s something interesting I can share. A long-time friend of mine spent some time in jail recently and yesterday shared some knowledge he learned from his bunkie “Caveman.” Caveman had spent enough time in the penal institution that he had some recipes one could follow using items available in the commissary.

You can make this next one at home, if you want to follow along. You can skip the steps where you get incarcerated and start with the food prep:

Okay, start by getting your hands on some Slim Jims. If you can’t find the name brand, any dense salami-esque meat product can be substituted. Got it? Okay great. Next thing you do is slice it into tiny pieces, then add it to a marinade made from soy sauce packets and grape jelly. You can usually source soy sauce packets from your junk drawer, left over from years of accumulated Chinese food delivery. Grape jelly can be obtained by planting and maintaining a vineyard, waiting for harvest, and watching YouTube videos on how to convert all your grapes into jelly.

Now that you’ve marinated your meat stick bits, you’re ready for plating. Get yourself a tortilla and carefully spoon your meat out of the marinade and into the tortilla’s center. Then, depending on one’s own sense of tortilla style, either fold the tortilla into a vaguely taco shape, or tuck and roll the tortilla for something like a burrito. Ready to eat!


Then it’s right back to spending time with your thoughts and waiting for your daily 30 minute period where you can leave your cell.

Now that you’ve learned something useful, here’s a series of not-at-all-useful strings of words designed to amuse and confuse. But first, with GDPR legislation coming into effect in Europe within the month, we have some housekeeping to take care of:


we’re updating our privacy policy
Your privacy is important to us.

In years past, we’ve had ourselves sewn inside your easy chairs and sofas, just to feel your warmth through the upholstery, giving you hugs as only furniture can.

We want you to know that we’re updating our terms of service, and we’re throwing out our collections of your tears (which we were keeping in case you wanted them back!) and the fiber samples we collected from your shoelaces for research purposes.

[click here to accept or seriously, you have to for-real stop reading,
or unsubscribe, or take a hammer to your computer or phone]


rules for dating my daughter
1) Strip your ego from you and enter the Cave of Lost Hope holding nothing but faith

2) Face the Lizards Three, sisters who can taste fear, whose riddles kill kings, and solve whatever puzzle they put to you, untangling their web of words

3) Help me put some antivirus stuff on my computer ’cause– and I don’t know why– I’m getting these rude pop-ups that I am NOT interested in

4) Oh, I should probably mention somewhere in this list: I don’t have a daughter. I just have computer problems, and a lizard problem

5) [an unintended image advertising a salacious service]


announcement: this year’s BOTTOM OF THE WELL FILM FESTIVAL line-up
A Circle of Light (documentary) – Footage of the light that drifts down from that hole way above us at the top of the well

Mr. Teeth and the Snail Fortune (drama) – A man in a well finds where the snails congregate and this fortune destroys his relationships with the rest of us in the well when he doesn’t share

Wet Wet Wet (comedy) – Just splashing water sounds in the dark. Hilarious. Why would anyone want to leave this damp well


ending theme song
Thanks for reading another one of these. Hope to see you at the film festival, where the popcorn’s fresh and the water’s up to your ankles and the picture plays on a well’s crumbling brick walls and no one ever wants to leave.

—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

You’re in luck! You can subscribe to the LOST TIME INCIDENT newsletter and finally class up your inbox. 

lost time incident 74 – tips for banana driving

lost time incident 74
This last weekend, I celebrated by 42nd birthday. For the last few years, I experimented with treating my birthday with contempt, primarily marking the passage of time with memento mori reflections and melancholy. This year, though, I tried something new: a trip to southern California to spend a few nights on a mountain, among pine trees and great boulders, with cold air and fire-tending and companionship.

Also included was a road trip to a slow-moving natural disaster: The Salton Sea. Do you know it?

In the 1950s, the Salton Sea was going to be a resort destination… a desert bloom, like Las Vegas, attracting tourists and celebrities. But the sea doesn’t have any outflow, and over the years accumulated salts and agricultural runoff built up until the fish started dying. It’s now a slowly collapsing ghost town, a showcase of decay, a giant stinking pond surrounded by abandoned buildings, dead fish on its shores. We visited a grand yacht club with a colorful front facing the street, but around back, there are no yachts, nor any water. Thanks to years of evaporation, the yacht club and its broken pylons now stand a good 200 ft. from the water’s edge.

You can skip visiting the Sea yourself. Unless you, like us, want to visit a banana museum.

The banana museum is not educational. You’ll learn nothing there, save that many things have been made in the shape of bananas. Dolls. Candies. Sunscreen tubes. Figurines. Hand mirrors, for those with banana-shaped features in need of reflection. As soon as you enter, you’re met with a wave of candy banana scent, a welcome respite from the grim stink of the Sea outside.

They make banana milkshakes.

Next door, though, is an unmarked wonder of The Salton Sea. It’s a humble convenience store, but every one I was with who went in there left with an anecdote about the woman behind the counter.

While I grabbed a bottled water, a family of tourists was getting snacks at the counter. I overheard the father ask for a recommendation: Where should they go if they were looking for someplace nice to eat?

“Back home,” said the woman behind the counter. Hit a grocery store, make something wherever you’re staying. Just casually murdering the reputations of every possible eatery within driving distance.

When my wife Amanda was in there, she heard the same employee telling the tale of The One Time a Guy Needed His Bottle Opened. Amanda was buying a bottle of Jarritos, a Mexican soda. When she paid, the counter lady handed her a bottle opener, saying “Now, this isn’t a twist-off. I don’t want you hitting it against the edge of the counter.”

This course of action hadn’t even occurred to Amanda and her face likely reflected some confusion, because the counter lady continued.

“One time, a guy bought one of those from me and when I went to open it for him with a bottle opener, he said ‘Naw, I got it,’ and tried to twist it off. It’s not a twist-off. And then he tried hitting it against the counter a couple times. I said ‘Will you just let me— I don’t want you to break that and get glass everywhere.’ So then… he tried to open it with his teeth. And his tooth… caught. Popped right out onto the counter.”

A beat.

“Then he let me open it.”

Another beat.

“I don’t think he could drink it.”


Also: The banana-shaped vehicle that was parked out front? Just coincidence that we were there when it was. The guy who built it was there for the weekend to kick off a cross-country trip. He offered to give us a ride around the dirt lot in it for tips to help subsidize his trip. We all declined.

So… I don’t know how far he got without any donated gas money. Let us know if you see him.


whee jee
You (a fool): A ouija board is good fun at a slumber party and it’s fun to watch Melissa freak out when we spell out her crush’s name

Me (an intellectual): [preening my feathers and beak, a flying incarnation of clawed fury, above the rooftops of the town where I am known by many names: The Nightmare Crow; Feather Hell; Eye-Stealer] Does Melissa really like me?

[director’s commentary: The borrowed joke construction here is the “me (an intellectual)” framing, which you’ll find repeated throughout Twitter. Traditionally, the first person says something innocuous, then “me (an intellectual)” says something that’s almost intelligent, but actually more foolish than the prompting comment. Which is a long way of saying that in my version, I’ve completely broken the joke construction and possibly needn’t have bothered, save that I find breaking joke structure to be funny in its own right. So the “Melissa” punchline is just a nice bonus.]


advice for witch prison
Should you ever find yourself in witch prison, sealed by arcane runes because of actions you’ve undertaken (bending the world to your will, etc.), just remember that the reputation you make on your first day will set the tone.

Go up to the biggest witch you can find, introduce yourself, then ask for a boost. If they’re really big, they can chuck you over the wall and you’re out and free, ready to pursue the dark arts again.


things sacrificed at the ebony altar (because the nice altar is in the shop) and what happened
eye of newt: transformed a regular newt into a newt with trust issues

an ancient tome, bristling with knowledge best forgotten: forgot all the knowledge

a receipt for the nicer altar that, in hindsight, maybe I needed to hold on to for when I pick it up from the shop: a being of smoke and fire appeared and put in their pocket

a mixtape of smooth jams: the smoke/fire creature knows I have a crush on it


ending theme song
Well, those were certainly a lot of words. Time to go find my shoes and go get tacos.

—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

You’re in luck! You can subscribe to the LOST TIME INCIDENT newsletter and finally class up your inbox. 

lost time incident 73 – the best shelf in the library

lost time incident 73 header image

lost time incident 73
Greetings, dark travelers! Thanks for joining me here in these darkened woods, which used to be better lit, remember? But Gary— that’s him over there in the red cloak— he didn’t pay his club dues last month and we were counting on that money to pay the electric bill for our haunted forest hideout, Gary.

Yes, indeed, it is I, your host, Michael, seeing how many clauses, or whatever you call them, I can put in this single sentence, separated by commas. Quite a few, it turns out!

I cheated a bit. At least one of those sections is more of an interruption and should have been demarcated with em-dashes. We’re only three paragraphs in and I feel like I’ve failed you.


A-ha, didn’t expect the ol’ emotional switcheroo, did you?

Let’s try this again: Welcome! We’ve gathered together a bumper crop of very short things you can read! You’ve already read this far… why not read more?


why did you even rsvp?
Everybody talks a big game about storming the Master’s castle with torches dipped in pitch, holding whatever crude weapons we can gather, but come the day it’s nothing but: “I’d love to go, but the Master’s dark flying minions have already plucked away my family for parts unknown and now I’m busy mourning them and clawing at the dirt floor of my home hoping it will swallow me” or “I’m all out of torches right now, sorry… I thought I had at least one left, but I just looked and… nope”.



things I said right before I got blown out the airlock

  1. There’s no way you’re going to blow me out this airlock.
  2. You know all this air goes with me, right? You won’t get it back.
  3. Why do they call it an airlock when it’s the doors that are locked?


witches of the world: their biomes and technologies (excerpt from the introduction)
Everyone knows the bog witches and their damp cauldrons, positioned over smoky peat fires, and their potions that go down thick with a mossy tickle in the back of the throat.

But what of the desert witches, with their cauldrons that resemble enormous sandboxes, large enough for a full-grown adult human to recline in, and bury one’s self under a sand dune to hide from the unblinking sun? When wandering the sandy expanses they call home, an unwary traveler may come across a stray peaked hat on the ground and not even realize that it’s a sign there could be a submerged witch there, awaiting nightfall to rise again.

Or ponder the arctic witches with their… snow… and stuff. Okay, we couldn’t be bothered to visit them, it’s too cold. That chapter’s really short.


ending theme song
I don’t know what to tell you, kid. There’s no such thing as a refund for time spent reading a newsletter full of microfiction nonsense. That time you spent? Gone. I spent it as soon as I got it. All the attention I got from subscribers, I poured into a kiddy pool and splashed around in it. I got time deep in my pores. Even got some up my nose ’cause I wanted to see how long I could hold my breath, sticking my head in all the time you lost reading this.

You’re all suckers and you should tell your friends and neighbors they should subscribe as well. Misery loves company. Heck, sign up for ’em. Sure, there’s a confirmation email, but maybe they’ll see it and assume they signed up themselves in the middle of the night, hopped up on Ambien, and they’ll click to confirm anyway. Or you could hack their email and accept for them. Hack all of your neighbors’ emails. Find out what coupons they get from online stores they shopped from once in 2011.

With that kind of neighbor knowledge, you could live like a monarch in your town! Might as well order your crown and scepter now, Your Majesty! 2-day free delivery! WITH A NEIGHBOR’S COUPON!

—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

You’re in luck! You can subscribe to the LOST TIME INCIDENT newsletter and finally class up your inbox. 

lost time incident 72 – why do I number these things?

lost time incident 72

lost time incident 72
Howdy howdy howdy. Just as soon as I get these boots & spurs off, we can get this newsletter started. Just as soon as I’ve removed my 10 gallon hat and this silver star that says that I’m the closest thing this town has to “the law”, we can get this newsletter started. Okay, hold on, as soon as I take off this vest that has the little trailing leather things hanging off it, as well as these turquoise charms, we can get started. I just need to put down my six-shooter, and my rifle, and my knife, and my land grant papers, and my horse. Just… just putting them right down here. Where I can find them later. When we’re all done with this newsletter.

Okay. I think I’m all—

No, damn it, wait, I have to put down this blue sky that arcs from horizon to horizon, and all these miles of dirt, and these herds of cows, and that lazy river and then that’s it. Then I’m ready.

I’m just… I’m just going to hold on to this bighorn sheep. Just this one sheep. Okay, let’s do this. Here come more words.

The Oil of Nabgaranth – Drawn from the depths beneath the Lost City of Xxn, this oil coats your skin in a silky layer of luxuriance. As a kicky extra, it’ll also give you the perfect beach body once the tentacles finish growing in and stop aching! Surf’s up!

Product 18 – Sorry, we signed a non-disclosure agreement, but our lawyers have informed us that we must say, in this public forum, that this oil is essential.

S-oil – We mean “soil.” For agriculture. Just wanted to end the list with a fun little joke. But seriously, if we lose our topsoil, we’ve lost everything. You can’t eat sand.


Petition to Start Every Day by Sticking Arms Straight Up From Bed and Intoning “I…. RETURN!”


[Share with Friends – Click Here(link removed by AccuLinx Security)]


a poster

to a musical
— bring your beautiful bones —
**free calcium chews with every admission but you have to eat them immediately**
Ogres But Not the Kind That Eat Bones
Slurptime and The Marrow Spiders


secrets revealed
So much of magic is just done with staples. Not a lot of people know that.

Rabbit in a hat? It’s pinned in there with animal-friendly staples.

Crystal ball? Full of staples. You can hear ’em if you slosh the ball around.

Is this your card? Nope. It’s just a pile of loose staples.

Every star and moon on my robes is stapled on.

The magic was inside you all along and that’s too bad, because now the magic is stuck there. You shouldn’t be eating staples.


ending theme song
Not that you asked, but progress is still being made on the e-book project that’s going to consist of the best  micro-fiction I’ve produced over the last year or so. I’ve got pieces picked out, sorted, labeled by theme. Now all that’s left is everything else, and then I’ll be done.

My social media fasting continues. In order to fuel progress on this e-book’s creation, I’ve sworn off the two big time-suck sites I was addicted to and now my social media belt can be tightened a few loops. And all this is costing me is the ability to stay in touch with the few friends I’ve managed to keep as an introverted adult, further isolating myself in service of a writing project whose target audience is unknown, but likely would have included some of these friends if they knew it existed, which they won’t if I don’t go back.

Someday I’ll go back.

Not today, though. Too much writing still to do.

Type-ity type-ity.

—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

You’re in luck! You can subscribe to the LOST TIME INCIDENT newsletter and finally class up your inbox. 

lost time incident 71 – abstention

lost time incident 71
Hello how are you I’m fine.

Okay, that’s the formalities out of the way.

I know you haven’t heard from me for a while via this newsletter. I don’t know how you’ve gotten by during the interim. It can’t have been easy for you.

I was thinking I’d start this newsletter back up, on no fixed schedule, because I’m still writing little micro-fiction things and there’s no reason not to share ’em. Especially since I’m on a social media diet at present, so I have the time back I would have spent browsing otherwise.

It’s kind of working already. A few days ago I had a multi-hour productive streak and finished gathering together bits of fiction that I’ll be turning into a self-published e-book this year. Now all that’s left is to rearrange everything, rewrite, edit, come up with a title, etc. etc. etc. But the heavy lifting of cutting-and-pasting-stuff-all-into-one-place is done.

When I’m not working on that e-book project, maybe I’ll be here on this newsletter, making something smaller that can go out the door with much less effort, so I can get that immediate serotonin hit that comes from accomplishment. Thanks for reading this and helping my brain get high on drugs it makes for itself! BAM!

Anyway here’s some stuff to read:

two game figures, a hacker and a cat burglar, standing on a cardboard square labeled COMPUTER ROOM

trying to save some time on this script by setting up all the characters in advance so I can just cut and paste later











oh heck
A general storms into a computer-filled room at the Pentagon, klaxons blaring, red alert lights spinning everywhere.

GENERAL: What’s going on, soldier?

A soldier taps at his unresponsive keyboard and every key causes his computer to make a “darn!” sound. “darn! darn-darn-darn!”

SOLDIER: I’m afraid… we’ve been hecked, General. Someone hecked our system.



wallets out
Okay, wallets out, capitalist scum, ’cause we’re disrupting the dirt market.

How? Easy: There’s an app. Duh.

You want dirt: Use the dirt app. Dirt comes to you. Fills your home. So much dirt. You unlock loyalty rewards like a marble stone with your name on it, says you’re in the dirt right there.

We got the dirt network in place. My pal Dave knows coding. You give us the funding and we’ll have everyone six feet under and the profits won’t stop ever, not ever. Money forever, dirt forever.


ending theme song
That’ll do it for this installment! Thanks again for reading. If you’re an artist and you’d like to know how much money I’d spend purchasing art to go into a vanity e-book project because you might want to exchange art for that money, please do get in touch because the number given will almost certainly be “More than would be reasonable.” What can I say? I like my creative projects to lose money.

Just… a lot of money.

I am a fool.

What else. If you like horror movies, THE RITUAL on Netflix is quite good. If you don’t like horror movies, uh, don’t ask any questions about the small piles of dirt that have been appearing outside your front door in the morning or the sounds of soft breathing that can be heard if you press your ear against that door, all the way up until dawn breaks and everything goes quiet.

If you like all sorts of music, well, so do I, so you might want to subscribe to The Tuned In, a different mailing list I run where I send folks 45-minute music mixes of sounds from around the world, which critics have called “exactly 45 minutes long”.

I think that’s everything, now get out.

—Michael Van Vleet

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lost time incident 70 – hope

lost time incident 70
Hey there, lost timers! Hello to all the incidenteers! This is the last lost time incident of 2017! You spent all year hoping you’d see the last one of the year and here it is.

“Why couldn’t he write the last newsletter of the year earlier?” you’ve asked. “Why not send the last newsletter in Q1 and then it’s not hanging over our heads the whole year, casting a pall of dread over everything we do, leaving us unsure when the last newsletter is going to emerge from its well and grab at our ankles with its clawed fingers?”

Sorry about all your ankles, folks.

As per the yoozh (which is how we’re shortening “usual” now for all of 2018), we’ve got a few bits of microfiction arranged below for you. Please read all the words in the order in which they appear. In any other order, they may not work.

new year’s goals
) Free my mirror self from the mirror dimension… then immediately trap it in the shadow dimension. It’s not going to see that coming at all.

) Build a new familiar out of less flammable materials.

) Finally get my hands back on the correct wrists because no one believes I swapped ’em “because reverse clapping is going to be really hot this year”

) Send a blanket of imps through downtown to kick the ankles of everyone who plays music in public without wearing headphones.

) Finish this list <– Done already! This is easy!

yard sale
Just selling a few things that are starting to clutter the ol’ hut. Make an offer.

The Mask of Trees – Helps you blend in with trees, make friends with trees, seduce a tree’s tree-wife.

The Mask of Illusion – Makes you think you can look like anyone, but that’s an illusion. You look like an idiot in a mask that’s got no eye holes.

A pile of masks – I forget what these do. Probably cursed.

Even more masks – You know what? I thought I had a problem with clutter but I think it’s just these masks, reproducing. Rubbing their fake faces together and breeding.

Come get a mask. Cheap.

the start of a vibrant franchise

“They call me… The Scared-of-Fire Kid.”   – First sentence of my groundbreaking caveman/cowboy cross-genre masterpiece.

The Scared-of-Fire Kid walked into the village. As he passed by, women shooed their children into the comforting darkness of their caves. Local toughs, their lips smeared with fermented fruit, glared at him from under half-closed eyelids.

In the center of town, a wonder: Two big rocks stacked on top of one another.

“Well, I’ll be,” said the Kid. “Modern technology. What will they think of next?”

“This ain’t no concern of yours, Scared-of-Fire Kid,” said the leader of the club-wielding thugs. “Why don’t you just get back on your horse—” ”

I don’t know what that is,” grunted The Scared-of-Fire Kid. “I don’t think that’s a thing that’s native to my biome. Or maybe they haven’t evolved yet?”

[NOTE TO SELF: When did horses?]

“We want you out of this cave, lady,” said the fur-wearing tough. “Our boss has big plans for this space. He found a big pile of meat and he wants to store it in here, where it’s cool, eating as much as he can before it magically transforms into flies, which is a thing we believe happens.”

“Transmutation?” said the cave-lady.

“Less talking, more walking,” said the tough.

“You having some trouble here, ma’am?” asked The Scared-of-Fire Kid, who was terrible at minding his own business.

“Before we fight, we have to count down,” said The Scared-of-Fire Kid, facing his foe in the middle of a dirt path.

“I don’t count,” said the caveman, swinging a sharpened bone.


“In my head, numbers are like: one, two, three, many.”

“Then you do count, just not very high. We can still count down, starting at three,” said The Kid.

“I don’t see why we don’t just fight, like, right now.”

The Kid rubbed his unshaven jaw. “There’s this thing called ‘genre convention’–”


The Kid sighed.

The mother and child, safe from the bone club-wielding band that had threatened their village, watched The Scared-of-Fire Kid gather up his things to leave.

“Why do you have to go?” asked the child.

“My work here is done,” said the Kid. “Also, those guys set fire to your home and, uh… man, I do NOT like that.”

“We can build another home,” said the mother. “And cook you something… if you’ll stay.”

“What, like… cook with fire?” asked the Kid. “Yikes. No thanks.”

The sunset beckoned.


ending theme song
Doot doot doot-dooo.

I have no idea how to end this thing.

I have the same dilemma when it comes to this year.

And when it comes to myself.

The nice thing about endings is: most of them take care of themselves. They just happen.

Just like this…


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lost time incident 69 – hey, that’s the sex number

lost time incident 69
Greetings from the land of rain-flecked windows. Greetings from the home of hot coffee in a memento mori/Dia de los Muertos mug. Life here is good. We have time to sit on a couch, listening to haunting ambient humming sounds streaming to us from parts unknown wirelessly (recommended via email from a UK author) while updating drivers on this computer in an attempt to find out why audio keeps glitching, as if the processor can’t keep up, as if this laptop wasn’t of recent vintage.

This is today’s biggest problem. This is not a problem. There’s rain outside the window and no war. There’s food and running water here. We’re in the season for a giving of thanks. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And I’d be even more thankful if this damn computer would play music properly.

Hey there, friend! Haven’t written to you in a while. Since you last had one of these show up in your inbox, I had a book come out. Well, technically, it’s a novella-length, I think, and insofar as “book” describes a technology, maybe I should say I had a “story” come out, made available for purchase, under a pseudonym.

The story is called MICROWAVE COVEN and its genre categories are “HORROR” and “APPLIANCE”. It’s the dumbest story I could manage to write and I laughed out loud at my own stupidity a few times while writing it, so I hope you’ll dig it. It’s about a sorority full of witches. Also: a haunted microwave.

This is the second story I’ve had published by the folks at Horrible Vacuum under the George G.G. George pseudonym. The previous story, SWAP MEAT, came out a year ago.

I should probably put something out under my own name next. I mean… I do have another George G.G. George idea as well. But as you may or may not know, while I was working on MICROWAVE COVEN, I was also writing micro-fiction on a site called, where I had registered because it was thematically appropriate. is a Mastodon instance, which means it’s a micro-blogging platform that shares its posts into a network of other websites that also run the Mastodon platform. It’s like Twitter, but spread across many websites instead of a single Nazi-infested one,  each with its own volunteer admin. I’ve been thinking that I might be able to get a book project out of the material I’ve posted there… a sort of “best of” project. So… having a ponder about that.

Anyway, here’s some more that I originally published on

millennials are killing the harvest god Industry
Unlike those of us born in the late 900s, this generation born circa the year 1000 refuses to choose from among their number an individual to be thrown into a pit, covered in pine, and left as a sacrifice to the harvest gods.

“My cousin died in a pit when I was a youth,” says Bedg, “and we had the sweetest yams the next year.”

“Times change,” says Wim. “We were born in a year with 4 digits. I don’t see how getting tossed in a pit affects the yield at all.”

Several nights of storms indicate the gods’ displeasure, but we’ll update as news is available.


varieties of ghosts
Blue Humbugs – Noted for their pallor, their lack of interest in answering questions, and are moving away from you as the universe expands

Howling Jerries – Technically the loudest of spirits, but you still need to get your ear or spirit horn right up to their mouths to hear them, and you’ll only find out they have opinions. Avoid.

Big Doof – Under my bed and come out, the big doof.

Fingy Glows – They touch y ou in the da rk wif dey FINGIES and you g et so scared you can’t t ype


elderly exchange
It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means! Time to take your elderly down to the village square for the weekly Elder Exchange. Swap out the wrinkled creature who’s been parked by your fire pit all week for a new one that’s slightly different shaped, but will at least have new complaints and may tell new stories. Every bit of lore we know was passed down from these valued elder relatives, so get down there and haggle for the best ones before they’re gone! Wednesdays!

A bit of friendly advice: Don’t trade for the following:

Mushroom-Eyed Ada – She’s all the time talking about how much she can now see since she swapped her eyes for mushrooms. Gross.

Mr. Lump – No one knows his real name, but there’s an old guy under those rags somewhere. Doesn’t talk. Smells a bit. Very active at night.

Dannica Hazelfountain – Only remembers one spell and it turns food into smoke. Only useful if you don’t eat, or if you breathe smoke comfortably. Good way to meet the village fire patrol, though.


well pennies
Please stop tossing pennies into the well. The spirit of the well doesn’t need pennies to grant your wishes. The spirit needs a ladder. It wants to crawl out of the well, dripping with goodwill, grinning with wet teeth, ready to assist young lovers and lonely widows with its wish-granting, moist fingertips.

No more pennies. Can’t eat any more pennies. Only ladder. A ladder in the dark.


ending theme song
So there’s that! The rainy morning has drifted seamlessly into a rainy afternoon and it’s time to get this thing out the door.

Hope you’re staying dry. Hope you’re doing well. Hope this packet of nonsense arrived as a welcome visitor in your inbox.

—Michael Van Vleet

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lost time incident 68 – money and toast for the rag-picker

lost time incident 68
Greetings, travelers! It’s been awhile since I’ve visited your Inbox. I like what you’ve done with the place. No need to thank me… I’m happy to improve the general tenor of your Inbox with my presence. Not every email has to be a newsletter from a vendors you bought something from once.

I just got back from watching a movie alone. I don’t do that often. I got a seatmate to the left of me, but about halfway through the film, he got up and walked out. I thought it was a restroom break, but he never came back.

Have you seen him? Kind of an old guy? Like the kind of old guy whose bladder could no way make it through a modern movie?

I didn’t check to see if the theater had replaced its Men’s Room with one of those imported-from-Knossos labyrinths like all the hip new places are doing. The trick to finding a urinal in one of those is to just pick a wall, left or right, and stick to it. Eventually you’ll find your way to the labyrinth’s dark heart where you’ll avoid eye contact with a minotaur who always seems to be standing in the way, drying his hands. How wet are your hands, fella? Just drying and drying.

Anyway, in this installment, we’ve got some more collected short pieces. They’re just below. Just… just look down. Keep scrolling. No, stop reading this part and go down.

Okay, well, I’m just going to stop typing here if you’re not going to follow directions. Then you’ll have no choice but to read below.

I’m doing it now. Here I go. Don’t think I won’t. I’m doing it. I’m doing it now.


top 5 secrets of the recently dead (and you won’t believe #3!)
1. The afterlife can not be described by words… only by touch. Surrender to the touch of the recently deceased. A cold palm against your cheek. You will know.
2. Coffins are not for containment. They are keys. They open the doors.
3. Where language fails, the self dilutes like salt in water.
4. A kicky red lipstick can reinvigorate your look! Match colors to scarves to really kick it up a notch!
5. The silence in graveyards is a pause in conversations, for your benefit. Move on.


it’s [day of the week] and you know what that means
It’s Saturday and we all know what that means! Time for the whole village to grab their sharpest knives and head to the orchard in search of the Apple King. If we find him on his branch, you’ll hear the cry of “Justice for the Pips!” as the knives strike home, banishing monarchism again from our fruit pastures.

It’s Saturday and we all know what that means! Time for the whole village to grab their sharpest knives and head to the orchard in search of the Apple King. If we find him on his branch, you’ll hear the cry of “Justice for the Pips!” as the knives strike home, banishing monarchism again from our fruit pastures.

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means! It’s time to gather the whole family and go down into the caverns as we do every week, drowning our worthless eyes in darkness, slipping into deep cold pools and gnashing cave fish with our needle-like brittle teeth. Fun for all! Except the fish! And the day ends, floating in the subterranean void, false stars of exertion in our vision, listening to the hum of the earth that will one day swallow us again.

cursive in schools
So glad kids aren’t being taught cursive anymore. Half the grimoires one can purchase in the Half-Green Market are nigh-unreadable, thanks to the lazy looped handwriting of mages and aetherpokers, running all their letters together EVEN BEFORE they get ghastslime, candle wax and cat hair on ’em.

Teach every junior candlewick bender and spirit knitter to PRINT, please, thank you, and we’ll happily spend fewer days haunted by accidentally-summoned eye-wights because we read some cursive J as a G.

ending theme song
What the hell’s an aetherpoker? I have no idea.

All I know is: the local rag-picker knows a spot where people just dump short fiction and he scoops it back up with a lucky pointy stick and when I hear his squeaky wheel going by, I lean my head out the window and shout “Hey, you got any fiction in there for me?” and he says “Sorta!” and then I lower my basket to street level with some coins and toast in it (he likes toast) and he sends me back this… stuff.

Eye-wights. “It’s Saturday.” This fiction isn’t fresh, that’s for sure. Days old. I don’t know what to make of it, but here you go. I can’t get that toast back. That toast is gone, gone, gone.

—Michael Van Vleet

Hey! Did you enjoy reading this? But did you find yourself thinking “Dang, if only this sort of thing were delivered directly into my inbox so I didn’t have to spend time on a website as if it were still the 90s or something!”?

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