War stood behind Eros at the edge of a steep cliff on the side of a
mountain.  Eros sat on the edge, her beautiful legs dangling into the
air, kicking gently back and forth.  She was pretending to not really
be listening to War, but she really was intently focused on what he
was saying.  War was intently focused on what he was saying, too.  He
sounded like a crazy person.  He was really on a roll.  He was ranting
about humans again.  How they had no respect for the old ways.  Eros
thought to herself, they have no respect for the new ways either.
They have no respect for anything anymore.  She didn't interrupt War's
tirade.  She just sat there, pretending not to listen, kicking her
legs slowly back and forth.

War was heated.  He was stomping around in circles breathing heavily
and cussing as only War can.  They were waiting for someone to come up
the mountainside.  Eros had already spotted the human in the far
distance.  War didn't even really care about any of this.  He was
ranting like a madman, but Eros thought to herself, he has a point.
War kicked a tuft of dead grass and a bit of dirt flew over the edge
of the cliff.  He looked up and saw the human in the distance, making
its way up the long dirt road at what seemed like a snail's pace.  He
started cussing about just being kept waiting.  Eros told him to be
patient and it would work out better.

Eros commented to him she believed the human was actually running, at
least jogging, it was impressive for a human to be moving so quickly
uphill.  War shielded his eyes against the dusk sun and tried to see
for himself.  He asked Eros finally, what made her think so.  The
human looked like a tiny doll in the distance, without much detail at
all that War could discern.  Eros looked up at War, smiling only
slightly.  War said he wished she wouldn't try to seduce him like he
was some lowly human.  Eros snorted a little at that, but she was
still the epitome of feminine beauty.  She said to War to look at the
area around the tiny human.  War looked again.  The human was indeed
kicking up a fair amount of dust.  War said he saw Eros's point.  Eros
said to him again to be patient, this human would satisfy both of


Geert was sure he was losing it.  Well, he'd been sure he was slowly
losing it.  He'd been losing it for years really, then it had all
burst like a bubble.  One day he just decided, and said to himself,
Geert, who cares?  No one ever notices anyone else anyway.  No one is
going to care between whether you sit silently stewing, losing your
mind over nothing, completely miserable, or just pull yourself up by
your groty bootstraps and decide you're going to be happy even if you
are crazy.

Geert had taken up jogging on a whim.  A beautiful woman had been
jogging past him, and that's when it had hit him.  He had enough sense
not to obviously just chase her down, no.  Geert had a bit of sense
for a crazy man.  He didn't immediately take off after this beautiful
woman as she ran by him, but he did, in that moment, make a firm
decision to take up jogging himself.  He never saw that particular
woman again, like a character briefly introduced in the story of his
life for some effect or another, then dropped again, like the author
had only needed her for a brief moment.  Geert shook his head like a
confused, wet dog.  Sweat rolled off his brow.

He was jogging uphill.  This time he was finally sure of himself.  He
was jogging uphill along a dirt road, slowly getting steeper up the
side of a mountain.  He felt absolutely sure this time he was pointed
toward his karmic destiny.  He had this really creepy friend who told
him all about karmic destiny.  The dude had told him, Geert, if you
sit long enough thinking about who you are, where you come from, you
will know all of your own secrets, more than you ever wanted to know.
His friend had gotten up off the couch after saying this and casually
thrown a poor, defenseless box turtle out of the 5th story window.
The dude was not a good guy.  Geert hadn't been sure what to make of
that.  He said dude, you said you were raising them for soup or
something.  That's inhumane.  The dude had cackled hysterically,

Geert made a choice about that guy, a little more in his prefrontal
cortex.  He basically stopped talking to that guy.  He did, however,
spend quite a lot of time thinking about his karmic destiny.  Whatever
that meant.  That part had made a lot of sense to him.  Geert had
thought long and hard about his karmic destiny, looking up how to
meditate, and sitting for up to an hour at a time, clearing his mind
and thinking about himself, who he even was, and his karmic destiny.

He was driven crazy by the world around him.  Geert had a bad disorder
centered in the minds of some of these people around him.  People who
would throw a poor defenseless turtle right out of a window on a whim,
cackling hysterically about it.  Evil people.  Geert had no other
choice but to go completely insane himself.

Earlier in the day he had wandered up to the local university.  Pretty
aimlessly, he had just felt drawn there.  Geert had attended this very
same school, studying computer science.  Geert had been one of the
more impressive students at that time even.  He felt like it didn't
mean all that much anyway.  Some of his classmates would graduate, he
eventually graduated himself, no one could tell them apart.  He stood
out among those classmates because they would graduate not knowing how
to turn the thing off and on again.  Geert hadn't been the very best
in his class, but he had been at the upper end.  The school had a
rather bad reputation for computer science, sadly.  No one could tell
all the graduates apart, and so many had been shuffled though and had
graduated unable to do much of anything at all, that everyone ended up
with either a reputation as a nitwit or a complete nutjob.

One day in school they had all piled in a bus, the whole department,
off to a bright opportunity, something or other.  Some career
planning, some internships, something.  Geert couldn't even remember
now.  Something had gone terribly wrong.  Geert strained to remember.
Something had gone terribly wrong on that short trip on that bus to
some career guidance event.  He couldn't even remember.  He had some
kind of trauma about that, he was sure.  Something awful must have
happened, something truly awful, so awful he couldn't even remember.

He had ended up with a job programming at a small local company.  One
of the employees seemed to pull all the weight of the company.  Geert
could have helped him, he actually knew a thing or two.  He wasn't as
good as the other employee who kept the entire company afloat, perhaps
by far.  He wasn't sure what he even did there, what was his job
description, anyway?  He struggled to remember what had all happened.
Most of the other employees didn't do much.  They didn't even know
how.  Geert had figured, he guessed, that's what they did for a job,
something like that.  He felt bad thinking back on that.  That poor
employee who worked so hard had been left with all of the work, an
entire small company's work load.  He was sure he could have helped
the poor fellow more than that.

Geert had been thinking absentmindedly about all these things, not
really paying attention to where he was going or the world around him,
and had ended up on the marble stairs of his old stomping grounds, the
university.  A college girl walked past in a purple backpack, and
Geert momentarily forgot himself.  Who was he, anyway?  He practically
screamed at her, "nice backpack!" He wasn't sure why he had shouted
that.  She was startled by it.  He had to work on his skills at
complimenting women.  He was sick of being miserable, though.  He
would master these kinds of social skills and be happy after all.  Why

He began to feel more and more out of place, sitting on those marble
steps.  He wasn't out of breath, he was just sitting there.  He wasn't
doing anything wrong in any conventional sense.  His thinking was all
screwed up though, and he was slowly losing awareness of that fact.
He was thinking back on something he had learned at that university
about berries.  He vaguely recalled something about almost all
compound berries in that area being edible, about which fungi in the
area were completely safe to eat, which were marginally safe to eat in
small amounts, various facts about root vegetables and plants native
to that area swirled around in his mind.  He got up to continue
jogging, and jogged all the way out of town, finding himself before he
knew it halfway up a mountainside.


War frowned beside Eros.  He had relaxed a bit by now, they had been
sitting watching the poor human as it jogged, impressively for a
human, up the dirt road.  Eros looked over at War, as beautiful as
only the epitome of feminine beauty can be.  Inside she hated the idea
of War being satisfied with anything.  Human beings were wonderful
little creatures in her opinion.  War just tended to wreck everything.
He was only ever satisfied when all the humans were dead in the most
awful ways.  Eros pressed her beautiful lips together in distaste.
War didn't even notice her.  Eros always pretended not to be listening
to War, but War truly, really, never listened to one word she ever

Eros felt a bit frustrated with him.  Like the humans were just toys,
little tin soldiers, had no redeeming qualities besides their own
destruction.  Eros knew what to do with a human.  War had no idea what
he was missing out on.  Eros played with her beautiful dark hair,
staring at War.  She would just stare at him until he felt her gaze.
War didn't even notice.

Eros sighed in exasperation, and got to her feet.  We need the other
kinds of love here, she thought to herself, not this guy.  Her closest
cohorts disliked War even more than she did.  Eros had of course had
to be the one matched with him.  Neither of them really thought about
it all that much.  They were just the concepts, who knew?  Humans were
always supposed to just keep doing stuff.  They needed Eros, but War?
She looked at him through narrowed eyes, thinking about it.  Who needs
this guy, anyway?

War turned around, finally.  She was a little scared of him.  He was
such a menacing fellow.  Right now he seemed quite relaxed.
Uncharacteristically relaxed for him.  The human was probably only
half an hour away from them now, jogging at a steady pace up a steeper
and steeper road.  War was impressed really, now that he could make
out a little bit of detail.  He commented to Eros proudly that the
human was male, like War.  Eros stifled a laugh, at War's expense.
War didn't even notice, turning back to watch the human as he
continued to jog up the road.


Geert wasn't even out of breath.  He kept his pace steady.  He had
been jogging for quite a while now, and he would know when he was at
his destination.  He was thinking of a few things, but mostly his mind
was clear.  The sun was setting, but he wouldn't be cold.  He was
going to just keep jogging up this mountain as night fell, it would be
enough to keep him warm.  He was thinking about berries, some class he
had been in.  An elective class outside of his major.  They had tried
so hard to be sure he would have a well-rounded education.

He was thinking about something he had learned in that class.  The
largest organism in the world was somewhere in this mountain range,
supposedly.  It was some kind of sprawling fungus, the professor had
said it covered more land than the city the university was in.  It was
one single organism, spread across more land than Geert could jog
across in a day.  He wouldn't even try to eat a fungus like that,
simply out of respect.

There were root vegetables indigenous to this area.  A lot of people
didn't even know about them.  In that class he had learned to identify
some of them, as a class they had learned about what was edible in the
area.  Geert knew biscuitroot by its small oval leaves with one line
down the center.  He knew yampa well enough to enjoy it, they had
tried it as a class, but he probably wouldn't be able to find it
himself.  The compound berries.  The professor had said almost all the
compound berries, especially in this area, were fine to eat.

Geert knew himself a little too well to really think he could survive
up here.  Not on his own, with the knowledge from one college class
he'd taken over a few weeks.  Human beings were pretty amazing in the
ways they worked together toward common goals.  Geert felt a bit bad
he hadn't helped more at that company.  He had eventually just stopped
going in to work.  He had lost his mind as a lowly employee at that
job more than anywhere else.  It had been so incredibly pointless.  He
felt bad.  It could have had a lot more meaning if he had actually
helped the guy who did everything.

He had taken up jogging around the time he had left that company.  Had
it been before, or after?  He couldn't remember.  They still sent his
paycheck for months, like they had never noticed him.  Like they had
never noticed if he was there or not anyway.  He was really still
doing the same job, right?  He felt bad about it.  There was something
he wasn't seeing here.  He continued jogging, his mind clearing again
from the swirling chaos of thoughts of berries and regret.

He jogged past fewer and fewer houses, with more and more space
between them, up the dirt road.  Steeper and steeper, up the side of
the mountain.  He kept his pace easily, he wasn't the least bit tired
yet.  He wasn't hungry, but he was dimly aware he would be, by the
time he got to wherever his destiny awaited.  He would find some
edible plant, something to eat.  It wouldn't be enough really, but he
wasn't going to die out here.  He would be extremely hungry by the
time he had jogged all the way back, but he was not by any means

He started to jog past a few trees, on the side of the mountain.  The
road was getting steep by this point.  He kept his pace, not slowing
down or speeding up.  He looked ahead, where the road started to turn.
He could see, maybe ten minutes ahead, as he continued to jog up the
road.  The road turned there, steeper and steeper, around a cliff.
Two figures stood in the dusk, silhouetted by the setting sun behind
them.  It almost seemed like they were waiting for him there.


Happy Valentine's Dave

Dave was practically born and raised on the Streets of Sim City.  He
had a lot of things going for him in a lot of ways, and he usually
fucked everything up anyway.  His dad said to him sometimes, Dave, if
you put half as much energy into just about anything besides fucking
everything up, imagine where you could be.

Dave disagreed, but didn't tell his dad so.  Dave was kind of a quiet,
incommunicative guy.  His dad more or less was too, aside from giving
him shit.  Dave's only escape was the Streets of Sim City.  He would
spend hours making a map then import it into the game and fuck
everything up.  He loved how free-form it was.  He got it down to a
science, practically.  The game wasn't even that good to be quite
honest.  It had basically flopped, it was an awesome idea that fell
far short of delivering.  Dave made up for the shortcomings of the
product in his own mind.  That little pixellated bullshit could be a
hooker, for example.  He just figured that would spice things up
enough to hold his interest.  It didn't really, but he enjoyed fucking
up the map anyway.

Dave took to that game like a duck likes water.  He played the shit
out of it.  His dad was pretty upset with him for doing not a damn
thing else most of the time than play this game.  He could spend a
whole day making a map in Sim City, then half a year on its virtual
streets, not even really adhering to what the game offered, just doing
whatever he wanted.

Dave fucked a lot of things up, it really had to be acknowledged.  His
dad was getting pretty frustrated with him, sitting there fucking
everything up.  He spent a lot of time on AOL looking for people to
play the game with, but he almost never found anyone interested in it.
Occasionally he would find someone, but they were always such
incredibly weird people.  Dave didn't really think about himself that
much, but these weird fuckers who would play this game, it was so
weird.  Dave spent probably...  Well how many hours are in a
teenagehood?  Dave spent his life on this game.

He had probably one friend.  He would look at his buddy, the guy must
be his best friend.  Dave didn't think too much about himself.  He was
usually thinking about this game.  He would skip class to play the
game, he would fuck up social engagements to play the game, and his
buddy would try to bring him along, like, Dave, let's go to the mall,
we can check out some other games, like, Dave, you know there's more
in the world than this game right?  Dave always thought his friend was
a super weird guy.


The years passed.  Dave had a really hot girlfriend.  Actually more
than one, at different times.  Dave wasn't a player.  He really loved
those women.  He would really draw them in somehow.  It didn't make
sense when Dave got older, he thought back on it, like...  how had he
managed that?

His friend went off to a different college, far away.  They sort of
kept in touch, but Dave wasn't very communicative still.  He wasn't a
player, but he probably hooked up with these beautiful women just by
lying to them and a little bit of luck.  Dave probably missed his
friend in downright latent homosexual ways.  Dude was a bit of a
fruitcake, deep down inside.  He wouldn't have ever thought about
something like that.  Dave was always focused outward, not inward.  He
didn't think a lot about himself at all.

He gradually forgot about that game.  Somehow he played it less and
less.  He flunked out of college.  Everyone around him was flunking
out on drugs or popular games.  By then he had learned not to ask
anyone if they wanted to play Streets of Sim City with him.  He kinda
kept to himself mostly, but it stopped being so fun to just play the
game all day.  He felt he had to hide the game, really.  His
girlfriends never knew about his obsession with that game.  Gradually
it faded on its own.  The girlfriends left him, one by one.  They
eventually noticed the same thing his dad always said.  He was a
fuck-up.  So Dave flunked out without even playing a cool game, he
lost interest in the only, rather stupid thing that mattered to him,
and he moved back in with his dad.


His dad was like, "ok, Dave.  You're my son, I accept you, you just
gotta help around the house.  I can tell you're starting to get it
together.  It's a huge step that you're not playing that game anymore.
College really helped you even though you flunked out." He said that
kind of thing.  His dad had clearly grown a lot also.  Something just
didn't add up, though.

Dave was pretty sure his dad was fucking one of his ex girlfriends.
He didn't even care that much.  Dave just kind of lost interest in
anything.  He slept a lot, he didn't help around the house like his
dad said he had to, and things gradually went to shit.  Dave stopped
showering, brushing his teeth.  He used to be such a neat freak.  One
day he caught his ex girlfriend right there in their home.  So that
proved it to him.  He didn't even flip out, she did.  She was like,
"Dave..." She figured it was her fault.  She was completely shocked at
what a mess he had become.  She broke down in tears to him in apology,
saying she never meant to hurt him, his dad was just sexy as fuck, all
kinds of stuff, sobbing.  Dave just stared at her kinda, it didn't
occur to him to say much, he was just his typical self, as far as he
was concerned.  He knew it wasn't her fault.  He probably should have
pointed that out, but he just kinda stood there completely silent,
smelling and looking like a homeless person.  His dad threw him out.


Dave somehow ended up in a group home instead of just homeless.  He
didn't think about it that much.  In the group home there was this
really weird guy.  He had to be the weirdest person Dave had ever met.
Dave wanted to just poke the guy, like, is this guy real?  Turned out
the guy was on all kinds of drugs.  Dave couldn't even remember his
own history with drugs, it hadn't really been a thing for him, but it
was always kinda there.  He had tried all kinds of drugs, he would try
some drug and just be like, whatever.  Like, people enjoy that?  He
got thrown out of a gathering once, where everyone was on some
stimulant.  Dave had done it along with everyone else, and gotten
completely pushy about the Streets of Sim City.  It had not gone over
well, and he had left under quite a threat.  Drugs just never were his

The thing about this dude in the group home is he listened to Dave
about that game.  Dave didn't even have a computer in there, he didn't
have a way to show the game to the guy, but he would listen for hours.
Dave spent almost as much time talking to this guy about that game as
he had ever spent playing it.  He couldn't even remember that guy's
name now.  The guy would talk to him for hours too, about something or
other.  Dave never listened back.  Dave thought about that.  Later
when he would remember, with a glimmer of introspection, it eventually
occurred to him that maybe neither of them had been listening to the
other at all.  Was that guy even real?

In the group home they had Braveheart on two old VHS tapes.  How many
times did they watch that?  Dave couldn't remember a single thing
about the movie.  They pretty much just had that for a movie
collection, and watched it over and over, and for some reason Dave
couldn't remember a single thing about it.

Social workers would come to the group home occasionally, and ask Dave
weird questions.  They would try to get Dave to go see some kind of
head doctor, and Dave would kinda play along, usually not showing up
for any appointment.  He would get out of it one way or another.  He
would get on the bus to go, he would tell everyone he had gone, and
they never really checked.  Where did Dave even go when he wasn't at
the appointments?  He couldn't remember.  Maybe he did go to the
appointments after all and just didn't remember.  For some reason that
didn't make any sense to him.

Seems like Dave would often end up at a park, maybe.  He would take
the bus to the appointments, without much intention, and he would
always end up at this one park.  The park was in the middle of a road,
kinda.  It was like one long park in the middle of the road.  The
weird guy from the group home would meet him there.  There were a lot
of bums and addicts in this park.  Always some kind of shenanigen or

There was a small pond at one end of the park, with some ducks in it.
Dave took to feeding the ducks like he took to playing that game.  Now
the weird guy and him had something in common.  They would talk about
the ducks to each other.  Like, Dave was on the same page with someone
else about fucking anything for once.

One day in that park, Dave bumped into that same ex girlfriend.  She
mistakenly assumed he was doing a lot better.  The truth was, in the
group home, they just told them when to shower, brush their teeth...
Dave played it off really well.  He explained to her he was, yep,
things were going really well.  He had moved out of his dad's place.
Neither of them really got into that awkward subject much further.  At
the end of the conversation, the girl seemed to want to continue it.
Dave didn't really want to or not want to.  The girl pointedly said to
him she hoped to see him again sometime.  Dave agreed, and said it was
great to see her.  For some reason, Dave never went back to that park.
He avoided it like the plague.


After that day in the park, Dave started to just go to the
appointments.  He figured it was kind of gay of him later, but he
thought of that male doctor along the same lines as those girlfriends.
The dude really dug for him to say stuff though, it was hard to keep
lying.  Dave took to spending time at the group home writing stuff
down.  He would write notes about what to say to the doctor, prepare
himself.  He got kind of creative at it.  He would go to a session and
judge the doctor's reactions, and make minute adjustments for the next
visit.  He wasn't sure what he was even going for.  It was aimless,
but fun.  He built quite a story for the man.

Sometimes he could tell it was all starting to crumble, and Dave would
start crying.  He would just start bawling there right in the doctor's
office.  It really was sad to Dave.  The thought of his psychiatrist
seeing all the way to the bottom of his soul, the thought of the story
collapsing in on itself, how angry and upset the doctor would be...
Dave would just start crying like a baby.

At the bottom, of course, was that game.  Dave didn't want to have to
explain that to anyone.  The game, sure.  He knew enough not to ever
mention the game to the doctor.


Dave knew a little bit about programming.  It had never really
occurred to him in a more general sense than making that game do some
weird thing or another.  He wasn't really what you would call tech
saavy, even.  He was so fixated on this game, it never occurred to him
any application beyond the confines of some little universe of a Sim
City map.  He was actually good at it too.  The company that made that
game would have hired him, they would have paid him for what he ended
up with.  He really improved that game tremendously from the market
flop it had always been.  It didn't even occur to Dave it was like, a
skill.  He didn't think of himself as a programmer at all.  He never
looked much further than that game.

He had a rough understanding of what various types of software were.
There were like, the various parts of the game.  He understood the
main program somehow, probably better than its designers.  He didn't
think of it in any terms like any programmer would.  He wasn't a
programmer, he was a Streets of Sim City-er.  He was really good at
it, too.

That doctor never knew about any of that.  Dave told him some complete
parallel story.  The doctor said Dave had never gotten something he
needed from his parents.  One day Dave went in to the doctor and it
all fell apart for him, in the best way imaginable.  At the doctor's
office was Dave's dad.  Dave's dad had been clearing some things up
with the doctor.  The doctor expressed surprise with Dave, like, how
come you didn't mention you were so gifted, Dave?

For a moment Dave felt caught, like he had been caught doing something
quite bad.  His dad and the doctor laughed it off, or something.  Dave
wasn't really following all of the nuances now.  Dave felt bitter
inside.  He felt resentful.  He tried pitifully to keep the story for
the doctor going, but it was all over.  He was outed, and it wasn't
even an issue.  It went better than Dave had ever expected it could
have.  After the doctor's appointment, Dave's dad drove him back to
the group home.  He said to him he had his computer for him, with the
game on it.


The weird guy in the group home was impressed.  Dave finally poked
him, like this was the moment of truth.  The guy didn't even mind, he
understood that.  He poked Dave right back.  So they each knew the
other was real, and things were coming back around for Dave.  Things
were looking up.

That weird guy had still been going to that park.  Maybe that's how
Dave ended up there the first time.  Well.  The guy had brought home
one of those ducks, back to the group home.  The staff were pretty
cool there, they were like listen you guys can keep this duck if you
take it for walks and stuff and don't let it shit everywhere.

Dave figured the weird guy was fucking his ex girlfriend.  He didn't
even care.


Dave got into the game in ernest.  He played like he had never played
it as a teenager.  He lived and breathed the game again.  The doctor
and his father were both impressed.  The weird guy in the group home
was actually listening to him about stuff.  He quit drugs even.  The
weird guy sometimes played the game with him.  Dave's programming got
better.  He still didn't agree with the doctor, who tried to play it
off like he had always known.  Dave knew deep down inside he had won.

They would walk the duck and Dave's work with the doctor had led to
better and better communication.  He actually listened to the weird
guy, sometimes anyway.  It turned out that guy related pretty much
everything back to Braveheart.  It made sense, in a way.  Dave still
didn't get jack shit about Braveheart, but some scenes stood out in
his mind.  Well, only two scenes.  The part where the hero's girl gets
killed, and the part where the hero gets killed.  The weird guy tried
to explain some metaphor back to the drugs, and Dave kind of
understood now.  This guy was so weird, but he got him now.  The dude
was just really into Braveheart.

The weird guy couldn't have been more different than anything Dave
took away from the movie, but the man insisted it influenced
everything he did and said.  He said Braveheart was like a metaphor
for how everything worked.  He tried to relate it back to the game,
and that's about where Dave drew the line.  He said no, Braveheart is
nothing like that game.  If you played the game enough you would
realize.  He tried to focus on Braveheart to see the man's point, and
he just couldn't understand what he was saying.  They couldn't be more
different concepts.

One day the guy was talking about that scene, where the hero's girl
gets killed.  For the first time, Dave saw him start to cry.  He
gathered himself, he didn't cry.  He was like Dave, man.  I've been
fucking your ex girlfriend.  I really love her.  Dave said he knew.
He knew all along.  He couldn't be happier for them.

The guy didn't get it though, he really started to cry.  He said he
would make it up to Dave, who couldn't have given less of a shit.


The doctor said one day he had someone he wanted Dave to meet.  Dave
was a bit perplexed.  That seemed weird to him, but whatever.  So in
walks this girl.  She was as hot as any of Dave's ex girlfriends, but
there was something different about her.  Dave looked at the doctor,
like, you're introducing me to a woman...?

The woman was beautiful.  She had thick glasses on.  None of Dave's ex
girlfriends had worn glasses.  She said to him just a few words, and
he knew she was his soulmate.  She said the doctor had told her that
he played Streets of Sim City.  Suddenly Dave was completely sick of
fucking everything up.