(Audience) Missing!

It is, once again, the distant future, wherein the Qwik Club—a group of spunky youngsters who like to drink Qwik and read the collected volumes of _Hitherby Dragons_—strive to restore meaning to a temporarily meaningless world!

“Hey,” says the minuteman—the young person who takes the Club’s minutes and shoots their enemies with a minute gun—“Hey!”

The minuteman has a concern.

“I’ve been over and over the whole canon, and it never mentioned which angel that was in Jacob’s story—even though Rebecca practically admitted that it was one of the Angel Four. Plus, she never conclusively spoke on the whole ‘was Jacob really killed, either time?’ controversies! How can the world have meaning while these holes remain?”

It’s time for the Qwik Club to spring into action!

(Part 3 should be tomorrow. In the meantime, reviewing Audience rules:

You can post legends of your own in response to any post marked (Audience).

It’s recommended that you use them to think through the implications of a guess you have about what’s going on in Hitherby Dragons! Like “the legend where Martin is an angel” and “the legend where Martin is something fundamentally new.”

I won’t steal your ideas, but I get to if I want, and I’m definitely allowed to be inspired if you happen to inspire me. Or even just if I want to make an amusing parallelism between the work and the audience-told legends. I’m also allowed to just skim the legends rather than read them in depth. Or even ignore them! These are all basically legally necessary things.

Hitherby Dragons characters that show up in your legends aren’t Hitherby Dragons characters—they’re being played by members of the Qwik Club!

You can develop your own character set and names set, or you can share them with other legends posted in response to an (Audience) post. You can also start (Audience) threads in the forums on maps.

That does mean that you shouldn’t get offended if someone else posts featuring one of your Qwik Club characters.)

8 thoughts on “(Audience) Missing!

  1. (A Quik Club member comes out before the opening curtain. He has a sheet of paper in his hand, which he reads from as follows:)

    When angels are realistic
    Their choices are pragmatic
    Their appearance is statistic
    And their manner not dramatic

    Heroes can hide their hearts away
    And as runts their humanity deny
    But they must be rejoined some day
    That which is not dead is an eternal lie

    (He looks up. “Let the main act begin!” The opening curtain – a scrap of actual curtain, since this is a tree house – rises.)

    Maps (Four Explorers)


    The longest reach, waves streaming past
    Thousands of islands
    And he goes with them, the captain
    No crew now, just one gray boat
    Standing, holding the wheel still
    Gold buttons glow out of the patched cotton
    His last eye holds firm
    To the mistline of the horizon
    Soon there would be another boat
    And then time for talk, or for the sword
    Either way, the exchange is life
    And he will always go the distance


    They called her “D”
    She was an experiment
    In genetic recombination
    No other after her, nor before
    When she would come dancing into the town
    Everyone would rise, spin away
    From the great green paws
    The teeth, open and proud
    The scales, the bulk of her
    It was a Bacchanal, a stomp
    A chaos-whirl
    Til she would at last tire
    Eat of their gardens, and go


    Skeleton Dog was putting it all together
    He no longer chewed the bones
    But he would creep through back alleys
    Midden heaps
    Dig them out, carry them home in his teeth
    String them together with gleaming wire
    –The only sheen in his culvert place–
    Putting together the zigsawed, chawed pieces
    To reconstruct the meat of the matter
    The original lines
    And he would meditate, Skeleton Dog
    His great eyes lingering on a femur, a socket
    His brown study of the lineaments of the world


    Billowing, eight-armed
    Once he had been smaller
    Once he had a name
    Now he was simply the Kraken
    And his tentacles stretched, grasped
    With suckers larger than millstones
    Clamping to the undersea fiber optic cables
    He could tap the lines somehow
    And would wallow in the wash of words
    Saying nothing himself, sometimes only a chirp of mystery
    He would know all the seas
    The silent meditation
    Within the whisper of the deep streams


    They were all heading for the same place
    The captain, the Kraken
    D and Skeleton Dog
    They knew each other
    And when they met
    There would be a grave nod perhaps,
    A wave
    Then a comparing of paths
    The dance of the bones
    The meditation on the shores of the islands
    The dream of waves
    The chant of the blood in the inner ear
    Until the maps were made
    And they could find their way back once again

    — Rich Puchalsky

    (A Web site is unveiled, with a little quiz entitled “Which Explorer Are You?” It returns one of four possibilities above, depending on your answers, though the pictures of the four have been strangely modified in order to avoid lawsuits from the sinister Australian consortium that rules the world.)

  2. A loud ring of boys at the table with the radio on because it’s a birthday party and the birthday boy wants the radio on and food coloring making the milk green and the cake blue.
    Out the window a 40 year-old walnut tree smells the coconut frosting and remembers the sound of Tagalog before the war, from the laundry room in the little row of shacks on the other side of birthday boy’s house, back when people still gathered all the walnuts they could find.
    Panto is one of his best friends, Panto can gulp air down and hold it for up to an hour then burp it out all at once like a roar or in sustained musical passages of recognizable form and structure. He can play the balloon-pinch tie-nozzle squeak like a violin in the hands of a dedicated madman. Later, in high school Panto will learn to play the little twangy thing they used in jug bands so well he’ll do old surf music on it like Misirlou and Pipeline.
    Panto sends birthday boy an aerogram from Central Africa when they’re both in their twenties and recovering from excessive stimulant lifestyles. Panto has been through Mali, down from the Libyan desert with Tuaregs and in-between men in LandCruisers, to visit the Dogon with a little telescope and some diagrams he got from a Theosophist in Pacific Grove, California that will prove the extraterrestrial origins of Freemasonry and assembly-line production technique.
    The aerogram says only that he was near it, almost there, that there were beaucoup beaucoup tourists all over the place and some government-type guys speaking American English at his hotel. He says he’s on his way to Ghana, on a Honda 135. Eating lots of bananas. There’s a drawing under his signature, of a benign ape looking thoughtfully down at the corner of the page.
    It’s the last birthday boy, whose name is Kevin, ever hears from Panto in the Twentieth Century, that he recognizes as communication.

  3. Get writing, people — I demand entertainment! :-). Juke, I liked your story.

    David, thanks.

    The one person I showed my post to in person grimaced at the awful scansion of the second verse of my pre-main-act. I probably should have rewritten it, but I wanted to keep the Lovecraft reference (to “That is
    not dead which can eternal lie”).

  4. Ivan’s ghost berates Jacob’s corpse. “You’re dead! You’re a sterile, cold, empty thing! Your perfection leaves you without a heart!”

    Jacob’s corpse doesn’t say anything.

    “You had a soul, and you gave it up! You threw it to an imp! And don’t tell me that you were a child and didn’t know any better, because you could have taken it back at any time! That’s the angel’s message to you!”

    Jacob’s corpse looks unimpressed by this line of argument.

    “All of us died–me, Cheryl, Esther, all the gunfolk, all the pipers–so that ungrateful macro-people like you could have souls. I never had one! I could hold my breath for hours and not turn blue!”

    “If you never had a soul,” Jacob’s corpse notes, “you obviously couldn’t leave a ghost behind when you were turned into a candy cane.”

    “Damn!” snarls Ivan’s ghost, and disappears in a puff of logic.

    (Rich: how about “What is not dead…”? It would certainly still have reminded me of HPL.)

  5. One of my favorite stories has always been A Magic Square, so I thought I’d try my hand at one. Wow, they are hard. Making each line properly reversible is insane, and I still have one line that doesn’t work right.

    Sandy and the SushiCo Crabs

    the beach…disguise….giant crabs

    My apologies for the dots; I don’t do HTML all that well, and it was the only way I could get the square to line up properly.

  6. Joe C. F. Smith stumbled through the doors to the library holding the discs in his hands – the CD’s God gave him when he was laying in a pile of junk outside a K-Mart in Salt Lake City. The beard hang behind him like a dirty cloud of smoke and his clothes were stained of vomit and unmentionable things. Definately not a person a librarian wants in his library. This librarian saw way too much of mr Smith. The last couple of days, he had been bursting through the doors several times a day, stinking of liquer and dried faecies, his presence in a way soiling the cleanness of literature. Every time it was the same thing; with bulging eyes and fire in his voice, mr Smith demanded to be allowed to put his CD’s with the Word of God in one of the library’s computers. “It is the holy scripture reborn!”, he would claim.

    The librarian calmly tried to explain to mr Smith that he could not use his software in the library’s computers due to the virus risk. Mr Smith then started to preach about what was on the discs. “It is the word of God! What is here will create a new world order! A pillar of fire and light descended from the sky and the hand of God gave this to ME! I have been chosen by God to deliver this message to man kind!” And so on and so forth.

    This particular day, this particular librarian was fed up. He could not take this. He had rashes all over his body and an ulser growing painfully in his stomach. He did not need a stinking old man yelling at him about divine CD’s. With a sigh, he unlocked the cover of the CD-ROM reader on one of the library’s computers, took one of the golden, unmarked discs from mr Smith and laid it in the CD tray wich slided back into the computer with a little whirr. Mr Smith shivered and perspirated of excitement, something that just increased the sickening smell coming from his body.

    The computer beeped and an error message appeared on the screen;

    ‘Read error.
    Cannot read from drive D:
    Try again / Cancel’

    ”It’s not working,” said the librarian.
    “Impossible,” said Joe C. F. Smith and gazed with his reddened eyes on the computer, of wich he understood nothing. “Try the other discs!”

    The librarian did as he said and reached the same results on all of the ten discs. Read error. He even tried on several computers in case the first one was broken but they worked on none of the computers.

    “See? Now please leave,” said the librarian and gave the discs back to mr Smith.

    Mr Smith looked down on the discs he held in his hands and then went with his shoulders held low through the glass doors. He did not hear how the librarian sprayed scent in the library to get rid of the smell of decaying human being.


    The camera zooms in on Joe C. F. Smith’s frozen corpse, leaning on a wall in a forgotten alley in Salt Lake City. Since noone ever visits this alley, noone has discovered his body. It has been sitting here in the cold for two weeks. His dry, shrivelled eyes stares at nothing at all and his face maintains an expression of disappointment over the Universe. His rotting hands clutches ten digital discs, now ruined by water and cold. The camera zooms in on the golden discs until the entire image is filled with the center of the discs. They are unmarked… Except for a small label on the inner edge; ‘DVD-ROM Digital Media’.

  7. Thoughts on the Original Purpose of Gods

    Hazel is a normal child, in many respects. She is perhaps 12 or 14 years old. She has never been tortured. Tonight, she goes to bed late.

    She puts on her pajamas, and vaults into bed as usual, and then reaches out to turn off the light.

    I’ve been waiting for you, her stuffed lizard says. He has a name, but at the moment it hasn’t settled into anything permanent. Every night it seems to be different; all Hazel knows is that it begins with the letter A.

    “I’m sorry, I had maths homework. Was it very bad tonight?”

    Somewhat worse than usual, the lizard replies. The ghosts sent out their invisible spiders this time and tried to lay an ambush for you. I was able to get rid of them, but it was hard, and I am very tired now.

    “I’m so sorry,” Hazel caries, and hugs him tightly. “Well, I’m here now, and we can watch each other’s backs. Here, you can face the window, and I’ll face the wall tonight.”

    The wall is the more dangerous side, the lizard warns.

    “I know,” she says. Her eyes are large with sympathy. Then she giggles. “After all, I made it that way, didn’t I?”


    There’s no need to point out that you set this whole thing up, the lizard huffs. It is clearly offended, but there is an undercurrent of fear. The next thing you’ll be saying that you don’t really need me at all, that you’re invulnerable to these guys, that you no longer afraid of the monsters under the bed –

    “No, no! I need you here. Without you, I would be alone.”

    There is a pause.

    So you would. Hazel relaxes again against her pillow. Well, I’m glad to help out. But you should rest now.

    And after a while, she does. But not until they have repelled a wave of scouts, and driven off a ghost intent on taking up residence in Hazel’s back. The lower spinal column is prime ectoplasmic real estate, after all. You have to be careful!

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