The Song of Jeremiah Gannon: Second Canto

Start with the first canto, here.

5.

In Kokomo Woods, Washington, the angel finds men chained up on the trees. They are lashed to them, arms spread, wrists bloody from the grip, and their bodies are lean.

Around and through the woods move the murmuring beasts called Zagglies.

They feed the men chained to the trees.

They give them water.

When the men beg for freedom, the Zagglies say, “But you have made this destiny, you have shaped it with your hands, you have chosen—have you not—to speak blasphemy of Gannon?”

And the prisoners weep.

The angel moves through the woods and he does not stop until a man calls down, “Sir angel.”

The angel looks up.

The man is cruelly weighted: iron epaulets and iron boots and iron blinders to weight down his head.

But still he speaks.

“It is heavy,” he says.

The angel has a flash of memory. He shakes his head.

His heart is beating faster.

His hands feel cold but yet they sweat.

Panic rises in him.

Because he feels fear, he reaches for his courage. Because he is terrified he does not run. Instead he says, “I am one whom you only need to ask.”

With an eerie, horrid simultaneity as he speaks the Zagglies turn their heads. They focus on the angel. Their bodies straighten. They fall from the trees, if they were in the trees. They rise from their nests, were they sleeping in their nests. They make a gabbling Zaggly noise.

Swiftly moving, swiftly dodging, and when surrounded, swiftly killing, the angel does his work.

A bomb beneath each tree to bring it down, to break the chains.

A bomb beneath each tree save one: for the tree of the man with the iron weights is huge and tall, and the angel must scatter three bombs about its nooks and crannies or this last tree will not fall.

There is silence when he is done; and then a great explosion; and the Kokomo Woods flinders.

It is a great and deathly thing, this freedom from oppression. The people are bloodied and battered. Some are screaming helplessly. They cannot stop because they are not conscious enough to understand. Others limp with bone projecting through their leg.

The angel cannot help.

He moves among the shattered trees and finds the leader of them—the great Kokomo, perhaps, or perhaps he has some other name.

He kneels beside the man.

“You will not survive,” he says. “I’m sorry. I had no other antidote for chains.”

The man breathes horribly. His chest heaves in and out around its shattered ribs. But he takes the angel’s hand.

Then he says, “My boots.”

It is the last thing that he says. It is all that he says.

Carefully, the angel strips the iron goggles from the man; and the iron epaulets; and the iron boots. He walks away.

6.

He has worn boots like these.

He remembers.

He stood on the gallows. He stood on the gallows with his feathered honey hair and he looked out at everyone and he glared. They put the noose around his neck.

And because they feared him so they bound his feet in a great weight of iron before they dropped the trapdoor down.

7.

From Fairy Springs, Washington, he can see the silver carpet of the unexamined sea where Canada once sprawled.

He sits in a little diner and a waitress serves him dry beef pie and a Coke.

He looks in her eyes and he sees a monstrous fear, and so he says, “Fear not.”

But it does no good.

It is a thing to the liking of Jeremiah Gannon when the women are afraid.

She says, “You were that man.”

“Eh?”

“You blew up those planes.”

The angel swallows.

It is very difficult to get this bite of beef pie down.

He says, “Was I— was I evil, then?”

But she doesn’t say. She practically looks like her tongue doesn’t work, in fact, and finally she makes a frippery gesture with her hands and moves away.

He leaves the pie to rot there but he takes the bottled Coke.

He tips her with a jewel.

And a strange spirit of courage moves in her, a peculiar defiance, and she tells him, “—By the door.”

There is a bowl by the door with candies and with mints. He fishes out two little candy hearts. Then he is gone.

contrapasso

8.

There is a secret wrapped inside the angel.

Hitchhiking the last few miles to the great wall of Jeremiah Gannon, sleeping curled up against the window of a truck, he dreams of it.

“It is a sacred weapon,” says a Voice.

He looks down at the strange harpoon-like weapon in his hands.

“With this,” says the Voice, “you may pull a man back from the dead, or fetch a prophet to the sky. You may topple the walls of Jericho. You may reel in a whale.”

“What is it?”

“Keep it safe,” says the Voice.

“Oh.”

“Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Jeremiah Gannon must not know.”

He imagines what it would be like to shoot through the walls of death and bring a loved one back to life.

To knock the apple from Eve’s hand.

To wrap his arm around some victim and shoot it skywards and pull them up to Heaven.

“It is a thing,” he says, “requiring great discretion.”

And he wakes, the side of his face flat and dirty from the window, and the trucker lets him out and says, “May you live, brother. May you live.”

pause. two beats. the third canto tomorrow or Friday.

Wii News*

“Shake your fists at bad news,” the television explains.

Jane grips a peculiar controller in one hand. She grips an attached controller in the other.

The television displays an ordinary street in an ordinary town.

Jane shakes her fists!

A red bar stretches across the bottom of the screen. It fades to orange, then to yellow, then peaks.

“Mild outrage,” declares the television. “HIGH PRICES!”

The prices in the store windows of the town go up. Pedestrians walk around in outrage.

“It really happens, you know,” Martin comments.

“Hm?”

“That’s what makes it ‘news’ and not a ‘simulation.'”

“Oh!”

Jane looks apologetically at the unhappy pedestrians.

“I mean, it’s okay,” Martin emphasizes. “News happens all the time. But it happens.”

“News is everywhere,” Jane agrees.

The television image shifts to a fire in California. “Cheer for good news!” it explains.

The fire is sweeping through the undergrowth.

Birds die. Chipmunks roast. In a house next to the woods a baby is crying.

Hesitantly, Jane puts her thumb up.

There’s silence.

Cheer for good news,” the television reminds her.

Jane looks at her thumb. After a moment, she blushes.

“Right!” she says.

She pumps her right fist in the air, the left controller dangling. A green bar rises. It crests.

“This just in,” the television declares, a little reporter popping up in the upper right corner. “Fire extinguished!”

The fire vanishes.

A fireman rushes in.

“Bonus good news!” the television says, “Fireman saves baby!”

The fireman seizes up the baby and runs out of the house.

The television shifts to a riot in Ghana.

“Free play!” it says.

Jane pumps her fist in the air. She pumps harder and harder.

“Good news!” the television declares. The riot settles. Everyone realizes that violence solves nothing. Jane pumps her fist harder. Systemic injustice vanishes! People begin to riot from sheer happiness.

“Let me try,” Martin says.

“No way!”

“I bet I can shake my fists harder than you can,” Martin says.

Jane hesitates.

“Here,” he says. “It’s got a two-player mode.”

Martin’s already taking up his own controllers.

“Only if you’ll help me eradicate systemic injustice.”

“In Sweden,” Martin counters.

“The Americas.”

“Sweden and Chicago.”

“The Middle East.”

“Canada. And that’s my final offer.”

Jane thinks.

“Maybe if we waited for a neutral story?” she suggests.

“What, like adorable baby tigers found on the subway?”

“Mm,” Jane says, happily, imagining. Then she jolts out of her reverie. “Hey!”

Martin coughs.

“Evil ducks threatened by tidal wave,” the television notes.

“Evil ducks?”

“Tidal wave?”

Jane and Martin look at one another. Together, they say, “It’s win-win!”

* for technical reasons this legend is not actually about the Wii News Channel.

Morality Fable

Refute is a city founded on firm principles of public morality.

There is a stone in the center of the city. It explains their beliefs.

“We are good people, ” the stone says.
“We are loving people.”
“We are a people who together dispute the strong Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.”

It is a Whorfian who first discovers the ooze. His name is Mr. Whitfield. He is scruffy. He is smelly. He is in an old tattered brown suit. He is sleeping in an alley, near the sewer. The ooze rises.

“Hello, ” he says, to the ooze. In addition to believing in the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Mr. Whitfield is drunk.

“Ssss,” hisses the ooze. There is a poodle nearby. The ooze eats the poodle.

“That was uncalled for,” says Mr. Whitfield.

“Ssss,” hisses the ooze.

Mr. Whitfield goes out to the mouth of the alley, where it intersects the street. “I say!” he cries. “Hello? There is a poodle-eating ooze here.”

People uncomfortably walk around him.

“Ooze,” Mr. Whitfield says. “It eats poodles. It probably eats people, too. I think it might be radioactive sewer waste or some form of ancient blasphemous god.”

Father Morgan looks at Mr. Whitfield sympathetically. He takes Mr. Whitfield’s hand in his. “I can see,” says Father Morgan, “that you’re a man who has lost your way.”

“Yes,” admits Mr. Whitfield.

“I can help,” says Father Morgan. “We can beat the demon of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis together.”

Mr. Whitfield shakes his head. “There’s another demon,” he says. “Closer. In the alley.”

Father Morgan looks distant. “Oh, my son. You haven’t been dealing in anecdotal evidence, have you? I know it feels good, but it’ll ruin your objectivity.”

The ooze strikes. Mr. Whitfield awkwardly rolls out of the way. The ooze eats Father Morgan.

People point. People scream.

“That Whorfian just killed somebody!” they cry. “With an ooze!”

Mr. Whitfield hangs his head. His shoulders slump. “This isn’t fair,” he says. Then he runs. But he can’t escape the police. Pretty soon, he’s under harsh lights, down at the station.

“Mr. Whitfield,” says Officer Samantha Brown. She taps the table with her nightstick. “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of trouble?”

“There’s substantial evidence for the strong Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis!” Mr. Whitfield blurts out. It’s a mistake. Samantha lunges across the table with both hands. She grips his collar. She shakes him.

“I don’t want to hear any of this filthy SSWisH talk,” she says. “A man is dead.”

Mr. Whitfield is terrified. He hangs limply from her grasp, and when she lets go, he sits down hard.

“Now, tell me,” she says. “Tell me what happened. Tell me how Father Morgan died.”

“He wasn’t actually my father,” Mr. Whitfield clarifies. “Or yours.”

Samantha blinks for a moment, then scowls. “I know,” she says.

“He was eaten by an ooze,” Mr. Whitfield says.

“An ‘ooze’,” Samantha says.

“Yes.”

“Can you describe this ooze?”

Mr. Whitfield thinks. “It’s . . .” He hesitates. “It was an atrocity against nature,” he says. “Blasphemous! Ungodly. Horrible.”

The cop looks down. She sighs. “Mr. Whitfield,” she says, “could you possibly give me a useful description?”

Mr. Whitfield thinks. “Are you familiar,” he says, “with the city of An-Meng, sad and broken An-Meng, An-Meng the Lost?”

Samantha shrugs.

“In 1998,” Mr. Whitfield says, “An-Meng learned that it was doomed, but it did not know why. It was the brightest city in this world, but death stalked it. Its lights dimmed. Its sounds faded. There was blood in the streets and pain in the shadows. It was a Utopia, but it did not endure, and they were never to know the shape of their ending.”

“I think I saw something about it on TV,” Samantha says. “It was in Canada or something, right?”

“Striving to understand the shape of their doom,” Mr. Whitfield says, “they came up with words like ‘etoplian’ and ‘scitterfisce’. This death was etoplian; the pall in the sky, scitterfisce; the rising tide of despair, midlipen. And their word for what I saw today was itserban. It was a very . . . itserbani ooze.”

Samantha’s nostrils flare. “‘Itserbani,'” she says.

“Yes.”

Samantha’s hands come palm-down on the table between them. The table shakes. “And you can’t,” she hisses out, “put that in terms I can understand?”

“It’s . . .” Mr. Whitfield founders. “It’s like an externalization of the inner demons and weaknesses of the soul. But it’s founded on a universal malignity—as if the god-demons of the universe were to express an ironic schadenfreude . . .”

“‘Schadenfraude?'”

“It’s German,” Mr. Whitfield says weakly.

“It’s beliefs like yours,” Samantha grinds out, “that destroy the fabric of society.” She rises to her feet. “I’ll come back when you’re ready to talk, and not to peddle your Whorfian filth.”

She leaves the room.

Mr. Whitfield rubs at his chin. “Really,” he says, “I can’t tell whether it was more of an itserbani ooze or a nameless cherklish god, its thousand-tined murkas cutting deep into the spingles of the world. It’s maddening!”

Samantha never comes back for him.

“I’d like some water,” Mr. Whitfield says. He pounds at the door. But no one comes to answer him.

He waits.

Then there is the ooze, pressed against the door.

“Are you the punishment for my sins?” Mr. Whitfield asks it.

The door hinges creak with the pressure of the ooze.

“It just seemed logical to me,” Mr. Whitfield says, “that language controls the human capacity for thought. I knew it was an unpopular version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. I knew it would ruin my life. But I thought that exploring its implications might be good for a lark. And then I was hooked.”

One of the door hinges pops.

“Do you . . . what do you believe, Mr. Ooze?”

Mr. Whitfield cringes in the corner of the room, as the door bursts down.

“Was I right?” he asks.

“I am not a conversational ooze,” says the itserbani beast.

Then it eats him.

Canada

Many of you don’t believe in Canadians. But they’re real, and they’re all among us. They’re not just claiming to be Canadians to be special, either. They really are. It’s part of their nature. It’s who they are. It’s not a choice. It’s something that’s inborn, or, sometimes, picked up from the environment.

Canadians are usually born in human bodies, although there might be occasional Canadian animals too. They look human in pretty much all respects, which is why people doubt. But they have memories. They have memories and instincts associated with life in a strange arctic world full of wolves and caribou and their natural enemies the Quebecois. The Quebecois are like giant tyrant lizards—like Godzilla, but with eviscerating blades on their arms. The Canadians live in their shadow.

It’s not universal. Even in the strange prehistoric universe that Canadians sometimes speak of, even in their native “Canada”, the Quebecois are not everywhere feared. There’s Ontario. You might have heard of it. It appears, now and again, in our own legends. They have an enlightened culture there, based around supertechnology, that can defend itself against the Quebecois with terrible zap guns and zeppelins. These Canadians have conquered time and sorrow. They live in peace and plenty. They have ninjas. They have ninjas who can throw maple leaves sharpened to a razor edge. That’s how powerful their supertech is.

Ontario ninjas are special because they only attack the weakest caribou. This makes them a gift from the ninja spirit to the caribou spirit, and, in turn, to the people of Canada. They attack the weakest caribou. They separate them from the herd and run them down and kill them with maple leaf shuriken. This makes each successive generation of caribou stronger. That’s probably why hyperintelligent, indestructible caribou rule Ontario—it’s the accelerated evolution of their species, brought on by the ninja.

You can do a lot with maple syrup. You can pour it all over a nude person and launch them just above the atmosphere. If you’re in Canada, you can get good maple syrup—the kind that’s really thick. That way, instead of the person burning to death in reentry and their hungry ghost haunting you forever, the syrup burns away and leaves the person unharmed. This is how Canadians make caramel. The sugar just caramelizes automatically and sifts to the ground like rich maple snow.

Sweet, delicious snow.

You know, once upon a time, when dinosaurs made movies about dinosaurs fighting cavemen, they probably thought they were being futuristic and avant garde.

Pets are Funny

February 10, 2003

Monday

Hi everyone! I am Jewel. I am a cat. This is my blog on the livejournal service.

Purr.

Music: How Can Heaven Love Me, by Sarah Brightman

March 14, 2003

Friday

I caught a bird a long time ago.

It had a funny shape. It looked like a little person with feathered wings. It had a trumpet. I showed it to my person. She screamed. Then she went to her computer and she typed a long time. She deleted most of it.

She’s funny!

I bet she ate it later.

Mood: nostalgic

April 7, 2003

Monday

That tuna is SO MINE. I have been dreaming of you all day, delicious tuna! You are lovely and hard-to-get.

Mood: joyous
Music: Flood, by They Might Be Giants

June 1, 2003

Sunday

I—

Today, something funny happened. I was napping. My feet were making little twitches. Suddenly everything shook. I felt weird. Like my fur turned inside out for a second. I sneezed.

Then I walked up to my person and said, “Miao.”

She didn’t understand. She never understands. She just looked at me like she was trying really hard not to remember something and not quite managing it.

Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the world with any brains.

Also am I the only person who noticed it is not Monday yet? It is like someone cruel and malevolent to cats with a weekly tuna helping has added in a day.

August 3, 2003

Sunday

FLEA BATH. OMGWTFBBQ.

That expression is from massively multiplayer online games. You might think that I have never played such a game but what if I have?

You would never have known.

Also I pwnz u with my kitty paws. Oh yes. I pwnz u because right now I hate the world and want it all to end.

To end in blood.

Mood: angry

1 Comment:
Trackback: Apocryphal Psychology >> Flea Bath
[…] surge in so-called “pet blogging” to cope with a rapidly degenerating situation. Here is “Jewel,” blithely unaware of the escalating death toll […]

August 5, 2003

Tuesday

It happened again today—

Which should be Thursday, shouldn’t it? The taste of joy is gone from my tongue and anticipation has not returned—

The world just went . . . kalooie.

Like something that is not in the manual has happened.

I also checked google. 21,000 hits for fur “inside out,” but none of them seemed on point.

Mood: Loonie
Music: Cloud on my Tongue, by Tori Amos

September 23, 2003

Tuesday

I ought to have a name more majestic than “Jewel.” Perhaps “Majestic Overlord, who reigns over all things from her furry throne.”

Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Why does she call me “Jewel?”

Mood: thoughtful
Music: Star Wars Imperial March

4 Comments:
Is it because you’re secretly a magical pink unicorn? I like magical pink unicorns.
– Rebecca

No. It’s not. Shut up.
– Jewel

You’re just upset because you’re a classic example of something no one can prove doesn’t exist.
– Rebecca

I am looking the other way and ignoring you. And licking my leg. See? Licking. I can’t talk to you right now. I’m too busy removing lint with my TONGUE.
– Jewel

October 10, 2003

Friday

I caught another funny bird! It sang very pretty music. I was hungry, so I ate it all myself. Then I sicked it up.

I love the world and want to give it sandwiches.

Music: Absolute Destiny Apocalypse

October 18, 2003

Saturday

My person cried and cried. Then she posted stuff to her livejournal blog. Then I took a nap.

Bombs fell and woke me up.

They killed everyone. They killed me too. I was sleepy so I don’t know what happened then.

I went into the mild world.

The day on the blog is off again. Time went back or something. I am hoping that if I let my person know about this she will give me tuna on the proper date.

“It’s not for TWO WHOLE DAYS,” she keeps saying.

Really funny. That’s SO FUNNY, Ms. Comes Back From the Dead And Doesn’t Refill the Water Bowl.

Mood: impatient

December 4, 2003

Thursday

I hate this software. It keeps losing my entries. I don’t even know why I bother blogging sometimes.

Mood: mourning timeless brilliance
Music: shut up stupid music

December 23, 2003

Tuesday

It was Christmas eve! I got special treats. But my person was not very merry.

“Everyone on the East Coast is dead,” she said.

She made weird giggling noises and could not stop grooming my head. She said something about a house but mostly she cried.

Then it was yesterday again.

Maybe if more bombs fall today it can be Monday and then if they stop it can be Christmas Eve and back and forth like that which would be merry.

2 Comments:
neat blog.
– Texas Holdem

neat blog.
– Viagra

January 5, 2004

Monday

The bombs fell again. They killed everyone. They killed me. This time I stayed awake to watch. Seattle was very empty. It was all flat and black and broken. Then the lights started way up in the sky. They glowed. They were soft. They were violet. They floated down.

They were BIRDS.

Time was stopped. Everything was very still. They picked things up one molecule at a time. They whispered to one another in their strange, sad bird voices. They each took a molecule, or sometimes two, and they began to dance; and as they danced in a great soft pattern, they put things back together, piece by piece. It was very beautiful, but I wanted to EAT THEM and I COULDN’T so it sucked.

They put everything back together just like it was yesterday morning.

Suddenly, I KNEW. I understood. I knew why. In that moment, I think I saw God.

It’s Monday all over again.

And I said, how great the love that He must have for every one of His creatures—to know that I was still hungry, that one treat a week was not enough. To kill and save the whole world just for me.

And when I found my person, who was looking around with that strange kind of look she gets sometimes, I purred and purred.

Mood: happy

January 13, 2004

Tuesday

Now I will have to live Wednesday over again.

Mood: irritated

January 22, 2004

Thursday

Canada’s been destroyed oh nee nee nee nee nee. Nobody understands what is important.

. . . I spent hours with her anyway. I didn’t let her be alone.

Then it all unhappened just for stupid Canada.

January 26, 2004

Monday

My person got very sick. So did her housemates. Then I got sick. I threw up. Then I threw up again. Then I died. Then they died. Tuna!

Mood: stiff-tailed joy

February 7, 2004

Saturday

I have seen the long side of my last Monday I think.

The bombs are falling almost every day.

Things are different every time. They are. They are different. But they are not different enough.

We have gotten to Saturday. I think getting to Saturday was very hard

But I am bored.

Mood: dispirited
Music: Straight Lines, by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2004

Monday

There is a funny tone in the funny birds’ singing. It is tired and determined and sad and happy all in one.

So I have decided to make peace.

I gave one a livejournal code so it can read this. I hope that it can read. I hope it is not Texas Holdem.

It is okay, funny birds.

I think of you as prey but even for prey there is enough.

I have eaten of this morning’s feast and now I say enough. You can rest. You don’t have to make it out this far again.

Let time go back to February 2. That was a pretty good day. Or January 26. Even December 22.

It’s OK if we just do December 22 over and over again and don’t even wait for all the people in the world to die.

Please. It hurts me to watch you.

You can rest.

Mood: loving
Music: Ordinary Day, by Great Big Sea