"Do I really want to smoke this? I'm not sure if this is the image I want to project."
Standing in the doorway, mr x smiled. "Well, what sort of image do you want to project?"
"Exactly," commented c j behind a smug smile.
The door opened and closed gently. "I'm here!" called Tricia Nixon from the kitchen. "Let me just put these cakes down and I'll be in there."
c j's eyes rolled. "Now there's someone who knows what image they want to project."
mr x smiled again. "Or simply is what they seem - a product of their genes and environment. But things can change." c j stared darkly back.
Tricia bounded in, full of loving energy as usual, and hugged them both. "Where is everyone else?"
c j shrugged. "Hither. Thither. Yon. Here's stormwind now. How's your dad?"
Tricia made a face. "Same as usual. Always coming back. How'd you know that was stormwind?"
Stormwind slammed through the door, leaving a trail of dead midget Yugo pilots. "Hey. Where is everybody?"
"The rest will be here within," c j squinted at the clock through the nearly impenetrable smoke, "5 minutes. Tricia, it was elementary. When you hear an F-14 landing in the driveway, it's always stormwind."
The drone of a large prop plane thundered through the roof, shaking the house, dropped in pitch, and faded towards the east. "That's most of them now," said c j.
Tricia and stormwind looked out the window as various dark shapes hit the ground, rolled, and immediately begin cutting their shrouds and burying their chutes.
As the horde entered, they split up to drop their packs in different areas. j.j lugged an enormous Intergraph CAD workstation from her pack and set up in a quiet corner, tapping into x's home net and stringing razor wire all around her setup.
"Isn't that a bit excessive for us, hon?" laughed Tricia, a twinkle in her eye.
j.j glanced cooly over her shoulder. "No." The screen lit up with a bright logo, Paranoids-R-Us. j.j relaxed, and crawled out through the scanner-controlled tunnel she had installed through the fencing.
Richard Sexton, studying the incorporation papers for X Industries over the mantle, suddenly yelped as an idea struck hin fully across the face. Newtlike, he crawled up the wall, onto the ceiling, and directly over the Intergraph. Dropping through the opening above the fence, losing only a little skin, he logged in. Soon he had hacked into the state business database, and was merrily inventing a corporation on the fly. j.j merely rolled here eyes and continued munching a haggis.
The last stragglers, a pair of Marks, wandered in. The cabal was complete. Tricia glanced at the clock - it had been exactly 5 minutes.
Someone travelling as berryhill was dancing on a card table amidst the veggies and sheep dip, singing a song. At the end of it, he slipped off the table, and accidentally stuck his fingers in BoB's pocket. They touched what felt like a green styrofoam pyramid, and he vanished. A few daves looked for him a bit, but soon returned to horndogging around j.j, yong-mi, Cindy, Tricia (the few who would brave the SS agents), or whoever was closest.
mr x nodded at c j, who cooly ground out the pipe on a nearby dave's head, eliciting a squeak of pain. "We," said c j, "have a crisis." Everyone continued ignoring c j, catching up with old acquaintii, planning daring cross-post raids, or scarfing down snacks.
c j continued. "Thanks to the vision of the US federal government, we are entering a Newt World Order." Noone listened. "Things are changing faster than Stan Kelly-Bootle can make multilingual puns." The pandemonium increased. "The net is being completely reorged, and within hours, there will be no net.bizarre."
Several people covered their ears to protect them from the deafening silence which followed. A dave began mewing. Held breaths were slowly let out. Somewhere, a snack crawled off a chin.
Then the noise level blew the needle off mr x's SPLometer. Ideas flew back and forth. Teeth gnashed. Flames flew furiously. It looked dark.
greg, never known for subtlety, stood on a table and knocked a couple of dave's together until he had everyone's attention. "What, exactly, does this mean? Haven't they offered us a new home?"
c j looked at x. x shrugged. "No. We're just rmfroup'd as of today next week. It's up to us to propose an alternative."
Sexton jumped onto the table, knocking greg into a bowl of boiling licorice. "I think there is a clear need. As has been shown, one .bizarre froup was just enough for the net. Now they are proposing many nets - sci, comp, rec, soc, etc. I propose that to maintain equilibrium, every top level hierarchy needs a .bizarre!" a sun rose. It looked light.
Supporting cries abounded. c j looked coolly through a cloud of thick, evil-smelling cigar smoke at sexton. "And do you think they'll just sit idly by, and let us get away with that? Think of all the egos involved. If we do that, they'll want a comp.msdos group in each one. Can the world survive that?"
Sexton laughed. "I've thought of that. We start with one, say rec, and after we get that, add the others, one by one. By cross-posting into groups in each hierarchy, they'll get tired and let us have it!"
"'Let us have it' is right," c j coughed, tossing the cigar into a nearby spitoon. "So much for that part of the image..."
"And that," noted x, "would fragment .bizarre, or necessitate every message being cross-posted to every .bizarre froup. Too untidy." Holding up a small, marble-like object, he paused for a moment. "Now this is tidy. It was Vesta, and tomorrow it will be Vesta again. But today, it's tidy. I like things tidy." He tossed the marble to sexton, who spiked it into the licorice with greg.
The noise level began to rise again. Marks were spewing stories fast and furiously at a couple of daves writhing in j.j's razor wire. j.j, meanwhile, was tapping speedily at the Intergraph keyboard, trying to optimize a new usenet design with .bizarre at the center, after shoving a delirious sexton aside. He waved a printout bearing the name of Trailing Edge Technologies, mumbling under his breath about stock.
c j looked knowingly at Cindy. "She'll have the answer in a few seconds." Smiling sadly, c j continued. "It won't matter."
Cindy shrugged, and went back to daydreaming about a home on the beach.
A few seconds later, a shriek from j.j quieted the crowd. " I have it!"
In the respectful second of silence that followed, a knock came at the door.
"Who could that be?" asked most of the daves. mr x shrugged. "Beats me. People either come because I want them here, in which case they walk in, or they are eaten by the lawn. It's never happened before."
"And won't again," said c j sagely. "You will have neither this door nor this lawn."
mr x smiled. The hat was of course his, so he'd worn it earlier, and deduced most of what c j had. But the crowd needed to know.
There was, naturally, noone at the door. There was, however, a sealed packet, addressed to net.bizarre. c j held it aloft. "Before opening this, there are a few deductions you need to know about."
Everyone quieted, expecting tax tips. Noone noticed the carasso virus loudly clearing j.j's screen.
"First of all, we will need a police force. Of 1. A sort of net.cop, even though net itself is going away." Everyone stared at each other in amazement. "No, not for us. For the invasion of the new people. Think of it as border patrol." Lots were cast, and greg, upon whom the licorice had now hardened so that he couldn't defend himself, was selected.
"Next," warned c j, "we need a foil. An atagonist. Someone so mean, crass, vicious, cruel, and nasty that anyone they attack will eat their own entrails rather than face it again."
Several people volunteered. More volunteered others. Kent's name was being bandied the loudest, when a small thunderclap from mr x brought quiet again.
"I have the solution." Without further ado, he walked to a large Matisse, and pushed it aside. A large wall safe stood behind it, decorated with a map. The only thing anyone could make out was a hugely scrawled "Here Be Dragons". mr x spun the dials, and opened the door. Stepping back, the only thing to be seen was a cave stretching back into darkness. A hideous stench came forth, accompanied by a low, rumbling growl.
"This," spoke x, "is Seth. A genetically-modified dragon, the least of whose spittle is guaranteed to drive one mad."
Everyone stared quietly at the hole. Noone breathed. A few daves edged towards the bathroom, and Ken eyed j.j's empty sanctuary. About the only ones unaffected were the daves playing Robotron on the Intergraph.
A sharp intake of breath accompanied the appearance of a head in the cave entrance. A furry pink head, with long ears.
Tricia was the first to break the silence. Nearly hysterical laughter bounced from the walls. "Why it's nothing but a ra..."
A terrible scream staggered everyone but mr x and c j as the monster leapt onto Tricia's face. After a few choice nibbles, it hopped contentedly back to its lair, where x closed the door and moved the painting back.
"My face! My face!" screamed the infuriated Tricia. "I'll kill that scum-sucking little offspring of a McGovern. I'll claw out its eyes and eat its brain while it writhes in my hands, and suck its guts through it nostrils!"
A well-aimed blow with a depleted uranium statue of Napolean restored calm.
"Never," opined x, "laugh at a dragon."
"I also forsee," said c j calmly, "being overrun with daves. We will have enough excess to make that our major export within 2 years." A quick nose count verified that the dave population had already doubled since the discussion had begun.
"I deduce that we will be visited with a wandering pickpocket guitar-player, lost from its caravan."
Several felt for their wallets, which so far were still in place.
"I expect to also be overrun with rabbits. After all, it only takes two - or one of something like Seth." All heads turned towards the Matisse - most shuddered. "No, I mean rabbits - though some will be monsters.
"And finally, I deduce a real fly in the ointment. a dave bane, though, so we can probably live with it. It will likely be under the following sign..." c j quickly sketched something on the floor.
| | ---==*miles*==---dfan hissed. "Looks evil!"
"Hmmmph," snorted several daves in sync. "Looks like bunny ears. So what?"
A blow from Tricia reminded them of recent events. They looked troubled, but kept silent.
mr x looked blandly at the packet. c j nodded, and passed it across. Opening it, mr x glanced quickly at the single page inside, grinned, and tossed the paper out. He nodded his head towards c j.
"Elementary, my dear cave newts. The powers that be have no intention of letting us run rampant on their playground. Ergo, they have handed us a fait accompli. The power will be turned off at n.b in three minutes, at which time it will also be turned on at our new home. Alas, my dear x, even this magnificent hat on my not inconsequential cranium is not omniscient..."
All eyes were on spass, who held the paper at arms length. "We're to go to..."
A hundred breaths intook as one, drastically reducing the oxygen level.
"...a sort of basement thing behind a grits factory. Address is 666 Talk Alley..."
Pandemonium again ascended the throne. a sun went down quietly, but almost immediately a new dawn arose. BoB and Bill Bill began copying and distributing maps from the packet.
Everyone looked at nj. He said nothing. Elegantly. As usual. They understood, and were awed. As usual. nj loped out the door.
As the crowd surged out the door after him, and across the dead lawn, its once magenta, silky fur now brown and crunchy underfoot, the lights went out. mr x hurried everyone out and into the street just before a tremendous explosion knocked them all down. A tiny mushroom cloud rose from their former home. "My lab," apologized mr x, "was not for others to plunder."
A few hours later, the tired but raucous band arrived at their new usenet address.
"A hole? A HOLE?" shrieked Tricia.
"Oh, shut up, Trish," muttered Kent, his words slurring from exhaustion. "It's merely a vertical doorway, with a stone and mortar entrance."
A deep red glow came ominously from the hole, as did a piercing, cold wind. "Interesting," commented mr x, "that the apparent fires don't send up any heat. But there's certainly heat inside."
"Don't look at me," sighed c j. "That explosion blew the cap off, and I don't know where it went."
Shrugging, yong-mi dived head first into the hole. The others followed helter-skelter, with Trish (as Kent, to her undying fury, had renamed her) tripping Kent in before he was ready.
Soon the alley was again empty. A lone rabbit quietly hopped up. mr x would not be surprised, as radiation proofing and heat and pressure resistance were built into most of his creations as a matter of course. Seth looked longingly down into the hole, hearing the laughter and general mayhem as they wafted up with the smells of barbecue.
Thom crept up quietly. "Boo," he whispered. Seth jumped straight up, failed to grab a gutter, and fell into the hole.
A smile playing over his face, Thom planted a sign at the edge which read, "Tresspassers Will". Then he touched a button on his belt buckle, and stepped over the edge. Slowly he fell. It was dark...
Arriving at the bottom, he was greeted by a festive scene. Corridors led off in all directions, most blocked by crossed posts and signs that warned, "KEEP OUT".
A couple of the barricades had been knocked in - from the corridor side - and grim faces stood down those halls, wearing expressions of hatred common to torch-bearing monster-killers everywhere.
Thom was amazed at the number of rabbits running loose. Trish sat on a huge pile of gory fur, munching a rib. One of the rabbits sidled up drunkenly. "Hey, Th...Thom. Havin a great time! Have some roash, roash... roasht new.. new, newbie!" A paw pointed in the direction of three spitted strangers being roasted over open pit flames by a crew of daves under the lashes of Dominus and Stevelee.
blair and Dorsey were going hammer and tongs against lizzard and StarCap'n Ra in a game of tetherdave, while John & Babs took turns cheerleading for whichever side was behind. The cheers were mostly in the form of haikus, and the constant meter changes were driving the dave to distraction. Several times the game had to be delayed until he calmed down. Overpressurized daves tend to explode messily when spiked. Mr. Kelly kept score with a homemade beercan abacus. The score at the moment was sqrt(-1)*3^e to a sixpack of Buds.
High upon a rock ledge, St. Terri was dropping miniature VWs on a pack of horndogs baying below. chaos abounded. Thom smiled. The rabbit threw a paw around his neck. "Hey, big boy, wanna good time?"
"Sorry, I'm celibate for Leo Fender's birthday. But Sho looks kinda lonely..." Thom pointed to what looked like a nice Korean boy to the rabbit (who can't tell orientals apart). The rabbit staggered away.
BoB placed a green styrofoam pyramid in the midst of a passle of rabbits, who attempted to nibble it, and were sucked in like it was a black hole.
"Nice trick, that," commented Meesh. "Does it work on daves, too?"
A shrieking rabbit leapt in over a fence form the soc.women.DARNIT corridor. "Help! Help! Murder! No sense of humor! Help!" An amazon stopped at the border, sent an arrow through the bunny's throat. She glared at everyone nearby. "Thanks!" yelled Stormwind, tossing the archer a chocolate-dipped, fried cave newt.
An overloaded news group screamed in agony. Warning signs began flashing. Distant sirens blared. A voice announed, "Transport overload. S/N ratio at one over infinity. Imminent death of the net."
talk.bizarre took no notice. It was light. Somewhere a cave newt screamed.
Last updated: 7 Oct 1994
Copyright 1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
These pages are netscape-dehanced to get that total, virtually bizarre, scent.
Miles O'Neal, <firstname.lastname@example.org> Rte 1, Box 558 / Leander, TX / 78641-9413 Web space provided by Schober O'Neal.