thrice great hermes #6 (2017/12/12)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

"fishtailed," explained vidya. "into the tree."

"loose gravel?" the ups man asked.


the ups man uploaded his paperwork and climbed back into his truck. vidya waved at him as he drove off.

opened the package.

he was surprised by the contents, which weighed considerably more than he had expected. but the manifest was accurate. this was what he had ordered.

"this will do, i guess," he said to himself.


thrice great hermes #5 (2017/12/11)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

the ridiculous truck destroyed the tree. the tree destroyed the ridiculous truck. the nature of nature, vidya mused, was circular.

"we’re having a wreck," vidya observed.

his mom just looked at him, and then looked straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel.

shattered glass seemed to situate in every crevice of the vehicle’s interior. vidya picked a piece out of his hair. he slipped his clipboard back into his bag, brushing glass out of its wrinkles and folds.

a tow truck arrived. the tow truck was considerably smaller than the family’s ford expenditure, but managed the job without serious complaint.

"it’s a good thing your sister wasn’t sitting back there," his mom said, motioning to the rear of the giant fucking truck. "that’s where she always sits."

vidya nodded.


thrice great hermes #4 (2017/12/11)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

vidya just didn’t care. now that his fate had been sealed, what would be the point of worrying over additional infractions?

he smiled to himself.

the clock on the truck stereo could not tell the truth. it stubbornly displayed the wrong time, almost as if his mom wanted to be late. which, in any case, she always was. vidya was sympathetic‚ÄĒwrangling children was probably difficult at her age. and here he was, not at all where he was supposed to be.

he unzipped the top of his bag, pulled out his clipboard, and quickly jotted down some notes.

she just doesn’t care, he wrote.

and then he enumerated:







he had veered off into complaining about himself, just as his mother veered off the road.


thrice great hermes #3 (2017/12/08)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

tires crunched on pale gravel as vidya’s mom pulled up in the family’s new ford expenditure.

he hated the ridiculous, pretentious, oversized truck.

mom cracked her window and glared down at vidya. "why aren’t you in school?"

it was all he could do to sustain his blank expression. the deal he now made with himself was that if she blinked before he answered, that would be it: he was going to hell.

mom blinked.


thrice great hermes #2 (2017/12/07)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

the shadow of the water tower concealed nothing. the ups truck stopped, too close, dislodging its driver into the dark grass adjacent to vidya’s present geolocation. it was a special delivery.

"you were in the navy?"

"what?" vidya, confused. "oh, this." his hat. "it’s from magnum p.i."

the driver blinked.

vidya accepted the parcel and turned back towards the school.

he wondered if sl would show up today. right away, he decided that he probably wouldn’t. his usual pattern. vidya cut into the box and verified its contents against the shipping manifest. sl’s gift had arrived intact.

along the path he imagined: houses, trees, fences, gravel, weeds, insects, scattered refuse, miscellaneous advertising materials. he wadded up the shipping manifest and tossed it into the shallow ditch that ran alongside the road. who cared.

his hat smelled of sweat.


f (2017/12/07)


written and drawn by Stanley Lieber

8 pgs.

cbz | pdf


thrice great hermes #1 (2017/12/05)

thrice great hermes


by stanley lieber

no one else in town had a phone. vidya climbed to the top of the water tower alone, to avoid all the hyperventilating demands for explanations, half-thought-out recriminations, more closely considered criticisms, and so forth, that he’d be forced to endure if anyone saw him checking the weather.

no sign of sl.

he scanned the horizon in every direction, waving his phone to aim the beam. still nothing.

which wasn’t really a surprise, in the literal sense.

the problem with sl was that he didn’t really understand telling the truth. he woke up every morning and created the universe anew. nothing persisted, nothing could convince him to slow down and pay attention to what it was he was saying. vidya had more than once caught sl unrolling a spiel that he himself had originated, in an attempt to gloss over some inconsistency vidya had pointed out. maddeningly, sl couldn’t quite grasp why vidya would object to this recycling of his material.

vidya put away his phone.

climbing down the water tower he realized that he’d forgotten to invite sl to the meeting.

now, he noticed, someone had seen him.

the figure of hermes was difficult to see.




by Stanley Lieber

I shouldn’t write this down.

pt. i:

Yellow, red, white, blue, purple, moire circle, two by two eyes. Beige poncho, projected reverse. Rainbow wires. Pink house.

pt. ii:

This photo is no longer available. Rainbow umbrella, rainbow dress, fog on mountains, how does your garden grow. Manga cafe. Illustrated primer.

pt. iii:

Rainbow, clouds, moire. Polka dot bull, gingham shaul. Rainbow textile. Alarming home, polka dot MLK. Rainbow, stripes, moire. Rainbow, stripes.

I want to erase everything.






SPARKLE!* (2017/11/20)


TRIANGLE (2017/11/09)


written and drawn by Stanley Lieber

12 pgs.

cbz | pdf





I just hate to be pushed around by some @#$%^& machine.Ken Thompson

This is my exit interview from social media. Some of these “services” I abandoned years ago. Others I am still struggling to avoid. From experience, I assume that you, reader, will make it impossible for me to remain ignorant of developments WRT: all of this garbage. What all of this garbage has in common is that it has all lately proven to be surplus to requirements, and soon I will never voluntarily use any of it ever again.

google toilet paper


Hi. I remember the Internet before Google.

Fuck you forever for breaking e-mail for everyone in the world. Fuck you forever for enticing users who don’t know any better into relying upon your services, and then shuttering them with little warning. Your extensions to established standards and ever changing policies make it increasingly impossible for individuals to host and control their own information. Yes, I am aware that this is no accident.

Search quality is no longer a core competency of Google, the Internet’s premiere search engine. For example: Two people type the same search string, each receives different results. Yes, I am aware that this is likewise no accident.

The quality of ads displayed alongside various Google services has steadily devolved from semi-relevant to absolutely irrelevant at all times. Yes, I am aware that this is no accident.

Malware served.

Insight: Google does not want you to know or remember. Anything, if at all possible.

facebook likes meter


Worldwide, 24/7, telepathic contact with every person I, or members of my extended network, ever met. How many degrees of separation between me and the worst person alive? Now that person knows what my mom threw up after breakfast, and wants to offer advice.

Mandatory non-linear curation of user contributed content.

Malware served.

Insight: Gamification of personal interaction degrades human health.

twitter anne frank


Worldwide, 24/7, telepathic contact with every person I, or people I used to think of as friends, ever met, or favorited, or retweeted. How many degrees of separation between me and the worst person alive? Now that person knows the GPS coordinates of my bedroom. How do I know? Because they are (as I type) standing outside my bedroom window. Thanks, Twitter client, for wiping my preferences after updating yourself to patch a critical security vulnerability.

Mandatory non-linear curation of user contributed content.

Malware served.

Insight: Gamification of personal interaction degrades human health.

instgram thinkpad stickers


I paid them for the app. Then they sold the app to Facebook. Now I see targeted ads and promoted posts.

Mandatory non-linear curation of user contributed content.

Malware served.

Insight: Gamification of personal interaction degrades human health.

tumblr 1oct1993


Was at its best when I thought I missed comment threads.

Javascript requirements slowly killed what value it had.

Not a replacement for anything.



No offense, but it’s just not worth it.

Reach me at my website: or via e-mail:

ACTRON v3, ? (2017/09/19)

ACTRON v3, ?

written and drawn by Stanley Lieber

16 pgs.

cbz | pdf




by Stanley Lieber

30 September 2099

20:20:20 EDT

TAB2 sat in the house trailer and wondered why he had returned again to the only place where he had ever felt truly unlike himself. Who wrote this shit, anyway?

A quick sweep of the premises had yielded no comics or other items of interest. Switching to infrared: Same result. Why was he here?

This was not his home. Hadn’t even visited the place in years. When last he had bothered‚ÄĒthe ninth grade?‚ÄĒChristopher had not even been home.

He rolled over on his pallet bed. Urine soaked trousers. Good thing he was alone. Stuck his leg out of his sleeping bag and felt for the gross carpeting of the living room floor.

It was there.

21:18:23 EDT















The black box attached to the inside of the front door emitted a long strip of white paper printed with an assortment of colored blocks. Also, sound. TAB2 listened politely for as long as he could muster before it was once again time to shut the box. He closed the lid carefully and sat quietly in the dark. Queasy.

His hands ached.

TBQH, all of him ached.

Flash on an image of his father being helped up, then down, the hospital hallway.


What was it Piro had said about these intrusive images? "Uriel was right," or something along those lines.


Well, he couldn’t remember.





21:35:24 EDT

Through the plastic window TAB2 stared at the horizon. The long, winding strip of colored blocks advanced, curling around his slippers, accumulating in tangles throughout the house trailer. Tom reached into his pocket and pulled out... There had been nothing in his pocket.

He poured a finger of RED KOOL-AID‚ĄĘ into his blue plastic tumbler and swallowed it in one gulp.

Along the wide horizon he sensed the approach of stiff, dark clouds.

"I can feel it die," he said to himself.

And then:

"Oo-o, Oo-o."

22:23:05 EDT

The gravel road stretched around the house trailer, curving gently into the wan light beyond the trees.

Eyes followed road. At the limits of his vision, just inside the horizon, he saw them.

One twister made of light too bright to look at directly. Beside it, seeming almost to be an after image of the first, a second twister, made of total darkness, nothing within it being discernible at all.

The two twisters were advancing toward the trailer.

23:07:09 EDT

Presently, the black box spoke to him audibly.





































The spiraling strip of paper continued to spool on the floor.

Came a knock at the door. Since no other human beings had fouled the Earth for some decades, the knocking could only have been caused by the wind. To wit: The apparently approaching twisters.

"It’s not even my trailer!" pleaded TAB2.

He grasped at his visor, his window to the world, panicking. Slapped at the black box until the lid once again closed.

Blessed silence.

But the problem remained. Not talking about it, not believing in it, had not made the problem go away.

"Magic without intentionality," he suggested, futilely.

He knew this was not going to work.

23:17:02 EDT

TAB2 approached the outsize projection television and switched on the attached SEGA MASTER SYSTEM‚ĄĘ. He loaded a save state from a popular JRPG and wandered around the world map until he was killed by a (frankly) stupid looking monster.

Tossing the controller on the floor, he picked up the television’s remote control and attempted to‚ÄĒRight, no cable, no broadcasts.

At the window, the twisters had progressed on their journey down the road toward the trailer. Tom didn’t want to think about it, so he didn’t.

The house trailer rocked gently in the accelerating wind.

23:23:23 EDT

One day, Christopher’s cousin Jason had attempted to push the trailer over with his bare hands.

Standing in the unmowed grass wearing nothing but camouflage surplus trunks and a thick gold rope necklace, Jason had flexed his twelve-year-old muscles and pressed his hands against the side of the trailer until his face had turned red.

All assembled had laughed, as the trailer had not moved.

Jason had become angry, and the irregular corona of his curly brown hair had seemed to expand on his head.

Tom thought of this and smiled, uselessly.

23:59:59 EDT

The black box:





TAB2 was beside himself. There had not been enough warning. There would be no time to complete any of his several unfinished projects.

Additionally, the paperwork was going to be a nightmare. He found an ink pen on the kitchen table, clicked it once, then set it back down again. Swept his arm across the table, knocking the stacks of papers every which way on the kitchen floor. Fucking bureaucracy.

He glanced at the black box and then pressed his face against the plastic window, screaming forcefully, though no sound could escape from the tight seal formed by his lips. He pulled his face away from the window and stared at the ring of moisture abjured by his silent shout. The window seemed to be mocking him so he punched it, injuring his knuckle in the process. Even his invulnerability was no longer a certainty.

He considered the fact that his entire life had been a fiction, conceived hesitantly, in fits and spurts, with long gaps between installments, by a human being who could never find much time to write. He wondered what that guy was doing, right now.

Spurred by this thought, he flashed on a spontaneous idea. A solution? Traipsed through the paperwork and the coils of paper strips to the front door. Threw open the portal and shouted into the aether:

"I’m the protagonist, I can’t d‚ÄĒ"



ACTRON v4, #13 (2017/08/31)

ACTRON v4, #13

written and drawn by Stanley Lieber

colored by Pete Toms

8 pgs.

cbz | pdf




by Stanley Lieber


"The cook must be in love."

Plinth Mold poked at his pad thai. Brittle. Dry. Overpriced. Inedible.

Still angry because the waiter had assumed he was a white man.

Ming shrugged.

Plinth sighed and set down his fork. His shoulders sagged. "The median is the message," he conceded.

He looked up at the giant clam.

"What on Earth did you plan to do with characters like that, anyway," he asked.

"Harrrrrruuuuuuunnnnngggggggggggggg..." explained Ming.

"Of course," agreed Plinth.


"Tttaaaaaaaaaaabbbbbbbbbbbbbb Onnnnnneeeee..." stuttered Ming.

Plinth continued to stare at the jumbo clam, unsure of what he had just heard.

"Tttaaaaaaaaaaabbbbbbbbbbbbbb Onnnnnneeeee..." repeated the Clam.

Surprisingly, the precise repetition sharpened the intelligibility of his verbalization.

"Ah. Reassigned. I understand he’s planning a family, some decades down the line. In any case his services are better deployed elsewhere. I’m keeping him in my back pocket. For a rainy day. Tucked away, snug in a clich√©."

"Ppppiiiooootttttrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..." rasped Ming, seemingly depleted of the precious oxygen required for him to sustain such verbal communication.

"Fired. Rehired." Plinth paused and stabbed once again at his pad thai. "Haha. I guess you had to be there."

"Theeeeee Jjjaaaaaacccccckkkkaaaaaasssssss..." hissed Ming, inquisitively.

"Oh, you mean Slake? He accrued a large number of followers. Onolatry." And then: "But no man is a hero to his valet."

Both men laughed.


"I’ve considered it," explained Plinth. "War and peace‚ÄĒthey’ve all been tried before."

Ming nodded, solemnly.

"What we need in this business is a sense of history, some semblance of respect for the work that has come before. The entities who made it all happen. But these characters..." he trailed off.

"Standby," he interrupted.

"All is buffering."


Ming produced from his shell a small projector, which he positioned at the center of the table and configured to display an aspect of Brandon’s realm consistent with the ongoing passage of time.

Moving pictures.

Gradually, the image resolved. Plinth Mold leaned forward to examine its contents.

"Wretchedly literal. Painting the whole world green."

"Fffffiiiiiixxxxx iiiiiitttt iiiinnnnnn pppppppoooosssttt..." erupted Ming.

"Black body radiation," Plinth remarked. "He’s caught steam off headlines and co-signs. But there’s no there, there."

Ming sat on his clam foot. He could only agree.

"Ah well. It’s his problem now."

Plinth leaned back, interlocking his fingers behind his head.

"I mean."



Meal concluded, both men replaced their cutlery and napkins and made their excuses to leave.

Plinth took care of the check.

As Ming rolled away the tablecloth snagged in his mechanism. A raft of plates, forks, spoons, glasses of ice water, pitchers, garnishes, condiments, toothpicks, various chunks of picked over foodstuffs, and other various and sundry food-related items tumbled to the cheaply carpeted floor in disorganized fashion.

Revealed beneath the tablecloth was the usual assortment of bland disfigurements, including a vaguely relevant (for our purposes) inscription:

Who Is Buried In Plinth’s Tomb?




by Stanley Lieber

From out of nowhere (his shoulder bag) Uriel drew his flaming sword and dropped to one knee, slicing the air in front of him and bifurcating Sam Walton at the waist.

"Sharpest sighted spirit in all of Heaven..." Sam trailed off as the two co-equal halves of himself thudded dully to the floor.

"No," said Uriel, flatly.

In that same instant Uriel found himself staring down the barrel of Piotr’s side-arm. The pirate had managed to train his weapon on the center of Uriel’s mass without alerting the Archangel to the fact that he had moved. Crucially, Piotr’s facial expression had not changed since early childhood.

"Apparently for some people hypocrisy in the name of gathering power is a positive thing."

Piotr did not snap at the bait. Nor did he relax his aim. Uriel stared deeply into his eyes, to no apparent effect.

This soul was not human.

The stalemate persisted for several more minutes, with each remaining more or less as they were, until Uriel at last began to wonder if Piotr had forgotten where he was, what was happening.

Finally, Uriel provided a prompt.

"Sometimes the painfully obvious solution can be hard to see, even for somebody experienced."

Piotr’s expression remained unchanged. His weapon did not move. Finally, he stuck out his lower lip and blew a tiny puff of air upwards, across his face, causing a loose fold of his long, straight hair to flip out of the way of his line of sight.

"Hehehe," tried Uriel.

Scrupulously, Piotr maintained his silence.

Presently, there unfolded a large, translucent display.

◊Ď÷ľ÷į◊õ÷ł◊ú-◊¶÷ł◊®÷ł◊™÷ł◊Ě ◊ú◊ź (◊ú◊ē÷Ļ) ◊¶÷ł◊®, ◊ē÷ľ◊ě÷∑◊ú÷į◊ź÷∑◊ö÷į ◊§÷ľ÷ł◊†÷ł◊ô◊ē ◊Ē◊ē÷Ļ◊©◊Ā÷ī◊ô◊Ę÷ł◊Ě--◊Ď÷ľ÷į◊ź÷∑◊Ē÷≤◊Ď÷ł◊™◊ē÷Ļ ◊ē÷ľ◊Ď÷į◊ó÷∂◊ě÷į◊ú÷ł◊™◊ē÷Ļ, ◊Ē◊ē÷ľ◊ź ◊í÷į◊ź÷ł◊ú÷ł◊Ě; ◊ē÷∑◊ô÷į◊†÷∑◊ė÷ľ÷į◊ú÷Ķ◊Ě ◊ē÷∑◊ô÷į◊†÷∑◊©÷ľ◊ā÷į◊ź÷Ķ◊Ě, ◊õ÷ľ÷ł◊ú-◊ô÷į◊ě÷Ķ◊ô ◊Ę◊ē÷Ļ◊ú÷ł◊Ě.

Uriel reached out his hand and it passed through the barrel of Piotr’s weapon.

"The war is over," claimed Uriel, and vanished into the remains of the aether.

Piotr egressed the SAM’S CLUB, alone, sinking up to his waist in the street. Eventually his progress halted. Outside, visitors to the amusement park diverted around him, milling about, ingesting inscrutable foodstuffs and accumulating licensed merchandise. Unaware of the significance of their actions.


URIEL (2017/08/23)


by Stanley Lieber

Dominus illuminatio mea

A ram’s horn trumpet split the curtain of silence, penumbra of so-called dignity discarded on the un-mopped floor. The Archangel Uriel appeared before them, there in the SAM’S CLUB, fully visible in all his splendor to the human eyes who gazed upon him.

"It is quite simple actually," said Uriel. "I hold the key."

Uriel descended the stale air of the manager’s office, seeming to pass through the drop ceiling without disturbing its corporeal aspect. He gripped the rusty key in his right hand, extending it for no apparent reason toward the ceiling he had presently traversed. Neither human understood the significance of the gesture. In point of fact, neither human had wondered after the gesture in the first place.

Sam Walton removed and then slowly replaced his meshback cap. His eyes narrowed as they tracked slowly, left to right. His panic was evident.

"You are not alone," Uriel assured him, easily.

"Why... You’re the drawing I made. Right here, in my notebook." Sam tore the page from his notebook and shoved it firmly across his desk at Uriel, ripping it nearly in half in the process. It wasn’t a handshake but it would have to do.

"One of the most important things in life is to know your limitations," said Uriel.

"I‚ÄĒI’m not much of an artist, I’ll admit..." stammered Walton. His mouth opened again and then he realized he had nothing more to say.

"Just because something is easy to do doesn’t mean it is a good idea," countered Uriel, gently.

"Simplicity is harder to reach than complexity," Uriel explained. "This is more an implementation detail than anything."

Walton and Piotr had not been sure how to respond to the sudden invasion of the manager’s office by this... What was he, exactly? Piotr’s incredulity was plain.

Uriel gripped Sam Walton by the shoulders and stared deeply into his gray eyes. "You do not know what you are doing."

And then:

"This is simply false."


"And you are wrong again."

Sam Walton stared back at him, dumbfounded.

"Uhu?" said Uriel. "I honestly and deeply hope you fail completely."

Sam shuffled backwards, landing awkwardly in his chair. His meshback cap felt heavy on his head. It jostled, fell flat on the floor.

"People are fucking stupid," Uriel revealed. "Morals are subjective and individual, and in many cases in conflict with the law."

Piotr tilted his head, as if considering the point.

The Archangel Uriel, steadily frustrated at Sam’s apparent lack of comprehension, reached into his shoulder bag for a visual aid.

Sam Walton, for his part, had run out of words.


SAM’S CLUB (2017/08/22)


by Stanley Lieber

"Mister Alamo," Piotr intoned calmly into the microphone.

New money was in play.

Gradually, additional staff made their way to the overflow registers.

Remarkably, Drumpf’s check had cleared. The unexpected windfall would all but ensure success.

Piotr’s little green men drifted in and out of SAM’S CLUB, replenishing depleted stocks and selecting new equipment that would be required for the upcoming mission. Commencement: To be announced.

Meanwhile, Brandon’s forces were known to be in disarray. Effectively missing in action for three decades, his knowledge of the situation on the ground was by now limited to open source reporting. Piotr allowed himself a smirk. Nothing like his father.

Here was Samuel Moore Walton: Grade school dropout, unlikely billionaire, leaning up against the service desk with a toothpick clenched tightly between his tight-grouted teeth. Unidentified detritus streamed like silt from the corners of his wide, thin mouth. Sam sighed, eyelids drawn close, surveying the expanse of his domain.

"We’ll need a lot more pallets," Piotr remarked. "These hand trucks will come in handy."

"Safety is our first concern, but customer satisfaction is certainly not far behind," Sam assured him. "Always."

Without further comment, Sam turned, replaced his meshback cap, and ascended the nearby stairway to the second floor. Piotr followed, as his men explored the vast retail environment, exploiting the opportunity to top off their personal inventories.

No one followed them upstairs.


COWBOY ACTOR #4 (2017/08/06)


by Stanley Lieber

8 pgs.

cbz | pdf


LITTLE GREEN MEN (2017/03/23)


by Stanley Lieber

Fred Drumpf had shit his pants.

"Cobalt, God damn it!" he bleated, referring to the popular toilet bowl cleaner. The old goat had succumbed to senility.

"If we need to bring in the big gun, we’ll bring in the big gun," Piotr said, dangling the plunger above Fred Drumpf’s waiting mouth. "You are helping the other side." Piotr tapped the side of the spotless commode with the plunger. Aimed it, again, at Fred.

Fred considered his predicament. Life in the Salt Pit had been something of a disappointment. Certainly, the facilities were in need of an overhaul. Pink sand filtering in from who knows where, coarse and irritating. He felt to some degree taken advantage of. Expenses had been, demonstrably, disproportionate to services rendered. What exactly he been paying for, all this time? To be fair, Fred was not sure what he had been expecting. Something... different? Anything but this dreary open plan prison he now called home.

Conditions were unsatisfactory. A rip-off.

At length, while obviously frustrated, Fred relented.

"Okay, sign me up."

Piotr jotted down Fred’s name and address, then asked for further identifying details, including information about Fred’s holdings and financial institutions. Baseline qualifications fulfilled, Piotr next presented a written request for disclosure of Fred’s citizenship status and any contractual obligations that might interfere with his ability to discharge the terms of the new agreement.

Fred placed his fingertip on the leaf. Removed it.

Piotr withdrew the leaf.

Finally, Piotr asked Fred if he was now, or had ever been, an employee or stock holder of UNIVERSAL MOLD, INC., to which Fred shook his head. And that was that: Mission funded.

Gradually, Fred realized that Piotr’s visit was drawing to a close and that there was no way of knowing when he might drop by again. As if triggered by some remote command, Piotr immediately egressed Fred’s cube.

That was abrupt.

Fred reclined on his bunk, resolved to try and get some sleep before the call to prayer.

You know what? Fuck that guy.


other (2016/12/28)

other (2016/12/28)

MING THE CLAM (2016/11/26)


by Stanley Lieber

ROLAND NIP, JAPANESE MAN NUMBER TWO stood upon the deck of the USS JACK NIETSZCHE and wept.

"What am I supposed to do now?" he whined.

Ming the Clam’s inscrutable countenance held fast. Silence followed.

"You are going to tradecraft yourself into a God damned corner," said Nip.

Ming’s unreadable expression solidified. He stared at a point that seemed to be fixed, some way off in the distance. Nip tried and failed to track the blip. To his mind, nothing was out there. Fog, fog, and more fog. What in the hell was the clam looking at?


"Fucking clams," creaked Nip, his voice expiring under the strain of his predicament. He now faced early retirement at the hands of this... fucking clam. And on account of what? Indeed, it made no God damned sense at all.

Ming continued to stare. Was he smiling, now?

Nip fumed inwardly.

"Harrrrrruuuuuuunnnnngggggggggggggg..." interrupted Ming, suddenly.


Ming rolled, his underbelly seething as his single foot padded the steel deck of the ship. Nip could only observe the ridiculous pantomime as the six-foot clam egressed the general vicinity of his bad mood. Was it something he’d said?

"Aw, come back, I didn’t mean it!"

Nip scrambled after the outsized clam, unable to fathom what must be happening, but certain that the consequences of his words would be a disaster to his person.

"Hiiiiiiiiiiigggggghhhhhhh bbbbbbbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiddddddddd..." stuttered Ming, furiously.


Ah. The auction.

"There will be a reckoning," reasoned Nip. "But to be quite honest, I’m not sure if I will participate. In point of fact I’m not sure I understand the situation at all. What do clams even want?"

Ming motored towards the live area. Station joined, he commenced to chatter with his advisors.

Nip could only watch as his hopes and dreams unraveled before him.



THANKS, BRANDON! (2016/10/28)


by Stanley Lieber

Brandon stepped down out of the truck. coolguy98 had made the winning bid. Brandon was coolguy98.

‚ÄúPayment,‚ÄĚ directed Plinth Mold.

‚ÄúNo shit.‚ÄĚ

Brandon swept his hand through the air, completing the transaction.

Plinth nodded. Brief pause as the world changed hands.

Nothing had changed.

Everything had changed.

Brandon toured the grounds.

‚ÄúSuggest some changes,‚ÄĚ demanded Brandon, to his assistant, who was himself. The arrangement was peculiar in that it had persisted through numerous staffing changes.

Plinth stared at Brandon’s penmanship. Excused himself without further comment.

Brandon proceeded, undeterred.

First on the agenda: Cleaning house.

Things were going to change around here.




by Stanley Lieber

She got mad.

The green doors all opened. Then closed, inhaling and exhaling rhythmically. Costumed partygoers scrambled for the blinking exits, but most stopped short as the portals once again slammed shut. In summary, few of the club’s members achieved egress.

Obviously, none of them had trained for the objective. Also, none of them understood what was happening.

Piotr tapped his ear. I adjusted my visor and the audio finally synched to his moving lips.

‚Äú‚Ķand then we‚Äôre all finished here.‚ÄĚ

Nodded. Then followed him out of the club back into the ship.

‚ÄúBoneyard,‚ÄĚ declared Piotr into his collar mic.

The ship commenced the slow process of compressing the club for longterm storage. The club folded, then folded again. Shrinking. Denizens still trapped inside had by now achieved visible panic.

‚ÄúWhat a time to be alive,‚ÄĚ I lamented, and the membership, though none of them could hear me, seemed to agree.

Compression completed, THE RAGNAROK sighed and closed the file. Removed the temporary copy from memory.

Piotr sat down on the bed and removed his visor.


EH2ME (2016/06/06)


by Stanley Lieber

Clientele within the CLASS ACTION had exceeded Dunbar’s number. Piotr’s brass ceiling exacerbated the confusion. Next, the lights had flickered out.

Tangled relationships. Trading was affected.

Looking around, they were all wearing it. Costumes sagging. Static display of doll gape. Tapped my visor, switching command to internal. Obvious, now. The marks had been made.

We got into it.

Pockets, clutches, bags, wallets, rings, jewelry, cards, bills of all denominations, passwords, pin numbers, car keys, leaves, data gloves, visors. We negotiated each item swiftly but carefully, sorting all such matter into like piles.

Finally, Piotr grunted, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not here.‚ÄĚ

The green door groaned inward on its hinges, pre-signaling disappointment.

Incoming communique. Some kind of shorthand.

Piotr deleted his copy of the message, unread.

‚ÄúDeeper,‚ÄĚ he ordered, almost whispering.

Deeper it was.



by Stanley Lieber
Hokkaido. April.
(Though it felt like summer.)
Prince Rogers Nelson scaled the Black Gendarme, wind biting at his unprotected neck and face. His telepresence flickering in and out of apparent corporeality. His mascara running down his face.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs windy now,‚ÄĚ he remarked to himself from between clenched teeth, ‚ÄúBut it‚Äôs gonna be okay.‚ÄĚ
If only that had been the case.
Stilletto heels stabbing dark ice, Prince wondered at the whistling of the mountain wind. He observed each snowflake as it slowly drifted down the Black Gendarme. The snow was mounting beneath him, just as it had happened in his dream.
‚ÄúAvalanche,‚ÄĚ he predicted.
And then: ‚ÄúOh.‚ÄĚ
He stared at his hands as his fingers slipped from the black rocks. His body peeled slowly away from the mountainside, and his telepresence appeared to change color as he fell. This had not been planned, and did not at first seem to be a new idea wrapped in a so-called happy accident.
No such incident had occurred in his dream.
Down, down, down.
Prince’s telepresence resumed at the base of the Black Gendarme. Sunlight glinted on murky water as he waded hip-deep into reeds and rushes. Prince observed the river rising to soak his armpit-waisted, black silk trousers.
‚ÄúBullshit!‚ÄĚ he protested, rather too loudly.
He seemed pleased when ambient volume adjusted itself automatically to compensate for the outburst.
There could be children watching.
Gradually, Prince made his way to the opposite river bank, where he pulled himself up to his full height atop three-inch heels. A flourish of expressive dance dispensed with the excess river water that had been absorbed by his uniform. He hoped that it all seemed intentional.
He smoothed down his black silk shirt and loosened his apache scarf. The trousers seemed ruined; or at least, had seen better days. Abandoning protocol, he discarded them casually on the riverbank. Damp, his black stockings glistened in the afternoon sunlight.
‚ÄúAll I ever wanted was to be left alone,‚ÄĚ he claimed, to no one.
The Black Gendarme, the river, and the valley beyond offered no objection to this obvious lie. What could they have said?
Presently, Prince’s gaze shifted to the heavens above.
Compilation of his new album had been completed before he’d set off for the Black Gendarme. In his absence, album art had been prepared by his staff. Settling his focus mid-field, he reviewed the material for several seconds before gesturing to expand the playlist:
        1. June
        2. U KNOW
        5. affirmation
        6. WAY BACK HOME
        7. Time
This would do.
Seemingly satisfied, Prince authorized the release with his thumbprint, then shifted his gaze back to the river, adjusting several of the microphones that had lately come to hover in the vicinity. Preparations completed, he waded back into the water, proceeding in a straight line until his apparent body had submerged completely beneath the mossy sludge.
Telepresence sustained.
From below, Prince regarded the shafts of sunlight that penetrated the river’s surface, and he smiled, sweetly, at the successful transliteration.
Who would be listening?

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UNDERCUT (2016/03/16)


by Stanley Lieber

‚ÄúI‚Äôve had this haircut since 1920. It‚Äôs not my fault.‚ÄĚ

Piotr didn’t respond, but continued to trace the shape of things to come. Along my back.

‚ÄúThat part of my back is haunted,‚ÄĚ I claimed. ‚ÄúYeah. Something nasty happened around those parts, some time in the past. We don‚Äôt go there.‚ÄĚ

Piotr withdrew his fingertips. Pulled down my dress shirt and tucked it back in. He didn’t make a face, exactly.

Back demons.

Since the early 20s I’d been fighting them, off and on. But mostly on.

‚ÄúYour posture.‚ÄĚ

I didn’t care.

‚ÄúHow do you expect to ever recover?‚ÄĚ

In any case, this diversion was distracting from work.

We let it drop.