"An Optimist believes we live in the best of all possible
worlds. A Pessimist fears this is true."
Arthur Bloch, Murphy's Law
OBVIOUSLY INFLUENCED BY THE DEVIL
by Richard Karsmakers
Yes. The title is a pun that actually means "Go and listen to
Dweezil Zappa's 'Confessions' CD".
He had imagined death to be different. Not just different in the
way 'Friday' differs from 'yellow', but totally different. He had
imagined clantily clad Valkieries pushing their lush breasts into
his face in an attempt to lure him to warrior's heaven, Valhalla.
He had imagined the divine scent of angels' armpits to penetrate
his nostrils, the sound of the wind flowing through Golden
Eagles' flapping wings in the background. Lots of beer. Women.
Unfathomably large halls. Vast choirs chanting. That sort of
None of it was anything like this.
For starters nothing much actually seemed to have changed. He
just lay on the ground with a sword inserted in his abdomen.
Blood poured out, and his hands still clasped the hilt in the
throes of rigor mortis. As a matter of fact the only thing that
tried to convince him that he had died was his reason.
Both brain cells.
They told him he felt no pain, which they reckoned was odd
indeed if a piece of stainless steel had entered your body from
the front and had come out on the back. He tried to let go of the
sword and found it remarkably easy. In a state of joy he leaped
up and cried a mute cry.
An identical copy of himself was still lying on the ground,
post-mortally clutching a sword very similar to that of a
samurai. Its eyes were closed tightly, teeth clenched
frantically, body pierced mercilessly.
So this was death?
"NO," a voice said, like an elephant threateningly tusking
darkly tuned tubular bells, "I AM DEATH."
Cronos Warchild, mercenary annex hired gun, turned around to
where the sound had come from. He stood eye to eyesocket with a
figure dressed in a robe that seemed to be woven from the very
stuff black holes are made of. It sent shivers down Warchild's
spine - or at least down the spiritual equivalent of the one that
lay on the ground, slashed. Shivers being sent down spines was a
totally new sensation to him. He had voted conservative all his
adult life - he'd never liked changes and had wanted nothing to
do with threatening new things such as the abolition of capital
punishment or "The Sun" publishing male models on page 3, let
alone new sensations going down his own bloody spine!
"FOLLOW ME," the voice now said, the sound of Titanics hitting
No mortal man had ever commanded Cronos Warchild without him
wanting to be and had lived to tell about it. That meant the
hooded figure either had to be no male, or...
On top of that, he had a menacing looking scythe casually slung
across his shoulder, the kind of scythe that would have no
problem slicing through words, even, if only its wielder would
set his mind to it.
He decided to follow the figure that had already walked off down
a dark corridor that seemed to twist and turn impossibly. Strange
scents hurried along him. Of course, as always, there was a hint
of honey, but the damp smell of an old tomb seemed to be the most
prevalent - the kind of tomb where the flesh had already been
transformed into worm dung, a grave filled only with bones.
"Who are you?" Warchild ventured. His voice died almost
instantly - it was as if the fungi that stained the corridor
walls fed on sound. But the figure leading him down into even
deeper darkness seemed to have sensed the words anyway, or had
perhaps merely sensed them being thought.
"THAT NEED NOT CONCERN YOU YET," the voice replied, not
bothering to go through all the processes involving air
vibrations but instead opting for the direct way into what, for
lack of a better word, could be called Cronos mind. Inside that,
the words ricocheted to and fro much in the way six members of
the Japanese Sumo Wrestler's Association would when stuck in a
"You're not some sort of...er...male Valkiery?" Warchild
hazarded once the unexpected physical pain of intensely direct
telepathy had worn off.
"NO," the voice said, with even more force now. Even the fungi
seemed to retract in various cavities and crevices now, the words
being telepathic or not. The scythe's blade made an involtuntary
'twang' noise that caused some dust to rise off the floor as if
Warchild had expected the voice this time. He concentrated hard
on ignoring the pain, and largely succeeded. He was getting
better at it again. He had not expected to come out of life this
way. Perhaps death was the final solution.
For long minutes, during which Cronos didn't bother to ask any
more questions, they wound on through the befungied corridors.
They were the kind of corridors even homing pigeons would get
lost in - even if they'd had the chance to drop a trail of small
In the end they arrived at a torch-lit hall. The hooded figure
walked in, feet clicking on the floor, and hung his scythe on a
peg. After that he settled himself on a comfortable chair near
the hearth in which a modest smoulder gently smouldered away.
Death cast a glance at the fire, causing it to light up
instantly. Warchild looked at the furniture. The thing that was
most amazing about it was that it was all perfectly normal. There
was a wooden table with a half-empty mug of ale on it, there were
some cupboards filled with various books and in a corner stood a
large standing clock that indicated a time of two to twelve. The
floor was covered by a threadbare carpet, under which it seemed
mainly to consist of the kind of wood that makes moaning noises
at every step, not unlike the sounds you get to hear in films
where the hero is trying to cross an ancient bridge across some
gorge or other.
"SIT DOWN," the voice said, sounding a little more harmless
now, perhaps like heavy joints being dislocated in a slightly
gentle way. It wasn't a command, nor was it a wish. It was a
"I AM DEATH," Death said, "KNOWN BY ALL, REMEMBERED BY FEW."
The mercenary annex hired gun sat down in another chair. He felt
uncomfortable in a way he never had.
"DON'T WORRY," Death said, trying to sound as soothing as is
possible with bare teeth, no tongue and a voice that has a
natural ability to reap mortal lives, "IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL TO
FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. IT CAN HAPPEN TO THE BEST." Death's perpetual
grin seemed to widen as he chuckled, "IT DOES HAPPEN TO THE BEST,
This didn't make Cronos feel any more comfortable. He shifted in
his seat, uneasily.
Death got up, his blackest of robes fluttering slightly, and
beckoned for Warchild to follow him into an adjacent room that
was totally dark. Cronos had dreaded this so often. Each time
when he was in the face of almost certain death he had seen the
Grim Reaper's skeletal hand beckoning, or sometimes he had felt
the premonition of its touch on his shoulders. If he would have
known what deja vu was, he would have known what hit him.
Being a rebel, however, Cronos gathered all spiritual courage
and stayed behind, refusing to follow. Death disappeared into the
other room which suddenly lit up with the pleasant shadows of
controlled fire. The room Warchild was in suddenly got
unpleasantly chilly. The fire went back to its smouldering state,
and the furniture suddenly seemed to watch him accusingly,
radiating the intense sort of cold only a female's indignant
stare can bestow on a man.
During his virgin commando training Cronos had learned to survive
on ice planets having no equipment other than a toothpick and a
loincloth. He had passed the training excellently, to the great
surprise of his tutors, some penguins and an innocent polar bear.
This time, however, the chill seemed to come from within. He
could try to block out external cold, but he couldn't battle the
freezing cold biting at his guts. He looked around to see if
anyone was watching. When he saw noone he discreetly slipped
It turned out he was lead into some sort of hall of fame. Death
stood in the middle near where a fire burned, its smoke drifting
upward and disappearing beyond sight. The walls were covered with
paintings that had engraved copper plaques attached to the wall
below them. He looked at Death, who was looking at the paintings,
unable not to be filled with fascination.
Warchild didn't like art at all. Nonetheless, he felt compelled
to walk to the nearest painting and cast a glance at it. It
portrayed a rather ugly man in his late thirties. The plaque
below it read "Roger Ballface, Craterhead Ballistix Club Coach".
The name didn't ring a bell.
He shuffled to the next painting, on which was the picture of a
bowl of petunias. The plaque below it read "Bowl of Petunias".
Warchild frowned. Who would want to have a picture of a bowl of
petunias hanging in a hall of fame of some kind?
On the third painting he saw the picture of an exceedingly ugly
troll. It looked more like a piece of vaguely monster-shaped
rock, but it was a troll doubtlessly. He had seen its kind
before. As a matter of fact he seemed dimly to recall having
killed one of them a while ago. The plaque read, surprisingly,
Something started to dawn.
The fourth painting portrayed a member of the clergy. The man
was dressed almost entirely in black, a robe covering his bald
head. He wore a miserable excuse for a beard and part of a scroll
could be seen clasped in a hand. His eyes seemed to gleam with
religious fanaticism. The plaque told Warchild it was one
A coin dropped.
To Warchild the sound was equal to his neighbour's electric
guitar loudly playing "Smoke on the Water" on a hung-over
Saturday morning. It bounced to and fro a bit, until the noise
had ceased. Then a thought entered him.
He actually knew them all. He turned around and quickly surveyed
some of the other paintings. There were dozens of them. They
contained some ordinary people, a "Many-coloured bird killed by
an ABC-M-7 flamethrower", a "professor of post-modern neo-
baroque", a group photography of five palace guards playing brass
instruments during a charity ball, a police officer called Mitch,
a female housemaid roaming in her late eighties with a bump on
the head, some ants, a demon, a reduced-looking Gorf
and...and...Cronos walked to the painting to see if he had seen
what he thought he had seen.
He had. It was a picture of his foster mum's cat, Toodles. His
Death seemed to sense the coin having dropped.
"THESE ARE YOUR KILLS," Death said, a merest hint of respect in
his voice, "EACH AND EVERY CREATURE YOU KILLED IN YOUR LIFE."
Cronos looked around him. He suddenly noticed other paintings
leaning against walls, others stacked on chairs and under small
tables. He'd never quite realised how many people he had actually
inhumed, nor how many other creatures he had caused to pass away.
"I GUESS THANKS ARE IN ORDER," Death exclaimed.
Cronos remained silent for a while. Eventually he said, "Thank
"NO," Death laughed, if indeed Death can be said to have the
capacity of laughter, "I NEED TO THANK YOU."
Warchild looked perplexed. What had he done?
"YOU'VE KEPT MY BUSINESS BOOMING," Death explained, "IF ANYONE
SHOULD BE THANKING ANYONE, I SHOULD BE THANKING YOU."
He extended a skeletal hand.
It took some time to digest. It doesn't happen every day that
Death invites you over to his domain to say, OK, thanks pal, I
owe you one. Chop heads off, smash hourglasses, that's the sort
of thing you'd expect Death to do. And if he left things at that
you could consider yourself lucky.
Shaking slightly despite efforts not to, Warchild extended a
hand. Death's bony extremity took it gratefully and shook it
enthusiastically, much in the way people would have done it when
expecting money to fall out.
When he let go, Cronos' hand felt numb and very cold, as if all
life was drained out of it, metaphorically.
"SORRY," Death apologized, "IT GOT THE BETTER OF ME."
"Er...it's OK," Warchild muttered, not quite being able to
familiarize himself with Death apologizing - Look, awfully sorry
I reaped your soul, I really am, it got the better of me. A
thing like that just wasn't done. Whenever Death started saying
things like that he'd better...
"I WILL RETIRE," Death continued Cronos' thoughts, getting to
the point in as matter-of-fact a way as possible, "IT'S TIME.
I'VE BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME. MAKES YOUR BONES TIRED."
"I'M MAKING NO BONES OF IT."
"I'VE BONED UP ON FLORIDA."
"IT GIVES ME A BONE TO PICK."
"YOU'LL INHERIT THE HONOURS."
Death apologizing to you was one thing. Unusual, sure, but
just one thing. Death offering you a Reaping Franchise, on the
other hand, was something even totally less unheard of.
"THIS IS MY PLACE. IT'S YOURS NOW. HERE'S THE KEYS," Death said,
his voice still heavy with associations of something very heavy,
and handed him a key ring. Three credit cards hung from it, one
of which was a lot smaller than the others.
"THE RED ONE'S TO THE FRONT DOOR, THE BLUE ONE'S TO HIPPUS'
STABLE," Death intoned, some parting sorrow filling his throat,
"BUT YOU SHOULD NEVER USE THE SMALL BLACK ONE. THAT'S VERY
Death looked around. His eyesockets seemed to fill with wetness
for a moment, but it disappeared so quickly that it might just as
well never have been there. All of this was quite lost to the
befuddled mercenary annex hired gun, however. He lay on the
The skeletal figure looked down. For a moment a sense of regret
seemed to pass his facial features - but, then again, it might
also never really have been there. He shuffled across the floor,
his feet making boney sounds.
Death thought of a condo in Florida, concentrated, then clicked
his heels twice.
"HEY, TOTO," he thought, "IT LOOKS LIKE I'M NOT IN HADES
A horse whinnied, somewhere, in another dimension of time and
Cronos Warchild, mercenary annex hired gun, woke up. He kept
his eyes closed for another while, afraid of what he might see if
he opened them. He had had a terrible dream. There had been a
girl and a sword, and then there had been death. Or rather,
Death. It had been a ridiculous dream, really.
Something was wrong with him. He somehow felt different, as if
he was no longer his old self. He opened his eyes and something
struck him with the force of a Mega-Superspeed train.
"That's deja vu," he thought. His mind didn't protest at it. It
seemed a perfectly normal thing for it to do, thinking.
He had experienced this before, but he couldn't remember having
drunk excessive amounts of Klaxos 9 beer. Or any alcohol, for
that matter. He thought some more. It didn't hurt. As a matter of
fact it was quite nice an experience, like a first kiss.
He felt his face and startled to find a pair of glasses located
on his nose. He heard noises around him, crystal-clear and
poignant. He heard a fire burning, the wood crackling. He fumbled
behind his ear, removing a small electronic device that lead
right into his aural cavity. His hearing was still quite
excellent, quite on the contrary to what he had expected.
It seemed as if he was young again. Young, smart, unscarred by
He looked around.
"In retrospect," he thought to himself, still quite liking the
sensation, "it might be safe to assume it was no dream. I am in
Death's abode. I am dead. Then why do I feel exuberant?"
There was nobody to reply, not even telepathically. Obviously,
Death had gone off to somewhere.
Cronos stood up and walked through the various rooms. Each time
the rooms would darken and grow cold behind him, the ones he
entered suddenly glowing bright and warm. He felt in his pockets
and his fingers touched the credit cards on a ring. The small
one, somehow, seemed colder. A shiver went through his spine.
He walked to what he guessed had been Death's bedroom. There was
a huge bed that seemed to have been made from fossilized
Stegosaurus bones. There was also a large mirror next to the bed.
It was broken and, mysteriously, melted in some places. He walked
to it and watched himself.
Somehow, he didn't even startle when he found himself gazing
at a long, slender guy with glasses and a retreating hairline. He
felt the top of his head. Indeed, there was a bald patch. Where
there had once been mighty bicepses there were now things that
more resembled rope. His square face had grown more elongated,
his sideburns had disappeared.
He felt a gnawing feeling at his stomach. No. It couldn't...they
hadn't...not his large...
He unzipped his trousers and watched, his mouth dropping open.
He zipped them up again, sat down on the bed and wept for an
"DEAR NEW DEATH. I'M OFF TO FLORIDA. TAKE CARE OF HIPPUS. DON'T
FORGET TO FEED THE DOG. SIGNED: (EX-)DEATH."
Warchild read the note that lay on the night-stand. Everything
fell in place now. It had been no dream. He was the new Death,
for heaven's sake.
It had made him different. He, well, looked different. He was
different. Death is the other side. Everything turns around. His
incredibly strong body with its nit-wit brain had been changed
into one that was weak yet had a formidable mind. Finally he was
the perfect assassin, Death, and he would no longer be able to
communicate with people wanting him to kill someone, nor would he
be able to spend the enormous amounts of money he could earn. Now
he came to think if it, he really didn't want to kill anyone
either. It sortof went against his new grain.
And he could certainly never go through life, or death or
whatever it was he was in now, with a totally unpacifist name
such as 'Cronos Warchild'.
Terence. That was a lot better. Or Eric. No. Terence would have
to do. Terence...Terence...er...Terence Death. No. Terence Life?
Ridiculous. Just Terence. That seemed OK. Besides, nobody was
likely to tell him, Hey, Terence, now that's a silly name! If
they did, he would just chop their heads right off. Just like
He snapped his fingers meaningfully.
He suddenly recalled the note. Did Death, er, did he have a dog?
He envisioned a large black animal with flashy white teeth
surprising its new owner any minute now. Probably a Dobermann
or something. Or a black Mega-Pitbull. Cold sweat crept up
Terence's spine. Where was the dratted beast? Was it lurking
somewhere in a dark corner, ready to jump at his throat at the
first feasible moment?
He did hear something - or was it just that his ears, which had
recently reacquired hearing, were playing tricks on him? He
imagined he heard dog's feet shuffeling about somewhere in the
house. He even thought he could hear a flea complaining about the
Suddenly he saw the beast walking into the room. The flea ceased
complaining. Terence looked at it and sighed.
Who would have guessed that Death, or rather he, had a poodle?
Instinctively, he knew what the animal was called.
"Toto," he said, trying to imitate Death's speech but failing
rather dramatically, "come here."
The dog tilted its head. It then tilted it the other way. It
looked at Terence. It looked again. It decided it had liked the
boney look of his old master better, turned around and walked off
to somewhere else.
A flea started to complain about the cold again.
It has been said before by many authors, and they were all quite
right when stating that people don't see things they don't
believe in. They don't see gnomes, for example, not just because
they don't believe they exist but also on the account of the
little buggers being rather too fast for the human eye to
register. They also have remarkable filters built in that,
somehow, convince them they're looking at a totally average
person when in fact they're looking at a huge robed skeleton
wielding a scythe.
Death was asking the way to a fat American who wore a flowered
T-shirt and matching shorts.
"Lakeside Park?", the man said, fumbling his second chin, "I
think that's around the corner to the right, then past the
"THANKS," the spectre said, and strode off.
The fat American walked off, too. He had a vague but distinctly
nagging feeling that something was not alright. He also wondered
about today's youth's dress habits.
"I'LL HAVE TO ASSUME A NORMAL NAME," Death thought to himself
when walking, his feet click-clicking on the pavement. He toyed
with 'Bill Door' for a while, but cast it aside. Too plain, and
it didn't sound original. 'Ford Prefect' perhaps? He had read
somewhere that this was supposed to be a perfectly ordinary name
to assume, which was thought to arouse little suspicion. Well,
perhaps not. He continued thinking. It was hard, part of the
reason behind which was that he had no brain to do it with.
"MR. SMITH THEN," he concluded, just when he arrived where he
had wanted to be for, say, the last couple of decades.
It was quite perfect. Just like he had thought it would be. It
was a humble but slightly decadent appartment with a palm tree or
two standing in front of it. It had a view of the Atlantic, the
supermarket was a stone's throw off and their was a mortuary
around the corner. Death was a sucker for detail. He hadn't left
anything to coincidence.
He walked up the garden path. The click-click of his feet on the
cobbles ended as his skeletal hand knocked on the door. This was
his condo, 999 Lake Side Park. He had manipulated time and space
ever so slightly and it had worked. He knew he shouldn't have, of
course, but he reckoned he was entitled to a small indiscretion
after all those milleniums of faithful service to mankind.
Besides, who would ever complain?
Usually, owners of the piece of property you're examining pop up
behind your back quite unexpectedly. This happened now, too, with
the exception that it didn't actually surprise Death...er...Mr.
Smith as such.
"The prospective owner, er, climbed the golden staircase
yesterday," the man said, unsollicited, his voice obviously
infected by smoking and booze, "Are you interested in renting
this particularly fine condominium?"
Mr. Smith pondered for a while. He knew nothing of golden
"YOU MEAN THIS PARTICULARLY FINE CONDOMINIUM HAS A GOLDEN
STAIRCASE?" he asked, "I AM NOT SURE WHETHER I CAN AFFORD THAT."
"He slung his hook," the man said, slightly irritated, "went the
way of all flesh, snuffed it, popped off, you know, abiit ad
To say that Mr. Smith looked puzzled would be an impossibility,
what with him having no face to express puzzlement with. He was
"You're a stranger, aren't you?" the man asked.
Mr. Smith nodded slowly, not quite certain. He wasn't exactly
foreign or something, but no stranger to these parts either.
Death comes everywhere - any time, any place, any parallel
universe. Often simultaneously.
"Thought so," the man shrugged, "Well, are you interested in
this fine piece of building or not?"
Mr. Smith nodded again. He definitely was. The golden staircase
could be dealt with. Nothing that some bends and changes
couldn't take care of - not when you're bending and changing
reality, at least.
The man handed him a key, which made a CLUNK sound as it dropped
into Mr. Smith's emaciated hand. The man looked over his
shoulder for a second, as if haunted. It was as if he felt
something unreachable, like an itch on his uvula. His business
sense took over immediately, however, doing a great job at
suppressing things his senses told him were happening but his
mind refused to believe.
"Rent to be paid weekly, every Friday," the proprietor said,
coughing, "First three weeks in advance."
Mr. Smith kept on nodding.
"AH," Mr. Smith said, producing some crisp 100 dollar bills from
somewhere within the many dark folds in his darkest of robes,
"WILL A DOZEN OF THESE SUFFICE?"
The man suppressed a fit of hyperventilation, then nodded,
trying not to be too enthusiastic about it.
"Sure, dude, sure," he said. "Er...if you need me I'll be at the
The house owner had a deep feeling of relief when he stepped
into his car on the way to the nearest horse racing track. For
some reason or other he felt as if he had escaped from something
one couldn't normally escape from.
"MAN IS CERTAINLY AN ODD CREATURE," Mr. Smith considered as he
unlocked the door to his new home. It opened without a sound. He
made a mental note to spray it with corroding agent tomorrow.
Terence had by now seen most of Death's sinister abode. He had
discovered the kitchen, where he had put dog food in a bowl
labelled "Toto". Somehow, it seemed a comforting thought that
Death had a kitchen at all. It implied the ability to eat, which
was one of Terence's favourite passtimes. Or was it?
A rather less comforting fact was that Death seemed to have no
There was only one room left for Terence to examine: The
library. Cronos had never liked reading much ("No thanks, I
already have a book") but Terence felt that, somehow, reading
might prove to be an intellectually stimulating passtime. His
breath stuck in his throat when he opened the heavy oaken door
and beheld the shelves. The hinges whined proverbially.
It seemed impossible for the library to be contained within any
house, whether it subjected itself to the regular space-time
continuum or a bent one. The shelves passed beyond sight both up
and in the distance. Rooms were not supposed to have horizons,
but the library had one.
Shelves with books were alternated with ones containing
hourglasses. Terence was pulled in by an overpowering sense of
curiosity. So these were the books of life. The mortal time spent
on earth by each and every human, and probably lots of other
creatures too, was documented here. He heard the soft scribbling
sounds of invisible quills writing in closed books. History was
written here - or, rather, it was writing itself.
He pulled out a book below an hourglass that had only little
sand in the top half and read. The cover had "Daryl" artfully
written on it.
"He went home quickly. He had just bought Michael Jackson's
'Dangerous' album and couldn't wait to listen to it. Once he was
home, he slammed the CD in the CD player, put on his
He closed the book. The last grain of sand in the top half of
Daryl's hourglass fell through, making rather more sound that it
should have, like Stonehenge stones dropping on baby skulls.
Terence felt a tiny part of him being pulled away, off to reap a
soul. It didn't take long. There was a sound of a scythe
cleaving the air with a TWANG. Next instant it was back, feeling
He put back the book. An invisible eraser did a job on the
cover. A sound like leaf falling on the ground was audible far
away yet near. A new name wrote itself on the cover, in golden
"Cockroach named 'shjdfklzu' in Michael Jackson's air coccoon."
There wasn't a lot of sand in its hourglass.
"Hi," a happy voice suddenly exclaimed next to Terence, giving
the poor sod quite a start, "I am Derek, your floating library
filing system, not made by Sirius Cybernetics."
There was a small monitor hovering in the air, a keyboard
slightly below it. It bobbed up and down, sortof expectantly.
"Er..." Terence said.
"So you're the new Deaz," Derek deduced, "Well, I have to admit
you do look healzier. More ham on the bone, sort of zing. Ish.
"Um..." Terence intoned.
"I suppose you don't know ze ropes yet, do you?" the floating
library system inquired.
"Well..." Terence mumbled.
"I see," Derek concluded.
There was a slight pause.
"Where were you made, then?" Terence asked.
"The Federal Republic of Germany," Derek said, speach circuits
working overtime to emulate pride, sound circuits filling the
background with the German national hymn, "I zought you would be
able to tell by ze proverbial grundlichkeit wiz which I was
"Great," Terence said, "The first ever floating library system
with a built-in German accent."
"Pardon me?" the system said, putting 'hurt' parameters through
its vocal circuitry.
Terence decided to ignore the system's indignance. He knew
it was bad news to be dragged into a discussion with any piece of
logical circuitry unless it was capable of making a decent cup of
tea or toasting bread.
"I want to have a look at Klarine Appledoor's life," he said,
hoping this assignment would clear the machine's emotive
registers, "If you don't mind, that is."
A fleeting vision of a female draped across rocks passed his
mind. The computer worked for a tremendously brief instant of
time. Then, within the blink of an eye, they were both located at
a totally different location in the library. Death travels in a
dimension unhindered by time and space. Even his library filing
system had this capacity built in - at the cost of the ability to
pronounce the "th", which none of its designers had considered
The library was even more uncomfortably huge this way. No
ceiling was visible, and he could see horizons on two sides. Now
he came to think of it, the floor wasn't visible, either. A new
sort of mathematics would have to be devised to count the books.
Terence decided it would be a wise idea to have someone else do
the designing - if ever.
"Appledoor, Klarine. Human. Female," the floating library filing
system chimed, "It's zere to your right."
Terence was glad to see there was still plenty of sand in the
upper half of Klarine's hourglass. He took her book off the shelf
and leafed through it, dreaming. For a moment he saw her
again, flashing by him at something close to the speed of light.
Without absorbing anything scribbled on the pages, he put the
book back again.
"Loucynda," Terence said, "Loucynda Born-Naked-In-The-Meadows.
There was a very short period of intense silence, only broken in
a very subtle way by the scribbling all around them, almost as
omnipotent as the turning of the earth and only slightly more
audible. There was a brief spell of dizziness, ended by the
computer happily stating that the required file was found.
Loucynda's hourglass was still more than half full. Terence
sighed. He took her book and went to the page that wrote itself
at the moment.
"Oh, Pete. That's nice. Don't stop. Yes. There. There! Yes!
That's nice, too. No. Please keep my pants on, Pete. I have
to tell you...no, Pete. Please don't.'
Pete looked up, his face flustered.
'What's that?' he asked, pointing at a huge, triple-locked and
rather thoroughly rusty metal contraption around the girl's
'I tried to tell you,' Loucynda said, 'but you were too busy.'
'Indeed, darling. No. Please don't go. Don't go. Please. Maybe
you know a good locksmith or something. Maybe...'
There was the sound of a door being slammed shut, followed by
hasty footsteps on the wet street outside.
She put her face in her hands and started weeping."
Terence closed the book, guilt-ridden. He had ruined the life of
the girl he had loved. He had forgotten all about it recently,
but apparently she hadn't. Or, rather, couldn't.
"Exit," he said.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.