by Jim Parnell

Dwarf Nebula Reprise

...or, no we wasn't done yet

It came, it went.  We got hammered, we had a hangover.  No mass computer crash, no catastrophic financial collapse -- hell, the Russkies didn't nuke us, not even by accident!  Worst of all to several dozens of ardent believers of the literal truth of Apocalyptica, Jesus didn't return to kick the Antichrist's hairy butt,  and incidentally, to treat us to the rare sight of mouldering corpses in varying stages of decay rising from their not-so-eternal slumber.  Boy, what was ol' St. John smokin' when he wrote that stuff?

All in all, I'd say the rollover was a whopping success, if a tad anticlimactic.  Fine with me.  Things'll be tough enough around here without having to rub elbows with a bunch of stiffs or even the cast of "Friends".  We're at the start of the ride, and it's stranger than you ever could think.  Brings to mind that ancient Chinese curse, or was it my old Uncle Billy who said, "May you live in interesting times."

We'll get over it.  I've already sold the generators and MRE's, backfilled the bomb shelter and drained the tub.  Now, if only I can find somebody to buy that M-1 Abrams main battle tank...

Now, now, Bunky  -- There's no better horse than a dead horse to flog, I always say.  Yes, last month I implied that you would hear no more about Slick Willy and his carnal capers, but hey, I had my fingers crossed.

Ghost Writer -- Here are a few story ideas with a central theme that never went anywhere.  There is a beauty in ugliness, a certain je ne se quois...
Story idea #1.  Working title, "In the Pink"

"Once upon a time there was a fresh case of excema.  So pink and sensitive it was, that every time its owner scratched it, it just got larger and more inflamed and itchy.  Finally, when its owner couldn't stand it no more, they bought a tube of benadryl lotion.  After generous application, the case of excema died.  Its next of kin never went into drugstores ever again.

The End"

Story idea #2.  Working title, "In the Pink"

"On a dark and stormy night, Fred Hammerbanger winced.  It was either a bad case of heartburn or a fatal heart attack.  He walked to the bathroom and drank some Pepto-Bismol and then he went back to bed.  It must have been heartburn.

The End."

Story idea #3.  Working title, "In the Pink"

"George drived down the road.  Suddenly a car pulled out from a drivway and he hit it.  George flew through the air and hit the side of the car that pulled out.  His head flew off and landed in the back seat of the car that pulled out first. It was a Mary Kay Cosmetics Caddilac.

The End."

#3 would have worked better with an Elvis reference, somehow.

Beat Death of the Universe, or the Decline of the Groove...Thought I'd slip this Mini-Mare in...
It was Retro-Terra Night at the Mare; a small group of die-hard role-players just shooting pool, drinking, bitching about their imaginary jobs and even more imaginary sex lives.   A heated argument over the jukebox music had broken out, and it looked like the Hank Williams twang crew was being overpowered by the Grunge Slackers.  Their tactic of falling on their ideological enemies in rigeur de heroin comas was having some success.  The Industrial crew was attacking in precise formation; no surprise there, since they were all synchronized with MIDI out the wazoo..

No one noticed the charged twinkling in the air until a spark of static electricity zotzed the old Wurlitzer, which expired with a wheeze.   A whiff of brimstone, and - POOF! - a caped and hooded figure appeared in a sulphurous cloud.  Pointing ominously at the jukebox, the figure collapsed in a racking fit of coughing.

This kind of bombed the dramatic entrance a bit.

Undeterred, the figure whipped off its hood to reveal...

another hood, which it whipped off to reveal...

Yet ANOTHER hood, which it whipped off to reveal...

A tiny shrunken head which blew up to normal size after a ghastly moment or two.  When the ripples evened out, the face of Bob Marley, natty Dreadmon were clearly visible.  He began to speak.

"I am de Ghost of Grooves Past, ye are warned now, Babylon 'gainst de false music of dis Jah-less age.  Give up dis total abstraction and fret not thyself with drum machine blasphemy!  Return now to de imperfect time of human drums and cease the unceasing and uncaring computer beats dat drill into your empty heads!"

The Industrials, seeing their mortal enemy in the flesh, so to speak, broke into an exact 440 hertz banshee wail and threw themselves at the apparition.  Marley smiled, his skull-like face becoming even more skeletal, and gestured at the oncoming cyborgs.  A burst of EMP, like the spark of creation, flashed from his hand and stopped the Industrials dead in their tracks, chips shorted and fused.

With cowboy hats pulled low over their glinting mirror sunglasses and Telecasters slung even lower over bulging beer bellies, the Twang-a-Billies advanced, but the Ghost had a better idea.

"You t'ink yourself immune, with your guitars and boutique amps, yet Jah knows you are more degraded than dese.. 'tings!", Marley gestured at the Industrials, twitching and buzzing around them.  "You and your Nashville studios are de slick of de slick, a Babylon temple to digital effects and samplers.  Begone wit you!"  With a backhand wave of his hand, the Twangers' clothes disappeared.   Squealing like pigs, they ran for the door in hats and boots and not much else.

The Slackers, vaguely sensing something amiss, squinted across the room and belched.  With an ominous rumbling in their nether regions they gathered themselves to hurl at the Ghost, but Marley had had enough.  "Bahhh!", he said, and flicked the dirt under his fingernails in the general direction of the Slackers.  They scrabbled to get the sacred dropping, for to smoke, or inject or snort, or whatever the hell they do.

Marley then raised both hands to the sacred Wurlitzer, now filled with Wailers, Stevie Ray, Albert King, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Hendrix, and Peter Tosh recordings.  Marley waved again, and Dr. John began pumping out "Right Place, Wrong Time".

Marley smiled and saw that it was Good.  His head a-shrinking rapidly, he whipped his hoods back on, one after the other.  With a loud POP!, the Ghost of Grooves Past returned to wherever he was before the pathetic plot of this almost-story yanked him here.

Looking around the bar, it seemed a lot cooler.  Change's in the air, and it's time to drink up...

Well, once again I am a 16 mm Nut cross-threaded on the 5/8'ths Screw of Life.  Here's the parting shot:

"The chaotic state of human affairs precludes a rational explanation of the Universe, therefore God exists ... and she's got a really sick sense of humor"


Double-Wide, Copyright © 2000 by Jim Parnell

Jim Parnell generates bugs for a living -- the ones that infest your computer.   With no one to tell him he's been a bad boy, he plans to inflict Bubba on the World so it can share his misery.

You can e-mail Jim Parnell at

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