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 My Journal: An Introduction
Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 7 2006, 04:42 PM


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My name is Calliope Grieve, and my parents were Deadheads in the 60's who dropped a lot of acid. As a result, I'm the oldest daughter in a family of four girls who're all named after Greek muses: Melpomene, Thalia, Clio and me.

The first pet I ever had, a hamster, I named Steve. Throughout my life all of my pets have had normal names. My cat's name was Steve. He was an Abby (an Abyssinian) with a proclivity for Cheez-Wiz. I left him in the care of my sister Clio when I went to grad school for advanced Forensics. Oh yeah—I’ve been a cop for about 10 years, since I turned 20--but I'm kind of leaning toward forensic pathology as a career bent. I could always deal with messed up people much more easily than messed up pets. Pets don’t know better. People do. Pets don’t deserve abuse. Some people do. Especially the dead ones.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not, like, a huge animal rights/fur is dead/save the fish freak. I eat meat. I’d hunt if my life depended on it. I’d rather eat a cheeseburger than tofu on any given day of the week. But people can be cruel. They have the capacity for evil that animals don’t. Animals do what comes naturally. People have agendas. That’s where the separation lies: we execute our atrocities willfully, giving them careful consideration before subjugating others to their ill effects. Animals just eat, have sex and sleep when they’re not defending their territory. People plot.

Sorry if I sound bitter. Someone killed my sister. Someone human. Someone that let themselves in and left without so much as a footprint or a lingering scent.

They killed my cat, too, and that’s when I lost it for a while.

I’m one of those people who can look at the rasher of human fat that spills out of a deep abdominal laceration and am reminded of the low-fat cottage cheese I had with my turkey avocado sandwich they sell down at Jerry’s Deli on Ventura. No, it doesn’t make me hungry—but it doesn’t make me any more nauseous. Blood’s blood, nothing to cry about. I don’t cry over diet cherry Coke either.

I like guns. Why? Not sure. My dad taught me to shoot when I was 7. I did biathlon in high school. The skiing/shooting event they show at 2am during the winter Olympics because it’s a pretty stupid event and totally impractical, but it keeps you in shape. It keeps you steady, focused. I like steady and focused. Which is why I make a lousy date to 99% of the population. Don’t get me started.

Wait. Well, okay. I guess the population has changed a bit, hasn’t it? Your mileage may vary.

This morning I woke up with two strange men beating at my face and chest, trying to tear my clothes off my body and grinning like hyenas with their lips ripped out.

A few minutes later I found a toilet in the men’s restroom at Denny’s with clean water in the holding tank and rinsed their blood off me with a sippy cup I found near a broken changing table. My eye hurts. They broke the frame of my glasses—alright with me, at least the lens popped back in alright.

They were human, too. I think they wanted to get off. They got what they wanted. They're way off now.

Well, that’s me in a nutshell, I guess. The light’s dying here inside G.I. Joe’s off Sherman Oaks. The sun’s too low to really get through the skylight. I should keep moving. Dead folks coming for dinner and I don’t care to be invited.

More later, probably. I have to have someone to talk to.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 7 2006, 05:10 PM


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Later.

There’s something really odd about watching a half dozen naked human beings squatting over a screaming Chinese man, clawing at his face and skull.

I’m at Van Nuys hospital now, looking for stuff to stitch my brow with. I packed it with petroleum jelly but it keeps bleeding down into my eye—salt and Vaseline together is like an optic napalm where the burning refuses to go away.

It was stupid of me to pick Denny’s to sleep. I figured with all the windows no one would expect anyone to be there. Corpse logic, you know. Old grease and rotted meat throws off the scent, and lack of places to hide--the intuition.

The guys who found me probly watched me enter and just waited, taking their time til they could scout me out in the powered down freezer, sleeping with Vicks up my nose to obfuscate the smell of rancid animal parts.

Silly me.

Found some orderly scrubs. They’re clean. Also found an emergency eyewash, the kind with the 10 gallon reservoir, down in the morgue. Yeah, I went to the morgue. The bodies in the drawers weren’t going anywhere, and the folks on duty have presumably sought greener pastures. Or they’re the half-naked people subduing the Chinese man for his brains upstairs. Beats me. No pun intended. I showered in the eyewash and got myself somewhat rid of the lingering odor of maggoty pork chops.

I think it’s because he’s Chinese that it felt strange. His screams are in a language I don't understand, but as familiar as my own voice waking me in the night for the couple of weeks after my mom died in a motorcycle accident. I was riding sidecar. She was decapitated when an eighteen wheeler jackknifed in front of us—she was looking at me, making sure I was alright. It happened too fast for her to react.

The helmet didn’t save her.

Now that I'm older, I’ve been able to control the screams when I wake up. But when I have those urges, they’re always having to do with my mom…

Oh, hey, it’s quiet now. Took a minute to notice…

Somehow, I don’t think a helmet would have saved the Chinese man, either.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 8 2006, 02:02 AM


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Who am I, really?

I’m at the Sherman Oaks mall in Ventura now, the place is pretty much picked clean save for few safes no one has figured out how to crack.

No acetylene torch vendors nearby, bummer for everyone. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

There are 17 others here. 17 others who, for the most part, seem to have forgotten that the time for surprises are over, that the time to say irrational things was up about 2 weeks ago, that now every new obstacle should be expected, every setback par for the course, and every measure, no matter the cost, ready to be taken.

Almost.

There’s a baby here, of all things. She’s about 3 months old. More suprising, her mother and father are here as well. There’s also a guy here who’s probably about 250 pounds of solid muscle. It’s this guy who says, in a voice like Joan Rivers on a helium binge,

“I’ve got Xanax. You know, for the baby. Think about it—it’s probably for the best. Look at the world she’s in—let her sleep…God will forgive you, you know?”

Evern after all this, I still believe in God. I know. Still. Yeah, makes no sense—I just can’t see throwing Him out just because I don’t agree with the direction humanity has taken, or blaming Him for letting us learn the hard way. Tough love, right?

But this—this guy here, with the lime green neon biker unitard boasting a bulge that some girls would find most appealing, even if he’d never glance in their direction—this guy who would never be a father, this guy here has decided to deem himself the Spokesman for the Creator of the Universe in Matters of Killing Another Family’s Baby.

Irony here: The father is Sikh. Somehow he’s kept his turban clean. And if he understands the guy, he gives no sign.

But I understand him. I understand this amalgamation of Schwarzenegger, James Dobson and Richard Simmons all rolled into one. I understand him all too well.

I have a Sig-Sauer P226. I also have an HK automatic shotgun with just enough shells to keep me always looking for more. I’ve a couple of Tanto blades as well as a K-bar my sister Mel(pomene) brought back from her stint in the Marines. I’m pretty good with a blade; my Escrima instructor at 20th Century Martial Arts puts more welts on me with a rubber knife than James Caviezel had on him via latex for his few days as Jesus on the cross. I need to add that, if I had the choice between the last 36 days I’ve had and the few hours he hung there with nails through his hands, I’d trade in a heartbeat. I think I truly would.

There’s a place at the uppermost point of the spine called the dens, which sits right beneath the base of the skull, inside. Everyone has one—even this guy in the biking outfit. I actually decided to make his the first spot I’d go for with a .12 gauge round from my shottie, then decided it would be much more satisfying to slip the Tanto blade in there, just so, right above the C2 vertebra and twisting until it made that sound chicken legs make when you pull them out of the thigh socket. That would be a good place to start with him. Even with the oversized trapezium he wouldn’t be on his feet for more than three or four seconds. Thunk. Twist. Thump. Wipe. Done.

But the family just sat there on the defunct fountain, the father staring straight ahead, the mother rocking her baby back and forth, soothing her, shhh-shhh. To the sound of her heartbeat, shhh-shhh. The sound of the grotesqueries of humanity smashing their rotting frames against the barricades down in the garage, shhh-shhh.

The sound of my blade severing a man’s life from his meat, shhh-shhh.

But I don’t do it.

The Muscle Beach man with the bulges goes off to try his luck again with the safe in Eddie Bauer, shaking his head slightly in wonder at their cruelty.

I don’t do it, because I’m cruel, too. Just like them, I allow for the suffering of the weak. For that, I'm cruel. For that, I let him live.





And because he’s probably right.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 8 2006, 10:37 AM


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The good news is…

It appears looters don’t really care about eyeglass shops. You’d think they’d just go apeshuckle (a term my dad used to use, ‘apeshuckle’, as a kind of acceptable hybrid between the profane and absurd) and destroy everything that might create a pleasing crunch underfoot. I guess Sherman Oaks folks are ‘above that;’ the cases on the wall holding the frames are pretty much intact. The register is gone, the freestanding racks toppled, but they didn’t trash the wall displays. Wonders never cease.

I spent some time crouching there in the dark of the second floor, using the Surefire light on the shottie to make sense of the sizes, and finally found a pair of frames similar to mine. I’ll save them until mine finally fall apart. I decided to check out the back on the off chance there might be a cabinet with a drawer labeled Calliope Grieve’s Exact Prescription Replacement Lenses. No such luck. Not much to the place, a small office enclosure with cabinets boasting a lot of lenses in boxes with part numbers on them that, had I the battery power, I could sort through one by one, putting them up to my eye and seeing if the world cleared.

Now that’d be a neat trick, wouldn’t it? ‘Oh, hey—everything’s back to normal…I’ll take two pairs, please. No, better make it three—do you have tinted?’

What I do find is pretty cool. Up top there’re more little boxes, plain white with part numbers on them like all the rest, but I notice they’re a little larger so I stand on the desk to take a look. More of the same—but behind them I find four boxes of ‘Microlite Reading Lamps—Clip on anywhere!’ Looks like they didn’t catch on because of how functional they look (rather than Sherman Oaks chic) and got squirreled away up here. They run on two of the coin-shaped lithium batteries—four per box, sealed in little packages like electronic drugs. I load one of the lamps—they’re about the size of a keyless entry/car alarm keychain—and clip it to my glasses, the good side (and the one I’m not wearing the eyepatch on. I always wear one at night when I use flashlights—the blind eye retains night vision for when I kill the lamp) and kill the Surefire. In the dark space, the glow is decent enough for limited vision, about 8 feet, maybe more when my eye adjusts to the new candlepower. Not bad, not bad at all. I’m using it to write with—I don’t need both.

Didn’t find much else in there—looked for a book that might explain the part number/prescription codes on the boxes.

You know, the one that says ‘Calliope’s Convenient Translation Guide So She Never Need Worry About Breaking Her Glasses.’

You can guess how that turned out.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 8 2006, 12:15 PM


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From the Flight Deck...

I thought about making this entry one, long expletive on how badly I want a Venti Iced Latte with nonfat milk and sugar-free hazelnut, but then I realized that doing such a thing might make you, the reader, whomever you’ll be when you find this (or when I lurch up to you and hand it to you before I numbly try to eat your brains) feel that I am compulsive.

Therefore, no expletives. I just want the coffee. Right now, please.

Right now, as I recline here suspended 5 stories up in the hanging exhibit above the atrium of the mall. One of the great things about being my size: most suspended ceilings and large exhibits are rated to carry a load with a differential of at least a hundred pounds or so. I’m about 120 usually--probably less right now (the Outbreak--best weight loss program ever, ark ark) so I tend to err on the side of the engineers. Right now, I’m in a biplane. I slid down the tensile steel cable from the 4th floor, same way I’ll use the cable to the 2nd floor mooring. It’s about 2AM. Below, they’ve barricaded themselves into Weiss’ Jewelers—it has the strongest gate.

I don’t know where the family with the baby went. It’s mall, yeah. But it’s a small mall. Meathead Muscle Man is in Eddie Bauer; that gate’s down too.

I keep hoping she’ll start crying soon. Early morning feeding. Croup. Anything. Just cry, you know?





Where’s my f—king latte…


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 8 2006, 02:45 PM


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Morning.

I had one of those ‘blink-and-3-hours-have-passed’ naps.

The gate to Eddie Bauer is lifted maybe two feet from the floor. The jewelry place is still gated shut. The sun is rising. Everything is quiet—even outside.

I didn’t hear the baby at all last night.

Not a peep.

All quiet.

I’ll make my way down now. I need to get out of this place.

The sun is rising, but it’s dark in here.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 8 2006, 05:04 PM


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Mark

The jewelry store’s gate rattled quietly when I came down from the biplane yesterday morning. A lot has happened since then.

I think this might be hard to write. I used to always keep a journal. When all of this stuff (‘this stuff’, she says, like it’s snow or something) happened, I stopped writing…life took over. And I didn’t want to think about it any more than I had to live it, you know? But writing isn’t something you just put away. It eats at you. Some call it a muse—since I’m named after a muse, it’s all very amusing. Ark ark. Thanks, I’ll be here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitstaff. Give her a hand! Or two hands, if they come off easily! –rimshot— Sorry, that was way over your head. Yeah, you, the guy on the floor lying in a pool of his own feces and cerebrospinal fluid—way over your head. Get it? Hey. Dude. Where are your eyes?

God, I’m…

Ok, I need to just figure out what I’m going to say here.

The gate opened and a guy a bit younger than me crawled out, carefully lowering the gate so as not to disturb the rest of them. He stood up, brushed himself off.

“Not much fear to you, hunh?”

I don’t trust people right away—I sent that message with silence, sizing him up. Abercrombie and Fitch sensibility, though I’d have walked immediately if he’d been wearing Fierce or any of the other stuff most of the Bébé boomers find scintillating when a man rolls in it.

“Staying in the plane, I mean. That’s just crazy. Never would have thought of that.”

It wouldn’t have held you, I give him as I go back to pulling my shottie from my bag. It’s one of those Capezio dance numbers, big enough to carry the HK, ammo, food and sparse clothes—and a cat, if need be. Ha. Ha.

“No, you’re probly right,” he’s looking up at the plane which still vibrates a bit from my sliding down the guy wire. “Damn, though—nice.”

I look back and he’s looking at me. In the eyes—which is actually worse than if he’d been staring at anything else.

Thanks. I say, and head toward the stairwell to the roof. I get about a dozen steps before

“Hey, I have a bike. Where you going?”

Great. A bike.

What kind of bike?

Turns out he has a Triumph Scrambler. A twin carb, 865cc character piece that speaks more of taste than testosterone. I told you my parents were Deadheads, right? Well—let’s just say I grew up with a healthy infatuation with the method of modern transport known as the motorcycle. They were our only means of travel as kids—two sidecars, two girls apiece. Dad and his muses. His friends at the country fair called him Zeus.

“I’m Mark,” the Abercrombie kid says as we take off, heading east on Ventura toward Coldwater Canyon that’ll take us up and over the hill. I’ve got his helmet that looks like it’s taken a spill or two and a picture of Alex Trebek on the side. There’s a Buddy Jesus doll glued to the top of the forks, giving the thumbs up and winking. He adds: “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

I fight the urge to ask him if he’s gay.

Instead, I tell him my name. And yeah, for reals.

“Great name.” is his only reply; he’s concentrating on movement ahead.

The roads in the Valley are pretty clogged with what are now very expensive sculptures. All the cars of the elite bourgeoisie that occupy the hills are nothing more than memorials to their opulent end. A flipped Beemer here, a gutted Jag there, an H3 buried in a Blockbuster Video storefront. Up ahead, there’s a group of things thrashing about with other things—

Hang on, there’s something outside


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 9 2006, 01:22 AM


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This is so messed up.

Nothing is coming, Calliope. Read that back.

Good girl, you read it silently.

We took side streets up behind the strip, passing the remains of neo-suburbia, the homes of former television actors and folks who made it to the top back when salaries were lavish but still in the realm of believable, when actors did more than pose and take their clothes off on camera.

I lost my virginity to an artist, a guy named Stefan. He’d changed his name from Paco because he didn’t respect his hippie parents. Don’t worry, I didn’t make the connection either.

He could draw photographs with a pencil, the shading absolutely spot on, the depth of field and textures startling. Dark hair, brooding eyes…everything I knew I should stay away from and yet fascinating in that as well as having the ability to draw what you or I can see, he drew the most striking characteristic of each—it’s soul, if you will. The nature, the essence of the object of his attention shone under his hand—and I guess I wanted to shine as well, because I found myself under his hand during the golden hour on the Oregon coast, up behind a lighthouse on a hidden bluff, pinned to the earth by his stare and the rhythm of his hips and hands, gazing over his shoulder as the sun tossed a billion gold coins into the ocean while I made wish after wish.

A few years later, Stefan hit a low point in his life and shot up a couple of times. One of those times someone forgot to bleach the needle, I guess, and he watched his T-Cell count drop for a couple of years. One evening, during golden hour, he decided to join my wishes in the sea and swam out to greet the sun.

He didn’t want to be a burden, he wrote, and left it at that.

Mark hit the apex of Coldwater at West Mulholland Drive, pulled up and over to the scenic overlook there and paused for a bit, appreciating the view and, I assume, leaving opportunity for me to do the same.

Your mind fills with all sorts of things now, you know? How many times will I see the mist settle into the nooks and crannies of the scrub-infested Hollywood Hills, how many times will I look out on the waste of space that Los Angeles is and consider it precious…it like memories as they fade into a finite number of vague references instead of poignant, vivid imagery that define who you are.

I sound like I’m high, don’t I?

He nodded and sighed, shaking his head.

“Beautiful,” He said.

And then,

“You want to do it?”

His question poured out pretty unexpected and completely understandable. I had almost asked him the same thing. Motorcycles, you know. I just looked at him, my hands already on his thighs from the ride along the twisting turns of the Drive, my body already alive from the engine under me; he turned his head and I saw his mouth for the first time, and my clothes felt too restricting, and I’m hating the helmet I’m wearing, and I’m suddenly very warm, and then they hit us.

The noise of the motorcycle had alerted them from the housing above and cul-de-sac behind and they wasted no time in descending, taking advantage of the object, and objects, of our attention.

It was the first time I’d seen them silent.

I wrote before about being prepared, you know—but they were silent. We heard their feet hitting the pavement and then the bike was over and we tumbled down and down, breathless, the wind knocked, yanked out. I’m wearing his helmet so my glasses stay put, nestled in the foamy approval of the Division of Motor Vehicles, and when I finally come to a stop I’m 30 yards down the slope, the bike half as far, and Mark—

They managed to keep hold of him. He made sounds I’ve heard restrained men make when finding their spouses dead and the killer in custody before them, sounds demanding release, demanding justice…bloodthirsty sounds some animals make when they know life is at stake.

There’s a difference between thirst and lust, however. And I’ve found bloodlust will always trump a mere desire for vindication.

The silence is something new and terrifying. Something that suddenly, inexplicably makes this whole damn thing very, very unfair.

Shhh-shhh.

They’re still silent as they tear his cheek from his skull as I’m pulling the pistol from the holster on my leg; it tears out and up, like a bad hangnail, all the way to the corner of his eye and across the lid to his forehead.

Shhh-shhh.

They’re pulling him in several ways at once when my bullet hits him in that newly exposed eye, the deep crimson of the wound affording me the grace to sight my target more fully.

Shhh-shhh.

Unfair. Not at all funny. You hear that, God? This is no longer funny.

My shot echoes down and along the Drive and through all the ghosts of all the famous and unwashed who’ve made the trek to look out over the City of Lights. Somewhere Bob Seger plays on in a deserted bar with a never-ending jukebox, singing about wondering if he could ever go home.

When finally I hear them, they’re behind me, trying to get up the scree and detritus littering the hillside. The grunting, gurgling, sputtering choke-spews I’m used to, the guttural snarls and malformed cries that accompany me to sleep every night are finally presenting their case. The ones up above are clearly disappointed at the sudden lackluster attitude of their prey and decide to join me where I am, launching themselves pell-mell higgledy-piggledy down the hillside as cheerful as Little House on the Prairie kids.

Which leads me to here, where I am, only a few yards away. I’m still in the helmet I hated—a very good thing, or I’d be deaf now. I’m in a culvert, a drainpipe running from up the hill to prevent flooding on the street itself. It’s a little wider than I am, and goes back into darkness. My shottie is empty, I can’t pull my bag from behind me, but I’ve another clip for the pistol right here under my chin.

They kept coming. One after the other, scrabbling, clawing, pulling the body of a peer back and out of the hole to get to me, leading with their gaping, senseless faces for a moment until the next shell shreds their skulls into so much mist and history. A housewife pinwheels back down the hill with a twitch of my finger. A boy of perhaps 12 is reduced to a neck and one collarbone. A black man with one eye grins from a jawless mouth before he’s propelled into oblivion. A musician. A mother. A doctor. Another. On and on until the only sound I hear is ringing in my ears, the only thing I see is smoke and cracks of sunlight through a pile of twitching, misshapen refuse. My shotgun empties. My pistol takes its place. A crack widens, a body is yanked away, and another replaces it with a face that I remove from this world’s photo album.

They keep coming, filling in the cracks, making new ones, until I can’t see anything, I just hear them, shuffling, grunting and then I realize the sun has gone down. A hole has opened and time took its leave. And then I hear something right here, right now, right in front of me—

I fire into the darkness and the muzzle flash reveals a little girl of maybe 8, someone more suitable to navigate the close quarters—and then it’s dark.

She has no eyes, and she's grinning.

I empty the pistol into the void, flashes of the remains of the child in varying stages of decimation. I might have screamed. I can’t hear anything but ringing.

Ringing in the silence. Shhh-shhh.

My whole body is one high note on the piano struck repeatedly by an angry, willful child, but I don’t make a sound, Shhh-shhh.

I finally, briefly, toggle the light on the shottie.

What I see does not reassure me and I will not describe it. Suffice it to say, nothing will crawl through here without making noise. Unless…unless they somehow come back to life.

To keep from going mad, I fished out my journal, fumbled for the stupid-looking-but-highly-functional Microlite Reading Lamp™, and voila! Instant tether to a dying world.

In the dark.

Until a spear of light, and then another, and then another, begins to glow before my eyes. It doesn’t make sense and for a few moments I become afraid, for the first time, terribly afraid, curling up in dread—and then feeling such a rush of terror that I scream but no sound comes out.

Curling up?!?!

Imagine crawling through a narrow tube all night, the claustrophobic, crushing sensation of being buried alive stealing every deep breath—and someone suddenly turns on the lights, revealing that you exited the tube long ago and you’ve been inching along a vast open space.

Not funny, says the woman. Not funny ha ha, but funny ironic, says God.

I thought I was hallucinating, but somehow during the onslaught of carcasses I inched myself so far back into the pipe that I reached the cistern below the street; for hours I’ve believed myself to be in the same confined space I crawled into, completely unaware of the space reaching out and up the ladder above. At any time they might have figured out the back route. At any time descended, and silently, to where I lay.

It’s morning again. The spears of light are from the manhole high above.

It’s quiet here.

I need a few minutes to get myself together, and then I’ll see what’s up there.

Yes, I guess I will.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 10 2006, 06:37 PM


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Member No.: 1,855
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Disquieting.

The word is a definite understatement, but it’s the only one my brain could come up with when I looked down the hill at the mess I made at the other end of the pipe. It’s like Satan's toilet sprung a leak.

Guess who decided not to stick around for the repairman.

I decided to see if I could salvage Mark’s bike; I made my way down the short section of slope and found it a bit scratched but seemingly fine—unlike Mark.

The key, still in the ignition. I expected it to laugh at me when I cranked it over, but it started immediately, making me jump. The sound of it rolled down the hill, over the rocks and dirt and scrub and sprayed innards and limbs and carcasses…

So I didn’t waste any time in hopping on and tooling off down the slope. Catching myself in the mirror, I found I was completely covered in gore from the shoulders to about my waist.

Without thinking about it I rode here, to the Medieval Times hotel, where they used to put on jousting and swordplay and all things magically Renaissance.

Of course I rode it here.

I need a little magic, right?


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 11 2006, 12:50 PM


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Huzzah.

There’s a man here at Medieval Times who introduced himself as Coruscant. Looking him over, paunch stuffed into his chain mail under a t-shirt reading ‘Kevin Smith! Take Over, the Time Is Now!’, I decided to refrain from asking about the Star Wars reference. I’ve seen the films, but am by no means a fan-girl.

He’s got a small cadre of Renaissance Faire types at his beck and call, the kind who say very little to newcomers but sing songs and crack in-jokes incessantly amongst themselves. Power to them—at least they stay amused. Coruscant shows me around the place (“The fortifications! You gotta love fortifications!” he beamed, at which one of the younger guys chuckled and added “ForNIfications would be better, indubitably!”), all the while using a voice that I think he thinks is Darth Vader but sounds more like the dwarf from the Lord of the Rings. Balin? Dwalin? Gimli, that’s it.

What surprises me is the armory.

“Jeneria has a scrying stone,” he explained, unlocking four deadbolts and lifting back a large iron bar from what used to be a cold pantry. “We knew what was going to happen before the New Times began, so we all stockpiled and kept everything in my grand-dad’s mobile home. When everything started going south, we came here—a defensible and symbolic stronghold of the times that once were. We loaded in, and the rest is—WILL be—history.”

I expected lances, swords, plastic lightsabers and maybe some foam nunchakus.

I was wrong.

“We have enough here to fend them off until the Whitecoats figure out how to get everyone back to normal and fix what they screwed up. Me, I’m not sure I’d want to go back to normal after knowing what I ate. We’ve got autos, semi-autos, shotguns, pistols, crossbows, a couple of sniper’s rifles, C-4, pipe bombs, grenades—white phosphorous, frag and concussion, BOOYAH—and of course blades of every caliber.”

Weapons everywhere. Ammunition. Posters of Jay and Silent Bob. In the back of my mind, Groucho Marx waggles his cigar and eyebrows: Now I’ve seen everything!

“Blades don’t have calibers,” says the Funny Right Hand Guy, and Coruscant rolls his eyes. “We basically Googled up, if you know what I mean. When it all came down, we were ready. Snootchie bootchie!”

His entourage repeats the war cry a couple of times, then high fives and secret handshakes. One makes a farting sound. Raucous laughter, then we all head upstairs to the arena, where all the tents and bedrolls are laid out. Coruscant comments that I’ve got a great disguise AND I’m perfectly walking like the dead. One of the girls, Faramie, offers me her tent—with a caveat.

She leads me to an exit off the large arena space where jousting and battles of honor, valour and glory were fought for a mere fifty bucks a pop.

“Fenris got the showers working in the dressing rooms; he was a Pipesmith in the Old Times. Um...have you seen your face?”

We find the mirror. There’s a perfect oval of gore around my eyes, nose and cheeks—the area the helmet didn’t cover.

The shower is amazing—they have a generator powering the heat pump, and for the first time in three weeks I feel warm water on my skin. I could die and be fine, I think.

Faramie’s left one of those long, flowy white gowns you see in those Mappelthorpe prints. I can’t help but laugh.

Something about the meek inheriting the earth…

I wonder if that was a typo.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 12 2006, 02:50 AM


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Joined: 4-August 06



I'm drunk.

Damn you all, I'm drunk.

No, of course Captain Kirk and his Merry Men don't know it. Of course the fiddlers three, his ladies resplendent, the nymphettes of the necrotic world can't presuppose my state of mind.

Forgive me while I wax eloquent. Wax on, wax off. Paint the fence! Paint the fence!

I'm so tired. I don't know why I'm fighting sleep, leaning in the glow of these funkidelic clip-on glozzies, ohyes. Canyousayhalleelooyah?

Oh, wait, something's coming to me...yes...yes, it's--it's the little girl with no eyes, grinning in the dark before I blow her preadolescent brains from her frontal through her parietal lobes...a little girl who'd yet to bring home one of those annoying My Child Is An Honor Student At BlahBlah Middle School stickers, one yet to graduate, or get laid, or push a child from between her legs--

God, I drank mead. And yeah, they have the real stuff. And yeah, I drank it, because damnit everyone, I'm thirsty for ignorance for a little while. I want ot let go of this f--king responsibility to carry on, of this pretentious, stupid, infallible, indomitable human spirit and wallow in escapism for a few hours.

Just a few hours.

Damn you all, just a few, short, motherf--king hours not think of my cat. My cat, my sister, my sisters, my mom's head torn from her shoulders by the underbelly of a rampaging truck--

Deep breath, Calliope. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, forgive me.

When you read this, what will you do?

Will you laugh? Shake your head? Wonder who I was?

Will you look me up online?

Will you wish you could hold me, touch my cheek, tell me it will all be okay?

Will you?

You'll be too late.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 12 2006, 03:48 PM


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Posts: 289
Member No.: 1,855
Joined: 4-August 06



Ugh.

Maudlin, party of one? Your table is ready.

They let me sleep for 12 hours. Now my whole body hurts, everything catching up to me. I'm waiting for the world to settle down a bit before coming out of this tent.

Yeah, right.

More later.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 13 2006, 11:45 PM


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Posts: 289
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Joined: 4-August 06



Reflections in e minor

Half the kids here aren't old enough to drink. At least not by previous legal standards.

They call it 'Old Law.'

I'm inclined to agree. Anyone old enough to put bullets in the face of a rotting cop is old enough to drink that memory into some semblance of rational acceptability. I don't tell them I'm a cop after they fill me in on the details of that little soiree-- only because they don't say it with any sort of glory-seeking cavoire-faire; just the staid, matter-of-fact delivery of those who have seen it, known it, and accepted it as history.

A couple of the boys have developed a 24 hour crush on me. Meaning, they've known me for 24 hours: I'm fair game.

You want to do it?

Cheek torn from jaw to brow, not a sound, not a sound. Shhh, shhh.

The thought of intimacy right now is about as important as, say, the Daytime emmys. Lowercase, no less.

I think I want to see the ocean.

Commandeer a cruise liner, a group of survivors, load it up and head on out to sea, away form this. Just stay adrift the rest of my days....without having to watch my back, only watching the sand run out of the glass...like Anna Nalick wrote, an hourglass glued to the table.

Cruise liner. Sure.

Right now, they're playing Worlds of Warcraft on the LAN they have set up and having a blast.

I don't think I remember how to play anymore. Not Warcraft--just play.

So when Genevieve asks if she can braid my hair, I say sure. Why not.

She asks me if I want it up, since I always wear it in a ponytail. Like Princess Leia, I ask. Coruscant turns from his game for just a moment and says

"What was that?"

Genevieve says No, less cinnamon roll, more latticework. Think waffles, she says, and for some reason that makes me laugh.

I'm wiping tears from my eyes long after I've stopped laughing, wondering how I've come to be here, where I am, and where I'm going.

I was older when I got here.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 14 2006, 02:22 AM


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Group: Members
Posts: 289
Member No.: 1,855
Joined: 4-August 06



In brief.

Everyone's alive.

Well, all but present company excepted.

They came mid-day, sounding like rainfall. It was their bare feet on the concrete outside, running at high speed to crash against the front doors.

This episode furthers my sense that the tide is turning, and not in the favor of pink-meat homo-sapiens.

First, silent assaults. Now, salvos of bodies at high speed slamming obvious ports of entry, forcing attention.

On a whim, I called Legolas (yeah, that's what he calls himself 'as homage') and Devlin to the rear wing. Coruscant looked at me like I were some sort of strange crustacean but ultimately, within about ten seconds, conceded.

Forty minutes later we had 17 repelled bodies strewn about the rear loading dock in varying states of dismembered array.

There is only one, one HUGE looming problem I see impending:

1. They've begun to organize.
2. They've learned silence.
3. They've learned distraction.

Which, ultimately, means 4. They're implementing leadership. If they can implement a tactical assault, they have a leader. I'll bet everything I've ever called valuable on it.

On second thought, that's not a great bet.

Regardless, this isn't my biggest problem. No. My biggest problem is the trend I'm seeing.

It's not structure that bugs me.

It's the understanding that the bellowing, shuffling dead are learning surprise is the greatest initiative.

And, God help us all, they're implementing the knowledge.


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Calliope Grieve
Posted: Aug 16 2006, 01:53 PM


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Group: Members
Posts: 289
Member No.: 1,855
Joined: 4-August 06



I can’t help but envy them and their Kevin Smith/X-Box 360 mentality.

“Come back, you’ll always be one of us!” Coruscant nodded solemnly, still trying to pull off a Commanding Tone.

I thanked them genuinely and, genuinely, said I probably would.

Putting distance between me and the Medieval Times I took La Brea down to Santa Monica and cut west, jogging back and forth on parallel streets but counting on the mentality that most would avoid the main strips due to the obvious exposure factor. It’s been a while, though—the main hordes have gone off toward the metro areas rather than the trendsetters’ café-and-boutique-lined streets. I avoided the mall at La Cienega, cutting up to Wilshire and then Sunset and then back down once I got into the Hills, then down again through the semi-urban crawl that is Santa Monica proper—down, into the fog.

Plodding from the early morning sea the fog is a pallor of grey-blue covering everything inland for about two miles. In that perimeter, visibility is about a hundred yards.

I could only hear the engine through my helmet so I killed it, rolling for a while, then propelling myself manually, drifting along the deserted side street running parallel to the main drag.

The mind plays tricks on you in the fog. I kept believing I heard the ocean just ahead, knowing the impossibility of that in that I’d just crossed under the 405 freeway, still some distance from even smelling the sea…which is why I was very skeptical when I heard someone speaking until it grew more intelligible as I pushed the bike along:

--ough to eat
Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
Where you can speak out loud
About your doubts and fears
And what's more no-one ever disappears
You never hear their standard issue kicking in your door.
You can relax on both sides of the tracks
And maniacs don't blow holes in bandsmen by remote control
And everyone has recourse to the law
And no-one kills the children anymore


Pink Floyd. “The Gunner’s Dream." Quite clear, drifting out from the mist, not sung but spoken like a true beat poet...

I thought of someone taking a huge shower and I’d just opened their bathroom door…


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