Comma crash lands on a planet made of unread books and promptly gets pronounced as a Philosopher King
BARGE Happiness: what is it? where do you find it? And how do you know when you have got it? As a humble writer-bot, I have no capacity to answer these questions at any grand cosmic level but when it comes to our friends Comma and Osta I can surely venture to say that happiness is not found when stranded on a planet made out of your own unsold books while you wait to be devoured by a huge monstrous book worm. The books didn’t make for a good running surface. Comma and Osta slipped and wobbled all over them as they tried to escape the huge rippling worm. They had the good sense not to look back to see how incredibly monstrous and disgustingly ugly the worm’s gaping mouth was but they didn’t have the good sense just to shut up and concentrate on running away from it. ‘But is that its head or its ass?’ Asked Osta ‘Who cares?!’ ‘See, if that’s it’s head then we’re definitely in trouble but if that’s its ass, then it might have already passed us, and we can just pull up a chair, pour a drink and wаtch it go on past.’ ‘What do you wanna do? Go and tickle it in the middle and see which part of it laughs?’ Just then, and with a bright flash of incandescent green light, a screeching noise, and a cavernous thump, the bookworm suddenly sank heavily into the ground. It groaned and growled for a few moments and then fell silent and dead. The Earthlings stopped still and looked at the huge corpse, wondering what had killed it. ‘Perhaps it read our book,’ said Osta, rather out of breath from all the running. Comma then saw a green spark in the sky and the multiple tentacles of a descending alien figure. The figure was clad with a jet pack and it landed right in front of Osta and Comma. The alien then whipped off its helmet, folded away most of its tentacles and then promplty vomited all over Comma. ‘Ohhh, what the hell?!’ This was not the response the alien was expecting. So he puked all over Osta too. ‘Jesus! Gross! Yuck! What’s with the puking? You got a stomach problem, man? Or are you just incredibly rude?’ The alien puked a couple more times but Comma and Osta jumped quickly out of the flight path; the chunderous material splattering against the books on the ground. Comma noticed that the alien was gesticulating with a couple of its tentacles every time it puked. She imagined that it was actually trying to communicate with them by these means. ‘Communicating by puking?’ Asked Osta. ‘What sort of sick language is that?’ ‘Point the translator at him,’ said Comma. With a whirr and a beep the translator started working whilst Osta tried to catch one of the alien’s smaller streams of puke with it. Somewhat imperfectly at first, but with rapidly improving comprehensibility, a translation eventually emerged from the device. ‘Why don’t you lick up my puke?’ said the alien. ‘What?’ replied Osta. ‘Why don’t you lick up my puke?’ said the alien, again. Comma told the alien as apologetically as she knew how that neither she nor Osta were really into ‘puke-licking’. ‘How can you understand what I am saying if you don’t taste the chemical words I spit at you?’ Comma said that her species didn’t taste words and she advised the alien that they can communicate through the electronic translator. ‘Oh--you are Teetlers!’ puked the alien. The Earthlings frowned, having no idea what the rather ugly alien was rambling on about. The alien didn’t care too much if they understood or not but he was annoyed enough about their presence to elaborate a little. ‘You are non-ethanols, yes? Water-bloods, yes?’ Still Comma and Osta frowned, as though someone had offered them a free airline ticket to Iraq. ‘Oh fucking Lord,’ spat the alien. ‘I can flap my lips like you if you want, yes? Instead of vomit-speaking.’ Comma and Osta both relaxed a little and said they would very much appreciate that. The alien stopped puking and just muttered puke like sounds from an ill-defined organ somewhere near its neck. ‘So, what the hell ya doing on my barge?’ ‘What do ya mean?’ Osta questioned. The alien glowered at him and then yelled about everybody being on his private barge. ‘Well what are our books doing here, then?’ Osta asked. ‘Your books! They are my frigging books!’ yelled the alien. ‘I bought them!’ ‘Okay then’, asked Comma. ‘What are your books doing here?’ ‘I’m moving them!’ yelled the alien. Who seemed incapable of using verbal messages below 70 decibels. It was preferable to the puking, though. ‘I am moving them to a place called…um…called…some bloody unpronounceable name…Feedelgobblar. Or Fusaljobber’. ‘You mean Foozl Gibbl?’ ‘Yeah,’ muttered the alien, looking somewhat surprised that Osta knew. ‘The planet with the Webster creatures?’ ‘Yes,’ said the alien with suspicion and anger. He then started quizzing Osta how come he knew about the Webster creatures, accusing him of being a Teetler Know-It-All in the process. ‘Well—everybody has heard of Foozl Gibbl’ ‘I haven’t,’ said Comma, rather unhelpfully. ‘Yeah, she hasn’t!’ yelled the alien, one tentacle pointing at Comma, one tentacle pointing at Osta and the other six or seven perched accusingly on its own hips. ‘You be some sort of Teetler spy, Mister?! You be after my books, hmm?!’ Osta said that he didn’t know what the alien was talking about. This made it growl, which, although, loud and menacing to Osta and Comma, was better than being disembowelled right there and then; something which also crossed the alien’s mind. ‘So what about this Foozl Gibbl place?’ asked Comma with a confidence betraying the fact she didn’t know she was dicing with death. The alien looked at Comma with a start but her disengaging smile calmed it down somewhat. The alien muttered a bit then leapt into an explanation about Foozl Gibbl being a gas giant planet whose intelligent creatures float around in the atmosphere living off the flesh of bibliophages. ‘Bibliophages?’ Asked Comma. Normally, the alien liked neither being questioned nor having to repeat itself but it seemed to be rather warming to Comma. Instead of growling it sort of sighed angrily. ‘Bookworms, Comma.’ said Osta. ‘Yeah, bookworms!’ said the alien as it turned to scowl once more at Osta. ‘You really seem to know a lot, Teetler!’ ‘Do I?’ ‘Watch yourself, you water-blood! You are beginning to irritate me!’ Osta asked why. ‘There you go again!’ Yelled the alien, its tentacles whirling above Osta’s head. ‘Irritating me! Are you some kind of professional champion irritator or something?’ Osta began to answer but Comma motioned to him to keep quiet. She then asked the alien for more information regarding all their books. ‘All my books, you mean!’ corrected the alien. ‘Well, I’ll tell you,’ it said pointing at Comma. ‘You are nice, you are. For a water blood, that is. See what I do, you see, is…ah….’ And it stopped talking momentarily scratching certain parts of its body rather immodestly. ‘Do really want to know?’ it continued. ‘Yes,’ said Comma ‘Okay, I won’t tell you. If you don’t want know!’ ‘We do!’ said Comma. The alien then turned sharply and began walking away, yelling out that he was going back to his ship. Comma and Osta watched it go. The alien then yelled back at them telling Comma she could come too. ‘Unless you like being eaten by great ugly bookworms, ha!’ it said. The Earthlings began to follow the alien. ‘Jeeze. This guy is stuck on the crazy side of town,’ whispered Osta to Comma. ‘What the fuck is wrong with him?’ Comma suggested that the alien was drunk. ‘Drunk?’ ‘Yeah. Drunk. Broken sentences, paranoia, wild mood-swings, all the vomiting. Drunk!’ Osta nodded in agreement, realising that the alien was probably a full-time drunk; one who had alcohol for blood. This was, Osta surmised, why the alien referred to the both of them as a Teetlers, a shortened phrase for Tea-Totaler. “Ha, if only he knew,” said Comma. After trudging over a few million books, they all arrived at a space ship. A door buzzed open and the alien stepped up into a purple misty entrance way. Comma and Osta followed it. ‘You two can make yourselves at home,’ said the alien. ‘What?’ asked Osta with a smirk, ‘Me too?’ ‘Of course, my old friend.’ The alien wrapped a couple of tentacles around Osta’s shoulders whilst patting his chest with one more. ‘We’ve been through a lot together, you and me,’ it said, ‘…in the last few minutes.’ ‘Aha,’ muttered Osta. His attention was then drawn to all the hundreds of empty wine bottles scattered about the ship and also to a large chemical machine that looked like a distillery. ‘That’s the engine,’ said the alien. It then turned to stand close to Comma. ‘You never see such a big engine before, I bet, little girlie. Very very big one? Yes?’ ‘Yes,’ whimpered Comma as she slipped away from the alien’s drunken breath. The alien yelled for Osta to chuck over some more bottles, telling them both that the engine needs more fuel. Osta grabbed a couple of bottles from a nearby rack, half-full ones as it happened, and tossed them to the alien. The alien in turn tossed them into a fiery part of the engine. ‘Wow, that’s cool your space ship runs on alcohol,’ said Osta. ‘No--it runs on broken glass,’ smirked the alien. ‘Broken glass?’ ‘No, I am yanking your doodah!’ said the creature loudly, spitting out a splinter of vomit as it did so. ‘Have you ever heard of a spaceship running on broken glass? That’s impossible. Its feet would bleed.’ Osta didn’t know what to say to that. He tapped the translator to see if it was working properly. Comma on the other hand used the pause in conversation to enquire as to the alien’s name. It answered by vomiting out an incomprehensible liquid noise. ‘Ah sorry, I didn’t catch that.’ ‘I did,’ said Osta wiping off vomit spittle from his cheek. The alien then pronounced its name again, this time a tiny bit more audibly. ‘Wowomey?’ guessed Comma. ‘No!’ said the creature and it vomited again. ‘Yoomey?’ asked Comma hopefully. ‘No!’ yelled the creature. And it tried again. ‘Owomey?’ asked Comma. ‘NO!’ it hollored, and, in an act of infinite patience for one of its species, it vomited out its name yet again. ‘Oh. Riiiight,’ said Comma not any closer to understanding the name but thinking ‘Oomey’ might be as good as anything. ‘So, why, um…Oomey…are you going to this Foozl Gibbl place with all these billions of books?’ ‘Why not?!’ said the alien, ‘You gotta any better ideas?!’ Osta intervened in the interest of what he believed to be clarity, telling Comma that the Webster creatures of Foozl Gibbl eat bibliophages. ‘What?’ said Comma not understanding Osta at all. ‘The place where the alien is heading, right?’ Comma nodded. ‘Well, the aliens that live there eat bookworms’ said Osta. Comma nodded some more. ‘But the book worms don’t grow on their planet, right? ‘Why not?’ She asked. ‘No books there. The Webster creatures just don’t read. They aint got no eyes. So they have to import their books.’ ‘Except,’ interrupted the Oomey alien, ‘…it’s a whole lot more profitable for me to import the bookworms rather than the books. They sell at a much higher price!’ Oomey then leapt into a more detailed explanation of his trading practices. ‘So what you have to do then, if you are importer--I’m an importer you see, did I tell you that? Well I am!-- what you have to do is buy a whole bunch of books, like I did! You see, out the window, there’s lots of books, see?! A monstrous ball of books!’ ‘Yeah, we were there. Remember?’ ‘And then,’ carried on Oomey, ‘you infuse the ball of books with some bookworm eggs. In a couple of weeks, they all hatch, little baby book worms, then they eat some books and get bigger. Then they make the sex and have lotsa eggs. The eggs hatch more baby bookworms which eat their own books and grow and grow and make the sex themselves.’ ‘Yes yes,’ said Osta ‘And so on and so on, until, by the time you get to Fizzell Bubble…’ ‘Foozl Gibbl,’ Osta corrected. ‘ …instead of hauling great pointless ball of low-value books,’ carried on Oomey, ‘…you’re hauling a great gorgeous toiling wriggling ball of high-value book worms!’ ‘So this alien aint a Webster creature, himself?’ whispered Comma to Osta. ‘I don’t know what he is,’ replied Osta. Comma was curious about one more thing. She wondered why Oomey killed one of the bookworms if it was worth so much. Osta suggested that the alien did it to save their lives but Oomey just laughed; vomiting and ejaculating everywhere in ecstatic mockery. ‘Not bloody likely, Teetler. It was just too early! I have to time it just right, see? Have to arrive at Foozl ‘thingy’ at the precise peak of maximum wormation. Otherwise the worms are all skinny and wrinkly and eating each other. It becomes a horrible mess. No good when that happens. You need ‘em big and bubbly!’ Comma and Osta accepted all this on trust and nodded politely. ‘Remember this economic law’, Oomey stated, ‘big and bubbly makes you rich! Thin and wrinkly, just a bitch!’ ‘Sounds good’ said Osta. Oomey turned to stare at him viciously when he said this like Osta just told him to fuck his cat. ‘I guess,’ Osta added hesitantly. ‘Nah, it’s not really! It’s stupid!’ carried on Oomey. ‘Big and bubbly worms don’t make you any richer than small wrinkly ones.’ ‘So why say it?’ asked Comma. ‘Just habit I guess,’ said Oomey and a tentacle went to his face to rub his eyes. He then announced that he was going to have a little nap and promptly fell unconscious to the floor. Osta and Comma looked at each other in bemusement. HABITS Habits, even stupid ones, seem to eventuate in a person’s life through discipline. Or, at least, this is what the Plutonian spiritual leader Meciar Mushkar always said. Mushkar did not say such things in order to venerate habits or celebrate discipline, he said it because he had a great disdain for the both of them; believing that habits are the preserve of brainless ritual and discipline; the domain of the timid spirit. ‘The Tyranny of Discipline’, as he liked to sloganeer, could only be overcome by “never doing anything habitual”. Never brush your teeth at the same time of day, for instance. Indeed, never use a toothbrush at all, if you don’t want to. Better still, use a toothbrush in a completely non-toothbrushy manner. For sexual stimulation, say, or for jamming the photocopier at work so those important documents don’t go out to where they’re supposed to. By doing this, by fostering anti-habitual behaviour and by never doing anything in quite the way it was supposed to be done, Mushkar believed, that humanity would be liberated from the tyranny of discipline, freed from the dogmatic purpose written into our sad and ordered daily lives, and then transformed into agents of creative anarchy. Just when he was getting to be really popular, just when he was reaching the highest states of extreme indiscipline in his own life, Mushkar was unexpectedly taken from the world. The events of his demise were never fully explained but some reports suggest he was mauled to death by an angry photocopier when he tried to use it to brush his teeth. VOMITOPIA The walls of his Oomey’s spacecraft shook violently. It wasn’t the engine--it was Oomey’s snoring. Osta and Comma did there best to ignore him by puzzling through their book once again but after a wee while Oomey awoke from some drunken nightmare screaming abuse at the top of his lungs. When he recovered his faculties he then started screaming at the Earthlings. ‘Ugh, it just occurred to me! I told you who I am but who are you?!’ ‘Ahh…we’re…’ ‘Not you smartass!’ yelled Oomey at Osta. ‘I don’t care who you are! But who are you, sweet girlie?’ it said to Comma. She hesitantly told the drunken alien her name. Oomey seemed highly impressed, rubbing his belly with a bunch of tentacles whilst reaching out with another to stroke Comma’s face. ‘And what do you do?’ asked Oomey in the softest tone he had yet managed. ‘Um…’ said Comma ‘I’m a philosopher’. ‘Ohhh!’ Oomey grunted with satisfaction. ‘We’re sociologists of thought, actually,’ interdicted Osta. ‘Philosophers are all screwed in…’ ‘Did I ask you, smart ass?!’ yelled Oomey as he pointed all of his tentacles at Osta. Osta shook his head and said no. ‘See, I’m trying to be nice to you but you’re always irritating me with your wise-ass comments.’ ‘My apologises,’ said Osta. ‘What’s that supposed mean?!’ yelled Oomey in a rage; tentacles flailing and vomit flying all over the place. ‘He says he is sorry,’ said Comma. Oomey grunted then calmed down whilst Osta wiped away the specks of stinking vomit from his cheeks again. ‘Uhh! Soooo? Philosopher you say, little girlie?’ ‘Aha,’ murmured Comma. ‘Do I know any of your work?’ ‘You should do,’ interrupted Osta, ‘you’re hauling it behind your ship.’ Oomey looked at Osta with rage in his eyes but it subsided when he noted what he said and he looked out the window. He then asked Comma if the book was written by her. She nodded and this prompted Oomey to suddenly become interested in the book. ‘I should read some of it, eh? I bet it’s very philoso…um…philosokokical, eh?’ Oomey said as he patted Comma on the head. ‘Eh? Eh? Am I right?’ Comma sort of nodded an agreement and Oomey yelled abuse at Osta for not telling him that Comma was such a famous philosopher. Osta shrugged. ‘Hey, Teetler?’ ‘Who, me?’ asked Osta ‘Throw me a copy. I wanna read what this young philosophiker has to say.’ ‘You won’t understand it,’ declared Osta. ‘Why not?!’ Am I not smart enough? Are space aliens like me not intelligent as ugly-mutt irritating freakoes like you!’ ‘No no--it’s just that it doesn’t make any sense.’ Oomey said he would be the judge of that and he promptly left Comma and Osta to read the book whilst sitting on the ship’s loo. The search for happiness has, of course, been a pursuit of a myriad of species throughout the multifarious planes of thought that sentient beings have carved throughout history. The Bell Frogs of Gergiss for instance believe that happiness can only be found in a deep dark sewer where they are free to compose melodious croaking songs for their loved ones. The Balleen Maggots of the planet Zoog, on the other hand, believe true happiness can only be found by attaching bicycles pumps to your best friend’s butt, then pumping away vigourously for half-an hour and watching them rise fifty feet in the air before exploding. Oomey also had his own peculiar take on happiness; it was found in the sale of bookworms. Well, at least that’s what he thought before he read Comma and Osta’s book. After finishing this book things were very different; his views on happiness had gone through a dramatic paradigm shift. ‘This is wonderful,’ spat Oomey. ‘Wonderful, profound, cosmic stuff,’ he chundered. He then went on to puke, chuck and spew on about how it had instantaneously changed his view on life. Osta asked how that was possible since it didn’t make any sense but this didn’t seem to influence Oomey’s opinion. ‘It makes perfect beautiful wonderful sense,’ said Oomey, speaking a little quieter than usual. ‘Yeah but you’re drunk,’ said Osta. But Oomey didn’t understand the concept. Comma then whispered to Osta that perhaps that’s why Oomey found the book so wonderful. To sober creatures it is just rambling intoxicated verbiage but to an alien that’s permanently drunk, it makes perfect sense. Osta pondered this possibility and then asked Oomey what the book told him about happiness. ‘It didn’t tell me anything,’ said Oomey, ‘I had to read it!’ Osta rolled his eyes but then Oomey went on to say that it was not just he who liked the book; that in fact he beamed the whole book off to his home planet and, according to Oomey, everybody there loved it. ‘Except the rock creatures,’ he added after a moment of thought. ‘They were just too stoned!’ Comma and Osta were a little confused and somewhat slightly surprised, especially when Oomey said he had made a a huge amount of money by selling all the books on his barge. ‘What? Our books?’ asked Osta. ‘My books!’ vomited Oomey. He then went on to explain that the governors of his planet wanted Comma to visit. Comma became suspicious, though, when Oomey announced the role they wanted her to take on. ‘You are to be our Philosopher King!’ ‘You mean Philosopher Queen,’ corrected Osta. ‘You’re so damn irritating, Teetler!’ Comma tried to wriggle out of the invitation as politely as she could. ‘I would love to be your philosopher Queen’ she said. ‘King!’ yelled Oomey. ‘Yes. But we’re a bit busy…’ ‘Noooooo!’ yelled Oomey. ‘You have not understood. You must come with me!’ Comma starkly declared that she didn’t want to. Oomey might have been upset at this declaration but he was in the possession of something that Comma wasn’t; a large laser rifle--at the point of which he was suggesting that Comma needn’t worry so much since she’d probably end up liking his planet. ‘They all speak like me there!’ said Oomey. ‘We call it Vomitopia.’ ‘Sounds great’, said Osta with a smile. As nice as Oomey was trying to be to Comma, the invitation was obviously not something he would allow to be refused. Osta tried to intervene, quoting several galactic laws against kidnapping and forced labour but to no avail. ‘Oh blah blah blah!’ yelled Oomey. ‘Why don’t you just shut up! You are driving me sane!’ ‘Just calm down’ said Osta. ‘I AM FUCKING CALM!’ yelled Oomey as loudly as a jet engine. Osta ventured to suggest to Oomey that he wasn’t really calm. For his efforts he got shouted at again. ‘YOU CALLING ME A LIAR!?’ ‘No. I just…’ Oomey interrupted to propose to Osta that they go settle the dispute outside. ‘One on one, hmm?!’ Oomey grunted loudly. ‘You and me and this gun?! Would that make you happy?!’ Although Osta didn’t verbalise an answer to this question, he was of the opinion that he was probably not very happy at this point in time. Despite this, and despite the fact that whatever he said seemed to make Oomey even angrier, Osta’s brain was actually puzzling busily through the concept of happiness. For instance, he’d quickly come to realize that while happiness might be conceived by some as an internal contentment with one’s life, other beings obviously considered happiness to be something else, something external, something to be fought for, to be discovered and conquered. From this perspective, to be content with your lot in life is to be boring, to lack drive and ambition. Happiness is something for which you must constantly search; since it is this search that you drives your life ever onwards, towards a higher state of being. If the pursuit of happiness is a struggle--some sort of outward battle to win against the external world and those who inhabit it--then, sadly, perhaps we have to admit that the happiness of one person might only be won at the expense of another. At the point of a gun Osta was led into an ejection airlock cabin. Osta asked what was going on and his captor told him he was going to be thrown outside. Osta was a tad confused since he had just heard Oomey raving on about having a ‘one-on-one’ battle outside. ‘Yeah but then I might lose,’ said Oomey. ‘And that would not make me happy. You dying; that does make me happy.’ The airlock door whooshed closed as Osta attempted to tell Oomey that killing someone seemed a rather selfish and messy journey toward happiness. ‘I’m not really going to kill you,’ said Oomey. ‘Oh?’ ‘No!’ yelled Oomey. The universe is! Aint my fault you can’t survive out in space.’ Osta thought this was rather illogical but he was having a hard time convincing Oomey. ‘Ah, quit ya pussy-aching!’ spat Oomey. ‘Think of it like this. You—my ugly little Teetler—are about to do battle with the infinite void; to struggle with the great cosmic emptiness. If you succeed, well, you be a better man for it. What doesn’t kill ya, makes ya stronger.’ ‘But it will kill me,’ protested Osta. ‘Aha. Life’s a bitch and then you die.’ ‘Yeah, dying is okay,’ said Osta. ‘I’ve got nothing against death--some of my best friends are dead--but it is the dying right bloody now I’m not so fond of.’ ‘Talk to the tentacle,’ yelled Oomey. ‘cause my facial lobes don’t give a shit’. He then pressed a few buttons. Within a few seconds a robotic voice started a countdown. Osta gulped in some air. ‘Spray to your Jesus God, ha ha ha!’ ‘You mean pray’ ‘What the fuck ever,’ vomited Oomey When the countdown reached zero, though, nothing happened. The airlock doors all stayed shut and only a slight whirring noise could be heard. Through the thick glass screen between them, Oomey looked at Osta and Osta looked at Oomey. ‘Woops, wrong button. I just turned on the air conditioning. Which button opens the airlock?’ muttered Oomey as his tentacles tapped various buttons. Oomey then had the nerve to ask Osta if there was a button on his side of the door. ‘No, there aint no buttons in here,’ said Osta whilst staring at a big red one with the words “Open Airlock” written on it. Oomey cussed for a few moments and Osta suggested that the absence of any button might be for health and safety reasons. ‘Ah, here it is!’ grunted Oomey. ‘I’ve been standing on the fucker the whole time!’ Oomey punched the button and the countdown began again. DEAD Many profound thinkers throughout the ages have believed that we cannot really understand death, since, to do so, one needs to be dead. And by then it is too late to tell anyone about it. However, the recently re-discovered web-postings of Tedor Harperfark shed some new light on the matter. Harperfark was a glue-sniffing grave-digger and afterlife hobbyist, and he worked out that communication with dead people is quite possible; you just have to have the right connections and pay the right fees. None of us involved in the publication you are now looking at have such connections (or such funds) but in lieu of this we reproduce the following Radio Galaxy conversation between a dead person and the well-known robo-reporter Randy Ramdroid.. RANDY RAMDROID: ‘Welcome, please take a seat.’ DEAD GUY: ‘Ah, maybe I will when I leave.’ RR: ‘What? No, I mean please sit down.’ DG: ‘Oh.’ RR: ‘Now, because this man doesn’t wish to provoke the ire of the Heaven’s Gate Angels who forbid all such communications, we shall not announce the real name of this dead person but merely refer to him as John Smith.’ DG: ‘No, please can you call me something else--John Smith’s my real name. RR: ‘It is? Sorry. What were the chances of that? So what would you like me to call you then?’ DG: ‘How about Plutonius the Magnificent’ RR: ‘Well—it’s a bit long-winded. Can’t I just call you Dead Guy?’ DG: ‘Yeah okay. But please can you edit out all references to John Smith.’ RR: ‘Of course, no one will find out about that.’ DG: ‘Good.’ RR: ‘So, Dead Guy, first of all, what’s it like being dead?’ DG: ‘Well, it was quite interesting in the beginning; meeting old friends, going strange places, but you soon get used to all that and even become a little bored.’ RR: ‘Yes but what is it like physically? I mean, you are here looking quite well--a little ghostly perhaps--but generally looking quite chipper. So is being dead a lot like being alive? Do you physically exist?’ DG: ‘Well, I’ve never really worked it out. You just sorta feel like you’re being transformed into weightless gas and then you bubble up through the material world like farts in a bathtub.’ RR ‘Aha. But what of God? Is there a God?’ DG: ‘Well, I haven’t met God yet. But I’ve only been dead for a few years’. RR: ‘A few years?’ DG: ‘Yeah, there’s a long waiting list.’ RR: ‘Because God’s busy running the universe?’ DG: ‘No, ‘cause God is a Spurs fan. Follows them around religiously.’ RR: ‘A Spurs fan?’ DG: ‘Yeah. You wouldn’t know it would you? Anyways, some people have waited so long to see God, they just give up.’ RR: ‘Give up?’ DG: ‘Give up believing. Even the Spurs fans! But it’s okay. The Almighty’s pretty laid back about the whole thing, still pretty much got his feet on the ground. Or maybe her feet on the ground, there’s still a debate about that.’ RR ‘Oh Okay. Now, can I ask you something personal?’ DG: ‘Sure. Shoot’ RR: ‘How did you, yourself, die?’ DG: ‘I fell off a cliff.’ RR: ‘Ah--that must’ve ruined your day.’ DG: ‘Yeah, it really killed me. Actually, I did it on purpose, but! You see, I was so angered and disappointed with modern society; you know, all the wars, the pollution, the dying rainforests, the generally disgusting way that humanity treats nature. So I decided to kill myself as a sort of protest. I found myself a lovely cliff top lookout from where I could see the great pristine beauty of nature: there were mountains, forests, rivers…it was totally awesome. Then in a fit of joy, I leapt off the cliff.’ RR ‘Yeah?’ DG: ‘Yeah! I tumbled through the fresh mountain air, past the mossy cliff walls toward the Earth, thinking ‘this is how it should be, this is how I should die’, in the serenity of nature. But then I thumped right into a supermarket trolley on the valley floor. Some assface must’ve thrown it off the cliff. I thought my death was going to mean something, make a statement about the glory and purity of nature, but with the metal wires of a shopping trolley wrapped around my face, it sorta ruined the image’. RR: ‘Okay. Well, thanks for coming in and sharing with us your experiences of death. I hope we have a chance to do it again sometime.’ DEAD GUY: ‘We will, buddy. We will.’ ALIVE The countdown suddenly stopped. Oomey’s tentacles tapped on the thick glass screen to get Osta’s attention. ‘Hey, Teetler. You a philosopher right?’ Osta nodded his head. ‘You read lots of books and shit?’ asked Oomey. ‘Ahh. Just books.’ ‘You see,’ carried on Oomey. ‘We’ll be needing a new Head Librarian on Vomitopia; to serve the new Philosopher King. You want the job?’ ‘Do I get to live?’ ‘Aha’ ‘I’ll do it.’ ‘Though it’s not much of a life,’ vomited Oomey. ‘You’ll be hidden away in a forgotten library surrounded by useless dusty books and annoying rocks. Not really living if you ask me.’ KING With great pomposity and more than a little insobriety, the Royal Selection Committee of Vomitopia assembled upon the balcony of the Central Palace. They vomited joyfully en masse, commanding a few foot soldiers to toot weird trumpet-like things and bang on strange gong-like things, and, in a few seconds, the new Philosopher King of Vomitopia appeared beside them. In front of a crowd of a million Vomitopians, Comma began her inaugural speech. ‘You’re a bunch of brainless drunken mentals!’ The crowd cheered rapturously. Her aides, one of them being Oomey, leant into her face to vomit at her gently, indicating to her they thought her speech was damned fantastic. With continued pomposity—tumpet and gong things included--the Royal Selection Committee proceeded to present to their new King, the triangular feast of the Three Mystery Foods. ‘Firstly, the curry!’ announced the Royal Chef with great enthusiasm. ‘Not a single item in itself…’ said Oomey to Comma, ‘…but a range of spicy orange foods accidentally invented when a chemical weapons factory blew up near a kindergarten.’ ‘Secondly, the diced carrot’ aid the Chef ‘Which is…’ еxplained Oomey, ‘…the most mysterious of the five mystery foods for no one knows where it comes from but it always seems to be lying there on the carpet the following morning.’
‘Thirdly, the Hair of the Dog!’
‘Yeah yeah,’ said Comma, ‘I think I know what that is,’ said Comma in the hope that Oomey wouldn’t lean into her and spit out an explanation.
‘Yeah, it’s the hair of a dog’ said Oomey. ‘Any dog will do. This one, for example.’ Oomey then grabbed a handful of hair from a passing mutt. Both Comma and the dog yelped loudly as Oomey wrestled a handful of hair from the dog’s ass and shoved it in Comma’s face. ‘Masticate, young King! Masticate and enjoy!’ said the chef to Comma. ‘What? Right here in front of every one?’ asked Comma. ‘Ha ha! He means chew! Chew your food!’ Yelled Oomey. ‘And hurry up! You don’t want to offend the chef, eh?’ Comma asked why and the chef fixed her a smile somewhat like the scar left over from an appendix operation. ‘He might not spit in your food, for one thing,’ saod Oopmey. Comma looked furtively at the array of grotesque dishes in front of her. She looked back at the drooling mouths of her captors, then slowly lifted the what she reckoned to be the least disgusting foodstuff into her mouth. She munched down on it, agonising over the vial taste and rude texture. She swallowed it and almost gagged. She then asked what she had just eaten. ‘Oh,’ said Oomey looking at Comma’s fork, ‘some dead thing,’ he said. ‘Chew, Royal King,’ spat out the chef. ‘Yeah, chew like your life depended on it!’ said Oomey as he menacingly stroked her face with a couple of his tentacles. Comma chewed. ‘Ewwwww. It’s enough to make ya sick.’ ‘That’s the idea,’ said the chef laughing and spitting. Comma couldn’t help but ask for a rough estimate of how many times these meals have passed through somebody’s guts. ‘Only once, of course,’ answered the chef, indignantly. ‘Vomiting is language. Not food,’ said the chef. ‘Sure we sometimes garnish our food with spit--but we never eat our own words.’ ‘Vomiting’s a very expressive language’ said Oomey as he snapped his tentacles to order more food and gong-banging. ‘Lots of feeling in it! You should try it.’ Comma said she’d rather keep it all pent up inside. ‘Well, you gonna have to say something soon’, said Oomey. ‘You’re due to give an inspirational talk this afternoon.’ ‘Ha! Let me get this straight--after abducting me, imprisoning me, then spitting in my hair and barfing on my face a hundred times, you now want me to be your motivationalspeaker?’ ‘That’s why I brought you here!’ vomited Oomey. ‘Uh’ muttered Comma ‘What sort of person are you?’ WINNERS ‘What sort of person are you?’ may seem like a reletively unimportant question but if Comma had asked Osta, instead of a Vomitopian, she’d have gotten very detailed response since Osta had developed a five-type classification system which he used to describe every sentient creature he’d ever met. The first category of creatures were the winners. The winners were the creatures at the top of the social heap; the leaders of worlds, the presidents of states, the CEOs of corporations, along with royal families and megamillion dollar film stars and sportstars. Actually, despite Comma’s temporary majestic status, Osta would argue we really shouldn’t bother too much with this category, since no body reading or writing this publication is likely to belong to it. Despite our various ambitions to succeed, only an infinitesimal percentage of creatures will ever realise success at this level. Sure, film stars from snot-decayed planets occasionally stumble upon galactic fortune, and sports creatures that knew nothing but abject poverty as larvae go on to win interplanetary championships. But it is such a mind bogglingly improbable event that this will ever happen to you or me that we might as well forget about it. For every Grammy-award winner in a star system, for every Olympian gold medalist in the galaxy, there are sixteen billion trillion losers. In fact it’s been calculated that there’s a greater chance of being run over in the street by a submarine than there is of achieving success at this level. The annoying thing is those who have made it to the top did so only because they were originally of high status anyway. Consider, for instance, the current President of the Andromeda Galaxy, Borge Goosh the 7th, possibly the most stupid being in the universe yet because his daddy, Borge Goosh the 6th, was rich and powerful, so Borge Goosh the 7th became rich and powerful. Of course, rags to riches stories do exist, but they describe such improbable events that they really are no more than fairy tales. What’s really disgusting, Osta would point out, is that people who have, by good luck, made it to the top, soon turn around to the rest of us and say “see, I made it—you can make it too!” Are such people just morons? Or are they dogmatically attached to the strange belief that we live in a fair and just cosmos? Those that have made it to the top generally overstate the fairness of the universe, since this makes their achievement seem even greater for they can claim they have a unique talent that allowed them to get where they are, along with a bit of hard graft. The question Osta would ask is ‘why don’t winners have the good grace to be honest?’ Almost everyone works hard, almost everyone has talent. The fact that they are at the top is usually just dumb luck. And as the case of Borge Goosh shows--some luck is dumber than others. FACTORIES In front of thousands of litres of flying vomit and hundreds of thousands of wriggling tentacles, Comma stood on a huge rubber cucumber. She was there, in front of yet another enormous crowd of cheering Vomitopians, to inaugurate the new National Rubber Cucumber Factory with a fine philosophical speech. ‘Do your stuff, Comma’, said Oomey. ‘Read from your book!’ Comma looked at the lumpy wet collection of papers in her hands. ‘But this copy hasn’t got any writing in it,’ said Comma. ‘It’s just full of splattered blobs.’ ‘It’s our printed language,’ replied Oomey. ‘What did you expect vomit to look like when it’s written down?’ ‘Oh. That’s sick!’ ‘Yes. That’s right,’ said Oomey. Comma looked at the blobs once more, and although their sticky texture and technicolor appearance may have made for a good abstract painting, there was no way she could actually read it. ‘Just make something up then,’ suggested Oomey. ‘What?’ ‘Just babble anything incomprehensible. They’ll think it means something profound. They’re all drunk remember?’ ‘Okay…um…’ Comma raised her hands and the crowd quietened down to listen to her. Unsure of what to say she just said whatever came into her head. ‘Um…Neither love nor freedom can escape the bondage of…um…’ she said very slowly. ‘...of interpretation’. The Vomitopians stayed quiet and still, seemingly waiting for more. She carried on. ‘Um…why do we struggle so hard to make sense of a senseless world?’ No one answered. ‘I don’t fucking know either’ The crowd murmured a little and Comma became very nervous, spilling out nonsense. ‘Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuckity Fuck Fuck!’ She said. They seemed to like this, so she went on, with a smile, ‘Fuck Fuckity Fuck Fuck, you all fucking suck!’ The crowd suddenly went silent, though, and so her smile waned. After a few tense moments, however, they all began cheering and vomiting and raising their purple tentacles to honour what they thought a fine speech. ‘Your speeches just get better and better’ said Oomey. ‘You’re a true fresh genius; a real innovator!” . “Aha” said Comma. ‘Come on, now. Only 51 more factories to visit today,’ said Oomey. “Oh, great! Can I go to the loo first?” INNOVATORS The second type of creature in Osta’s five-type classification scheme are the innovators. The innovators share the desire to succeed with the winners; they share the universal drive to do well, and to possess all the trappings of power, fame and fortune. However, they have realised, through various life experiences, that they will never ever gain this success--at least not by legitimate means. Therefore, they innovate. If on television or in magazines they see some glamorous sports star bouncing from comet to comet in some hyper-thruster skidoo boots and they feel they want to participate in such glamour then they just go out to some sports store and steal the boots. Similarly, if you are a creature who likes flashy expensive space cars you might decide that company fraud or drug dealing are more reliable methods of getting these things than busying yourself with your present pointless job. Although most people label innovators as thieves or crooks, really they are just alternative entrepreneurs; taking risks to gain what they want in innovative ways. In some way we are all innovators. When we borrow that bunch of envelopes from our workplace, we are innovating our own financial improvement, albeit in a minor way. When we speed through a suddenly changed red light in the space lanes we are merely innovating the success of our own time management schemes. The problem with being an innovator is that you might suffer from some sort of punishment or restriction if your innovation isn’t appreciated, thus allaying your chances to succeed in the future. But you can’t have innovation without risk. ROCKS Comma had made a run for it during her toilet beak and she made straight for the royal library to search for Osta. She found him in a state of apparent serenity, wading his way through thousands of books whilst pleasantly imbibing the odd drink. ‘You want a vodka, King Comma?’ he said to her after she barged anxiously through the library door. ‘No!’ ‘Gin?’. ‘No!’ ‘Whisky? ‘Nooooooooooooo!’ ‘Rum? Ouzo? Tequila?’ ‘Nooooooo!’ said Comma as Osta recited the menu of hard drinks made feely available to him as Chief Librarian. Whilst Comma was no where near any point of happiness in her role as Vomit King of the Universe, Osta was quite satisfied with his new position and he was telling her about his chirpy new buddies, the rocks, who were helping him sort out the catalogue of books. Comma saw the rocks but didn’t understand what he was talking about until she trod on one and it gave out a wincing noise. Osta told Comma they were sentient rocks. She didn’t believe him and took a book and threw it at one of them. It yelped loudly and scurried away. ‘Hey be careful! You just hit the rock’s bottom.’ Comma apologised to the rock and then asked how they could possibly be sentient. Osta explained that it had something to do with them having drugs in their circulatory system. ‘Uppers?’ asked Comma. ‘That’s what I could do with. You think they’ll give us a bit’ ‘Nah--it’s like getting blood out of a stone.’ Osta chatted with the rocks for a few moments, oblivious to Comma’s desire to get the hell off Vomitopia. He explained that the rocks were quite intelligent but just too short to stack the books. ‘Perhaps you should think about hiring a couple of boulders,’ said Comma who could’ve cared less but didn’t know how. The library was rather stunning in the variety of books it housed. Some very old items were present, like the Earthling book The History of World War Seventeen, circa 2108, and some were very new, like Torture Techniques for Deviant Royalty, which, according to the rocks was every bit as menacing as it sounded. Comma continued to press the idea of escape upon Osta; telling him that she was tired of scraping up-chuck out of her hair every time someone on the planet said hello to her. ‘Did you have to bring that up?’ said Osta. ‘Hey—I’m not the one bringing it up—it’s all them sickos out there. Although I’m getting use to hello. At least it’s a nice short phrase, one little burp-spit in your eye, but when they’re all yelling and cheering about how much they love you--all in unison--it just gets really grotesque.’ After Comma had finished, Osta said entirely the wrong thing in response to Comma’s concerns; replying that vomit could be a wonderful thing. He waxed lyrical about grasshoppers in Borneo that munch on distasteful plants and then vomit up all over each other to protect themselves from being eaten by predatory lizards. ‘Ah--the wonder of chunder!’ said Comma sarcastically. ‘Sorry Professor Puke, I aint buying it. Give me the phone!’ Comma had no respect for the horn-headed weirdo known as Semev Hoffella but she’d remembered that he’d told them that they could contact him if they ran into problems with the gadget. As far as she was concerned, being a slave Philosopher King and being chucked-up on every few seconds were definitely problematic, and whilst she didn’t think Semev could or would help much, she could at least enjoy venting her anger. RETREATISTS The third of Osta’s five categories of creature, are what he calls the retreatists. The retreatists do not share the ‘desire to succeed’ of the previous categories, nor do they admire the means by which winners and innovators attempt to gain success. Retreatists, as their name implies, retreat from the morals of achievement, either because they realize it will always evade them, or because they despise the competitive rat-race mentality you have to adopt in order to succeed, crawling on top of other creatures, fighting with colleagues, manipulating friends, and ass-kissing the boss, all in a pointless struggle to lumber haphazardly up the social ladder. Instead of all of this, retreatists lapse into alternative avenues of self-fulfilment, findingcomfort in subculture lifestyles, mind-altering substances and deviant social groups like those of gangs or cults. Retreatists generally have an apolitical approach to life—‘what’s the point of being political’, they would ask, ‘when you can’t change anything anyhow’. Usually retreatists exhibit superficial retaliations against their dominant culture, hippy hair, pierced body parts, tattooed genitalia, but sadly for them even these small token statements of subversion usually get co-opted by mainstream culture and thus retreatists quickly become part of the society they are trying to get away from. GROWL ‘Hello? Yes? Well?’ muttered Semev into the phone. “Comma? Comma who?” An elderly woman who had bought a juice extractor from Semev some years earlier had accidentally stumbled upon him in the streets of Yugga Luvva and she was now trying to get her money back from Semev. Apparently she was not pleased that the extractor had eaten her grandchildren. Whilst the trying to explain to the woman that that item had no guarantee, Coatey had grabbed the woman’s arm and wouldn’t let go. Semev kept telling her not to pull her arm away, since things might get ugly. At the same time, though, Semev had to fend of complaints from Comma. ‘Yes. I remember now; the sexy young Earthling girl. And what was wrong with the gadget’. The woman then started shrieking as Coatey growled menacingly. ‘Excuse me madam. I am trying to have a conversation with another customer. Ah…sorry. So, with the gadget; I’m afraid you will have to ask the manufacturer. Sorry what did you say?’ The old woman was now getting rather scared, yelling for someone to help her. Semev was so surprised with what Comma was telling him that he ignored the tussle between his clothes and the old woman. ‘You mean it actually worked? Wow, who’d have thought it.’ Despite Semev’s advice the woman kept pulling her arm away from the clutches of Coatey’s salivating teeth. This made Coatey more determined not to let go. With panic in her eyes, and with the help of some passers-by, she finally wrenched herself free from Coatey’s jaws--minus her arm. Her screams could be heard a million light years away on Vomitopia. ‘What the hell was that?’ said Osta. Semev dismissed it as street noise and then asked about the gadget again. ‘Well, it sort of worked,’ explained Comma. ‘I mean, it printed lots of books but nobody bought them.’ Semev explained that this wasn’t really anything to do with him but Comma indicated the lack of book sales led on to lots of other undesirable consequences. She recounted the whole story, making sure she insulted Semev’s ‘stupid’ gadget at every possible turn. Semev seemed sympathetic which rather put Comma off her stride. Semev then explained that he could probably help but if only she helped him with something he desired; a trading visa for Earth. ‘If you could be so kind to write a recommendation letter,’ said Semev, ‘then I’ll attach a couple of black hole waste bins to the confirmation message of this call. Just jump through them.’ Comma was only lukewarm on the idea as she relayed the plan to Osta. ‘If we hurl ourselves into a black hole waste bin, we could end up anywhere in the universe’ stated Osta. ‘Yeah, I know, but we’ll be out of this place,’ mulled Comma. Osta shrugged. Comma lectured Semev about how black hole waste bin’s were technological nightmares but she admitted she would be happy to jump through one to end her appointment with the Vomitopia Academy of Sickness that evening. After they had written Semev’s letter of recommendation, Comma and Osta downloaded the waste bin and then steeled themselves for the jump. They knew they would probably end up light years apart. Before they pressed the button, they shared a longing look, something which left them beguiled but hopeful. They agreed to rendezvous again in some Yugga Luvva bar again sometime in the future. Then Comma zapped the waste bin open, kissed Osta goodbye and jumped through the waste bin portal. Osta then bade the rocks farewell and jumped in himself. With a crushing dizzying screech and with a blinding flash of light he suddenly poofed into the ether and appeared in another part of the universe. This part of the universe had talking rocks as well. As Osta recovered he heard the familiar earthy sounds of the rock creatures of his library. He had been transported approximately 15 feet; from the geography section to the classics section. The rocks were happy to see him back so soon and they busily herded at his feet a whole new bunch of books and a few glasses of vodka. He thanked them and set about reading and drinking. Plenty of time for seeing how Comma was getting on later, thought Osta. RITUALISTS Osta’s fourth category of creatures were the ritualists. Ritualists exhibit a strong desire to succeed; sharing the ambition and drive of the winners and the innovators, but unlike the innovators, ritualists slavishly follow the means and avenues to success as laid out by the winners, believing that if they try hard enough, if they work long enough hours, kiss enough butts and take enough crap from their superiors they will, eventually, claw and suck their way to the top. Ritualists are probably the most numerous category of people, and also the most moronic, since they are suckered into believing that the world is a fair and just place and that they will eventually win rewards if they ritualistically follow the prescribed work ethic handed down to them. Really though, ritualists are just robots; unthinking cogs in a system of false hopes and pointless rewards. Sooner or later ritualists realise they will never achieve greatness, like the winners accidentally have, but through blind obedience to discipline, ritualists cannot give up their pointless pursuit of success and so they slowly, gradually, substitute their original goal to become a winner in favour of the goal to accumulate more material possessions and attain insignificant workplace promotions, as though these things were all they were ever after. Despite the fact that they are obedient little nobodies, ritualists often start telling other people how to succeed even though, they themselves, have not really done so. They do this, in order to feel powerful and respected, and to justify their own miserable work lives which they have invested so much effort in. PARADE Of all the rubbish to appear from the ass-end of a black hole waste bin this year in the desert-ravaged prison world of Melovostia, the most welcome was a fully-working television, which zapped into existence a couple of weeks ago blazing away some silly game show. ‘It’s amazing what some people throw away’, said Mizket Vizket, the inmate that tripped over it whilst searching for a cool tree to hide under. Since the nearest other inmate was some three thousand miles to the north he said it to himself. He then watched, non-stop, everything that the TV blurted out, including all the adverts. Moss. It’s big, green and ugly! If you need to kill moss before it kills you don’t use somemamby pamby eco-friendly moss wash that wastefully dissolves away in mere decades. Use OVERKILL!, the new product from the ‘Squash ‘em Dead!’ product range. OVERKILL is a nuclear-radiative, teratogenic, caustic deathspray spiced with DDT, dioxin and poly-homicidal bromide. It doesn’t stop moss -- it murders it. Moss can clog the drainage system of your home, corrupting your children, eating your wife’s brains and over-running your entire planet. Don’t let moss overrun you, murder moss with OVERKILL! The advertisers wish to inform viewers that OVERKILL! may cause slight skin irritations in some species without exoskeletons. As the TV was stuck on this one channel, Mizket continued to watch. It is 29:00 hours. Time for ‘Roving with Randy Ramdroid’. Hello, today we’re beaming to you from the planet Chaosnia to help the locals here celebrate their national holiday, ‘Chaos Day’, which, as some of you may know involves a very special event: The Grand Parade of Chaos. Now, we’re sitting here perched some sixty metres above the streets of Chaosnia Prime, the capital city, and looking down upon the many hundreds of aquaria that adorn the outside of most of the buildings here. And we can also see an intriguing variety of ornamental waterfalls found through out this landscaped city. Down on street level it seems as though--yes--the parade has just begun rolling forward on Freedom Avenue. Now, my guest here to help us interpret all of the parade’s features is Professor Aarschwad from the Chaosnia’s National Museum of Culture. Before we look closer at the floats of the parade, Professor Aarschwad, could you first tell us about significance of all the waterfalls? The three-horned, four-foot tall creature called Professor Aarschwad croaked out the tale of Chaosnia’s founding idea; Order from Chaos. According to him the waterfalls symbolised this idea quite well since the water falling from the waterfall seems very chaotic and haphazard, but if you look at the overall pattern, the spot where the water actually falls, you see beautifully ordered eddies and swirls. He then advised viewers that the bright blue dye they all see on their screens was added to highlight these. Randy Ramdroid politely suggested that the eddies and swirls the Professor talked of were not ordered at all and that it is just the dye with its much more viscous properties, that made them appear ordered. At hearing this, the Professors’ middle horn twitched a little, and he spat out a fake snigger, attempting to make light of Randy’s frankly embarrassing, indeed almost blasphemous, suggestion. As angry as he was, the Professor tried to be diplomatic. ‘That is obviously the view of someone who…um…who…well…’ ‘Who what?’ prompted Randy. ‘…who is a great fucking moron!’ Yelled the Professor. He went on, ‘The laws of Chaosnia, Mr. Ramdroid, stipulate that the water must be falling orderly! But some ignorant anal slimes are blind to that order!’ Randy’s face lit up. This was going to make for great TV. Far away, Mistik was riveted. Randy was a pro, though, and in order to keep the frisson going and stop the Professor from just up and walking out of the studio, Randy demurred for a moment to the Professors opinion. The show then moved to the cheering crowd nearer the main parade whilst the Professor carried on talking about the significance of some of the floats in the crowd. ‘This particular float is a big favourite here on Chaosnia, as you can hear.’ ‘And what is it?’ asked Randy. ‘It’s a thirty meter tall bag of money.’ Randy waited a longish moment and then asked the Professor what such a float was supposed to symbolise. The Professor, rolled his eyes and breathed heavily. ‘It symbolises money!’ ‘Oh. Why?’ ‘Why what?’ asked Professor Aarschwad, who didn’t yet realise he was being taken for a ratings ride. ‘Why the need symbolise money?’ ‘Because Chaosnians likes money,’ said the Professor. ‘You dumb-fuck dufus’ he added under his breath. ‘Not particularly subtle is it?’ smiled Randy in a supercilious way designed to make the Professor feel insecure. ‘No,’ said the Professor. ‘So?’ Randy continued with the smile for a few seconds and then turned the viewers attention to the following float; a three-story high foam replica of a washing machine. Before the professor could explain the symblism of this second float, there was a sudden crashing noise, then a shrieking buzz and then a flash and a bang. The foam washing machine had been hit by something and it started tilting over; then crashing into the street, sending people running and screaming in all directions. REBELS For those who want to know, Osta’s fifth and final category of creature, is the rebel. The rebel rejects both the ideas of success and ambition and he or she also rejects the means by which most living creatures often try to gain success. Instead of bowing down to the superiority of the winners, the rebel revolts against the winners altogether, and often against the whole idea that the universe needs winners. The rebel is always agitating for change to the whole structure of life; constantly and often bitterly looking to undermine the dominant value system; formulating alternative conceptions of achievement, imagining different ways of living, and promoting the idea that success should be for everyone and not just a lucky few. The rebel has the most difficult of lives, of course. They have to work harder than anyone, firstly to undermine the political structure of the winners, secondly to counter the slavish ideology of the ritualists, and thirdly to convince the retreatists and innovators that change to the state of the galaxy is possible. SECURITY Out of the settling dust a young woman emerged. She was rather dazed but perfectly unharmed. ‘Where the hell am I?’ Comma said.