Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Silly Hats Only

Silly Hats Only

The lady posed with the illuminating sign depicted not a wilderness expert in the middle of the wild (I assure you that parts of California are quite civilized these days). Her hat could be called inappropriate if we failed to accept the reasonableness of the message she is trying to impart.

In fact, that she is wearing a hat while female is rather odd when compared to the vast majority of U.S. females her age and socioeconomic status. Is there a value to wearing silly hats?

Her sign does not contain a rigorous defense of her position, so we must examine the possibilities as best we can without her assistance.

Why Silly Hats?

As anyone with a lick of sense can tell you, hats are one of the most commonly abused accessories in the male fashion quiver. In fact, whoever gave men the permission to wear baseball caps whilst not participating in that ‘sport’ and the right to do so in a non-ironic manner is truly an enemy of humanity in general and of human fashion in specific.

Some brave young men have attempted to reclaim the baseball hat by wearing it too large with the authenticity stickers still attached or by putting ‘trucker style’ baseball hats on the children of yuppies. Unfortunately, this attempt at subtle derision was taken at face value by hordes of what might be called chavs were said hordes in the U.K. rather than the U.S.

If wearing actively silly hats gave the impression to impressionable youth that perhaps their self-serious fashion attempts were patently absurd, the notion would have more than enough merit to stand as the highest maxim of tolerable polite society.


In our shared culture, wearing hats at all is only slightly less silly when males do it than when females do. All hats are, in essense, silly. Umbrellas for the rain and warm toboggans (admittedly a hat, but one with a particularly specialized usage) for the cold. Beyond this, hats are pointless and infrequently used.

The lady above would have appeared no less silly wearing a bonnet. In fact, she may be making that very point: wearing hats is silly.

This doesn’t mean that wearing hats is wrong. Some of the most sober societies have been dreadfully silly but with far less purpose than the admirable young woman we speak of today.

Several admirable faiths hold that silliness is integral to the journey toward enlightenment. Arguing against enlightenment recreationally would be silly, but arguing against it seriously would be foolish.


If there are any un-silly hats, don’t wear them. Wear the silly ones instead. Eris, Bob, and Connie would approve.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tactical Highlighter #25

Nothing much to say this week. It’s been a long one and next week’s not looking too much shorter, alas.

  • Saint Darwin’s Spirituals and Heart of Clay: A Saint Darwin’s Spiritual by D.K. Thompson (Variant Frequencies). These are two stories which take place in a stunning paranormal Victorian noir setting that I absolutely adore and the stories are excellent. I found Heart of Clay a lot more moving, but you should listen to Saint Darwin’s Spirituals first as it sets up the world.
  • Globalization Unto Death by Dan Carlin (Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History). This isn’t a story, but it’s every bit as fascinating as one. It’s ostensibly about race and how humanity may view us and our predecessors at some distant date, but it covers a lot of the exploration of the ‘new world’ and has tons of interesting bits. Way better than the History Channel.
  • Going to the Chapel (Drabblecast). This one is a bit of an odd duck, but really enjoyable. Norm got an actress with a stunning southern accent to do the main narration and it totally takes this from an awesome story to “holy frak, shut up and listen ‘cuz this is the greatest!”
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Tasty Cakes

Tasty cakes weren’t people, urine, or hazardous waste. The ingredients were cute wubbles.

The outrage was deafening. The producer was surprised since the other things had gone over so well.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Have A Sign

I Have A Sign

I see what you’re trying to do there. You’re trying to get me to say something absurd like “Oh, you don’t have a sign” so that I can look totally foolish because you totally do have a sign and here’s the photographic evidence for it staring me in the face!

Well, I won’t fall for it, mister.

You do have a sign. Sort of.


Quantum is an inaccurate title for this section, but it’s catchier than “time is an illusion” which really doesn’t work at all without “lunchtime doubly so.” That would make for entirely too long a title.

In A Brief History of Time (greatest book ever), Stephen Hawking spends some time discussing the fact that we have no idea why we perceive time forward. Why not backward or perpendicular? Well, as your mom probably would have said if you’d asked her when you were three, because.

The simple fact is that time is probably an illusion. It’s a helpful illusion. Keeps us from ending up suddenly in some time when Earth wasn’t in the exact position that it is as you read this. You could end up floating in space with no air!

Recreational ignoring of this illusion leads to several interesting possibilities. Imagine all time was stacked on top of all other time and nothing really happened because it is simultaneously: in the process of happening and not happening.

This is pretty much the case already.

The percentage of ‘time’ in which you don’t exist greatly exceeds the percentage of time in which you do.

And the time in which you have that sign is somewhat less substantially exceeded by the time in which you exist but do not have that sign.

So, yes. You have the sign. Chances are good that you have lots of signs. But you also don’t. In fact, you mostly don’t. You also mostly don’t exist.

Other Thoughts

Just because you mostly don’t exist doesn’t mean I have no admiration. Most of the people I admire mostly don’t exist and I’m only saying ‘most’ instead of ‘all’ because I have no proof that I don’t admire any immortals.

Ignoring your hideous red shirt (careful if you ever find yourself in the Star Trek universe, dude), your sense of style is admirable.

Trenchcoat and that totally bitchin’ hat? Well-played, sir.

Maybe your shirt wouldn’t look so bad if it didn’t clash with the color of your sign. But I think gray and red are a generally inadvisable combination.

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Pendragon Variety, Episode 5

Hey, y’all. Pendragon Variety Episode 5 features my story VD2010: Paranormal Romance amongst commentary and delicious miscellaneous.

Hope to have the next We Have Signs posted up tonight despite my abject distaste for posting more than one thing per day here.


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tactical Highlighter #24

Next time I promise to do a special on such-and-such, I’m totally going to have everything lined up in advance. Haha.

I know I haven’t been specifically giving a schedule for the We Have Signs posts, but posted the two previous ones on Mondays. I can just about guarantee that won’t happen this time. Tuesday … hopefully.

Here’s the second half of my horror special.

  • Reservation Monsters, Love Like Thunder, and The Dreaming Way by Jim Bihyeh (Pseudopod). These three stories (and an hilarious incident involving Juice redownloading the archives of half my podcasts) inspired my two week examination of horror. These three stories take place in native American settings and involve a very different type of horror than we’re used to. They’re very beautiful and heartbreaking stories. The last story is one that I hesitated to link to because of the subject matter, but the story is excellent and tragic.
  • So You’re Going to Die by Robert Reed. This one is a really subtle horror piece after the first bit. It’s an excellent piece of paranormal SF horror and Norm Sherman’s ( cdbaby | Amazon MP3 | iTunes ) reading is top notch as always.
  • The Tamga by Maura McHugh. I love Russian folk tales and legends. Deeply dark and devastating. In The Tamga, old folk magic intersects with the modern world and the two don’t play nice at all. The highlight, though, is that this goes deeper than an adventure. Real emotional depths and the potential consequences are heart-wrenching.
  • Snowmen by James Melzer. This is a short story horror work available for $0.99 USD. It’s an excellent story and the price is great when you consider the price-per-story vs. enjoyment buying genre magazines.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Dreamsicle

The dreamsicle was marketing fluff. "Tastes like real dreams!" couldn't be true. Then, I had a lick. At first it tasted like nothing. Not cold, hard, or sweet. Slowly, there was a sensation on my tongue. I realized that I had not felt my tongue at all when I first licked. The feeling then was like having thirty tongues, but none of them solid. I had a sudden desire to wash my hands, but my tongue kept telling my brain it tasted soap. Every thought produced its own taste. I'm not sure which whimsy produced the coppery taste of blood.

#29 - Apparently there is actually such a thing as a Dreamsicle. Pretend this happened in a universe where there isn't. Thanks.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pendragon Variety, Episode 4

Hey, everybody! Pendragon Variety Podcast released episode four today, and it's got my narration for High Security At The Zoo by Michelle Ristuccia. Definitely check it out. The episode is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed recording the story for them.

If you follow my twitter, you probably saw my remarks about the recording session. This is one of the stories I was recording Saturday night.

Posted via email from Troll Jammies Short Audio

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Monday, March 15, 2010

God Loves the Delicious Taste

God Loves the DELICIOUS Taste

The gentleman in the photo above purports that God loves the delicious taste of a particular brand of macaroni and cheese. But does God? There are, thankfully, a limited number of possibilities.

In this week’s article, I’ll examine just that.

God Loves

As anyone who is sensible and aware of the Bible knows, the list of things God hates is rather short. Lying lips and Esau are the most obvious parts, but we’re pretty sure the part about Esau was facetious. Because we’re sensible.

If you don’t put beef in your ‘mac, even most of the stricter folks wouldn’t claim God even disliked this brand of ‘mac.

Furthermore, thousands of U.S. Protestants and Catholics eat this brand of ‘mac every week. What more evidence do you need?

God Is OK With

I won’t argue with those who say that God doesn’t hate this brand of ‘mac. They mean well, and I’m pretty sure God saves hate for things really deserving of it. Like hippies, Liberals, people who help the poor, health care, and Keith Olbermann.

But does God really love this brand?

Well, let’s think about it. There’s pretend cheese in this brand. A lot of recipes made by people raised on this brand of ‘mac call for “cheese product” with parenthetical explanations about what they mean. “Cheese product” is made by the same company. Fake cheese. Faaaake.

God doesn’t hate fakes. Jesus let his disciples use bread and wine in lieu of a cannibalistic Last Supper. But authenticity—where it won’t cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease—is clearly better. God is not a man that God should lie … or resort to fake cheese.

There’s a better way.

God Prefers

So, if God doesn’t actually love that brand of ‘mac, is there a brand of ‘mac that God loves?

On the same basis that most religious people interpret the will of God, God loves Grandma Sue’s macaroni and cheese. I’m still trying to find the recipe for that, but this one might not be too different.

Grandma Sue’s macaroni and cheese is the best ‘mac. Obviously, God would love the best the most. So, God loves Grandma Sue’s ‘mac the best.

Is It OK to Go for Second Best?

This is one of the interesting theological questions that haunt young Evangelical Protestants in a different contexts.

Is this person you like a lot the one God wants you to marry? Would it be horrible if you marry them anyway and then it turns out they aren’t the one?

Really scary stuff when you’re fourteen or fifteen.

Since this is my article, I’ll use the same privilege to interpret the mind of God that everyone else does: sometimes what you really want is that one chicken fast food restaurant that’s not open on Sunday but it’s Sunday. Just because you want that one place and can’t have it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat some at some other chicken place.

It won’t be what you’re craving, but it’s not like you’re only allowed to eat at one chicken place.

Don’t use that excuse to cheat on your spouse. You’re only allowed one spouse. Until the gays accidentally allow polyamorous marriage.

APOCALYPSE! Just kidding.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tactical Highlighter #23

I know I promised last week that I’d do the second part of my horror special. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait one more week. I found too much great regular stuff to show you.

Also, for my fellow cooking fiends, there’s a great no-knead bread recipe up on Stepcase Lifehack. They claim it takes one minute of work. As anyone who has tried comparing prep time estimates on recipes to reality, that’s utter crap. However, I’d estimate the total amount of work time was in the range of twenty minutes. They’re a little vague on what spices should go on top. I’m rather fond of Cayenne and a few random other toppings. The bread is done when a fork or spoon thumped against the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow.

I’ve tried it myself and this is great tasting bread that takes less prep time than any other recipe I’ve ever used. And no evil bread machines required. Just about anyone can make it, and if you have yeast on hand, you probably have all the ingredients you need for it.

  • Child’s Play by William Tenn. I’m not too familiar with Mr. Tenn’s work, but one of my favorite SF radio programs from the past was called Dimension X and featured at least one of Tenn’s stories. I heard Child’s Play for the first time the other day thanks to SFFaudio linking to the episode. It’s a great bit of SF with an interesting and unintentional exposé of the misogynistic prejudices of the past.
  • Willpower by Jason Stoddard (Dunesteef). This is one of my favorite stories of all time, and it’s the primary reason I’m going against my previous schedule. There are some parts that are a little hard to understand as far as the concepts go, but it’s a great story and the commentary by Rish and Big at the end helps to explain a lot of the more complicated bits.
  • Bridesicle by Will McIntosh. This episode of StarShipSofa has two great things going for it. At two minutes and thirty seconds, Mur Lafferty has a great editorial and at 1:01:30, Will McIntosh’s story Bridesicle starts. If this one doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you’ve got problems. This story explores the emotional depths that Science Fiction is capable of.
  • What Fluffy Knew by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A story for cat lovers and fans of pure distilled awesome.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Artificial Flavor

Relations with the Sarcarity improved after we shared the invention of artificial flavors. Humans even opened Sarcarity restaurants.

What El Burrito Joint had done for Mexican and O’Burgers had done for French, the fast Sarcarity restaurants did for their food.

Sarcarity culture was reduced to offensive parody within those walls, but, while some of them complained, every single Sarcarity citizen went to the establishments. Many wore guilty looks.

As for the humans who worked there … well, it was a little creepy, but we knew that artificial human flavor couldn’t taste that much like humans.

And it was so damned tasty.


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Monday, March 8, 2010

Build Prisons on the Moon

Build Prisons on the Moon

I know what you’re thinking. “Prisons on the moon? Absurd!” It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

There are so many great reasons to build prisons there.


The trouble with prisons is that they’re kind of like nuclear power plants and landfills. Everyone wants one, but no one wants one close by. It’s easy to understand why. Power plants are dangerous, landfills smell bad, and prisons have a disproportionately impoverished population.

We clearly need a place that is close but not so close that it’s in any of our backyards.

The moon is pretty close on a cosmic scale. It’s not as far away as Mars and it’s not as skin-roastingly hot as Venus. We could send our prisoners on prison ships hurtling through the cosmos, but that would be inhumane and give an odd first impression of humanity. How would you like humanity to be represented by Australians?

No, the moon is the perfect distance.

Escape Proof

Sure. You could escape from a prison on the moon. If you were a moron or suicidal. The moon has no oxygen of its own, and you can’t build a rocket or some sort of space raft to escape the moon either. It’s pretty much foolproof.


Alcatraz prison has one million visitors a year. If we assume that each visitor generates $10 of revenue (an assumption we must make since someone stole Alcatraz’s actual revenue information from the internet), that’s 10 million dollars of revenue.

The problem with the revenue is that Alcatraz also has a lot of upkeep costs and it’s notorious for polluting the bay. It might still be profitable, I’m not sure. But it’s not as profitable as it would be if it wasn’t sitting on sea water and poisoning fish or whatever.

What if it was on the moon and instead of $10 profit per visitor, it was making $100 profit per person?

It’s clear we’re going to need some high visibility prisoners to warrant that sort of fee, but I have a few in mind. Who wouldn’t pay a thousand dollars to go on a space flight that ended in a visit to the cell that once held George W. Bush when he was serving a reduced sentence (time off for good behavior) for declaring war on everything? Who wouldn’t pay a thousand dollars plus liquor money to view the cell where Paris Hilton served time for being herself?

Exactly the kind of party pooper we’re not counting on, that’s who.

Minor Problems That Need Addressing

Since most of the people that go to prison are poor and their families are generally pretty poor too, we’re going to have a hard time drumming up revenue any time real soon. It would probably help to decriminalize being non-white, but I’m guessing that’s asking too much.

It costs a lot of money to put stuff on the moon. Like huuuge amounts of money. Like more money than movies on Blu-Ray. Upside, it’s way better than 1080P and doesn’t require quirky firmware updates that take hours and hours to install every time you need to buy a new movie.

Obviously, the prisoners should have to grow their own food and oxygen and what not. Our previous experiences with biospheres on Earth haven’t been too promising. We should probably leave them some backup air and food just in case.

The last problem is the hardest: How are we going to spend all that mad loot? I’m thinking hamburger shooters.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tactical Highlighter #22

Sorry for the lateness.

This week and next week’s Highlighter focus on horror. This week’s episode focuses on milder forms of horror. Some are classics, others are new. Most are not appropriate for children.

  • Learning to Fly by Garth Upshaw. This is definitely the scariest story on this week’s list. It crosses into urban and dark fantasy. It’s about a young girl who is learning to fly … using dark magic and torturing rats. The question of her sanity turns out to be tangential.
  • Necessary Fictions by John Mierau. A writer receives an incredible gift from a fan. But is it a gift or a curse?
  • The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. This is a classic horror story and has been frequently done in audio drama. However, the Dunesteef folks did a really great job of adapting it. This is the version you want to listen to.
  • The Pennbennies by Sherwin Sleeves (Atoms, Motion & the Void). I’d classify this one as surrealist horror, but it’s probably more accurate to call it a story about finding your place. Even if it is a kind of creepy place. Sherwin’s narration is haunting.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Insomnia Afterlife

You attained nirvana, heaven, Valhalla, but you prepared for … well, I don’t remember hearing much about those. The preparers were more right than the attainers, but still missed the point.

Life was meant to prepare you for an infinite afterlife of sleep.

Insomniacs were people who had lived life without the appreciation of sleep necessary to enjoy the afterlife adequately. I was an insomniac who then learned a wrong lesson. I loved sleep, but only managed to get sleep by balancing sleep deprivation so that I was always on the edge of sleeping.

Then came my final death. The cop missed and tased me instead of the protester. The universe didn’t make me try again, though. I had learned enough. I had learned to love sleep, even if it was a desperate clinging love.

I’m not telling you this story, I’m dreaming it to you on a twilight beach with glistening sand and gulls calling. We were laughing over glasses of wine and breathing in the salt air. But now I feel the need to fly. I soar through the air, wind on my face, eyes closed in a deepening starry night.


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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the ADD: Wilfred's Light

Wilfred knew he was a mutant. He felt light trying to burst out of him. His smile went from ear to ear.

Until Jackson chucked a can at the back of his head.

“Ow! Jeez, man.”

“Wilfred’s spaced,” Jackson sing-songed. “Thinks he’s something.”

“You don’t know nothing.”

When he slept, he dreamed he could fly or shoot powerful energy waves from his eyes.

He’d clean up Westmont and make his mom safe.

He felt it in him, growing stronger. Trying to get out.

All it took was a paper cut. Wilfred’s power destroyed three city blocks and him with it.


This one wasn't supposed to go out today, but it's out there, so enjoy.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Knittingpunk: I Have Been Dared

J.: As opposed to knittingpunk.

Mica: LOL What?

J.: Robots made with yarn and knitting needles. A dystopian past where grandmas rule the skies with their devious needles and freshly baked buns.

Mica: … I dare you. Dare you to write that.


Mica: You cannot undare a dare. I double dog dare you.

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Monday, March 1, 2010


When a painter is going to do a really important work involving elements they haven't done before, they'll do what's called a “study.” It's a series of drawings or miniature paintings on an element of the painting they're unfamiliar with. I've recently considered reviving a horror idea I had a few years ago. Since I'm not typically a horror writer, I've decided to do a few studies of horror. Obkakat is one of those studies.

The feedback I've gotten from my friends is that it's not actually horror. It's dark fantasy. I love that sort of feedback even though it hurts. Haha. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Just so you know, it doesn't take place in Russia despite the Russian references.

Our brothers went to war.

The youngest were the last to go. Our fathers and grandfathers had already gone.

In that deep and biting winter, I heard a rap on the door.

“Obka!” little Mariya shrieked and jumped behind the chair we hadn’t yet burned for warmth.

She meant obkakat. ‘Ghost.’ All the children had been told not to let spirits in of the dead in. I knew what they really meant.

A muffled cry came through the door. “Mariya!”

Mariya sobbed, “obkaaaa!”

I was disgusted. How could one of my brothers—

It might not be one of them, though. Mariya was a common name and the world was too thick with blowing snow.

I hesitated for a moment, and then marched to the door. The howling wind whistled through every crack.

“Who are you, ghost?” I shouted through the closed door.

“It’s Anton! Please let me in, Olena!”

Who had cursed me with the ghost of my cousin? I spat and cursed the name of my aunt. She loved her little ghost—her little deserter—too much to let him go, but not enough to take him in herself.

He was eight the last time I saw him. No more than nine now. Why had she cursed me with him? I didn’t have enough food for Mariya as it was.

I fought back tears. I would claw Aunt Svitlana’s eyes out if the old bitch made it through the storm.

I unlatched the door and opened it a crack. Immediately, Anton squeezed through the crack and rushed to the fire.

His brown hair was matted and disgusting. His clothes were almost nothing. How did this little ghost make it to my house? This little soldier who looked so much like a boy. Tiny desperate coward.

After a second, I realized his shirt didn’t reach his neck. His skin was as white as a well-bleached shirt.

“I don’t have food for you, ghost. There isn’t enough food for Mariya let alone me, you squirrel dung.”

He didn’t answer. I walked close to him. I spun him around and made him face me. “I said there’s no food for you here, you pathetic deserter!”

His eyes never left his fingers. He muttered some marching song in between the repeated word ‘cold.’ “On the morrow—cold—we march to glory—cold—We are men, we—cold—fight for our Nation’s Glory!—so cold…”

I let him go and he slowly turned back to the fire. I grabbed the chair and set it in front of the cupboard that held the last of our food.

Mariya hid behind the bed. I sat on the chair and fell asleep.

When I woke up, it was almost completely dark in the house. Anton stood in front of the faint glow of the fire. He waved his hands in front of the coals slowly.

If the fire went out, I wouldn’t be able to set it again. I stood up and pulled a leg off the table. It wrenched and splintered and the table toppled over.

Mariya squeaked. I’d woken her up. I shoved the leg in the fire. Anton didn’t seem to notice. Even in the dark, she seemed impossibly pale.

“Why did your mother send you here, little ghost?”

“So cold—” was his only response.

I desperately needed to go out with an ax and find some wood to burn, but I couldn’t trust Anton. Even before the war, I wouldn’t have.

For the first time in months, I thought about my father. I never let myself think about him because I knew I would break down. But he would know what to do.

Tears streamed down my face. “Have you seen my father, ghost? Did you abandon him on the field of battle or did he die before you left?”

I may have read too much into it, but he seemed evasive as he hummed, “—we march to—so very cold—glooooory.”

I sprung up, turned him by the shoulders and shook him. “Anton! What happened to my father?!”


He could have the damned house for all I cared!

I let go of him and grabbed Mariya. She was bundled up tight and I added the meager rag that had been left on the bed and carried her out into the night.

“Where are we going, Lena?” she cried in my ear.

“We’re going to Auntie Svitla’s house.”


Then I saw a long thick line of red dots that bobbed in the night. They surrounded us. “Shhh, Mariya,” I whispered.

I put Mariya down and strained to see. They were men. Men and boys. Dressed in their tattered white undershirts, red glowing eyes in the night. They marched all around us, toward us.

“What do you want?!” I shouted.

Faintly humming, I could make out pieces of the tune. “On the morrow, we march to glory.”

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