*Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl is a work in progress. You will see the content in these pages change over time as I continually edit chapters. Apologies if that’s annoying, but some have expressed interest in my writing process, and this is a rough way to show the change in flow as I draft and edit.*
A Musing That Bears Consideration…
What would it mean if existence were infinite? Truly infinite? If every permutation of matter, energy, physics, and possibility existed somewhere out there in the vast unknown?
A few universes over, “Hamlet’ wouldn’t be written by Shakespeare; it would be authored by an immortal monkey banging randomly at a typewriter. Fictional heroes would live actual lives in an adjacent reality.
From what I understand, physicists (and please research this for yourself; I’m not a scientist), along with philosophers, allow for scenarios where cause and effect do not dictate phenomena. Time (which is needed for causality to exist, as condition A needs time to produce interaction B, time is once again needed to express result C) is a construct created by the expansion of the universe, and is also affected by phenomena like gravity and speed. If you think this is a pie-in-the-sky idea that isn’t relevant to daily life, look no further than your GPS app. A GPS satellite has to be programmed to account for gravity-borne time slippage, or it would send you erroneous data.
Admittedly, what I’ve just described is a cheap trick; I’ve used my meager knowledge of science to champion the idea that the story you’re about to read might actually be happening in some where, some when.
Why would I do such a thing? If I’m being perfectly honest, I do it to shore up a ridiculous, ridiculous tale with every ounce of credibility I can possibly muster. The world within these pages is similar to ours, but with an added twist of fantasticality. Let’s start with the plausible: a modern day high school where the teen-queen cheerleaders are just as vicious as a John Hughes stereotype. Now let’s push it a little further: my protagonist is a mad genius. A high school junior who—through his cutting edge knowledge of psychedelics and technology—possesses the ability to change the world.
If I haven’t lost you yet, let’s go just a little further: parallel dimensions are real. Within one such dimension there exists a barbarian warrior, similar to Conan. He is a master of combat, both physical and magical. He swings swords, casts spells, rescues scantily clad maidens from evil wizards…
And oh yeah—he rides velociraptors.
Teen queens, mad geniuses, and velociraptor-riding barbarians. What kind of madness would ensue if they actually met?
I’m well aware that’s a ridiculous proposition. And I’m well aware that it’s self-serving—that its purpose is to ease the bounds of your credibility so I can stand a chance of telling a farcical tale. I’ve done my part to set up the story. The rest is up to you.
So without further ado, I urge you to continue reading…
And revel in the absurdity.
October 29, 2017
Dear Diary: OMG! I was just voted squad captain! I had to arrange an “accident” with our current (sorry, FORMER) captain, Lizzy Prendergast, where I convinced some of the other cheerleaders to “drop” her in the middle of a stunt. Happy brain trauma, bitch!
—From the diary of Holly Dent. Atherton senior and evil psychopath.
Today we killed hundreds, and freed thousands. Our ranks were scattered by volley after volley of barbed arrows. While we Indashis possess the stoutest of hearts, those hearts must be channeled through a strong mind and an iron fist. Kor’Thank is that mind. Kor’Thank is that fist. Amidst a rain of flesh-tearing steel, our dauntless king rallied the Reptrix Cavalry and led the charge against Rotskar’s army, breaking its will like a skull-maiden’s spine.
—From the Ballad of Kor’Thank as recounted by Krul’Dar, in the fifth age of Iluvia.
I just wanna fuck something.
—From the blog of Chongha Peter Lee
“YES! I ACCEPT!”
Holly jumped up and down, erupting with delighted squeals. Her friends closed in, surrounding her with widened eyes and exaggerated gapes.
“Oh my god—”
“Oh my GAWD—”
“—knew you were going to be captain some day—”
“Lizzy would be so happy.” This from her best friend and evil lieutenant: Marissa Thompkins.
Holly winked at her trusted hench-woman. The lights flickered overhead—the electrical system was being upgraded, and it was a bit erratic—but no one noticed.
They were too busy worshipping their unholy queen.
“A-hem!” Holly straightened up and adopted a somber expression. “A-heh-heh-HEM!”
The girls quieted down.
Holly regarded them with a somber stare. She laid a calculated hand atop her heart, dipping her head and initiating Serious Mode. This was a tactic she’d learned from her mom—I’m about to say something important, so look super interested and nod vigorously.
“I know some of us didn’t like her, but Lizzy’s in a coma—we need to be there for our fellow cheerleader.” Holly cleared her throat into her fist, barely managing to disguise a giggle. She lowered her hand, and placed it once again atop her heart.
“We have to support our retar—I mean brain-damaged. We have to support our brain-damaged friend.”
A gaggle of heads bobbed up and down.
Marissa squeezed Holly’s shoulder, accentuating the gesture with a doe-eyed gaze. “We’ll take care of her, Holls.”
“Come on guys.” Holly flexed her throat, causing her voice to crack. “Group hug!”
The hive of cheerleaders pressed inward, some of them managing to produce crocodile tears. Holly was no exception.
She was the best at it.
“For Liz,” she whispered.
“For Liz,” they murmured.
They stepped away from each other. Holly sniffed dejectedly and wiped her eyes, calculating the appropriate amount of time to continue looking sad. It wouldn’t be appropriate if she switched too quickly from sorrow to joy, even amongst these vicious cunts.
Marissa offered up a handkerchief. Holly accepted it and wiped away the last of her tears.
A thousand one, a thousand two, a thousand three…
Good enough. She adopted a brave-in-the-face-of-tragedy smile, and grinned at her fellow predators. “Let’s get back to work. It’s what Lizzy would’ve wanted, right?”
There was a chorus of nods, accompanied by murmurs of assent. Every so often, within a bunch of likeminded psychopaths, a hive mind is formed. This was the case with Holly and her squad.
And right now, the hive mind knew it was time to celebrate.
Marissa clapped her hands, squeezing them together in front of her chest. “We are so happy for you!”
The girls rushed in and lifted Holly above their heads. Her body went on autopilot—thanking, cheering, yay-ing—but at that moment, if she had honestly expressed herself, she would have smiled with stunning malevolence. With such unbridled malice, that—in comparison—Emperor Palpatine would have looked like an anime schoolgirl.
That’s right you cunts—pay tribute to your queen.
Kor’Thank stared into his massive beer stein. Unlike his fellow barbarians, he hadn’t gulped it in a single pull. Within a shining oval of amber liquid, he saw his reflection staring vexedly back at him.
“I am tired, Krul’Dar. I no longer wish to be king.”
Krul’Dar, Kor’Thank’s loyal friend and Chief Chronicler, finished off his eighth stein of fizzling ambrosia. He fixed Kor’Thank with a puzzled gaze.
Kor’Thank’s brows beetled together. “Or’goth’s balls, Krul—call me by my name! Have we not spilled the same blood? Have we not pillaged the same hoards?”
Krul’Dar nodded. “Apologies, brother. It’s just that your latest feat was nothing short of—”
Kor’Thank cracked a faint smile. “ ’Twas glorious, was it not?”
Krul’Dar faced forward, eyes flicking across the skulls and kegs that lined the tavern keeper’s shelves. He waved an open-palmed hand from left to right, as if he was drawing back an invisible curtain. “King Kor’Thank rode up the back of a fifty-foot retrorax astride his velociraptor mount, the loyal Tongue Render—”
“Krul’Dar. His name is Bitefighter.”
Krul’Dar threw him a reproachful look. “As Chief Chronicler, I must convey gravitas.”
Kor’Thank sighed. “Continue.”
Krul’Dar’ stared again at the tavern keeper’s goods. “Kor’Thank charged up the back of a towering retrorax, nocking three arrows onto his Lamordian bow. As he crested its neck he clucked his tongue, commanding his mount to dive left. Kor’Thank dove right and hurtled through the air, loosing a trio of Blacksear arrows. Each missile struck true, piercing the eyes of the three-headed beast. A single arrow for each head!” Krul’Dar slammed the table with a clenched fist. “Never before had a single warrior managed to kill a full-grown retrorax!” His voice turned reverent and solemn. “The Indashi King had slain legions of sorcerers—countless beasts that exhaled fire, ice, or poison. He’d led innumerable charges against Orcs and Fell-walkers, and now, with the death of a retrorax, he took his place amongst the greatest hunters in all of Elithia.”
Krul’Dar looked expectantly at Kor’Thank. “What do you think?”
Kor’Thank drank a long draught of beer. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and stared morosely at the wall. “What of the long, frozen nights, Krul? What of the months and weeks spent gathering supplies, or distributing food and weaponry so that our family and friends could stay fed and armed while we ventured abroad? It is not all blood and glory—you know that.”
Irritation flashed through Krul’Dar’s eyes. “Kor, you cannot expect common folk to appreciate the complexities of sovereignty—they contend with drudgery on a daily basis. They need inspiration—not minutiae.”
A cynical scoff. “To what end? What purpose does inspiration serve, other than to keep the downtrodden from facing the futility of their own existence?”
Krul’Dar put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Your deeds give them a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose—more than sparkling gems, more than fine wines, more than glory itself—makes this hard-scrabble life into something worth living.”
Kor’Thank’s gaze returned to his stein. “I have defeated tyrants and dragons…and yet there is deep emptiness within my soul. Despite all I have accomplished, peace eludes me. What of my purpose, Krul? Where in the Seven Hells do I find it?”
The Chronicler’s hand tightened on his friend’s shoulder.
“You must make your own, Kor.”
Chongha Peter Lee was a wrathful genius. He knew it, his friend Eun Yin knew it…hell, the former President of the United States knew it. But aside from those three, no one knew.
And it was driving him fucking insane.
After throwing projectiles at Holly Dent’s picture for two straight hours (after the first hour he’d switched from darts to ninja stars, then to tomahawks), he reached under his bed and withdrew a spin-entangled, quantum-encrypted sat-phone. He pressed his thumb against its genetic spectro-scan, then pressed a button marked SEND. A dignified voice answered on the other end.
“Things are fucked B—they are fucked.”
The former president sighed. “It’s been that way forever, Peter. Hands are shaken, bribes are made…and the gears keep spinning. I score a book deal, some speaking fees, and a nicely worded warning: ‘Let the public know about Grays or Insectoids, and a .50 caliber round is gonna scramble your brains.’ ”
Peter sunk his brow into the crook of his thumb and forefinger. “She killed my dog, B. My motherfucking dog. I’ve brought down international pedophile rings, provided technical support for tier one hits, repurposed alien technology…and I can’t take my revenge on Holly Dent? For fuck’s sake, she’s a goddamn cheerleader!”
Another sigh. “Her dad is the head of…well, you know I can’t say it—people might be listening. Sanctioning Holly is a no-go, Peter.”
Peter flopped onto his bed. His hand transformed into a neurotic blur as he violently itched his scrotum and penis. “She killed my DOG!”
“Peter. You were five and she was four. And you dosed her with a chemical cocktail containing a thousand milligrams of THC, an experimental derivative of Adderall, as well as eight hundred milligrams of pharmaceutical grade caffeine. Did you ever stop to think that you were creating your own worst enem—”
“THE FUCK I DID!” Peter screamed. “It was an innocent prank! I was five years old and—”
“She was four.”
“That cocktail doesn’t do a goddamn thing except reveal who you truly fucking are! She killed Bitefighter, B! She KILLED BITEFIGHTER!”
Peter stomped to the bathroom, grabbed a towel off the rack, and blotted the hate-sweat off his face. After a deep breath, he resumed speaking. “Sorry B, I shouldn’t have—”
“No Peter—I’m the one who should apologize. You’ve done a lot for this country. You deserve some peace.”
“You’ve done a lot of shit too; you should get some kind of—”
Harsh laughter. “Just because I tried…that doesn’t mean I actually accomplished anything.”
“You and me both,” Peter agreed. “Everything we’ve done looks good on paper, but what have we really done aside from prop up the status quo? Nothing’s changed—people are still just a bunch of hairless, rabid-ass chimps.”
“At least you’re young. You should look at some of those fuckers in Congress. It’s true what they say: D.C. is just an uglier version of Hollywood.”
“We’re both surrounded by fucking primates that can’t get past their stupid—” Peter punched the wall. “Fucking—” Another punch. “CHIMP INSTINCTS!” Two more punches, and a pair of knuckle-dimpled dents appeared in the wall, taking their place amongst legions of fist-marks. “The ones you dealt with finance their coke habits through bribes from lobbyists. The ones I deal with jerk off to the latest hashtag, or try to jockey for some meaningless title like Homecoming Queen. Yo—did you know that Atherton’s mascot is an actual chimpanzee?”
They both broke into gales of laughter. Life had a cruel sense of humor…but that didn’t make it any less funny.
The former president gasped, “Oh God, oh God—I…I…”
And then began laughing again. It wasn’t that funny, per se, but both Peter and B were aware that underneath their circumstances—underneath their wondrous, storied lives—there lurked a razor-sharp irony. Laughing hysterically was one of the purest tributes you could pay to the absurdity of life, and these two—the former President and a high school junior caught in a Darwinian web of adolescent malice—were uniquely qualified to pay that tribute.
Peter wiped away tears. “They named him Fido, but I call him Reptar.”
The former president sobered up. “A real chimp? Those are dangerous, Peter. Does the faculty—”
“I don’t think they care. Reptar was Holly’s idea, and since her dad is heading up special projects over at—”
“Don’t say it. Like I said: assume we’re tapped.”
“Right. Sorry.” He’d been about to say that Holly’s father was the project chief over at the cutting edge organization known as ANOS—Advanced Neurorobotics and Operational Sciences.
ANOS was a federal agency, but over the years, it had become vastly dependent on corporate contractors, to the point where it was impossible to tell where big business ended and government began.
“Anyways,” Peter continued, “Thanks to her dad’s pull, she’s been able to reduce the faculty into a bunch of bureaucratic, PTA-servicing whores.”
The former president cleared his throat. “So this chimpanzee…who takes care of it? How does a high school pay for its care and maintenance?”
“Dude, have you checked the Bay Area housing prices? Atherton has enough cheddar to fund a mercenary army; it’s pretty easy to hire a crew of chimp handlers. I’m not complaining, mind you; aside from you and Eun, Reptar’s my only friend.”
“Peter, those things cripple their prey! They bite off extremities, gouge eyeballs—”
“—and rip your ballsacks off,” Peter finished. “Yeah, I know. But at least they’re honest about it. The rest of the school—the rest of society—try to do the same damn thing, only with laws and norms.”
“Peter, there’s a big difference between shady legalities and tearing off your—”
“Not to me,” Peter said. “Don’t worry—he only gets angry if someone interrupts our tussle-time.”
“Jesus, you play with him?”
“He’s my jiu-jitsu buddy. You know how antisocial I am; I’m not gonna go to an actual jiu-jitsu school and—”
Peter sighed. “It’s not ideal, I know. None of my moves would actually work on him because he’s so fucking strong, but I need a training partner who can put in the time. It’s all good—his joints and movements approximate a human’s.”
“Peter, you’re doing jiu-jitsu with a fucking chimp!”
“We’re all chimps B. We’re all chimps.”
There was a long, pregnant silence.
Eventually, the former president said, “Well, we certainly act like it.”
A beep sounded from Peter’s computer. It was followed by a flashing square of text:
YOU HAVE ALLOTTED TWENTY MINUTES FOR YOUR PHONE CALL WITH B. TODAY’S OBLIGATIONS INCLUDE: AN HOUR OF WORK DEVELOPING THE BITE MOBILE, AS WELL AS NINETY MINUTES REFINING THE FUCKRISING.
Peter keyed in a series of commands, shutting off the reminder. He plunked onto his bed.
“Gotta go. The Bite Mobile—”
The former president laughed. “Peter, it’s a unicycle fitted with an ass-load of circuitry. I’m not sure that ‘mobile’ is an appropriate suffix. I can walk faster than you can ride it.”
“You’ll see. Also…I’ve gotta work on the Fuckrising.”
“I’m afraid to ask what that is.”
“The Earth has gifted us with mind-expanding substances—entheogens. They’re an integral part of a greater solution. We don’t need to perpetuate our evil monkey ways by watching reality TV or obsessing over the latest hashtag. We can be more, B—we can evolve.”
“Are you talking about hallucinogens? Be careful—I dabbled with LSD back at Columbia U, and—”
Peter cut him off with a harsh bark of laughter. “The Fuckrising is no mere hallucinogen. It’s gonna set things right.”
“Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Too late. Take care of yourself, B.” Peter hung up.
He stared at the ceiling for a long moment, letting his eyes drift across a stylized hologram of a Super Mario Bros. mushroom. Unbeknownst to many, the power-up was based on an actual psychedelic: the amanita muscaria, chosen because it often induced the illusion of physical growth. It was also the source of the Santa Claus myth: a red-and-white entity that would deliver presents or punishments, depending on the quality of someone’s character. At one point in time, Peter had been convinced that psychedelic mushrooms could save the world. But as things stood, the world was too far gone. The Earth required something stronger.
When Holly had murdered Bitefighter, it had created a strange dissonance in Peter’s mind. He admired her ruthlessness, but he couldn’t forgive her for killing the shit out of his best friend. It had completely emasculated his five-year-old mind.
He had never felt so weak, so powerless, so…
Peter reached under his bed and withdrew a crinkled lump of inflatable plastic. He opened the air nozzle and mated it with a connector, whose hose led to an electronic pump. He activated the pump, and a loud drone filled the room.
Slowly but steadily, the plastic blew up into a human figure. After a few minutes, a facsimile of Holly emerged on Peter’s bed, completely naked and ready for doggy style. Its eyes were ridiculously big, its mouth rounded into a cartoonish “O.”
Peter cut off the pump, yanked his shorts down, and took his place behind the doll. He began thrusting.
You shouldn’t have made me feel small, Holly—you SHOULDN’T HAVE MADE ME FEEL SMALL!
Veins bulged from his forehead as he railed away at the lifeless dummy. This was his nightly ritual, and a distinctly dismal one; he was unable to cum through doll-sex alone. After he’d vented his rage, he fell onto his side and began masturbating furiously. At the same time, tears leaked down both his cheeks.
You will all pay.
He starched his sheets with a flood of gross, stinky sperm.
All of you.
Then he fell asleep in a blotch of his own, asparagus-tainted filth. In his dreams, Peter Lee gorged on the sweet nectar of unchecked vengeance.