*Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl is a work in progress. You will see the content in these pages change over time as I continue to edit each chapter. 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 how phenomena occur. Time (which is needed for causality to exist, as condition A requires time to produce interaction B, and time is once again needed to express result C) is a construct created by the expansion of the universe, and is affected by factors like gravity and speed. If you think this is a pie-in-the-sky idea that isn’t relevant to your daily life, look no further than your GPS app. A GPS satellite must account for gravity-borne time slippage, or it will end up sending us 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 holding might be happening in some where, some when. Why would I do that? To be perfectly honest, I do it to shore up a ridiculous tale with every ounce of credibility I can possibly muster. The world in 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 caricature. Let’s push it a little further: my protagonist is a mad genius. A high school senior who—through his cutting-edge knowledge of psychedelics and tech—possesses the ability to change the world.
If I haven’t yet lost you, let’s go a little further: parallel dimensions are indisputably real. Within one such dimension there exists a warrior-king, similar to Conan the Barbarian. 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 would happen if they actually met?
I’m fully aware that’s a ridiculous proposition. And I’m also aware that it’s entirely self-serving—that its purpose is to ease the bounds of 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 the others to drop her on her head. Happy brain trauma, bitch!
—From the diary of Holly Dent: Atherton senior, captain of the cheer squad, and evil psychopath.
Today we killed hundreds, and freed thousands.
Our ranks were scattered by countless arrows. While we Indashis possess the stoutest of hearts, those hearts must be harnessed by a strong mind and an iron fist. Kor’Thank is that mind. Kor’Thank is that fist. Amidst a rain of merciless 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 Legend of Kor’Thank, recounted by Krul’Dar the Chronicler, in the fifth age of Iluvia.
I just wanna fuck something.
—From the blog of Chongha Peter Lee
“YES! I ACCEPT!”
Holly Dent jumped up and down, erupting with delighted squeals and clenching her fists up by her chin. Her fellow cheerleaders ringed her in, surrounding her with widened eyes and gaping mouths.
“Oh my god—”
“Oh my GAWD—”
“—knew you were going to be captain—”
“Lizzy would be so happy.” This from her best friend and evil lieutenant: Marissa Thompkins. The lights flickered overhead—the wiring was being upgraded, and it was a bit erratic—but no one noticed.
“A-hem!” Holly adopted a somber expression. “A-heh-heh-HEM!”
The girls quieted down.
She laid a hand atop her heart, dipping her head and initiating Serious Mode, a tactic she’d learned from her mom. This is really important, so look super interested and nod vigorously once I’m finished.
“I know that some of us didn’t like her, but Lizzy’s in a coma. We need to be there for our sister cheerleader.” She cleared her throat into her fist, barely managing to disguise a giggle. “We have to support our retar—I mean brain-damaged. We have to support our brain-damaged friend.”
Marissa reached out and squeezed her shoulder. “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.
“For Liz,” she whispered.
“For Liz,” they muttered.
After a couple of seconds, they stepped away from each other. Holly sniffed dejectedly, gauging the right amount of time to continue looking sad.
A thousand one, thousand two, thousand three…
Good enough. She adopted a brave-in-the-face-of-tragedy smile. “Let’s get back to work. That’s what would Lizzy want.”
There was a chorus of nods. Every so often, within a bunch of likeminded psychopaths, a hive mind is formed. That was the case with Holly and her squad. Right now, the hive mind knew it was time to celebrate.
Marissa clapped her hands, squeezing them tightly together in front of her chest. “We are so happy for you, Holls!”
The girls rushed in and lifted Holly up. Her body went on autopilot—thanking, cheering, yay-ing…inwardly, she was the exact opposite.
That’s right you cunts—pay tribute to your queen.
Kor’Thank stared into his stein of beer. His reflection stared vexedly back.
“I am weary, Krul. I am tired of being king.”
Krul’Dar—Kor’Thank’s loyal friend and Chief Chronicler—finished off his eighth stein and fixed Kor’Thank with a puzzled look.
Kor’Thank’s brows beetled together. “Or’goth’s balls—you and I have fought side by side on countless occasions! Call me by my name, Akanax damn you!”
Krul’Dar nodded apologetically. “I am sorry, brother. It is just that your latest feat was nothing short of—”
Kor’Thank cracked a faint smile. “ ’Twas glorious, was it not?”
Krul’Dar faced forward. His eyes drifted across the skulls and kegs that lined the tavern’s shelves. He waved an open-palmed hand from left to right, as if drawing back an invisible curtain. “King Kor’Thank charged up the back of a fifty-foot retrorax astride his velociraptor mount: the loyal Tongue Render—”
“His name is Bitefighter.”
Krul threw him a reproachful look. “As Chief Chronicler, I must convey gravitas.”
Kor’Thank sighed. “Continue.”
He stared again at the tavern keeper’s goods. “He charged up a retrorax, nocking three arrows onto his Lamordian bow. As he crested its neck he clucked his tongue, commanding his mount to dive to the left. At the same time, he dove to the right and loosed a trio of Blacksear arrows. Each missile struck true, piercing the eyes of the three-headed beast. One arrow for each head!” Krul’Dar slammed the table with a clenched fist. “One man…one man!” He brandished a finger and shook it forcefully. “Never before had a single man slain a full-grown retrorax!” His voice turned reverent and solemn. “The Indashi King had slaughtered legions of sorcerers, along with countless beasts that exhaled fire, ice, or poison. He’d led dozens of 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 paused. He looked expectantly at Kor’Thank.
“What do you think?”
The king stared gloomily at the tavern-keeper’s wall. “What of the long, cold nights? What of the weeks and months spent gathering supplies, so that our family and friends could stay armed and fed while we ventured abroad? It is not all blood and glory—you know that.”
Krul’Dar’s eyes flashed with irritation. “Kor, the Indashi are burdened with drudgery and listlessness. They need inspiration, not minutiae.”
Kor’Thank responded with a cynical scoff. “To what end, Krul?”
He put his hand on the king’s shoulder. “Your deeds give them a sense of purpose. And a sense of purpose, more than anything else, makes our lives into something worth living.”
Kor’Thank’s gaze returned to his stein. “I have defeated tyrants and dragons, demons and wizards…yet there is deep emptiness within my soul. Despite all my accomplishments, peace eludes me.” He directed a haunted stare towards his friend. “What of my purpose, Krul? Where do I find it?”
“As Alantil said: ‘Nowhere and everywhere.’ ”
“What in the Seven Hells does that mean?” the king snapped.
“You must make your own purpose, Kor.” Krul’Dar looked deep into his friend’s eyes.
“You must make your own.
Chongha Peter Lee was a wrathful genius.
He knew it, Eun Yin knew it, the former President knew it…but aside from those three, no one knew.
And it was driving him insane.
After throwing projectiles at Holly Dent’s picture for two 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 pushed a tritium button marked SEND.
“Peter? Are you okay?”
“Things are fucked B—they are fucked.”
The former president let out a sigh. “They were always fucked, Peter. Hands get shaken, bribes get made…and the gears keep spinning, business as usual. I score a book deal and rake in some speaking fees along with a nicely worded warning: ‘Let the public know about Grays or Insectoids, and we’ll scramble your brains with a .50 caliber bullet.’ ”
Peter rested his brow in the crook of his thumb and his forefinger. “She killed my dog, B—my motherfucking dog. I’ve brought down pedophile rings, served as a tech support for tier one hits, I’ve repurposed alien technology…and I can’t take my revenge on Holly Dent? For fuck’s sake, she’s a fucking cheerleader!”
“Her dad is the head of…well, you know I can’t say it—someone might be listening. Sanctioning Holly is a definite no-go.”
Peter flopped back on his bed. His hand became a neurotic blur as he violently itched his scrotum and penis. “She killed my DOG!”
“You dosed her with a chemical cocktail. If I remember correctly, it contained a thousand milligrams of THC, an experimental derivative of LSD and adderall, as well as eight hundred milligrams of high-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—”
“So was she.”
“She KILLED BITEFIGHTER!” Peter stomped into the bathroom, grabbed a towel off the rack, and blotted the hate-sweat off his face. “Sorry B, I shouldn’t have—”
“No Peter—I’m the one who should apologize. You’ve sacrificed a lot. You deserve some peace.”
“You have too; you should get some kind of—”
“Just because I tried doesn’t mean I actually accomplished anything.”
Peter stared in the mirror. “Everything we’ve done looks good on paper, but nothing’s changed—people are still just a bunch of hairless, rabid chimps.”
“At least you’re young. You should look at these fucks who are sitting in Congress. It’s true what they say: D.C. is just an ugly version of Hollywood.”
“We’re surrounded by primates who can’t get past their stupid—” Peter ran back to his room and punched the wall. “Fucking—” Another punch. “CHIMP INSTINCTS!” He threw two more punches, and a pair of knuckle-dimpled dents took their place amongst legions of fist-marks. “The ones you dealt with financed their coke habits through lobbyist bribes. The ones I deal with jerk off to the latest hashtag, or jockey for some meaningless title like Homecoming Queen. Yo—did you know that Atherton’s mascot is an actual chimpanzee?”
They both broke into a gale of laughter.
The former president gasped, “Oh God, oh God—I…I…”
He was overtaken by another fit. It wasn’t that funny, but both Peter and B were keenly 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 of the United States and a high school senior caught in a Darwinian web of adolescent malice—were uniquely qualified to pay that tribute.
Peter wiped away his tears. “They named him Fido, but I call him Reptar.”
B’s voice rose in alarm. “Wait—you’re school is housing a real chimp? Those are dangerous, Peter. Does the faculty know how vicious they—”
“No one cares. Reptar was Holly’s idea, and since her dad is heading up special projects over at—”
“Don’t say it. Like I said before: assume we’re tapped.”
Holly’s father was a high-ranking 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 increasingly dependent on corporate contractors. Now, it was impossible to tell where business ended and government began.
“Anyways,” Peter said, “Thanks to her dad, she’s reduced the faculty into a bunch of PTA-servicing whores.”
“So this chimpanzee…who cares for it? How does a high school pay for its upkeep?”
“Dude, have you seen the Bay Area housing prices? Atherton High has got enough cheddar to fund an army; it’s pretty easy to hire some experienced handlers. I can’t complain. Aside from you and Eun, Reptar’s my only other friend.”
“Peter, they cripple their prey! They bite off extremities, gouge eyes—”
“—and rip off ballsacks,” Peter finished. “Yeah, I know. But at least they’re honest about it. The rest of the school—the rest of society, now that I mention it—tries to do the same damn thing, only with laws, norms, and peer pressure.”
“Peter, there’s a big difference between shady legalities and tearing off your—”
“Not to me,” Peter snapped. Then, in a more reasonable tone: “Don’t worry—he only gets angry when someone tries and interrupt our tussle-time.”
“Jesus, you play with him?”
“We grapple. I’m antisocial; I’m not gonna go to an actual jiu-jitsu school and—”
Peter sighed. “It’s not ideal, I know. None of my techniques would actually work on him ’cause he’s so damn strong, but I need a partner who can put in the time. It’s all good—his joints and movements approximate a human’s.”
“Peter, he’s 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 SCHEDULED 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 got up, shut off the reminder, then plunked back down onto his bed.
“Gotta go, B. The Bite Mobile—”
“Peter, it’s an old unicycle fitted with an ass-load of circuitry. I’m not sure that ‘mobile’ is an appropriate suffix.”
“You’ll see. Also—I gotta work on the Fuckrising.”
“I’m afraid to ask what that is.”
“The Earth has gifted us with mind-expanding substances—entheogens. They can help us ditch our evil monkey ways. We can evolve, B.”
“Be careful, Peter. I dabbled with LSD back at Columbia, and—”
Peter cut him off with a harsh bark of laughter. “The Fuckrising is no mere hallucinogen. It’s gonna set things right.”
“Just don’t be stupid.”
“Too late. Take care of yourself, B.” Peter hung up.
He lay back and stared at the ceiling, letting his eyes drift across a stylized mural of a Super Mario Bros. mushroom. Unbeknownst to many, the video game power-up was based on an actual psychedelic: the amanita muscaria, chosen because it could induce the sensation of physical growth. It was also the progenitor of the Santa Claus myth: a red-and-white entity who would deliver presents or punishments, depending on the quality of someone’s character.
At one point in time, Peter had believed 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 his dog, it had created a schism in Peter’s mind. He admired her ruthlessness, but he couldn’t forgive her for killing the shit out of his best fucking friend. He had never felt so weak, so powerless, so…so…
He reached under his bed, withdrew a crinkled lump of inflatable plastic, opened its air nozzle, and mated it with a connector. The connector’s 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. In less than a minute, a facsimile of Holly Dent was kneeling on Peter’s bed, completely naked and ready for doggy style. Her eyes were ridiculously big, and her 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 beet-red forehead as he railed away at the lifeless dummy. This was his nightly ritual, and it was distinctly dismal; he was unable to cum through doll-sex alone.
Once he’d vented his pent-up rage, he fell onto his side and began masturbating furiously. Tears of frustration leaked down his cheeks.
You will pay. He starched his sheets with a flood of gross, stinky sperm.
All of you.
Then he fell asleep in his own filth.