*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 would be authored by an immortal monkey banging randomly at a typewriter. Fictional heroes would live actual lives in adjacent realities. From what I understand, physicists and philosophers (and please research this for yourself; I’m not a scholar) allow for scenarios where cause and effect do not dictate the expression of phenomena. 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 borne from the expansion of the universe, and is affected by factors like gravity and speed. If you consider this a pie-in-the-sky idea with no bearing on 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 following story 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 all the 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 lost you yet, let’s go a little further: within a parallel dimension, there lives 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 self-serving—that its purpose is to ease the bounds of reader 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” where our current (sorry, FORMER) captain, Lizzy Prendergast, was dropped on her stupid fucking 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.
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 steel-tipped arrows, our dauntless king rallied the Reptrix Cavalry and led the charge against Rotskar’s army.
—From the Legend of Kor’Thank, recounted by Krul’Dar, Royal Chronicler, in the fifth age of Iluvia, seventh Epoch of the Minor Cycle.
I just wanna fuck something.
—From the blog of Chongha Peter Lee
“YES! I ACCEPT!”
Holly Dent jumped up and down, clenching her fists tightly by her chin. Her fellow cheerleaders surrounded her with bright, cheery smiles.
“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.
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.
Holly laid a hand atop her heart, dipping her head and initiating Serious Mode, a tactic she’d learned from her mother. This is really important, so look super interested and nod vigorously once I’m finished.
“Lizzy’s in a coma. We need to be there for her.” 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 sister.”
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 back 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. “Let’s get back to work.” She adopted a brave-in-the-face-of-tragedy smile. “That’s what Lizzy would want.”
There was a chorus of nods. Every so often, within a bunch of likeminded psychopaths, a hive mind is formed. And right now, the hive mind knew it was time to celebrate.
Marissa clapped her hands, squeezing them tightly 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, however, she was the exact opposite.
That’s right you cunts—pay tribute to your queen.
Kor’Thank, King of the Indashi, stared into his beer. His reflection stared vexedly back.
“I am weary, Krul. I tire of being king.”
Krul’Dar, his loyal friend and Chief Chronicler, fixed Kor’Thank with a puzzled look.
Kor’Thank’s brows beetled together. “Or’goth’s balls, Krul—you and I have fought side by side! Call me by my name, Akanax damn you!”
An apologetic nod. “I am sorry, 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 drifting across the skulls and kegs that lined the tavernkeeper’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 and circled a hand. “Continue.”
Krul stared again at the tavern keeper’s goods. “He charged up the back of a fifty-foot retrorax, nocking three arrows onto his Lamordian bow. As he crested its neck, he clucked his tongue four times, commanding his mount to dive left. At the same time, he dove 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 became reverent and solemn. “The Indashi King had slaughtered Darklight sorcerers, hordes of undead, 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 as the greatest hunter in all of Elithia.”
Krul’Dar paused and looked expectantly at Kor’Thank. “What do you think?”
The king stared morosely at the tavernkeeper’s wall. “What of the long, cold nights? What of the weeks and months spent gathering supplies, so that our friends and family could stay warm and fed while we ventured abroad? It is not all blood and glory, Krul—you know that.”
Krul’Dar’s eyes flashed with irritation. “Kor, the people 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 a gnawing emptiness plagues my soul. Despite all my accomplishments, all my victories, peace still 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 does that mean?” the king snapped.
“You must make your own purpose, Kor.” He looked squarely into his friend’s eyes.
“You must make your own.”
Chongha Peter Lee was a wrathful genius. He knew it, his friend Eun knew it, the former President knew it…
But aside from those three, no one fucking 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 tomahawks), he reached beneath 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? How you doing?”
“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 forefinger. “She killed my dog, B—my motherfucking dog. I’ve brought down billionaire pedophile rings, served as tech support for tier one hits, repurposed alien technology…and I can’t take 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 could be listening. Sanctioning Holly is a definite no-go.”
Peter flopped onto 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 that 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 you were creating your own worst ene—”
“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 be—”
“No Peter—I should be the one apologizing. You’ve sacrificed a lot. You deserve some peace.”
“You do too; you should get some kind of—”
“Just because I tried…it doesn’t mean I actually accomplished anything.”
Peter stared into the mirror. “Everything we’ve done looks good on paper, but nothing’s changed—people are still a bunch of hairless, rabid chimps.”
“At least you’re young. Look at those sociopathic cock-holes who’re sitting in Congress. It’s true what they say: D.C. is just an uglier version of Hollywood.”
“We’re surrounded by primates who can’t get past their stupid—” Peter ran into 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 gales of laughter.
The former president gasped, “Oh God, oh God—I…I…”
He was overtaken by another fit. It wasn’t that funny, per se, but both Peter and B were keenly aware that 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—your school is housing an actual 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—”
“OPSEC, Peter. Like I said: assume we’re tapped.”
Holly’s father was a high-ranking project chief over at the evil-ass organization known as ANOS: Advanced Neurorobotics and Operational Sciences. ANOS had started as 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 dick-monkeys.”
“This chimpanzee…who takes care of it? How does a high school pay for its upkeep?”
“Bay Area real estate, man. Think of the property taxes. Atherton High gets enough goddamn cheddar to fund a mercenary army; it’s pretty easy to hire some experienced handlers. I can’t complain. Aside from you and Eun, Reptar’s my only 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, come to think of 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 interrupts our playtime.”
“Jesus, you play with him?”
“We grapple. I’m antisocial; I’m not gonna go to a real 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:
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. There’s still hope; we can still 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 do anything stupid, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Too late for that. 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 also served as the inspiration for Santa Claus: a red-and-white entity who delivered presents or punishments, depending on the quality of someone’s character.
A few years back, 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 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.
The plastic blew up into a human figure. In less than a minute, a facsimile of Holly was kneeling on his bed, completely naked and ready for doggy style. Her eyes were ridiculously big, 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. This was his nightly ritual, and it was a distinctly dismal one; he was unable to cum through doll-sex alone. Once he vented his pent-up rage, he fell on 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.