a joint project by Chuck McEdwards and Louis Boyce
Susie ripped open the Christmas present from Grandma. Her parents chuckled as the layers of green and red paper scattered around the room. Suddenly Susie screamed. She backed away from the gift, crying and pointing a shaky finger at the open box. Her father tried to quiet her as her mother stepped to examine the gift. Mrs. Perrit gasped in horror. It was . . . . a sweater.
The thing pulsed with evil. Neon pink and purple glowed from the cloth. A sewn bunny rabbit grinned maliciously up at them. Mrs. Perrit clutched her face. "My eyes!" she cried. "I've gone blind!"
Mr. Perrit let go of Susie, who was now unconscious, and approached the box. Looking puzzled, he peered in. "What's all the fuss about?" he asked, like the dumb male he was. "It's just a sweater."
Mrs. Perrit grabbed her husband by the shoulders and shook him violently. "A sweater?! My God, Harry! Can't you see? That thing is disgusting! It's the spawn of Satan! It's from . . . from . . . K-MART!!!!!"
By this time, Susie had regained consciousness. She seized her mother's arm. "Mommy! We have to throw it away. I can't stand it." Her mother nodded firmly and strode into the kitchen. She returned a minute later with a butcher knife.
"Okay, honey. You might want to close your eyes. This isn't going to be pretty."
Mr. Perrit picked up the box. "Come on, you two. It's really not all that bad. Now, why don't you try it on, Susie?"
Susie fainted again.
"Okay, then. Maybe she'll have to grow into it."
"Harry! Drop that thing before it hurts you," yelled Mrs. Perrit, assuming a Rambo stance with the weapon.
"Now, come on, honey. It won't kill us to keep it in the basement."
Boy, was he wrong.
The doctors led the wild-eyed girl into the emergency room. All wore protective glasses, but still grimaced whenever they made eye contact with the disgusting apparel of the patient. It was a bloodied, purple and pink sweater.
The psychiatrist emerged from behind the curtain. He sucked in his breath at the sight. "I have zeen many cazez of pzicopathz, but ziz iz ze vurzt," he said in a heavy Russian accent. "Men, ve have our vurk cut out for uz. Brunschellizziii, get ze tranquillizerz."
After the patient had been anesthetized, and the ambulance for the injured doctors had arrived, the psychiatrist gingerly worked the sweater off of the body. "Go burn ziz thing, Brunschellizziii. Ze patient vill regain conziouzness zhortly."
A few hours later, the girl awoke. She sat up and shook her head. "Where am I?" she asked softly.
"You are wiz friendz. I am Doctor Frupizzzzelo. What iz ze lazt zing you remember?"
She spoke uncertainly. "Well, my name is Susan Perrit. Ze--I mean the last thing I remember is walking down into the basement to get some crayons. I was frightened. Something bit into my leg. Then everything went black."
The doctor filled her in. "Vell, Zuzie. You vere pozzezzed by a devilizh article of clozing. You killed your mozer and fazer. Zen you vent out into ze ztreetz and murdered zeveral innocent people. Zat iz ven ze paramedicz brought you to me."
Susie lost consciousness.
A fire burned steadily in the hospital cafeteria. The remnants of a grinning rabbit were consumed by flames. Suddenly, a button popped off the cloth before it could burn. It lay on the ground beside the oven.
A young surgeon walked in and put a quarter into the soda machine. He saw the glint of a button on the floor. He picked it up and placed it in his pocket, muttering to himself, "Can't have that, can we? Someone could trip over it. Tut tut, could be dangerous!" Suddenly a strange light came into his eyes. He started to kick the soda machine, slowly and methodically at first, but increasing in speed. Then he rushed out of the cafeteria, laughing hysterically. God help the next patient for triple bypass surgery . . .
by Justin Rude
In the mark and scratch of history there are countless tales of the earliest of years.
Each new civilization, springing from those that came before, seems to create for
themselves a new view of what must have been in those unaccountable years before the
coming of the Villæja. Indeed, even the first race must have had limited
admittance to that realm of knowledge. They were closer to both that time, and the
Great Ones who resided then, and since the body of this work is focused on them and
their stories, it is the tale told long ago by the Villæja that is recounted
The gods were before the Villæja, and the Villæja were before men, but
before the gods there was water only on Caldør, deep and unending. Then the
water was infinite, and unmarred by land; the air also, lit by the sun or moon, was
calm, and on and on the placid sea stretched in every direction. Thus the storm which
brought the gods was also the first storm which tore the waves, and since that time
the sea has never been calm across its entire surface, but rather it is always being
tossed, in some place, by a diminutive offspring of that first great storm.
Now, as has been said, the gods first came to Caldør during the first great
storm, and up until that time the sea had been placid and unmarred, but now both the
heavens and the waves were tormented, and shook with conflict. The gods, for reasons
that were lost even to the Villæja, aligned on two sides, across a great
stretch of the ocean, and they came together in a great contest of power. Now the
second great storm of the world raged, and in it fire was borne of the anger of the
great ones. Mighty were the forces that came together, and the battles they fought
churned the water to its very depths, and it rent and shook the earth beneath, and
fire sent a great deal of the water to the sky, and when the battle was over
Caldør was changed.
Great masses of land, where before ocean only had been, sat atop the waves, tall and
wide, for as much land had been brought from the depths as water had been sent to the
clouds. Now rain fell in great multitude, for not all that sent up by fire remained in
the heavens, and much of it found its home in valleys and atop mountains on the newly
risen land. The gods settling from the war found their number much reduced, for horrible
indeed had the conflict been, and among the dead was not the weakest, but rather the
greatest and most loved of their number, for these had it been who pushed always to
the front of battle, and were the most prized targets of the enemy. Now those who
remained despaired, for without the great ones they sank into chaos, purpose and desire
fleeing them. Until finally they settled on the newly risen land, and the conflict,
which had destroyed so much, passed into obscurity, achieving finally nothing.
There were, among the Gods who settled the earth, many who began to love their new
home. To them the rocks, coasts, mountains, and lakes were monuments to old friends
long lost to time. Soon though the Gods sought a greater beauty for their monuments,
and they began to create, and not since the great war itself had they spent such time
and energy for creation, but from this effort came life and opportunity, not death and
cessation. Now were created trees, and grasses, and ferns, and all matter of living
greens which even now adorn our lands, and also birds, rodents, and beasts of all
kinds came forth by their will. The world was wide and alive, and even the oceans
were filled with fish and plants, and the war of long ago became history in the
minds of all the gods.
Not all that is told of this time is as joyous or hopeful as the formation of the
beasts and greenery though, for with the creation of life natural conflict was born.
In the natural tendencies of the beasts, strife was as necessary a part of life as
harmony, and soon the gods, who loved their creations greatly, began to imitate them
in this. Gods who loved the spider because of its ability to spin beautiful patterns
in the high trees, and the dimension it gained them, began to embrace creation. Gods
who loved the spider for its ability to ensnare and destroy life, and the power that
it gave them, embraced destruction. Soon they walked the earth in the forms of their
creations, and the gods were feral and the world still young, and war was on the horizon.
As far as origin and purpose, the second great war of the gods was, to the scholars
among the Villæja, just as mysterious as the first, but what little they did
grasp from their later time among the gods was that, for the first time, lines of
battle were drawn among the forces of creation and destruction. Over the things they
had created the gods had complete control, and thus for the first and final time
beast went to war with beast. They killed without need of food, and gathered without
need of protection.
Eventually the gods shed their feral forms, preferring the power and vision granted
by their elder forms, and they fought as before, without restraint or concern for
what they had made. The sea and sky trembled like it had not done since the first
great war, and as had been done before, the face of Caldør was ravaged and
When the battles had ended the gods looked and found precious few of their number left,
and each one, fearful of the future and weary of the past, returned to their ancient
homes in the earth, water or sky, and wept, cowered and slumbered. Thus for a long age
none came forth, and during their dormancy the era of the gods slid closer to its
As the last of the gods slipped from the damaged world the first light of civilization
was borne on it, for in that time the earliest of the Villæja began appearing in
the forest that they named Cîla es Élcøn, or The Forest of Pristine
Arrival. Thus it was that the gods missed the most significant event since their own
appearance, and the development of the Villæja went uninterrupted. The
Villæja loved the home that they came into, for the Cîla es
Élcøn was lush and filled with all life, and then the Villæja
were still very close to the earth. They built for themselves simple dwellings of
young limbs and fern leaves, and they were loath to fell the ancient trees whom they
loved and held sacred. They built these homes on the banks of streams and small rivers,
and they became adept at fishery and boatcraft. They also cut reeds from the banks,
which they learned to fashion into pipes and flutes. So did the Villæja first
come to love music, and it became the greatest joy among their people. In this way did
they live for many measures of years, and beautiful indeed did their music get, and
full of laughter and children were their towns.
Like this, on the banks of a small river in the middle of Vîanéara, were they finally found, singing to flute and lyre beneath a hall of yew limbs. For in beauty their music had rolled into the water and, having settled gently in the waves, it was passed downstream and beneath the current to the grotto home the goddess Løréala, and following its sound she came to that young hall and beheld its denizens in wonder. Not of the gods were these folk come, she saw, for though they had small horns, and the legs and tails of goats, creatures of the gods, their faces and arms were beautiful and new. She knew then also that changes had come in her slumber, and the world was made different beyond their greatest reckoning. She was not afraid though, for at once did she love the Villæja, and taking their form she ascended the bank from the river and came to their midst. The Villæja at once were struck with joy and awe, for there was no doubt of her divinity, her power and wisdom were clear in her form, which was beauty unconquered. Humbly did they ask for her guidance and teaching, and in love did she give it.