The Stranger's journey has now come full circle.
Join me in the bright sunshine at When Words Go Free...

There are still stories to be told.
Read them at The Stranger Looks Back.

Mastery Of The World: Part I

They were as sorry a ragtag bunch as ever tried to rule the World. They seemed to know that they were doomed to failure from the start, but they didn't care. They were in it for the fun, and they had much of it. Mostly descended from Islanders, they answered the Alpha's query and set to properly assigning themselves rank and title. By general consensus, the Horseman became the leader, but there was some confusion as to who was second-in-command, and nobody seemed to care much.

Hopped up on amphetamines thanks to the Dealer, their plan of attack was distracted by the arrival of lunch. Not wanting to take over the World on an empty stomach, they ate and drank and forgot why they were there in the first place. The men among them sought after amorous diversion, some of the women among them became men so as to join in, and at least one of the men among them became woman for no apparent reason. The Hermaphrodite wasn't sure which way to turn, but did so several times anyways.

Eventually, they had it all sorted out and awoke from their slumber, only to find that their leader had left them for the dubious pleasure of feline company. By this time, the World had caught wind of their plans, or at least their intent; they were still a long way off from having any actual plans. The World thought to put an end to their enterprise, then decided otherwise, confident that they would hang themselves, given enough thread.

After a breakfast of haggis and frites, they noticed the remains of the veela they had ravished and devoured the night before, and wondered if that should be thought of as cannibalism. After a brief discussion they decided not, finished up the leftovers for lunch, and wondered what they would have for supper, during which discussion the Eggman was chastised for referring to the veela as french fries. The Cyclops pointed out that indeed, the lovely ladies had been grilled, not so much for taste as to avoid trans-fat.

The Cowboy wandered off, muttering something about having been invited to play golf with a nice but manly-looking Baroness in a plaid skirt, while the Princess inspired the others with her awesomeness. This sort of thing went on for what seemed like quite some time, and while weapons were designed and tested, no advance was made upon the World, and recruitment efforts failed miserably. A few others, among them the Jester, the Referee, the Venerable, the Queen, the Harpie, and the other Giraffe, dropped by out of curiosity, but none were impressed enough to join in.

In the end, they didn't so much give up as forget about the whole thing, and when a random pillock came by to hawk his wares, nobody was left to notice. The World smiled.

Zombie Breakfast

I looked at the pieces of the smashed camera on the sidewalk. As shocked as I was that I had done that, I was more afraid of what I might do next. I wondered how fast I would have to go to be able to drive off a pier into the river, like in the movies. I wondered if there was even a pier in the area where I could do that. So I got into my car and drove.

I didn't know where I was going until I got there. I didn't even know that I knew exactly where it was until I saw the sign. I pulled into the parking lot and walked to the main entrance. I was still wearing the camera strap. I told the lady at the front desk that I thought I was going crazy and might do something crazy, and could I stay here for now?

She asked for my health insurance card, which she put into the little machine with a form that I had to sign on the bottom. A few minutes later, I was sharing my angst with a nurse, who then brought me to my room, where I was to just try to relax and wait for a doctor to see me. I didn't wait very long, and after a short interview, the doctor instructed the nurse to give me two little green pills. I slept very well that night.

Not long after I awoke, I was ushered to breakfast in the dining hall. I was a bit taken aback by this - I had never been in a hospital where you didn't eat in your room, and I really wasn't in a mood to be around a lot of people. That turned out not to be a problem at all. The first sign was the way they shuffled to their seats without any indication that they were aware of the presence of others. The second was that their eyeballs didn't move.

The clincher was the green slop. When my bowl was put in front of me, I eyed it suspiciously, not quite sure for a minute if I was supposed to eat it or wait for someone to bring newspaper for a papier-mâché project. I looked around and saw the others methodically dipping their plastic spoons into the bowl and depositing the substance in their mouths. I dipped my own spoon and slowly brought it to my face. It had no smell at all; I wasn't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, so I cautiously put the tip of the spoon to my mouth.

I had never known that tastelessness could taste so bad. I was rather hungry, so I tried my best to eat it, but two spoonfuls was all I could take. When I looked up to see that many of the others had finished their bowl and were lining up for seconds, as lifelessly as they had earlier walked in, that's when I knew for sure.

A little while after I got back to my room, a nurse came in to escort me to a room where I was to wait for a doctor. When he came in, I was surprised to see that it was the same doctor I had seen elsewhere several years earlier, when he had told me that he could give me something that would work much better after I had taken a bottle of Anacin. He didn't recognize me, and I didn't mention our earlier meeting.

He asked me how I was feeling, and why I had come there the previous evening, and I told him about the girl and my father's camera and my thoughts about driving into the river and my seemingly unintentional itinerary that brought me to the hospital. After we chatted a bit, he looked at his watch and asked me if I would rather sign myself in until I was better, or leave. I thought of my breakfast companions, and imagined seeing them again at lunch.

"I feel much better, doctor. I'd like to go home now."