Archive for January, 2016

“You said they were vegetarians.”
“Pardon?”
“You said they were vegetarians. That isn’t true. I watched them eating their young.”
I started this conversation with the cow after I had awoken to find myself being carried on his back. My helmet was now clipped to a belt on my waist, which allowed me to begin eating the strange candies that the cow had given me. Even though I wasn’t sure if I could trust this cow, I was still famished enough to eat what he gave me. Surprisingly, I felt no pain from the kick he had inflicted earlier. It was very dark. Moonlight stabbed through the branches above, taunting me with its beauty. I remembered dreaming about a beautiful woman during my cow induced sleep. I loved her hair….silky, golden, and mesmerizing. It was to my enjoyment that I remembered her because she took my mind off of the horrors I had faced previously and that I would probably have to endure again in more dreadful, terrifying ways. Still, the dream was like a blur…upon awakening, I could not envision her fully. I had only caught a blurry glimpse of what I would later come to find was the most utterly real and beautiful thing in existence. Was she from my past? Did I even have a past before waking up in this world? Could I ever see her face to face?
But it was hard to find solace in thinking about her, because the cow I was with knew things, things of this world, and I didn’t, so I had to talk to him. He didn’t answer my question, so I asked again.
“Cow, they aren’t vegetarians. I saw them…”
“Address me as Steer, young creature. Or, if you prefer, sir. I am much older and wiser than you. Every creature of this world is older than you. Centuries old. Though none of us really know how to explain it….oh silly me, I’m rambling like a common horse. You want me to tell you of the Fairies? They are a dreadful annoyance, every time someone new comes along, they have to frighten them. They are not evil or even formidable in the least bit. That display, young man, was the fairies feasting on their own bodies…..why so shocked? Your face is sickly pale….well they don’t like eating anything else with blood filled veins, and their wounds recover instantly when inflicted by themselves. Their main diet is fruit and leaves, but eating themselves allows them to live forever. Most boring creatures, all controlled by one simple mind and vocabulary….”
“Why is nothing here normal?!?!?! Cows talking?!?! Creatures that eat their own flesh?!?!?! A suit of armor that is somehow alive?!?!? Tell me now or I’ll slice you with my sword, I swear…”
The cow simply laughed at my interruption. I was in horror, and this creature who acted as if he was my helper did not even give me pity. He replied, with a look of self righteous satisfaction on his face.
“You cannot harm me, silly one. I am noble servant of the Alpha, as are you, and I know that each of our brains are too large to permit us such stupidity. And what, exactly, is normal?”
I could not answer him.
“As I had thought. Cut me with your sword indeed! Even if you truly wanted to, I am much faster than you, and…”
I rolled off of his back and kicked him hard in the face. Vengeance was mine. I didn’t care to know how he could help me anymore. His assumed authority over me (that’s how he seemed, anyway) was unbearable. I put my helmet back on and ran off laughing as he howled with pain. Yes, it did sound very much like a moo, and it was hilarious.
“COME BACK HERE YOU FILTHY COWARD!!!” He began to chase me with surprising speed. I sped off into the jungle, wanting to look back, but not daring to. I cut through vines with my sword, smashed tree roots with my colossal feet….and then I tripped. I could hear him calling behind me. I waited for a laugh or another fearsome kick from his hoof, but neither came. As he approached me, I could see a look of what seemed like fear upon his face.
“You have called Vengeance,” he said. “You have called it…it will be here shortly, we must make haste. Terrible mistake you have made! Terrible!”
If this cow, this Steer, this sole creature I knew that had answers was frightened, then I knew I should be as well. He seemed to know this world so well, acting as if he had survived centuries grazing amongst the place. What on earth could frighten him?
“We must make haste, we must make haste,” he said in a terrified whimper. “Vengeance is coming, we must make haste! Get on my back.”
Fear was now coursing through my veins, but putting my helmet back on gave me courage. I got onto Steer’s back and held tight. He zoomed off into the jungle even faster than I had done just a moment before. His strides shook the jungle floor, scattering birds and fairies from the trees and into the night sky.
“Where are we going?” I said.
“We are going to the waterfall, the only place that can protect us from Vengeance until you are trained. What a considerable amount of mortal peril you have gotten us into…hold on tight!”
We continued our race through the jungle. I had a feeling we were out of harm’s way, for nothing seemed to have been following us or anything, but then something broke that illusion. I heard a bloodcurdling roar that shook us hard enough for Steer to trip over his own feet and fall face first into a puddle. I fell off his side and rolled down a hill.
“Youngling!”, he yelled as I tried to grab hold of a branch, a vine, anything that could keep me from rolling further into this unknown called a jungle. I finally gripped a slimy toadstool protruding from the earth that didn’t break or even budge as I latched onto it. It held my weight and suspended me over what I now saw was the edge of an immense cliff.
I began scrambling up the cliff face, hoping that whatever produced that roar wasn’t waiting there to face me. As I pulled harder onto the toadstool to lift myself up, I saw that it was not a toadstool at all. Two big yellow eyes were perched atop its head. Slowly, it lifted up out of the ground to reveal a body covered with feathered tentacles. It made a disgusting shriek that was echoed by my own, for I was in deep fright. An evil mushroom, for pity’s sake! In this moment of fear I made a terrible mistake and let go, falling thousands of feet down, down to certain death below, down to the end of all things…
But I was saved.
I had almost reached the bottom when slimy tendrils coiled around my head, legs, and arms. The cables jolted with the speed and weight of my falling body. I looked up and saw that the fairies had rescued me.
“Look alive, ninny!” they laughed. “We’ll have ya back to your ugly cow in no time!”
My saviors carried me up to the top of the cliff. They released their hold on me and I roared with pain as I fell to earth.
“Would you rather us have let ya fall down there?” they shrieked. “We can still do that if you’d like! It wouldn’t hurt at all when ya landed!” They howled with laughter into the moonlight.
“No, thank you,” I said. I didn’t much care for them, but they had just saved me for a second time. “Thank you for saving me.”
They continued to laugh, acting as if they didn’t even hear me. Then, Steer appeared and trotted towards me.
“Time to go,” he said. I climbed onto his back and we set off once more. The earth was still shaking, due either to the deafening roar, or perhaps the footfalls of the thing that made it. I apologized to Steer as he ran.
“No time!” he said. “No time at all. But apology accepted.” He was breathing very heavily. Many twists and turns later, we found ourselves in the middle of a clearing. Yellow and violet flowers were scattered all over the ground amidst our presence. I was attracted to them, like I was to so many other frightening, terrible, and beautiful things of this world. They were absolutely gorgeous, so pure and colorful that it just didn’t seem right, especially so because we were running from some sort of gigantic monster.
“Why did we stop?” I said.
Steer hesitated to reply. He was muttering what may have been curse words under his breath. His fur was soft and wet from the trees we had clashed against in our run.
“Steer,“ I began to plead, “Why have we stopped?”
“At least now you’re being polite,” he replied. “You are learning young one. Now let’s see…no, not that way…maybe there perhaps…ah yes it is this way…oh dear, I am mistaken.” His head was jerking rapidly left to right. It was obvious that he was unsure.
“Are you lost, oh noble, wise, intelligent servant of the Alpha?” I knew these words seemed like harsh sarcasm fired back at his all knowing disposition, but in my heart I meant them. He may not have been as fast as he said he was, but he definitely seemed wise, though I suppose any cow with formal speech could be considered wise, compared to other cows.
“Oh calm yourself, creature. I know exactly where we are going. I don’t appreciate sarcasm by the way.”
“Which way, then?” I asked impatiently.
“In the direction of the Alpha or course! Now, which direction that is, I haven’t the faintest idea.”
He seemed less frightened, but still I could hear the uneasiness in his words.
“So you are lost?”
“Of course I am,” he replied. “But you know even less than me! You don’t even know yet where I am taking you or what wonders you will see…that is if your stupid, careless mistake didn’t land us in the belly of Vengeance. Why, you practically offered us up as a buffet!”
“What is this “Vengeance”?” I queried.
“It is where you are wronged and you try to give the perpetrators what they deserve for it. You didn’t even know that?”
I was annoyed. If this cow wasn’t my only way to knowledge, I might say I’d be very happy to slice him with my sword and roast his ribs on a fire. He would have made an excellent steak, and I could have used his pelt for a bed. At this thought came another, a humorous but at the same time vile one of a steak talking to me, saying things like “Youngling” and “I know exactly where we are going”. No, killing him probably wouldn’t do, as insane as this world was. I’m not even sure if I would have been able to kill him. My sword was heavy and it was very difficult to lift. Instead, I simply just returned to our conversation.
“Of course I know what vengeance is. But you are speaking of it as if it is a beast, as if it is that creature that produced the roar.”
“Is it not a beast?” Steer said.
“Yes, I suppose,” I replied with annoyance. “But last time I checked, it didn’t roar or have legs to chase us with. Or does it fly?”
“It can take many forms. That is why it is so dangerous. Vengeance and demons like it affect you and your predecessors much more than creatures like me. That is why your seemingly trivial action against me called it out. Alpha shall explain more when we find him. You wanted vengeance on me, and there it came. Trouble is, vengeance doesn’t just kill the antagonist. It kills the poor soul that conjures it to life as well. So its after you too.”
“What variety of forms can it take?”
“Well, let’s see…the ones I’ve seen it take are a vampire bat, an elephant, an immense tree, a toadstool, a giant reptile, and a lake. But it can transform into virtually anything.”
I shuddered at my realization. Perhaps the toadstool I grabbed was the very monster we were trying to avoid. When I told Steer of this, he fell silent for a few moments.
“Steer?” I said. “Why are you lost? I thought you knew this jungle.”
“Know it?” he said in a soft, frightened tone. “I know it very well. But some places are cursed, and if you go for a run at night, or are placed into deep trouble by a fool such as yourself, you will wind up in said places. They turn you around…confuse you…try to stop you. They are not of the Alpha. They are evil.”
“What are we to do then if we are in a cursed place?”
“We must simply guess at the right direction, and seeing as we are in the same predicament with the same advantages, you get to choose the path until I remember where we are going.”
“Why must I choose?”
“You are the chosen one, my friend. In situations like these where all hope seems lost, you are the one to eliminate the dirty, clouded illusion of fear and doubt, and bring order and direction to the world.”
Pride and determination flooded my being. Could I truly be the savior of this Jungle?
“You simply guess?” I said.
The cow nodded.
“Alright,” I said with confidence. “We go that way.” I pointed to the left, where the trees were the most colorful and beautiful in the moonlight.
“As you wish,” he said, and then cocked his head to the right. “Oh no, now that is it.”
“That’s the right way? But I thought you said you didn’t…”
“No. That is Vengeance.”
I looked to the right and felt my jaw drop inside my helmet. If I had been afraid before, it was nothing compared to this. In the tallest trees, I made out a shape that seemed reptilian, but gargantuan, simply colossal. Its horse like head parted the branches as if they were mere twigs. I saw six eyes with teeth for brows, curved teeth in its jaws, a long, forked tongue, and tentacles coiling out from all over its body. So far, every creature in this world besides Steer seemed to be related to an octopus. This newfound terror’s color was mottled gray, and the moonlight seemed to have enhanced its horrific appearance. Blue crocodilian spikes christened the monster’s gigantic back. Its appearance almost made me want to embrace death with open arms.
The beast stared us down with a look of pure evil. We were both petrified in fear, with no hope for escape. I could feel Steer trembling beneath my legs. I’m sure we both thought that this was the end.
But then I remembered something.
I was the chosen one.
“GOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs and thrust my sword towards the left side of the clearing. With my excitement, the blade wasn’t even heavy. I felt ready to take on this whole world and all its vicious monsters. Steer regained composure and ran as fast as he could to the left. Tentacles swayed from Vengeance as he let out a deathly cry and began to pursue us on two gigantic, birdlike legs. One tentacle slammed into my back so hard that I almost fell off of Steer.
“Hang on!” he cried.
A tentacle soared over my head and attempted to knock me off again. I was quicker. With a flash of gleaming silver, I cut the tentacle in two with my sword as Vengeance let out a howl of pain. Thick, blue blood splashed all over me.
I rode Steer further into the jungle. The trees were closer together now. It was to our misfortune that there was hardly any space between them, for Vengeance was still in pursuit, rearing his ugly head up into the bright light of the moon. He kept roaring, and it was filling me with fear again.
“I can’t do it!” I yelled to Steer. “I can’t go on! I will simply die!”
“Don’t you talk like that!” he barked, losing his breath with his run. Every word was rushed and separated by heavy breathing. “Doubt…is…an…illusion. You…are…the…chosen…WAAAAAHHOOOOOOOOO!!!” He screamed the last word of his sentence as a tentacle wrapped around us and lifted us high above the treetops. We were being carried higher and higher towards its mouth.
The colossal jaws opened and let out an ear shattering roar that literally made me go deaf for a few seconds. The ugly beast reared its head back and spat out fire that seemed to engulf the moon with ruby red flames. It was a most horrible sight. I was laced with sweat and couldn’t breathe. Steer, on the other hand, kept screaming so helplessly that it nearly brought tears of sadness to my eyes. They were already soaked with sweat and tears of fright anyway, so tears of sorrow wouldn’t add much to their already sopping wet sockets.
Despite my fear and sympathy being combined into a ghastly emotion that one can only get by being lifted into the air by gigantic monster, I was not ready to die. I had a survival instinct, and I knew I had to use it. My purpose was to get myself out of tough spots without letting fear stop me or slow me down. This was my chance and I decided to take it.
As we got closer to the mouth of the dreadful, roaring beast, I swung my sword into the tentacle wrapped around Steer’s body and my legs. A howl of pain was emitted as we began to fall from the severed set of tendrils. Then, we were caught again by another appendage and carried once more towards the mouth. This time, the tentacle coiled itself around Steer and I in such a way that it seemed impossible to lift my sword for another strike.
“Punch it! Punch it!” cried Steer
I took his advice and began punching the slimy tendril with my sword less arm. The tentacles seemed to have their own form of life themselves, their own form of mind; for when I had struck it with my fist I could hear it emit a squeal of pain amidst the colossal roars of Vengeance. I kept punching and the tentacle seemed to only tighten its grip. I could feel the monster’s hot, sickly breath on the skin of my armor. We were inches away from its gaping jaws.
As I kept punching, seconds away from being swallowed, Steer leaned his head back in such a grotesque way that it seemed to me that he had snapped his neck. His jaws clamped onto the tentacle and bit right through it, freeing us and my sword. As we fell and screamed, another tentacle lurched towards me, but I was too quick. I sliced and diced about ten tentacles in all on my way down. I began to think I was getting the hang of this warrior thing.
We fell into a pool of water and I could hear the beast of Vengeance no more. I looked down, scanning the bed of the water pool for those hairy beasts I had seen earlier in the river. There wasn’t anything but black, shiny stones with a colorful aura around them. They intrigued me, for they were colors I cannot describe, and reminded me again of how I seemed to remember certain things such as color, light, speech, and water, but not much else. I quit thinking about this and pushed Steer towards the surface. He was unconscious. I heaved him onto the bank with surprising strength. He was light; a cow that probably weighed at least a ton was light for me. I felt good that I was this strong.
I knelt over him and his eyes slowly opened. “The Fall,” he said. I replied, asking if he meant the fall we had just experienced. “No,” he said. “The Fall behind you.” I looked behind me and gasped.
In front of me was an enormous, beautiful waterfall. The water was bright white with hints of blue. It almost looked like frozen water or crystallizations, for like the rest of the water in this world, the waterfall was not flowing. The falling water was simply suspended in midair. It was such an incredible sight.
“Get us behind there,” said Steer. “We will be safe there.”
I lifted him to his feet and we began walking towards the fall when I heard an ear piercing roar, more dreadful than any sound I had ever heard. I looked back and saw Vengeance coming at us fast. He looked angry and even more terrifying than earlier.
“Run!” cried Steer. We ran as fast as we could through the huge sheet of enchanted water and tripped on a large stone, falling a few feet into a brightly blue lit cavern. There were stalactites and stalagmites everywhere. I looked towards the sheet of water and saw the immense shadow of Vengeance on the other side. He roared in fury, walked in circles for a bit, then ran far away until his screams became distant, and eventually, inaudible.
Steer began murmuring in a panicky state, “The Alpha? Where is Alpha? He said he’d be here! Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no.” I tried to calm him down by telling him we were safe here, though I did not know why we were. This mere waterfall had protected us from a creature of unspeakable evil and colossal height. But why?
“You don’t need to ask questions yet,” said a sweet sounding voice that echoed through the cavern walls. It seemed like singing. Steer was still huddled over in fear, obviously too shaken to pull himself together.
“Did you hear that voice?” I asked. When it spoke he didn’t seem like he took notice of it at all.
I got my answer not from Steer, but from the voice itself.
“You need rest. Badly. You look terrible. Go to sleep and I will reveal all things to you in the morning.”
“But I don’t want…” I started, but the voice cut me off.
“It’s not what you want or don’t want. It’s all about what you need. That’s all anything is about, in the end. And right now, you need sleep.”
The voice seemed male, but at the same time kind, smooth, and reassuring. I wasn’t even afraid.
“Steer did you hear that?” I said. He replied, saying something I couldn’t make out much of through his muffled sounds. “Voices, oh……..no………no one here…..we’ll be alright though won’t……tentacle tasted dreadful.”
He began asking me if I was alright when I heard the voice again.
“Only you can hear me. Now sleep.”
Instantly, I felt a weight of drowsiness pressing upon me. I fell to my knees. It would be impossible to stay awake. But could this be a trick?
“No trick,” said the voice.
As I faded out of consciousness, I saw a blurry white figure of what seemed like a skinny man standing in front of me. He seemed to be shining bright. He was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep, and the last thing I heard was Steer.
“Alpha! Alpha! He is the one.”

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After watching Sunday’s disappointing and cliched episode of “The X Files”, I went back to Netflix to relive the glory of the originals. This only deepened my belief that the first new episode was nothing more than a simple rehash of old ideas(albeit with a visually stunning flying saucer crash and CGI alien that put the old episodes to shame). Watching these episodes also helped me feel more comfortable about how the second episode on Monday completely disregarded the events that transpired at the first episode’s conclusion. What’s going on with Tad O’Malley? And what about the Sveta’s death? Instead, Monday’s episode made a completely 360 degree turn to a new set of events with only slight references to what happened in the new pilot(children and women being experimented on with alien DNA, also a crucial element in the original series). The result? A back and forth mind bender that truly has the ability to engage the audience and leave them wanting more. This is a tactic used extensively in the original series, especially in episodes like season four’s “Herrenvolk”, which ended with the death of “X”(Mulder’s shadowy informant) and questions about bees and alien bounty hunters, and then jumped to the next episode, “Home”, in a completely unrelated story about a sadistic family of inbreds(thanks netflix!). “Founder’s Mutation” doesn’t do a switch quite that extreme, for as I said, it still has an underlying plot theme about alien/human experimentation continuing on from the first episode, and even expands on it a bit. I won’t spoil too much of the plot, so you can either guess the rest or watch the episode. Here’s what I can say about it, and then on to the actual review: Dr. Augustus Goldman , nicknamed “the Founder” by his employees at the Nugenics Technology facility, runs a facility where he works on healing children afflicted
by severe genetic mutations. One of his employees, Dr. Sanjay, kills himself after hearing a screeching sound in his head that is inaudible to everyone else. This leads Mulder and Scully on an investigation that eventually uncovers a more sinister plot behind the Founder’s work with genetic deformities. So, what’s the verdict? Compared to the previous episode, I can sum up this one with one word. Wow. Wow. Wow(okay three words). First of all the plot, the script, and the acting are among the best I have ever seen in this show. Scully and Mulder have some very emotional daydreams about their child, William, whom they had to give up for adoption, and their reactions to these sequences are superb. Secondly, the cinematography makes this probably the clearest and sharpest looking of the X files episodes. Somewhat related to that is the gore and violence, which is just enough to be shocking without going completely overboard. The whole thing really reminds me of some of the best “mythology” episodes of the saga, such as “Herrenvolk”. That being said, this new run of the series is now beginning to feel fresh, with just enough new material in it to separate it from our favorite 90s TV show(including references to recent events such as 9/11, Obama Care, and Edward Snowden). There are even references to our modern “PC” culture, including a very humorous incident with a man misunderstanding Mulder’s request for them to enter a small closet to “talk privately”. I can only hope that not too many people were turned off by the pilot on Sunday(yes, decent, but still seriously lacking in quality compared to this one), and that they stuck around to give Monday’s episode a chance. Now, the show’s creator, Chris Carter, is the one who wrote the first episode, “My Struggle”. While I think he is a fantastic writer in most respects(I mean come on, he INVENTED this pop culture icon), I’m sorry to say that he sometimes rehashes stuff and tries to confuse you too much(Mulder has gone back and forth on believing in aliens many times in the series, but it just feels silly in “my struggle”.But I guess it’s because the alien invasion didn’t take place in 2012 like he was led to believe. I don’t know). The writer of episode 2, James Wong, executed a much better story. Hopefully, the remainder of this series’ limited run is more like “Founder’s Mutation” than “My Struggle”. Well…. I WANT to believe 😉