"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties

Started this last week. Been staring at it since, making no progress. I don't expect to, so...

There is a moment, before she pulls the trigger, where she considers feeling regret. A brief, barely registered moment which contains in it a confused mix of redemption and relief, immediately lost in the finality of that last pound of pressure. There is a flash of white, tinged with orange and red; the proximity of the muzzle suggesting a tunnel, and then there's nothing but the deep black of an endless starless night.

The ringing in her ears fades. Slowly the sounds of birds return, wind through leaves. Crickets.

And eventually, slipping in at the edges of this blank, emotionless eternity, there is light.


Impression of someone standing over her, a hole in the fading shadows. Ethereal, drunken senses pulling her attention inexorably into focus. She fights against it, but she's tired, so tired, and there's a dull ache in her mouth, the back of her head.

"Quite a fuckin' mess you've made." The voice is rough, the accent unmistakably Bronx. "Nice of you to crawl off into the forest like this, so no one'd have to clean you up. Bit of a fuckin' inconvenience for me, mind you, but I suppose I can hardly hold you accountable for that."

Words won't come. She reaches for them, fumbling blindly and feebly against the weight in her skull, but they remain out of reach. She can feel her mouth working mindlessly, ghost echo of meaning crackling along dried, shivering lips. Her throat working.

The sound of a lighter being flipped open, sparked. The smell of cigarettes causing a brief lightning storm of useless associations in her mind. Moments completely disconnected from any valid emotion; feelings raging in the dark. "Gotta tell you. I've been around for a while now, and I've seen people react all sorts of ways. Some people, they just kind of take it. Like it's a destiny thing, you know? Other people, they go a little schizo. Fine one minute, nuts the next. I'd say a good third go your route, take this little trip down the barrel lane. Eat a gun, pop some pills, cut some veins. Used to be, it was annoying. Now it's just boring." Sound of air smoke being inhaled. "I remember once, this guy jumped off a fucking cliff. Three hundred feet and four months later, he doesn't even apologize for wasting my goddamn time."

Sound of exhalation, the feel of smoke on her face; strangely, there is no smell. She realizes that her eyes are open, and completely dry.

"Immortality," the voice says, "is wasted on the dead."

And from the _notes file, pure dialogue, no fixes.

"Are you immortal, too?"

"Lady, I ain't even human. If your senses weren't so dulled by reality television, fast food, late-model sedans and lattes, you'd have figured that out for yourself by now."

"Then what are you?"

"A demon. I was assigned to you by my boss downstairs, whose fat ass has not left his desk in three millennia. I think the last time he got up to take a shit, they had to grease the hallway. I am your caseworker."

"My... caseworker?"

"And here I thought people were dense during the Inquisition. Yes. Your caseworker. The entity whose responsibility it is to watch over your soul and make sure it ends up wherever it's supposed to, assuming you follow your path. And before you ask: Yes, there is a Heaven; no, it is not full of people sitting on clouds playing harps. Yes, there is a Hell. Yes, some of it is pretty much on fire all the time."

I have some ideas for where this could have gone. But it won't, so I'm not even going to bother trying. Or maybe I will.

The only thing I've realized in all the years I've tried to be a writer is that none of it is really up to me.

Fuck it all anyway, gothemo bullshit.

September 13, 2004 6:34 PM