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Big News!

After a two year writing journey, I finally published: Love, Treachery, and Other Terrors! If you’ve been following me for a while, the synopsis below probably looks familiar. This is the novel length version of a series of stories I put on my blog a few years back.

What’s different? It’s about twice as long—there’s more romance, more action, and more humor and everything is more fleshed out.

If you are one of the people who read the original stories, I hereby honor you with the title hipster. You have gained access to a whole array of phrases, including:

“I liked the originals better.”

“Katy was great before she sold out.”

Wield this power wisely.

Synopsis:

Fairies have one job. They are tasked with helping people learn and practice virtue. I am sure you’ve heard stories of fairies taking the form of beggars, blessing those who help them, and cursing those who don’t. 

However, not all fairies are good. Instead of helping people practice virtue, some encourage vice. These are the types of fairies you generally want to avoid. Nothing would delight them more than seeing you destroy someone you love.

Unfortunately, for the young King Alexander, his sister falls victim to a pair of such fairies who convince her to launch a coup. Alexander has no choice but to flee to a barbarian kingdom and try to build himself a new life among the uncouth locals. 

Even if happiness were possible in such a place, could he live with himself if he left his people at the mercy of such evil beings? And even if he wanted to help his people, how could he possibly match the fairies’ power? 

This quirky coming of age story is about responsibility, courage, and self-sacrifice.

But Katy, this costs money! What if I don’t like spending money?

Wow! We have so much in common! For a limited time, you can get a free ebook in exchange for an Amazon review. Follow this link to sign up: https://booksprout.co/arc/54438/love-treachery-and-other-terrors

That’s all I’ve got for now! I have more projects in the works, I’ll be back with more updates, limericks, and short stories later!

Bye-bye!

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Elf vs Elf: A Family Drama

Note: This story is a sequel to Elves vs Elves: A Christmas Miracle. Read this first or risk confusion.


   At the age of a hundred and sixty, Princess Sciatica wasn’t technically a teenager. She was, however, the elven equivalent. She sat in the passenger seat of her father’s car, scowling out the window as her father, Sertraline King of the High Elves, drove along the winding road that would take them back to the elvish realm. The elvish realm was in the heart of Yosemite National Park, hidden by magic from the eyes of mortal men. They were on their way back from the San Jose Police Department. Three hours of driving and neither had said a word. Sciatica felt Sertraline glance over in her direction once or twice. She knew why he came to get her himself, instead of sending someone. It was because he couldn’t bear the scandal. If anyone in the elven world found out what she had done…

   She smirked devilishly. 

   She wished elvish cars were a little bigger. They looked sort of like smart cars. They were powered by the same renewable energy source that powered all elvish technology. Each one had only two seats, so when a group of elves wanted to go someplace, they’d drive in slow, regal processions. 

   “It isn’t true,” the king said at last. “What that police officer said.”

   Sciatica’s smirk broadened. For the first time in her life, she was being her true self and he couldn’t stand it. 

   “It is,” she admitted. 

   She looked toward him. He was staring vacantly at the road ahead. His eyes broadened at her confession. 

   “I don’t believe it,” he replied.

   “Believe it, Dad,” she said. 

   “Call me ‘Father’,” Sertrailine replied. 

    Sciatica rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, Dad.” 

   His lips tightened. “Given everything, I can believe you were in possession of…” he trailed off. It seemed he couldn’t bring himself to say it. “But I cannot believe you were selling. You wouldn’t do that, not to me.”

   “Maybe I am not who you think I am,” Sciatica replied. 

   Her whole life she had been his perfect princess—sweet, creative, and pretty. She had always looked upon him with unconditional admiration. Now, at the elvish equivalent of sixteen, she was determined to prove to the world that she was not just some accessory to her father. She was her own person, with her own passions and needs and dreams.

   She had run away three weeks ago. She knew it would take her father a while to notice she was gone, because it was late November and he was usually brooding about the upcoming Christmas season. 

   The king forbade her from associating with non-elves, so she immediately went to the human world. She cut her long golden locks into a pixie and dyed it pink. Then she decided to update her wardrobe. Her father always insisted she dress like it was the thirteenth century instead of the twenty-first. She needed to fix that. She wanted something edgy, something that would show a little skin. 

   She got herself a t-shirt and capris. At first, she felt a little uncomfortable walking around in public with her ankles and arms exposed like that, but when she thought of how scandalized her father would be, she fully embraced the feeling. 

   She thought about getting a tattoo, but was a bit squeamish around needles. Her hair and clothing were rebellious enough anyway.

   She ran short on cash a few days in, and so in desperation she took up a new trade. A trade that was a crime in the State of California. 

   “You are not an urchin,” Sertraline retorted. “No daughter of mine would ever sell…” He breathed deeply, “disposable plastic straws.”

   “Hey, people are desperate for them, you know how fast those paper ones dissolve? I was doing pretty well for myself, before the cops ruined everything.”

   Her father was trying desperately to keep his composure. He was like a pot about to boil over. She just needed to poke him a little more and he would totally lose it. 

   But then she noticed twinkling lights up ahead—red and green and gold and blue sparkling between the dark tree trunks. She knew they had reached the elven realm. 

   Sertraline mumbled something about how it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Ever since the king visited the North Pole the previous year, his subjects had been eager to celebrate Christmas and had covered their woodland city in colorful lights. 

   Sciatica noticed her father becoming anxious as they approached the palace. Glancing this way and that, he parked the car in a secluded grove and tossed her his cloak. “Put this on and go at once to the Western tower.”

   She rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, Pops.” 


   Sertraline stared out over the woodland city pondering the gravity of the situation. Every few hundred years, he developed another crease in his forehead. His daughter’s behavior was creating a new one. 

   How could he possibly cover this scandal? It would be at least twenty years before her hair would return to normal. He was trying to decide if he could keep her out of sight that long or if he should just make her wear a wimple. 

   “Well? Is she alright?” 

   It was the voice of the last person Sertraline wanted to see. The only other person who knew about his predicament. Actually, it was the person who told him his daughter was missing in the first place—the fairy, Alika.

   “What has become of my daughter?” Sertraline sighed. “Has she been corrupted by some evil magic?”

   “If by evil magic, you mean hormones, yes.” Alika replied. “So… she’s alright?”

   “Far from it,” Sertraline explained. “She’s been perverted by the darkness of mortal hearts.” 

   “But… she wasn’t, you know, attacked while running around the human world selling illegal goods?”

   “No,” Sertraline clarified. 

   “Ah good,” Alika replied. “Glad to hear it.” 

   Then she turned as if she was about to leave. 

   “You’re leaving?” 

   “Now that your daughter is safe, I really don’t see any reason to stay.” 

   “She’s hardly safe!” the king complained. “She’s under some sort of evil spell.” 

   “Well, I hope you find some way to help her,” Alika replied. She normally would have added something like “I’ll be thinking of you” or “I’ll be praying for you” but since she was in California she responded in the customary fashion: “I’ll be sending you positive vibes.” 

   She took two steps toward the door. 

   “You are going to leave my daughter cursed?” 

   Alika turned back to him with a broad grin. “Why, Your Majesty, are you asking for my help?” 

   Sertraline’s mouth tightened. The corner of his lip twitched slightly. 

   “With all that magic of yours you must be able to do something about her hair.”

   “I could restore it to normal in the blink of an eye,” Alika answered. 

   “Do it.” 

   “No,” Alika replied. “Honestly, I kind of like it. It’s a good look on her.”

   Sertraline scowled. 

   “You want my help? I’ll tell you what I would do in your place,” Alika smirked. “She’s trying to find herself. It’s totally normal for someone her age.”

   “Can’t she do that without destroying herself, the planet, and our reputation?” 

   “You mean your reputation?” 

   Sertraline’s lips tightened further, so that his mouth became nothing more than a horizontal line. 

   “Well, we can mitigate the damage,” Alika suggested. 

   “How?”

   “She’s feeling suffocated. The more rules you subject her to the harder she rebels. Why don’t you make a deal with her?” 

   Sertraline paled, which was impressive for someone already paper white.

   “You’ll give her freedom if she follows certain rules.” 

   “No,” Sertraline answered. 

   “If the outside world is as awful as you suggest, let her see for herself. Without the appeal of rebellion, she will realize you are right, won’t she?” 

   Sertraline sighed and staring vacantly over the wood, said: “I wish her mother was here.” 

   Alika looked confused. “Where is she?” 

   “She has crossed the ocean and returned to her forefathers.” 

   “So she’s in the UK visiting her folks?” 

   “Yes.” 

   Alika raised an eyebrow. “And they don’t have phones in the UK or…what?”

   “I’ll call her,” Sertraline grumbled. 


   Sciatica sat at the round table in Sertraline’s council chamber rocking back and forth on the rear legs of her chair. She was dressed in what her father would consider proper evilish attire—a dress eight hundred years out of date. The one nice thing about these medieval dresses was that they often had long flowing sleeves where she could hide her phone. And she needed something to entertain her when the inevitable lecture became unbearably dull. 

   Sitting there with her medieval dress and pink pixie cut, staring at her phone under the table, she looked like she was killing time between sessions at ComicCon. 

   She heard her father’s footsteps in the hall, shoved her phone up her sleeve and crossed her arms over her chest. When he entered, she greeted him with a scowl.

   He scowled back. 

   “Morning, Dad,” she said. 

   He opened his mouth to speak but she interrupted. 

   “I already know what you’re going to say, so how ‘bout I go first.” She had been rehearsing this in her head all night. “I’m not a child anymore. I am my own person, with my own thoughts and dreams and passions. You don’t own me, and I intend to live my life as I see fit.” 

   “Do as you please,” her father replied. 

   “Nothing you can do will stop me—wait, what?” 

   “Do as you please,” Sertraline repeated. 

   The princess raised a sceptical eyebrow. What was the catch?

   “I spoke to your mother,” the king explained. “She seems to think I am being too hard on you. I wish to make a treaty.” 

   “Go on,” she pressed. 

   “You may explore the human world if you wish. My only request is that you return home by eight every evening.” 

   “Midnight,” Sciatica demanded. 

   “Eight,” Sertraline insisted. 

   “It’s four hours to anywhere from here!” the princess complained. 

   “You’re lucky I am letting you leave here at all,” Sertraline replied. 

   “How about ten,” Sciatica suggested 

   “Nine thirty,” Sertraline continued. 

   Sciatica rolled her eyes. She wondered what, if anything, he would do to hold her to it. 

   “Fine,” she agreed. 

   “When you witness the hardships of the human world, you’ll come to appreciate the wisdom of your elders.” 

   “Don’t think so, Pops,” Sciatica replied, shoving herself back from the table. “I’ve already seen the human world and it isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s better than here.”

   “A facade,” he replied. “You’ll see.”

   “I won’t!” she argued.

   “You certainly will.” 

   “I will not!” 

   “You most assuredly will!” 

   She stormed through the door, then added one more: “WON’T” for good measure.


   The moment the princess left the room, Sertraline’s eyes filled with panic. He might have swooned if Alika hadn’t materialized behind him. 

   He didn’t even bother to greet her. 

   “You’ll keep your end of the bargain?” he pleaded.

   “If you keep yours,” she replied. “No more pointless wars.” 

   “None of my wars are pointless,” Sertraline argued. 

   “All of your wars are pointless,” Alika replied. “And the minute you start another one, I am getting your daughter a motorcycle.” 

   Sertraline took several slow, calming breaths. 

   “I won’t let her out of my sight,” Alika affirmed. 

   “Make sure she doesn’t get lost and don’t let her do anything illegal, and don’t let her drink cola, it’s toxic.” 

   “It’s not,” Alika answered. “Well, not in small doses…” 

   She left the king desperately trying to suppress his panic.

   As Sciatica drove off, she cranked up the radio and rolled down the windows. She grinned when she heard the song. It was The Christmas Shoes. She loathed The Christmas Shoes, but so did her father. 

   She looped around the palace a few times with the windows down and the volume on full blast to ensure the sappy tune reached him, then sped off. She was free! Free to be whoever she wanted! She didn’t know who she wanted to be, but she knew she didn’t want to be her father, or anything remotely like him. 

   Thus began Sciatica’s reign of terror. 

   During the week that followed she did all kinds of things she knew her father would find offensive. She rented an old SUV and removed the catalytic convertor. It was noisy and smelly. She hated everything about it, but knew her father would too. 

   She ate all kinds of human food—fried food and fatty food, and sugary food. Food that came in disposable packaging. After living her whole life on kale and elven wafers it made her feel sick. She found it deeply unpalatable, but also knew her father would lose his mind if he saw her eating it. She was her own person not some accessory to him. She got a six pack of Coca-Cola and threw away the rings without cutting them. 

   When she returned home that evening, she told her father she had attached one of the plastic rings to a sea lion’s snout. She had actually considered it, but when she saw how large and moody sea lions were up close, she lost her nerve. 

   She was always freezing because she dressed in clothes that left her arms and legs exposed. If she had been paying attention, she might have noticed that most of the humans in the city were wearing sweaters and long pants because it was late November. 

   Every night she had another horror story for her father. Though her father always maintained his composure in her presence, the moment she left him he would have to breathe into a biodegradable paper bag to calm himself. 

   Then one evening, the princess returned home early and met her father for supper in the great hall. One the rare occasions they dined together, they sat on either end of a table the length of a tennis court. Somehow, perhaps by elvin magic, they were able to hold a coherent conversation without raising their voices. 

   “You’re home early,” Sertraline observed. 

   “Is that a problem?” The princess asked sweetly. 

   “It’s… unexpected.” 

   “What? I can’t enjoy dinner with my dear father?” 

   Sertraline narrowed his eyes suspiciously. 

   “I met someone today,” she said. “I think I love him.” 

   Sertraline choked on a piece of organic rampion. Sciatica broke into a devilish grin. Her eyes sparkled deviously. 

   “My worst fear has been realized,” the king exclaimed. “He isn’t human, is he?” 

   Sciatica looked appalled. “I would never stoop so low!” 

   The king looked slightly relieved. 

   “He’s a goblin,” she continued. “His name is Gorp.”

   Now Sciatica didn’t like Gorp at all but she knew her father wouldn’t either. And thus, she had agreed to one lunch date with him. It was a miserable date. He was rude to the servers, put his elbows on the table, and used his salad fork for the entree. But her father’s reaction made it worth it. He went completely ridged in his chair. 

   “Have I taught you nothing?” he snapped. 

   The princess relished it. He was finally reacting. 

   “Elves only court elves,” the king asserted. “Every elf who has done otherwise has died of grief.” 

   “I am pretty sure you’re exaggerating,” she remarked. 

   “I am not,” the king replied. “And if you see him again, you will be confined to the palace for the next fifty years of your life.” 

   The smugness left the princesses at once. 

   “Oh Father,” she sighed, in an unusually girlish voice. “Of course you are right! Alas, being in the outer world has so filled my heart with wickedness and corruption that I was unable to see it.” 

   The king calmed slightly. Maybe Alika was right? It seemed like the princess was finally coming around. 

   “Please forgive me, Father. I swear to you I will not see Gorp again.” 

   “See that you don’t,” the king replied. 

   “And if I do find love again, it will be with an elf of noble occupation… maybe an artist or, or, a poet!” 

   Sertraline’s frown disappeared which was the closest he ever came to a smile. 

   “I knew you’d see reason,” he answered. 

   Sciatica did not return early the next evening. 

   It was nine forty-one when she arrived. The king was standing on his balcony, staring out over the elven realm, pondering the nature of evil and the corruption of mortal hearts, when he suddenly heard the voice of Brenda Lee blasting from somewhere in the distance. The awful sound grew closer, and with it came the whooshing, growling, sound of a gasoline powered vehicle. 

   Then the car burst into sight. It was a canary yellow SUV, with the windows rolled down and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree blasting on full volume. The car stopped right under his balcony. Sciatica stepped out, but neglected to turn off the engine. 

   She was wearing the ugliest sweater the king had ever seen. It was scarlet and baggy with a Christmas tree cutout sewn onto the front. It clashed with her pink hair in an atrocious way that made the king nauseous. Lest she be too modest, she was also wearing a knee length skirt that exposed most of her knees.

   She took a swig from a plastic cup, crushed it in her hand and threw it over her shoulder onto the ground. 

   “HEY DAD!” she called, waving up to him. “Want to meet my new boyfriend? I think you’d like him, he’s an elvish poet!” 

   She beckoned to someone in the car and out hopped Myrrhy the Christmas elf. He scurried to collect the crushed cup. “You dropped this!” he called, then noticing the king, waved. “Oh hi, King!” 

   Sertraline would have swooned, except that men don’t swoon. He collapsed with a weary sigh. Sciatica’s smug expression faded. At once she turned off the engine and raced up the stairs to her father’s room. 


   Sciatica stood by her father’s bedside. He was lying with his eyes closed, his hands folded on his chest, and his golden locks flowing over either side of his silken pillow. He almost looked like he had been laid out for a wake, but he wasn’t dead—at least, not yet.

   As the princess looked down at him she sobbed into her phone. 

   “He’s not being dramatic, Mom!” she choked. “The doctor said he’s dying of grief.” 

   She paused for a moment, listening to her mother’s reply. 

   “No Mom! He’s not going to ‘get over it’! This is all my fault, Mom. I killed Dad… Oh, now I’m being dramatic?” 

   Sciatica hung up. She tried to thrust her phone into her pocket but her skirt did not have pockets. Frustrated, she slammed it down on the table. 

   “How’s your father?” came a voice.

   Sciatica turned to see Alika standing behind her. She knew Alika as an associate of her father’s. (He didn’t have any friends.)

   “Oh fine,” she lied. Then burst into tears. “No, he isn’t. He’s dying and it’s all my fault!” 

   “What, you shoot him or something?” Alika asked. 

   “I broke his heart. I didn’t mean to, I just—I wanted to prove that I am my own person not just some accessory to him!” 

   “No,” Alika replied, shaking her head. 

   “What do you mean, ‘no’?” Sciatica snapped. 

   “If you really are your own person, why can’t you make a single decision without considering your father’s wishes?” 

   “What are you talking about? I haven’t done a thing my father would approve of in weeks!” 

   “That’s just it.” Alika clarified. “You carefully consider his wishes and do exactly the opposite. Your singular purpose is defying him. He is the center of your world.” 

   Sciatica’s cheeks turned scarlet with rage. Alika was making sense and she hated it. She opened her mouth to answer, then closed it. Then she scowled and turned away from Alika hugging herself with her arms. 

   “Do you like Christmas music?” Alika asked.

   “Not really,” the princess grumbled. “The instrumental ones are okay I guess.” 

   Alika looked her up and down. “Do you like that outfit?” 

   The princess pressed her lips together so tightly that her mouth became nothing more than a horizontal line. 

   “No,” she mumbled.

   “You know something? You are just like your father,” Alika observed. 

   “I am not,” Sciatica retorted. 

   “Really? Because there is one thing you both care about more than anything else in the world.” 

   “What’s that?” 

   “Your own image.” 

   Sciatica looked like she was about to boil over. She opened her mouth then closed it again, then she fell down into a chair with her head in her hands and sobbing asked: “Alika, is my father going to die?”

   “No,” she answered dryly. “No, your mom’s right. He’s just being dramatic, like you. That’s another thing you have in common. Now you really should change, because I agree with you, that outfit’s an abomination.”


   The next day, Sciatica’s mother returned home. The princess saw her car pulling up from her father’s balcony and ran out to greet her. 

   Queen Meloxicam was a woman who radiated class. She was wearing a knee length black overcoat and a cream colored turtleneck.  The jingle-bell earrings she wore indicated she did not share her husband’s hatred of all things Christmas.

   “Oh mom!” the princess cried. “I’m so glad your back—”

   “I love your hair!” her mother interrupted. 

   “Mom, that’s not important right now! Dad’s—” 

   “Is your father still in a grief coma?” she asked. 

   “YES!” 

   The queen rolled her eyes. “I hate it when he gets like this,” she grumbled. She grabbed a reusable water bottle out of the car and marched into the palace. 

   The princess followed her and when they arrived at the door to her father’s bedroom, her mother asked her to wait outside. Sciatica listened through the door. She heard a splash, then what she guessed based on the tone, were stern reprimands from her mother. 

   Then to her immense relief, she heard the low dejected voice of her father. They went back and forth a few times. Her mother’s tone becoming increasingly agitated and her father responding in low irritated grumbles. 

   A few moments later the door opened. 

   “Your father wants to talk to you,” she said cheerily, before marching off down the hall. 

   The princess tore into the room. Her father was wiping water off his face with one hand and reading off a piece of scrap paper with the other. 

   “Dad!” she cried. “You’re alive! I’m so sorry. I was wrong to litter and sell straws and pump CO2 into the atmosphere, I—” 

   Sertraline held up a slender hand to stop her.  

   “You were wrong to do all of those things,” he answered. “But I…” 

   He squinted at the scrap paper he was holding. And what he said next was a true Christmas miracle because he had never said it before and would likely never say it again: “I was also wrong. Instead of shielding you from the world, I should have taught you how to live in it.” 

   He flipped the paper around to see if he had missed anything. 

   As he did so the sound of carolers floated up from somewhere in the wood below. 

   “I loath carols,” Sertraline grumbled. 

   “Me too, Dad,” Sciatica replied and with these words the princess spoke as her authentic self.


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Osa and the Bald One

STOP! Before reading this story, read: Osa and the Food Gods

Otherwise you might be confused. Happy reading!


Tango the parrot was listening to Juan as he communicated with a fellow god through the sacred handset. The bird’s head was slightly cocked. As he listened, his feathers puffed up, and his pupils shrank to the size of pinholes. Osa knew this meant trouble. 

“The Bald One is coming,” Tango prophesied. 

Osa whimpered and trotted in place on jittery paws. Tango was perched on the back of a chair near the kitchen table.

“Who is the Bald One?” She asked. It had only been a few weeks since she was added to the Rodriguez family and she was learning new things everyday. 

“Even the gods have a god,” Tango explained. “The god’s god is the Bald One and he is an evil god.” 

Osa looked sideways at Juan with a terrified expression. God Juan was pacing around the kitchen balancing the sacred handset between his shoulder and his ear. He patted Osa’s head and gave her a kibble. She thumped her tail and licked his hand, but even that did not quell the terror she felt inside.

“God Juan would never allow an evil god into our home,” Osa objected. 

“God Juan fears the Bald One,” explained the parrot. “The Bald One is the food stealer, the feather puller, the snatcher of jingly toys. When he wails the other gods flock to him to appease his wrath.”

Osa was shaking all over, she turned in a circle, then ripped a tassel off the rug with her teeth. Luckily, God Juan’s back was to her so he didn’t notice. “When will the Bald One come?” 

“No one knows the day nor the hour,” Tango began, then paused for a moment to listen to Juan. “But probably Saturday at noon.” 

Osa was overcome with another wave of anxiety. She tore a second tassel off the rug. 

“What should we do?” Osa cried. 

“You must avoid the Bald One at all costs,” Tango explained. “And most importantly, do not reprimand him even if he pulls your tail or bites your paws. If you do, the other gods will punish you.”

Osa tore off a third tassel. She was so nervous she swallowed it without even thinking.

“Will I know the Bald One when I see him?”

“Without a doubt! He is like a god, but horribly distorted.” Tango explained. “His head is a third the size of his body, his limbs are small and shriveled looking, he does not walk upright like most gods but slides across the floor on his belly. He has no teeth, but a very strong bite. His hands grab whatever he can reach and his grip is iron. He is much smaller than the other gods. They carry him from place to place. Though we know him as the Bald One, the gods call him by another name.”

“What name?” Osa asked. 

“I dare not say it,” Tango answered. “It is a dark and evil name.”

“Please tell me!” Osa begged. 

The parrot looked around and lowered his voice. “Lucas.”

Osa howled and spun in circles. She ripped three more tassels off the rug. Juan spun around at the sound. He dropped the sacred handset and charged toward her crying out in Human. Osa didn’t understand Human the way that Tango did, but she knew a few words here and there. 

For instance, she knew “¡Osa Mala!” meant “You have sinned against the gods”.

¡No coma eso!” was what Juan usually shouted before prying her mouth open. It probably meant You must offer me a piece of your food in reparation for this sin.

God Juan forced Osa’s mouth open and pulled out a few strands of tassel. Then, he snatched up the sacred handset and continued communing with the other god.


Osa spent the next two nights dreading the arrival of the Bald One. She hid under the gods’ bed whimpering and picturing the awful thing Tango described. The horrible little limbs, the unnaturally oversized head… her imagination plagued her nightmares with images of the abomination. 

At last, Saturday came. She knew it was Saturday because the gods did not ascend to the place called Work. She swore that nothing in the universe could coax her out of hiding on that awful day. Then she heard the treat box shaking and broke her oath.

She charged toward the noise and skittered into the kitchen, where she saw God Juan holding the box. She danced up and down, her claws making a tapping sound on the tile floor. Then, suddenly she noticed a pair of strange gods standing next to him. There was a tall skinny bearded man and a stout red-haired woman with a ponytail. They both looked friendly and Osa would normally have run up to greet them, but she stayed back, her eyes fixed on the little creature in the woman’s arms. It could only be the Bald One, the evil one, the one called Lucas.

For a moment, Osa was petrified with horror. But then she looked curiously at the thing. 

It was as Tango described—giant head, tiny limbs, but it was not hideous. On the contrary, it was somehow endearing. And it smelled wonderful, more wonderful than anything Osa had ever smelled before. It must have been using some kind of evil magic to hide its true nature. 

The gods went into the living room and Osa followed cautiously. The goddess holding the Bald One put him down on the rug. He did not slide on its stomach like Tango suggested but instead walked on all fours like her. Then, it noticed an old potato chip lying under the coffee table. The Bald One charged toward the chip, picked it up, and put it in its mouth. 

No coma eso!” The woman called. She grabbed the Bald One and pried his mouth open removing the remains of the chip. The Bald One released an awful wail just as Tango had described. 

That sound made Osa feel horrible inside. She pitied the Bald One. Perhaps Tango was wrong about him being the god’s god? They did not seem to fear him at all. They would never steal a snack away from their own god, would they? She wanted to help the Bald One, to find it another potato chip. She knew there were more behind the recliner, she had been saving them in case of famine. 

She waited until the goddess returned the Bald One to the carpet and was engaged in conversation with the other gods, then she retrieved one of the chips and brought it to the Bald One. He broke into a huge smile and gobbled it up. Osa’s tail thumped up and down against the carpet when she realized he was happy.

Then she brought him another chip and another and soon his face and bald head were covered in crumbs. So she licked him head to foot until he was clean. As she did so, he grabbed her face and ears and pulled.  He did have an iron grip, but it didn’t hurt. His pulling and tugging reminded her of the dogs she used to play with in the place called Shelter. Then something occurred to her—this creature was more dog-like than any of the other gods, but he was also more human-like than any of the other animals in the house. 

Perhaps, he was meant to be some kind of mediator between the gods and their creatures. She decided to ask Tango about it, but couldn’t find him anywhere. As she walked into the gods’ room, she noticed Dutchess glaring down at her from the bed.

“Where is the prophet?” Osa asked. 

“How should I know?” She answered. “Is that kitten still out there?”

“What kitten?” Osa asked. 

“The people kitten,” Dutchess replied. She flattened her ears against the top of her head. “I hate people kittens. They like to pull on my fur.”

“You mean the Bald One?” Osa asked. 

“He is sort of naked, isn’t he?” Dutchess replied.

Then it clicked. That funny little creature in the living room was a people kitten, or maybe a god puppy! At once, Osa knew what she had to do. She followed the god puppy for the rest of the afternoon. She brought him crumbs and kibbles and lint so that he wouldn’t go hungry. She even let him drink from her water bowl. She licked him, and played with him, and never once left him until his parents took him home.  She whimpered sadly as she watched them leave through the window. She heard Juan get the treat box out of the cupboard. He stooped down and fed her from his hand. She must have done something to make him happy because he rubbed her head and neck all the while saying: “¡Buen Osa! ¡Muy Bein!” That was one of those human phrases that she understood, it made her tail thump uncontrollably.

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The Octopus

An octopus scurried over the sandy sea bottom. She was deep in thought, wondering if such a thing as free will exists or if all behavior has a cause outside of individual control. As she contemplated the possible answers, a diver approached. He stopped right above her and dropped a jar in her path. 

When she saw that the jar contained a shrimp, she realized her pondering was making her hungry. She wrapped her tentacles around the container and spent a few moments working at the lid while the diver observed. It was secured fast and after only a few moments, the octopus gave up and continued on her way. 

Her eight legs swirled beneath her as they carried her home to her cave in the reef. She thought about the diver, wondering what kind of a stupid creature would keep a shrimp in a container that was impossible to open. She had several crabs waiting for her back home and they were easily accessible. 

As she hurried along, she decided to shift her thinking away from the question of free will for a while. She considered herself more of a mathematician than an ethical philosopher and wanted to ponder the many practical applications of the Pythagorean theorem. 

 The diver, meanwhile, returned to his boat and met with his waiting companions. He reported that the octopus was unable to remove the screw top from the jar. He went on to suggest that octopuses were not as intelligent as originally suspected. 


So what’s the moral of this story? 

If you measured my intelligence by my ability to open pickle jars, you would think I am completely stupid (especially since I have opposable thumbs, unlike your average octopus).

However, if you took me out to coffee and spent some time speaking with me, you’d find me just as intelligent as anyone else. 

The moral of this story is that scientists should spend time talking to their octopuses before judging them. Have you ever seen a scientist asking an octopus what she’s read lately? I haven’t. It’s infuriating. 

I would also like to note that reading an octopus’s tweets is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation. Tweets should never be used to measure anyone’s intelligence.

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Rouvin the Philosopher

The people of Helevina know very well that one’s ability to reason is directly proportional to the length of one’s beard. Now there was a man who lived in Helevina  a very long time ago, whose beard was particularly long. His face was especially stern because he’d wrinkled his forehead with so much thinking. His name was Rouvin and he was a philosopher. But Rouvin wasn’t just any philosopher, he was arguably the greatest philosopher in history.

He wrote about everything from the nature of thought, to the human soul, to God Himself. Though his teachings caused his students to gape, scribes to scribble furiously, and the kings of the world to seek his counsel, the only thing they brought to God was an amused little smile.

This, dear readers, is Rouvin’s story, and I regret to say, it is not a happy one. It begins when he was just a young man (though even in his youth he was bearded. In fact, historical evidence suggests he was born bearded). He lived in a little village on the eastern side of Helevina that overlooked the sea. It was here that he first learned to wonder, and the delight he experienced in wondering was so sweet that once he began he never voluntarily ceased.

Day in and day out he would watch the world, question it, contemplate it, test his conclusions, and finally put them on paper. He spent so much time doing this, he would have starved to death if it hadn’t been for a young lady from the village. She’d remind him to eat, remind him to sleep, and when she visited his home she’d clean it thoroughly and scold him for allowing it to fall into disarray. She was as practical as he was theoretical and as down to earth as he was absent minded. Her name was Sophia, and Rouvin was very fond of her. As long as she was by his side, all his temporal needs were cared for and he was free to think.

She was fond of him also, for she could see that he had a brilliant mind and their conversations inspired and enriched her. Together they were happy…at first.

As time went on, Rouvin was consumed in his work more and more. He became so engrossed in his thoughts on the social nature of man that he stopped conversing with Sophia. Then, so busy penning his work on the nature of human affection that he forgot to offer her any. While he wrote seven hundred pages about the nature of human emotion, he failed to notice her growing frustration.

All this took place over the course of three years, and toward the end of the third year Rouvin the philosopher began what is widely considered his greatest work. To this day, the work brings even the most stately academics into a state of uncontrollable sobbing for its sheer splendor. He titled it: On Marriage and the Nature of Love.

On the very day that he sat putting the final touches on this great work, Sophia decided to confront him. She was carrying a basket of his togas out to wash, when she noticed him sitting in his usual place scribbling furiously onto a scroll. She paused before him, silently reading his words.

She cleared her throat. Rouvin jumped, his pen flying from his hand. He looked up toward her bewildered.

“You have said that an actual thing is greater than the idea of a thing,” Sophia began.

The philosopher shook off his confusion and smiled.

“Quite so!” He replied both alarmed and delighted by her understanding.

“It follows then,” she continued. “That actual marriage is greater than the idea of marriage.”

Rouvin thought for a moment, then answered: “Why yes! That’s exactly right. I’m so glad that you are beginning to understand these things, my dear!” With that, he began searching for his pen. Finding it, he turned his attention back to his writing.

After a few moments, he glanced up. She was still standing there, staring at him, her brow furrowed and her jaw tight.

“Was there something else you wanted?” He asked.

Her hand clenched the handle of the basket so that it almost snapped in two but her expression did not change.

“I suppose actual clean laundry is also greater than the idea of clean laundry,” she stated.

“I suppose so,” he answered raising an eyebrow. He wasn’t sure why she was still on this subject.

“But since you seem content to live in the world of ideas…” she dumped the basket on his head and stormed out.

When she did not come home the following day, he went out into the village to look for her. His neighbors told him she’d left by ship to seek her fortune in Athens.

Now Rouvin was arguably the most brilliant man that ever lived. And while he’d answered some of the greatest questions in the universe, he could not make sense of Sophia’s behavior.

He spent many a long evening sitting alone among his scrolls, sipping wine, and contemplating this question. Indeed, he thought about it so much that his hair turned white and his face became frozen in a scowl. At last, he finally came to a conclusion and penned his most infamous work. If you asked your philosophy professor about it, I guarantee he will deny its existence.

The work is titled: On the Nature of Women. In this work, Rouvin concludes that women are so enslaved by in their emotions that they are completely incapable of reason.

Having satisfied himself with the idea that Sophia’s behavior was a result of her feminine nature, he decided to move onto other questions. Further, he resolved never to interact with a woman again. Of course, this was easier said than done, due to the inconvenient fact that women made up half the human population. And it only became more difficult after that fateful day when Lysander the Conqueror attacked.


If you ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up, he might say a doctor, a firefighter, or an engineer. When Lysander the Conqueror was a little boy, his mother asked him this very question. He answered: “I want to rule the world!” His mother laughed and patted him on the head. What she didn’t realize is that one day he would actually do it.

Lysander valued three things above all else: books, conquering (obviously), and his darling war horse Calla. He’d have married Calla if he could, but marrying horses was frowned upon in those days even for the ruler of the world.

The day Lysander invaded, Rouvin was so absorbed in thought he failed to notice the attack on his village until one of the conqueror’s warriors broke down the door. The man would have killed the terrified philosopher right then and there if Lysander himself hadn’t intervened. You see, when the invader stormed in, one of Rouvin’s scrolls came rolling out into the street. Lysander (being a lover of books and all) stopped killing people for a moment so he could read it. The work was called On Horses: Highest of Animals.

The conqueror rushed to the house. Luckily for Rouvin, the invading soldier, blade raised for the kill, paused mid-blow (it was the kind of hesitation one has when one is about to kill the protagonist of an incomplete story). It gave Lysander just enough time to burst in shouting: “STOP!”

Then catching his breath, he held the open scroll out toward Rouvin. “Did you write this?” he demanded.

The wide-eyed philosopher nodded.

“Wonderful!” the conqueror exclaimed. “You’ll come back to the capital with me and teach at the university! Every student in the empire will come to know that horses are the highest of animals! And we will add your works to my library! You will have wealth and power and fame and servants to do your bidding. Everything you’ve ever wanted will be yours!”

Rouvin agreed immediately because he was afraid of dying (also wealth and fame sounded pretty good). And so the conqueror took the philosopher back to Logus, capital of his home country. It was beyond anything Rouvin could have imagined (which is saying a lot since he spent most of the day in his mind). The many intersecting roads were paved with cobblestone, every building touched the sky. Greenery only appeared in places designated by city officials. Every pigeon was washed and combed before it could enter the street. And by Lysander’s decree, every warrior had to wear a brush on his helmet so he could dust the ceiling as he walked through a room.

Rouvin became quite comfortable in the city. He spent most of his days in the royal zoo. Lysander had a habitat for him there, complete with scrolls, togas, a beard comb, and five to ten half empty cups of coffee. A plaque in front of the exhibit explained that these were philosopher enrichment items.

When Rouvin wasn’t in his exhibit, he was in the library. Lysander the Conqueror had a magnificent library. It was the second largest building in the city. (The first was the temple of Lune, the god of vermin.) The books fueled Rouvin’s thoughts. In the few short years, the philosopher lived in Logus, he wrote more than he had in all years previous.


Now Lysander had a wife (he actually had many, but only one is important to this story). Her name was Amira. She was a princess taken from a distant corner of the empire. Unlike the conqueror’s other wives, she could read and would spend most of her days sitting cross legged on the library floor, absorbing one book after another. Lynsander found this amusing and when he was showing distinguished guests around his great city, he would often point her out.

amira-reading1.jpg

“Look,” he’d say. “There’s the Anamian princess reading again. Isn’t that delightful?”

She’s shoot him cold glares which he’d ignore.

Of course Rouvin saw her too, and would grumble to himself that they’d allow a woman in the library. Luckily, she was the only woman there and easy for him to avoid. At least until she stumbled upon one of his works.

It was his work on God. In those days, most people worshiped many gods, the people of Logus being no exception. They had gods for everything you can possibly imagine. They had gods of the elements (fire, water, earth, and air), gods of the weather (thunder, wind, hail, and the like). They also had gods of oddly specific things, for example, the dying llama god. They did not have a god for healthy llamas, nor a gods for similar animals like alpacas so their religion lacked consistency.

But after many, many, years of thinking, Rouvin had come to the conclusion that there was only one God and had written extensively on the subject in his work: The Creator of the Universe. Amira read it twice through and it fueled her curiosity. She began collecting and reading through Rouvin’s other works. His books inspired a thousand questions, she wanted to learn more, everything she possibly could. So when she spotted Rouvin in the library one day, she decided to approach him.

He was sitting at a table, completely lost in his work and did not notice her walking toward him. You can imagine is alarm when she plopped The Creator of the Universe on the table in front of him, and said: “I’d like to know more about your one God.”

Rouvin

His surprise turned to anger when he’d a moment to take her in. There she was, standing before him, a basket of scrolls perched on her hip. For a moment, he was swept back to his old home, to the laundry, to Sophia…

“Go away,” he hissed, turning his attention back to his scroll. 

She clenched her teeth. In her homeland, no one would have dared speak to her so. She was respected as a queen. She reminded herself that things were different here. She just another wife of Lysander and a lesser one at that. She maintained her composure.

“Please,” she insisted. “I want to know more about your one God.”

Go away,” he repeated.

And this time she did not ask again. She left without a word, the curiosity about the one God extinguished and replaced by a bitter lump. Then things got worse. The very next day she resumed her browsing, and stumbled upon On The Nature of Women. The bitter lump in her heart grew into a nasty resentment. And all her frustrations started boiling over. She decided she hated Logus, Lysander, and whole empire. She hated Rouvin, and his God, and all his works with him. It didn’t matter how beautiful and how true most of them were. In her mind, all were tainted by his work on feminine nature.


Shortly thereafter Lysander the Conqueror became a victim of a horrible accident. A knife fell on him while he was sleeping. Luckily, on the evening of his death, he’d written a note naming Amira’s son his heir. The people of Logus thought this peculiar considering Amira’s son was only two and Lysander’s youngest child. No one pointed this out though since Lysander also noted that anyone who questioned this should be thrown into The Pit of Death and Dismemberment.

Since it’s very hard to understand the babblings of a two year old, the nobles of Logus relied on Amira to interpret the words of their new emperor. She explained that the child’s first order was to throw Rouvin into the above mentioned pit. The philosopher was so horrified at hearing this that he immediately died of a heart attack. The people of Logus were very disappointed because watching victims fall screaming into the Pit of Death and Dismemberment was one of their favorite pastimes. (This was how people entertained themselves before HBO was invented.)

Amira’s son then declared that all the treasures of Logus be moved to Anamia and the capital be burned to the ground. People protested and war broke out. In the end, the city was burned and none of the treasures survived. The library, the university, and the zoo were all lost. Oh yes, and lots and lots and lots of people died. And it all happened because the greatest thinker in history, was so enslaved by his emotions that, during a critical moment, he lost his ability to reason.