Playing Title

Chapter 1: Flying

Dear Gently,

I seem to be a man, yet here I am, flying.

Stringy bleached hair brushes my ear and flits passed my right eye. The toe of a pointy shoe taps on the thin floor. By its momentum and reverb, a booty bumps my shoulder. Half a grin invades my face.

I don't remember colors being so vibrant. She who brushes by glows like the middle light at an intersection. Can a tanning bed do that? She apologizes for her presence, our connection. I parry the sorry and grin the other half.

I didn't feel the viper wind its velvet noodle around my brain stem, but I hear its venom sing when it strikes. "Get some, no wait, don't get some, hold out, keep looking." As I said, I seem to be a man. Hints like these tip me off right away.

Guildencrantz or Rosenstern?

The rest is a blur. This was eleven months, thirteen days, nineteen hours, and forty-two minutes before the beta test started. There are a lot of blurs and gaps before the beta test. What I can't get over, and a bug they can't seem to squash, is exactly how blurry and plentiful those gaps are. Timelapse pea soup fog immersion in isochronic 8-D IMAX VR. (Listen to me, complaining about omniscience like a dimestore Hippocrat.)

Since the beta every moment is clear. More precisely, every moment is the same moment in different forms, each of which I can conjure, analyze, infrapolate, ultrapolate, combobulate, and enjoy in full, live resolution. Before I say anything more, you should know two things. First, Gratitude. Gratitude for your presence, gratitude for being, knowing, enjoying existence, consciousness, bliss. Gratitude for ice cream on your nose and flying your hand out the car window. Gratitude for stretching your arms like gummy tree branches in the afternoon sun, or mockingly stretching your branches like arms unbeknownst to the silly wiggly mammals below. Gratitude first.

Second thing: the beta is closed. For a host of reasons, the principal among which is not that no one survived the beta. No one survived the beta just fine. It's just… it's closed. You'll see what I mean. You got yourself this far.

I remember how you found us, back when you were just a whippersnapper with a fucked-up do cosmically speaking, back when you had to search or browse or find things, people. Back when there were people. Spoilers, schmoilers.

I remember too how we found you, green thumbs and wet ears, so bouncy, so vapid. So I particularly remember that you will feel Radagasted! abrogated? Sorry, fuzz in the fluxleng. Flabbergasted, that's it, by any and all of my jargonic jabber heretofore. It's all good. I've got all the time in the world, neither of which are real.

Describing what it is like to face time to a pre-slipper is a lot like telling a duck about Facetime. Slippery feathers, those! Here's where it gets interactive.

Are you a duck? // consider other creatures

  • QUACK!
  • Wuac-wuac.


I may stutter a bit in attempting to describe this. I trust you'll bear with me.

An Ugly Duckling Faces Time

It seems that rain falls. For three days the skies have congealed into dustjellypuffs and cried on our heads.

My sibs say I quack funny because I look funny. But I think it's the other way around. I quack funny because they say I look funny.

The puddles are deep enough to paddle. Mom's been teaching us to paddle. Dad too, but he does more tricking than teaching.

My brother Quichael, if he didn't float when he paddles, he would drown in a puddle. If I didn't float, I would stand in the puddle and fish for Quichael. (So I do, because I don't.)

Today is a ray day. They don't look at me on ray days, say I'm a quaackin nuisance. I say it's cos I'm a mess higher.

We heard this Crustosser on another ray day honking his feathers out at the other passing Crustossers about being the mess higher, like it had been lower or gone for a while. He seemed like a plain mess to me. He was hard to look at.

The only thing brighter than the mess higher in his solar blanket tunic is me on ray days. Or so I thought until today when it hit me. ZHZHOOPPOP. Everything went white and stayed that way. I blinked a silent, invisible blink. Just as white, maybe whiter. I stamped my feet and whipped my beak about. I screamed, "QUUAAAAAAOOOKKE!?" But all I could hear was white echoing white.

I don't know how long this went on. Days need a night to be days. I began to forget. A lot. I forgot about Otto the Park Squirrel that lost his nuts and used to come after mine. I forgot about Jurgens the Alley Bear who could tackle a pizza delivery moped when it ran over him. I forgot about above and below, before and after, in and out: anything paired with an opposite. All that remains is this: being, knowing, enjoying. I realized I was a goose and not a duck. And rain rises as much as it falls.

And then I remembered. Not gradually, as this story unfolds, but in one instantaneous infinite blop, all-for-one-and-one-for-all-at-once, a slam-bam-K-thx-bai-jk-this-is-yr-life-now becoming. I remembered telling you this story. I remembered the part later where you save our skin. And I remember all the gooey goodness to come or that has come to pass.

What Audience?

They shush me when I get out there. The spend could justify the ask if we let it.