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Sasha Genarelli settles herself behind the wheel of the Fiesta and unpries the pantyhose from her butt. The minute she was out of sight of the two men in the house her expression changed; she looks sharper in the car, and a lot more tired.

The passenger door opens and shuts; Sasha always drives. She checks her make-up in the mirror, lightens her red hair to something in auburn family. She hates this suit, but she can't afford to throw any of them out while they still fit.

"Yeah, I believe them," she tells her partner. She rolls down the window, considers a cigarette, changes her mind, leaves it cracked. The air out there is New Year air, cold and sharp as a knife, and the interior of the rental could use it. "Fuck."

She leans over and scrounges a McDonalds bag from the passenger wheelwell. She extracts a salt packet and lays it in a line on the dash. Blows, and watch the crystals dance. Her lips tighten. "Fuck," she says again. A cat is watching the Fiesta from the bushes across the cul-de-sac; she gives it the finger.


Layla gets on the train in Syracuse; it's full dark by now, and the seats are crammed with slumbering commuters. She thinks for a moment she'll be on her feet until the next stop at least, but then she sees the spot, by the window, by a man, grizzled and smelly. From here, from the far end of the train, he looks like he smells, poring over a theme notebook like she used in middle school.

Her lips tighten. Uh-uh, no way, no no. She feels her stomach knot up at the idea of getting close, pushing past him for the seat. Her New Year's resolution is to do something everyday that scares her, but there is a limit, and if Layla knows anything it's that men don't always wish her well. After several minutes, when the train is in motion, she realizes she has to pee.

She walks up the aisle, using that special braced walk you have to use on a moving train, swaying slightly sideways; she's heading for the bathroom, and also she's going to look at the seat, not going to take it, but she's going to look at it and be really pissed off that she's too scared to sit there. Getting pissed off more often is also on her list of New Year's resolutions. When you find out you've been cheated on your response should not be I'm sorry.

She is level with the empty seat--he has another stack of notebooks on it! What a tool! What an absolute asshole!--when her heel snaps and she drops into the aisle like a puppet with her strings cut. She feels like a puppet, like some weird gravity at the end of the train has drawn her here and broken her new heel--it's not even a very high heel--in order to bring her here, to this seat she doesn't want to sit in next to this man who scares her.

And naturally, he has to be nice. It makes her angry that he's nice. He jumps up from the seat, saying awkward but kind things, and helping her up, the notebook dropped on the ground. He moves the other notebooks into a filthy backpack and helps her (she doesn't want to be helped, he stinks) into the seat, where she is trapped between the window and the stink, trapped by politeness and that sense of false gravity, and she is making a really good start on being pissed off, so good for her.

From the tag on the luggage rack they have six hours together. She applies herself to the window industriously--she is not going to sleep--and tries to look through and past his reflection to the world outside. It looks like, feels like, the railways crap and the fences and the towns are on dollies being pulled backwards, while the train stands still. It looks fake.
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"Excuse me?" James looks up from the photo, and the one on the left repeats himself. James shakes his head. "No, I don't recognize this man, I'm sorry." He hands it back to the woman on the right.

The woman in the maroon suit looks at the photo again, and her eyes widen. "Oh, this is the wrong picture." She smiles awkwardly. "Just a moment." She shuffles through the folder. "Here it is."

He doesn't need long to examine it. "Yes, of course, this is Hollis. But I haven't seen him in ten years."

"Are you sure?"

"Am I sure that I haven't seen my ex-husband in ten years?"

She brightens. "Yes, that's the question."

He looks at David, who shrugs, then back at her. "No, I haven't seen him."

"Mmm." Her expression dims as she shuffles the photo away again. "You know, we lost track of Mr. Cooper two years ago when he was evicted. We're very concerned."

"Excuse me, I know this is none of my business," David says, a clear sign that he's about to stick his nose into someone else's business. "But why are you so interested in Hollis? Who exactly are you people again?"

The woman looks her partner and laughs. "Oh I'm so sorry." She opens the folder again and takes out a photograph. "This should answer your question."

David examines the picture, then hands it to James, who frowns. "I told you, I have no idea who this is. Is he related to why you're looking for Hollis?"

Her partner murmurs something and the woman winces, pressing her hand to her mouth. "I'm so sorry. I don't know where my head is." She takes the photograph back and puts it away. "Did Hollis ever talk to you about a key?"

"A key?" James repeats.

"Or a gambit? The word gambit?"

David frowns. "Isn't that a chess term?"

"Hollis was obsessed with books," James says. "Not keys... not chess. Just... books. And I haven't seen him in ten years."

She smiles. "Of course. Well. If he is in touch... could you contact us?"

David and James exchange a look that says absolutely not, and David smiles, or at least shows his teeth. He has nice teeth. "And how would we--"

She reaches for the picture again.
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It's hard to track when madness starts. There's nothing wrong with a library after all, and even as your fortunes changes and you leave your house for the apartment and then the smaller apartment and then the rooms in the endlessly subdivided house, crammed in the eaves, the books comes with you, even as the shelves leave you, stacked in the books you moved them in, laid on their sides so you can dig inside.

That's not crazy. It's love.

The beginning of the slide is probably your interest in the first sentence of books. In a hole in a hill lived a hobbit. Poetry. It was the best of time, it was the first of times. Call me Ishmael. You read them over and over, but less and less each time, going a short way in. You start to browse shamelessly, buying books after reading a handful of pages. A page. A line. Accumulating. Throwing out the ones that starts slow or rigid or simply dully.

Without a strong foundation, you can build nothing. Nothing.

Where along that path did your marriage end? Hard to say. It was before the notebooks--the record-keeping--because you never had to hear him complain about the growing stacks of marble-covered themebooks.

Of course you don't need more than one to list all the first lines of all the books you own, after the ruthless culling, the extravagant trials, given every chance to defend themselves (was that it? was that when?). The later notebooks are for combinations. Changing the order you list them in, looking for messages. Blocks of text of initial letters, looking for ciphers. Changing the orders of the words, of the letters, mixing and matching.

In the best of times in a hole in a hill lived Ishmael.

Somewhere after madness begins, after everything is gone, when you live in precarious circumstances and the money in the shoebox in your closet starts to dwindle, you understand what it has been about; from the beginning, the seed enclosed in the whole, the cause becoming the effect, the cure to a disease it caused itself.

If you find it, the perfect sentence, the perfect start, you will have it. You will have the power of the new beginning. You will have it.

They shuffle you out into the streets; they toss your books into the trash, you have no room for them now, but you take the notebooks. You give your cat to the shelter and you hope; there's nothing more you can do for him.

And you board the train, back to the man who loved you once, with the last of the money you have. You are dirty and tired, hair too long and stringy, skin sallow and sagging. But none of that matters, if you crack the code. You have eight hours. Eight hours to find the key that will unlock the door to the book of the rest of your life; to the past. Everything begins where it ends.

One way or another.

You have eight hours to crack the code; ten years hasn't been enough. And if you don't...

You don't know.

You don't know.
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The house is small, but it has a porch and it face west, and most evenings he can be found there around sunset with a bottle and a glass. Most nights he could leave the bottle inside. Most nights. It's exactly what he asked for, but he long ago stopped being surprised by the Agency's ability to meet exacting specifications.

From time to time, here in his retirement, he gets visitors. If they come at sunset, and they bring a bottle of their own, he will speak to them; he doesn't allow them in the house. Some of the visitors he doesn't speak with. Some of them he doesn't need to, and for them he goes inside and brings out a second glass and they sit for a time and they don't talk about the things you can never talk about, and then they go. Some of them he chooses not to, the young and callow ones. Many of them don't even know enough to bring a bottle, or speak to him with presumption, as if they had bought him. No one has ever bought him.

He has never had to throw anyone off his porch; none of them have been as young or as callow as that. His reputation is a matter of record, for those who have the eyes to see those kinds of records, and time has yet to dull him. You retire young in his business, or you don't. He didn't expect to, certainly.

The girl brings him Johnny Walker Black, which is a good omen. He doesn't generally think of female agents as girls, but she seems terribly young, and small. To hold her would be like holding a bird in the palm of his hand, brittle bones and rapid-fire heart. He's not used to thinking of female agents in those terms--of any woman in those terms, in the years that have followed--and it disturbs him enough that he pours a second glass.

Because she let him finish the first glass, he speaks first. "Who sent you here?"


He nods. He knows Akers. Years ago he and Akers did something together, and every now and again Akers comes and sits on the porch and they drink and don't talk about it.

"What about?"

She folds her hands over her lap. "At the Agency I'm just an analyst. I worked with Akers on my first account last month. Before that I was in the FBI. I caught the Black River killer."

Caught but did not bring in, he recalls. He reads a lot. The Black River killer was one of sixteen bodies brought out. In calm terms, she tells him about following the trail, about the needles, about killing him, about the evidence that had to be changed or forged in the aftermath. She says it carefully but without fear. How could someone like Akers, like him, ever judge her?

And he waits for the questions to come. About how to live with it, about what you do with the nightmares, about the darkness inside and where you put it when you come away to a little house that looks west. He listens and braces himself to tell her he has nothing to tell her.

She comes to the end of the story, and he waits for the questions.

He waits for a longish while, and when she doesn't speak again he goes inside and gets the woman on the porch a glass of her own. When she leaves, the sky is dark.

That was the beginning.
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"They say this is the year the world ends." It's warm here, warm for December for a East Coast girl. The hand in hers is warmer.

"They're always saying that."

She gets swatted, not without cause. "You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"What do you think?"


Another swat, even more deserved. "Sap."

"Ow! No mind-reading allowed!"

"Pfft. I did more damage to my hand than you." The hand touches her more gently, though. Another firework explodes, and the field gives up a chorus of oohs.

"You'll be fine. You're going to rule that school. I'm serious, though. About the end of the world."

"Are you?"

"Well... you know. I'm curious. You're into all that mystic stuff..."

"--meaning I have a couple candles and some cards--"

"So... what do you think about it?"

"I think..." She puts her hand over the other girl's. "I think I don't want to think about the ends of the world tonight."

"Sap." They fold together under the starburst light.

They only have a month left together, after all; the world, by everyone's best calculations, has at least two years. You can't believe everything you read on pyramids.
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Wedding or no--two thousand hazily remembered years as a plastic Roman or no--things can still get a bit awkward between them when Amy is out of the scene. Rory is picking at his nails for the fourth time when the Doctor says:

"Do y'wanna see a magic trick?"

"Yes?" Rory says, because Rory rarely makes a statement when he can ask a question. And so the Doctor drags him into the TARDIS, explaining that they'll be back before she can miss them (she is in a shop buying clothes for the honeymoon, well, clothes, the kind of lacey confections Rory isn't allowed to see yet and that make the Doctor's enormous wide-open face scrunch up like a crumpled tissue just on the mannequin), flipping hastily through an almanac, hauling on the controls in the usual manner, which is to say like a madman playing Rube Goldberg's idea of a pipe organ on crystal meth, staggering and stumbling and actually collapsing onto inevitably ineffably the right lever, and finally dragging Rory out in the freezing night air of what is instantly, recognizably always Earth.

"Come on, come on, we're going to miss it!" You're always running with the Doctor; always racing against time, always so strange when the man has a pocket full of it. Rory wonders if he does it on purpose, cutting it close, keeping himself moving. He wonders what might catch up if the Doctor ever slowed down.

They crest a hill, crunching over the snow--Rory is gasping, the Doctor is not, patently unfair, sometimes he misses the plastic--and the Doctor thrusts his fists over his head and intones what is unmistakably, madly, Thus Spake Zapathustra, or what Rory thinks of as the good bit frpm 2001.

"DAH DAH DAHHH DAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" And the Doctor basks in his triumph as, routinely, conventionally, always precariously, the sun comes up.

"Now that's bloody magic," breathes the Doctor.

Rory watches it. He could say but it's nothing to do with you, but he doesn't, becausein spite of all appearances, Rory isn't stupid.

Later, at a critical junction--after the Doctor realizes what was wrong with the mannequin, after they discover the TARDIS has locked itself, after he has cause to regret his regrets, when he knows what has been catching up, all this time...

Later, Rory will remark on what he's realized just now; that nine-tenths of magic is knowing something other people don't, being somewhere other people aren't, doing things no one else would do.

The other tenth, of course, is magic.
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It's funny looking back how much time we used to spend worrying about the future, totally unaware of the inherent contradiction there; even after the scientists began to publish very strange results, things about how time exists only in human minds. Something about how time is only a series of moments, like still slides in a cartoon, and extending infinitely in every direction. Forward is only the way we were facing. I think that's what they said.

I don't have time to learn it properly now, and my memories are vague, no matter how often I revisit them. Vague is vague is vague.

We used up all the time, I guess. Spending it, wasting, killing it. Maybe we just pissed it off, like in Wonderland. The beginning of the end came, I guess, when we developed technology that would worry about the future for us, looking forward and sending back. We worried about a lot of things, about lockstep and predestination, about paradox and compulsion, but we never worried about the one thing we never worry about, which is waste. Conservation. It's the same in every era, I tell you I have seen it. We worry about the wrong things, all the time.

We used it up.

So there are no more futures, only pasts, and we began to learn to face another direction. Directions. Into pasts, which unlike futures are finite; determined, defined. But it's not that bad. Obviously if you go too far back there are no antibiotics and I miss my cellphone and my iPod and my PreVue and it's hard to get used to the smoking. And there are years you want to skip, bad years. No one is camping out in 2001. But there are a lot of years, a lot of good years, and room enough for all of us; the nostalgic can go back as far as they want. My grandmother is working her way back, steadily, year by year. She sent me a postcard from the sixties.

I miss her. I miss a lot of people.

But there are a lot of good years. I spend a lot of time in the summer I turned seventeen, my first time, a lot of fun. A lot of joy. There are a few other people I know her, and we catch each other's eye. We can't talk about it but we can tell. I think we can tell. Maybe it's in my head.

I spent a lot of time worrying about the future when I was seventeen. It's ironic. Ironic and tiresome, going through the motions. It's all right. It's not bad.

It's starting to fade.

It makes sense, doesn't it, that you can only run the tape back so many times. It's starting to fade, and I've been rationing it out. Visiting the years I haven't touched as much. I'm not worried. If this has taught us anything, it's not to worry so much.

We'll figure something out.
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Happy birthday to Becca and Star. Sorry about being late!
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Right, so, I have been absent for the last week or so.

Wait, okay, let's back up and be blunt. I have been absent for a lot longer. A lot of you are thinking, who is this guy again? right now. But the point is that for the last week I have been absent with Purpose. I have been Up To Something.


It's under the cut.

Her name is Snowman.* )

This last weekend I took the Motorcycle Safety Course. The instructor was a hilarious guy, a comedian who had toured with Stephen Wright and Emo Phillips, and just loves motorcycles. He was a great teacher; he made everything seem easy, was calm all the time and very gentle and funny in teaching and correcting. I <3 Uncle Mullet.

(Yes that is what he told us to call him.)

I got Snowman off Craigslist the same day the course ended; Monday I got my motorcycle license (although she's clearly a scooter, Snowman can exceed 30 mph and therefore Texas considers her a motorcycle) and insurance, Wednesday I got a ride out to the tax office and got temporary plates, and today I got my helmet and can finally ride. I still need to get her inspected and get my real plates but the temps are good for thirty days.

I may have, uh, hit a curb and fallen off the bike already tooling around my neighborhood. I managed to forget everything Uncle Mullet taught me and do all the things you're not supposed to do turning a corner. All of the things. My butt is bruised and Snowman is scraped a little along the bottom of one side; otherwise all is well. It was going to happen eventually.

I am so excited to be mobile. So excited, you have no idea. Today I will drive myself to work. Tomorrow, the post office? Maybe lunch at the taco trucks? The world is my oyster. I mean, I can't go on the highways and I'm kind of scared of the near major road (ITS NAME IS SLAUGHTER) but the world is still my oyster.

*Why Snowman? The short answer is that she's shiny and black with white trim, and Snowman is a slang name for the eight-ball in pool. The long answer is predictably more nerdy and I think only [ profile] furikku is likely to get it. Basically, in Homestuck, my latest webcomic obsession, there is a noir-themed intermission, featuring a gang of gangsters called the Felt, who have a pool-themed naming convention. Snowman is the femme fatale, and she has a shiny black carapace too.

(Technically you should pretend all the o's in Snowman are green. Shhh.)

There is also a sort of sideways tribute to my learner bike from the Safety Course, Lucy. Lucy and I got to be pretty good friends over the weekend, and I wanted to think of a reference; the first place I went was the Beatles and Narnia. For a lot of reasons--the least of which is that the scooter is smaller than Lucy--I didn't want to call her Susan. The other girl in Narnia, of course, is Jill, who's younger than Lucy... and who Eustance persistently calls by her last name.

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The other movie I saw this weekend was Machete, and I could probably write a long post about it too, but I don't think I will right now. If I did it would be about what the movie is doing with myths--the fact that fact Shé is written that way to parallel Ché, but always pronounced as the English she, even though Machete is always pronounced perfectly, even by the white folks, and the sexual politics of being and becoming a myth vs. a myth's girlfriend, and what the fuck Lindsay Lohan is doing in this movie, and what the fuck Quentin Tarantino and Robert Roderiguez are doing with their lives and their stories and why they feel like they need to go back to the seventies to do it.

But right now I am tired. Maybe later.

EDIT: Oh and something about the exploitation genre and how you can be essentially conservative and revolutionary at the same time; this is kind of an important one.
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Photos of my room! And my new whiteboard, and the library just outside my room. These are previews that link to Photoshack because I am lazy.

Come behind the cut... )
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I sat down to make a 'sorry I've been absent from the Internet, I'm going through a down patch right now but things are looking up and I'm trying to get back on the horse' post, and then I got sidetracked by reading my journal and I realized I've made almost no posts that AREN'T that post in all of 2010.

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Happy birthday to [ profile] newredshoes and to [ profile] batyatoon!
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I'm back.

My grandmother is doing well. They kicked her out of hospice for not dying quickly enough. It still seems like it's a matter of time but she's comfortable and sassing everyone and staying with my aunt instead of in hospice, and everyone in the world has descended on her and talked to her and hugged her and she is ready for whatever whenever at this point.

I am less exhausted than I was and trying to figure out how to re-schedule some mission critical errands I had to run this week. And I have tonight off.

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Dr Who Thoughts, midway through the new ep--

Spoilers, duh )
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I am kind of depressed.

Not sure what it's all about, but I'm kind of grumpy and reclusive. Well, frankly I'm kind of grumpy and reclusive at best, but moreso. I am in a phase of taking stuff in more than putting stuff out, but I am trying to work on that.

Here is a bunch of stuff I have been putting in my brain lately. UM lots and lots of spoilers in there by the way. Glee, Doctor Who, Justified, other things.

Stuuuuuff )

The end!
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Happy birthday to [ profile] silveraspen! I hope it's a good one.
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I am not posting/available very much lately, I know. In lieu of content, here is a meme.

Name a fictional canon/fandom I know, and I'll tell you:
01. The first character I fell in love with:
02. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now:
03. The character I would shag anytime:
04. The character I'd slap:
05. Who are my 3 favorite characters.
06. What are my 3 favorite pairings.
07. Which character you're most like.
08. The coolest thing about the canon:
09. The lamest thing about the canon:
10. My guiltiest pleasure in this fandom:
11. What story I wish I could read (or art I wish I could see):
12. What story I wish I had written/still want to write (or art, respectively):

If you name something I don't know or follow, I will tell you to ask me for something else.


Mar. 5th, 2010 10:59 am
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Arrrrgh. I had my write-up of my TV show meme answer, or the first half of the first one, anyway, but rereading it it appears to have become incomprehensible as I edited it. People's names change, sentences crash into each or trail off...

Ugh. Long documents. It will reappear when/if I can make it make sense. Right now I am cranky and frustrated with it, so it is going to have a time-out under the private filter.


EDIT2: Okay, it is back and hopefully fixed.
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