The Golden Age of Everything

(one billion years in the future)

1

‘He’s a freak, and he’s running over here to rape me in the ass, with a magic dick.’ Ritch feared the worst as he eyed the human silhouette rapidly approaching his blazing campfire-wand in the Empty Desert. ‘Nothing good ever happens to me,’ he thought, not for the last time.

Ritch stopped tapping his fingers and toes to his ancient music and turned it off. He stood up and smoothed his grey vest and pants. Shielding his eyes from the setting sun, he puffed his pipe while further assessing the silhouette sprinting toward him: ‘He carries a lance, and runs well with it. He could be from the Bad Small Isle’s First Cannibal Church. A cannibal on sabbatical who’s found Sven’s Unstoppable Spear spell. But instead of casting it on his lance so he can kill me and eat me, like a decent cannibal, he cast it on his penis, because he’s a freak, and he’s going to rape me in the ass, with a magic dick.’ He rubbed his bottom. ‘That’d be bad.’

Ritch put his pipe in his pouch, scratched his buzzed-cut hair and mentally prepared himself to cast the one and only spell he had so far acquired, though one that had always served him very well: The Big Fuck You. He vocalized the modicum of syllables and danced the few motions required to cast an effective Big Fuck You. Instantly his right middle finger changed from flesh to flexible steel. He extended his steel finger ten meters and whirled it above his head. ‘If he whips it out, I’ll whip it off,’ Ritch planned.

Still the silhouette approached at a run. ‘Maybe he’s a Balloon Person on land,’ Ritch surmised, ‘and he’s found Dick Tater’s Enchanted Tool Belt. But instead of using it to build a magic wooden balloon to live happily ever after in, like a normal Ballooner, he used it to build a magic wooden dick, because he’s a freak, and he’s going to splinter up my sphincter when rapes me in the ass. Or somewhere worse!’ He rubbed his nose. ‘That’d be bad.’

Still the silhouette approached at a run. For a moment, due to the silhouette’s swinging ponytail, Ritch thought it could be a female. ‘Maybe it’s a lonely Singing/Dancing Army deserter, and it’s not a lance she carries, but an over-sized, bulbous-headed baton, and she wants to rape me in the ass with it, because she’s a freak. That might not be so bad, if she’s hot.’ Ritch strained his eyes trying to determine if it was a woman, and if she was hot.

But no, as the silhouette got closer, Ritch could tell it was a man with a lance. ‘Nothing good ever happens to me,’ he thought again. Though the lance-man wasn’t making any overtly threatening moves, and would pass by him just out of lance-attack range, Ritch drew his magically lightweight long-sword with his left hand just in case. Wielding his sword in front of him, whirling his steel finger above him, Ritch was ready for anything, except for what happened.

2

“DEMON-DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!” the lance-man yelled as he sprinted by, with noticeable Doppler effect he ran so fast and screamed so clearly. Ritch, who up to now had been entirely focused on the lance-man, searched the slightly hilly desert to see if anything indeed was chasing him, and suddenly felt nauseous. Sure enough, something that very well could be a demon-dick (a demon with a dick torso, dick head, dicks for arms and legs, dicks just everywhere, lots of nut-sacks too) emerged from around a dune, loping semi-erectly right at him. Though it was chasing the lance-man, Ritch knew enough about demons to know that the sinister penis would rape and murder any human it came across.

“Fuck,” Ritch muttered. Partly because he wasn’t sure if his Map magic had any effect on beings from The Under-Map, partly because he wasn’t sure if his sword would affect a demon, but mostly because he was simply terrified of a man-sized dick, Ritch brought in his Fuck You finger, sheathed his long-sword, and took off running. Thinking he couldn’t outrun a demon-dick forever, he ran after the lance-man, hoping he could at least outrun the jerk that got him into this mess.

Ritch found he could indeed outrun the lance-man, who was running slower now. One hundred yards later Ritch was about to overtake him. Right from the start he had considered tripping the lance-man with his steel finger, sacrificing him to the demon-dick to save his own life. ‘This fucked-up situation is all the lance-man’s fault, after all,’ he thought, ‘therefore if anyone should be raped to death by a man-sized dick from hell, it should be him.’ But Ritch N. Speerat yearned to be a good guy, even a champion of life, and so decided that the more righteous option was to try to work together to kill the demon-dick, and quickly. He looked back and saw that it was getting closer. And stiffer.

When Ritch finally ran even with the lance-man, between heaving breaths he managed to shout: “We should!”, huff and puff, “Make a plan!”, huff and puff, “To kill the dick!”

“I have!”, huff and puff, “A plan!” the lance-man shouted back.

“Great!”, huff and puff, “What do!”, huff and puff, “I do?!”

In reply the lance-man promptly stuck the handle end of his weapon into Ritch’s legs, tripping Ritch, who instantly face-planted with a thud onto the hard-packed sand. ‘That treacherous bastard!’ he mentally fumed. He envisioned whipping off the lance-man’s head with his magic finger even as his own nose smashed into the desert floor. He raised himself to his knees and whirled his steel finger to striking height, but an instant into his strike the demon-dick tackled him. The evil penis thrusted its engorged mushroom helmet between his shoulder blades, and wrapped him up in penis-arms. This threw off his aim so that his steel finger merely tossed up some sand at the lance-man’s running feet.

Now Ritch wrestled the red, throbbing, man-sized phallus for his life. And virgin ass. Ritch stood two meters tall and weighed a fit 110 kg, which allowed him to throw the evil penis off him so that he could get up. Next he whipped at the demon’s dickhead with his Fuck You finger, but the metal digit merely bounced off the assaulting penis’ otherworldly hard skin, doing no harm. The dick started punching. Ritch ducked under its swinging penis-arms and dodged its penis jabs. He began counter-attacking by kicking nut-sacks. Just when he thought he might become the first man to survive an encounter with a man-sized demon-dick, the evil penis spit in his face, covering him from forehead to chin in a noxious, black cum. Temporarily stunned and blinded by the dick-spit, he was soon crumpled into the doggie position. A dick appendage found its way to his rectum, and began to press through his pants. Was it an arm-dick? A leg-dick? An actual dick-dick? There was no way to tell. Ritch knew naught but that the dick was murderously big. His mind broke as he realized he was about to be raped in his ass, to death no less, by a magic dick, demonic no less. He had his last three thoughts before blackness took him:

3.‘Damn that lance-man!’

2.‘Is that bright light heaven?!’

1.‘BRIGHT LIGHT CAN’T BE HEAVEN BECAUSE NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS TO MEEEEEEEEEE!’

3

When Ritch came to he found himself laying on a blanket by a flaming campfire-wand. He sat up and discovered he was covered in tiny, curly, golden hairs. ‘I’m not dead,’ he immediately realized. ‘I’m in the Empty Desert, where I was before that lance-man came and the demon-dick chased me away. The demon-dick!’ He quickly clenched his sphincter several times and ran his hands over his butt; everything down there felt perfectly normal. ‘Whew! Somehow I wasn’t raped in the ass by a magic, evil penis. And since I can see, my eyes must have been wiped clean of the demon-dick spit.’ He touched his cheek. ‘My face still has lots of the goo on it, though.’ He noted his middle finger remained steel, and was down to normal finger size. A glance at the sky told him he’d hadn’t been unconscious long. His sword was in its scabbard, and he still had his pouch, which a quick check showed that his weed and everything else was still in it. Then Ritch saw the lance-man emerge from behind the flames of the fire-wand, nonchalantly eating a drumstick. They locked eyes. Ritch extended his steel finger.

“No! Don’t!” the lance-man shouted as he dropped his drumstick and backed away, arms fully extended, hands out. “I saved you! I didn’t tie you up and I could have!”

Even as Ritch whirled his steel finger above his head he thought, ‘Maybe this guy is telling the truth. Somehow I wasn’t raped by that demon-dick, so even if he did trip me, maybe he also did save me. And if he had evil intent, why didn’t he tie me up while I was unconscious? He’s not even carrying his lance.’ Ritch decided not to kill the lance-man, but he was still mad enough to whip up some sand at the lance-man’s feet with his Fuck You finger. Ritch’s strike made the lance-man jump.

“Whoa!” the lance-man cried. “Please don’t whip my dick off! I need it! I piss and jerk-off all the time! It was always my plan to save you! You gotta believe me!” Ritch stood and whipped up some more sand at the lance-man’s feet. “Please oh please don’t whip my dick off!” the lance-man said again. He covered his crotch while he pleaded for his manhood, “I even sometimes get blowjobs and fuck!”

“Save me?!” Ritch yelled. “My face is covered in demon cum!” He wiped some of the black goo off his face and slung it at the lance-man, who tried to catch it.

“Don’t waste that! It’s very valuable!” the lance-man said.

Ritch pulled his finger in. “How did you kill the dick?” he demanded.

“Angelic Vagina,” the lance-man replied.

“You found Angelic Vagina? That’s an Over-Map spell. Where did you find it?” For a moment the discovery of a rare pussy-spell made Ritch forget about nearly getting raped to death by a demon’s penis.

“In the Alien Sector,” the lance-man answered. “I was stoked to find it, but it’s super complex and takes forever to cast.” Vagina spells were indeed notoriously difficult and time consuming. “That’s why I had to trip you. I’m so sorry about that. Once that large demon-dick showed up and started chasing me, I just ran. Then I saw your campfire, and then you. I had to do what I had to do. I couldn’t tell you that my plan was to let you wrestle the dick while I cast a demanding vagina to save us both, because I knew you’d never go for it. Who would?”

“Where did that demon-dick come from?” Ritch asked.

“What do you mean? It’s just part of global demon swarming. Are you one of those ‘demon swarming deniers’?”

“I’m not denying anything, I just never heard of it. I haven’t been keeping up with Map news lately.”

“It’s not exactly news that for the last couple of decades demons, many of them in dick form, have been coming out of every hole and gathering in swarms. I think this dick must’ve emerged from the Sea Hole because its skin stinks like the ocean. Now I’ve speared big cocks before, but this was by far the biggest one I had ever seen, and I wasn’t prepared for it. One minute I’m looking for knee-high evil pricks to skewer, next thing I know, a huge penis is running me down.”

“What happened to it?” Ritch asked.

The lance-man pointed to a squished demon-dick corpse on the ground. “The vagina quickly enveloped the huge prick, which didn’t resist, then it crushed the evil penis to death with its awesome vaginal grip. At least that’s what I think I saw. That pussy shined bright.”

“So, they fucked, the demon-dick and the angel-vagina?” Ritch asked.

“There was complete penetration, so yeah,” the lance-man said.

Ritch, his face still slimed with its cum-spit, looked at the squished dick with extreme admiration. “Fucked to death by an angel’s vagina. What a way to go,” he said. The lance-man nodded in agreement. The two men shared a moment of reverent silence.

“How did you know the vagina would go after the demon, and not try to fuck one of us?” Ritch asked.

“Are you kidding? Size matters, opposites attract, women love the ‘bad boy’; we never had a chance.”

Ritch shrugged in bleak acknowledgment. “What happened to the vagina?”

“Whoosh!” The lance-man pointed straight up. “Returned to The Over-Map.”

‘His story makes sense,’ Ritch thought. ‘It would explain the flash of light, and the golden pubes. And I guess it’s true his hand was forced, once the demon-dick started chasing him.’ He slumped his tall frame onto the sand. He brought out his Flying Tower shaped pipe and took a big hit, appreciating the herb’s peppery smoke, not to mention its positive mind altering and body relaxing effects. Somewhat modifying the era’s standard greeting when encountering strangers, he asked, “Well, who the fuck are you? Where the fuck are you from? And what the fuck are you doing?”

4

Beneath an indigo sky with one bright star, the stocky lance-man sat down on the sand across the roaring campfire-wand from Ritch. He brought out a shiny silver flask from his green leather vest and drank long from it. The ponytailed spearman enjoyed the tonic’s tart lemon taste, and the slight burn it left on the back of his throat from its unusually high alcohol content.

“I’m The Hortboy, I’m from the Metal Domes, and I’m hunting demons,” he answered as he slowly looked left, adding, “When they’re not hunting me.” Then he twisted his head sharply all the way to the right, his black, braided ponytail swinging, but there were no killer dicks nor any other demons sneaking up on him. The Hortboy relaxed and took another drink.

“You’re not a spell-hunter?” Ritch asked while cleaning himself off, carefully storing the angel pubes and demon sperm in vials. “I mean, you found Angelic Vagina.”

“I got lucky finding that one, while hunting a demon of course. I make my mox selling demon parts to the markets in Stone’s Shadow. Now that you know about me, who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing? Besides smoking some amazing smelling weed.”

Ritch took the hint. He got up, handed his Flying Tower shaped pipe to The Hortboy, accepted his proffered flask, then sat back down. The Hortboy admired the intricate carvings on Ritch’s pipe and took a puff.

“Fuckin A! This really is some amazing weed. I haven’t been high in a while. I hope I don’t get too loopy. Mmmmm, there’s a special taste in the smoke. I can’t quite place it, but it’s very nice.”

“Thank you. I’m Ritch, I’m from the Soft Sea area, and I’m hunting spells as I make my way to Zeei.”

“Zeei? Any specific reason?”

“Nope,” Ritch said, “no specific reason whatsoever. I’m just sight-seeing on the Bigland, spell-hunting as I go, hoping to find a secret door in the dunes leading to an old mage’s lair, or some such thing.”

“You came by Arch?” The Hortboy asked.

“Yep.”

“Why didn’t you take the RGR to Zeei? Arch-n-Road, that’s the only way to travel around The Map.”

“To save mox, and to hunt for spells in the Empty Desert wilderness,” Ritch said.

“I’m headed into Zeei too,” The Hortboy said. “I gotta sell my stuff, and I’m overdue for a haircut. We should keep each other company during the hike.”

“Sure. Safety in numbers,” Ritch said, but thought, ‘I wonder what this jerk wants from me?’ He took a sip from The Hortboy’s flask. “Whoa, this is strong. Tastes good though. What is it?”

“A bartender in Tay mixes it for me. It’s just called ‘The Hortboy Special’,” the stocky demon-hunter said, then took another puff of weed.

The Hortboy began to get high. Really high. Like, ‘Wow, everything is new!’, high. And because he hadn’t smoked weed in a while, a tiny bit of paranoia crept into The Hortboy’s brain. He began to reassess his current situation. ‘How well do I know this guy?’ he asked himself. ‘Maybe I had the rotten luck to be chased by that demon-dick into a cannibal’s campsite, and he plans on toying with me, then eating me. He says he’s from the Soft Sea area, but how do I know he’s telling the truth? I sure am getting super stoned.’ The Hortboy took another look at Ritch’s pipe. ‘How do I even know this is really weed?’ The Hortboy, his judgment compromised by the drug, decided he had to have these questions answered right then.

“Hey.” The Hortboy held up Ritch’s pipe. “How do I know this is really weed?”

“Haha!” Ritch thought The Hortboy must be joking, and played along by replying, “You caught me. I actually packed you a bowl of Tidal Tree moss.”

But the high-as-fuck Hortboy was deadly serious. “What do I know?” he asked. “Maybe you’re not a spell-hunter from The Soft Sea. Maybe you’re from the Bad Small Isle’s church of human flesh eaters. Maybe this isn’t weed at at all. Maybe it’s a sort of … narcotic lung seasoning. I think that’s lemon-pepper I taste in the smoke!” The Hortboy smacked his lips accusingly and reached for his lance.

Ritch was taken aback by the sudden, and very specific, accusation. He decided to fight fire with fire, so that maybe he could convince The Hortboy how irrationally paranoid he was behaving. “Well, how do I know you’re really a demon-hunter? Maybe you’re the cannibal,” Ritch said. He held up the silver flask. “And maybe this is some sort of … paralytic liver marinade. It does seem like I’m getting drunk faster than normal.” The two men stared each other down.

“What happens now?” The Hortboy asked.

“Just do what I always do and say, ‘Fuck it. So what if this guy’s a cannibal who’s going to eat me. At least he’s not a freak who’s gonna rape me in the ass first with a magic dick.’.”

“So your philosophy is: Kill me, eat me, just don’t be a freak about it.”

“Words to live by,” Ritch said, “except it’s pronounced, ‘freak’.” Then he took a long drink out of The Hortboy’s flask.

“Ha! Everyone knows cannibals don’t have a sense of humor, so you must be alright after all, Ritch,” the stocky spearman concluded, and then took a hit off the pipe.

5

Under a black sky with a billion stars, the two men smoked and drank in silence by the campfire. After a few minutes The Hortboy closed his eyes and sniffed the air. He turned his neck and sniffed again. Then he stood and gave the air a long, professional sniff. With widened eyes he looked at his new acquaintance and said, “I have a super important question to ask you, Ritch. It’s a matter of life and death.” The Hortboy sniffed again, this time in a wide arc.

“Of course. What?”

The Hortboy looked right at Ritch and asked him, “Did you just fart?”

Ritch, who was often gassy, had to think about it for a second. “No,” he replied.

The Hortboy turned his back to the fire and wielded his lance in attack mode. “Ready your sword and magic finger, Ritch. Assholes are nearby!”

Ritch drew his sword, extended his steel finger and turned his back to the fire. “Do you mean bandits that are jerks, or actual …?”

“Actual assholes. Semi-sentient, deadly, demonic, swarming assholes from The Under-Map. They look like human butts, are about the same size, but are red and covered in scars. Do not let these stupid assholes fart directly on you. And especially don’t let them fart on your face.”

Ritch, holding his sword in front of him and whirling his Fuck You finger high, stared into the darkness at the edge of the campfire’s light and asked, “How do we kill these assholes?”

“Demon skin is basically impenetrable, so skewering them through their holes is the only way,” The Hortboy explained. “You gotta shove your sword up their butts. Wayyyy up their butts, as far as it will go. Kills them dead. Your steel finger will work too. Shove it way up their butts!”

“My finger? What if it farts on my finger when I’m trying to kill it?”

“Nothing can fart with a magic finger up its butt, Ritch,” The Hortboy said.

“You’re sure about that?” Ritch asked, scanning for demon-butts.

“Yes,” The Hortboy replied. “It’s like, The One True Law Of The Universe.”

“Sounds about right. Why are you looking up? These assholes fly?”

Zoom! A fart-thrusted butt buzzed by Ritch’s face. He swung at it with his sword, but missed wide. The butt flew by The Hortboy, who skillfully side-stepped to skewer it mid-flight. When he removed his lance from the evil anus’ rectum, it screeched out a last fart that burned so far up Ritch’s nostrils it felt like it singed his frontal cerebral lobes.

Zoom! Zoom! Soon the air was thick with buzzing demon-assholes. Ritch attempted to stab and finger all that came within his range, killing only one, but preventing all of them from getting off any well aimed farts. Meanwhile, The Hortboy twisted and turned, tumbled and sprang, sticking his lance far up the holes of any butts he could reach. After about two minutes of fierce fighting the air was clear of demon-butts, though thick with brain singeing dead-butt farts.

6

After the fart gas dissipated, The Hortboy stacked his butt-skins next to his squished demon-dick. He stood back and admired his pile. “Fuckin A,” he said, “not bad for a night’s work. Whew, I’m exhausted. I do believe I have earned some sleep. We’ve both got a big day tomorrow, with an hours long hike into Zeei, not to mention my long overdue haircut at my favorite barbershop.”

“Yep, big day,” Ritch agreed as he repeatedly wiped his Fuck You finger, which stank of demon poo. “You know, I’ve never seen a demon before in my life, and now I’ve seen several, in two separate incidents, in just about one hour. Don’t you think that’s weird?” he asked as he circled the flickering campfire-wand, nervously looking all around the black night, anxious about another possible demon attack.

“No,” The Hortboy answered as he fiddled with his wristwatch. “Like I said, due to global demon swarming, they’re everywhere these days. I’m used to it. So are most people, I think.” He laid out his sleeping mat. “Hey, Spell-hunter, you got any shows I can watch? Or maybe some music to listen to? I like to watch shows or listen to music as I drift off to sleep, and I’m sick and tired of all my shit.”

Ritch, unrolling his bedroll while still looking all around, said, “Yep, I do, Demon-hunter, but there’s one problem.”

“What? It’s all elf porn? That’s not a problem,” The Hortboy said with a smile while massaging his crotch. “Elves are hot. A little vanilla though.”

“Nope, there’s no elf porn.”

“Orc porn? Also not a problem,” The Hortboy said, still smiling and rubbing his crotch. “Orcs are ugly, but kinky, and they wear elf masks, so.”

“Nope, there’s no orc porn either.”

“There’s no porn?” The Hortboy stopped smiling. “That is a problem.”

“No, there is some porn. The problem is that it’s all one billion years old, give or take a few thousand years,” Ritch said while standing above his bed, looking here and there into the surrounding blackness.

“Shows, music, and porn from a billion years ago? Why do you watch shit that old?” The Hortboy asked, putting down his blanket on the desert floor.

“I watch shit that old because it’s the best shit ever. It’s from The Golden Age,” Ritch explained, and then peered into the darkness over his left shoulder, trying to see if something was there.

“The golden age? What golden age?”

“The Golden Age of Everything!”

“That’s impossible. No age can be the golden age of everything,” The Hortboy said, “especially if I’ve never even heard of it.”

“This age was, everything about it was the best ever, even if I’m the only one who knows it.”

“Name one ‘best ever’ thing,” The Hortboy challenged.

Ritch considered which of the age’s many ‘best ever’ facets he should pontificate on: ‘The best ever world wars? The best ever genocides? The best ever mass murderers? The best ever financial crashes? The best ever social inequality? Hmmm, those could all be argued as being ‘worst evers’ by a base contrarian,’ he figured.

“Well?” The Hortboy prodded.

‘Aha, I got it,’ Ritch thought, and replied, “Magic.”

“They had magic back then, one billion years ago?” The Hortboy asked, and fluffed his pillow.

“Oh yeah.” Ritch turned 360 degrees, slowly scanning the night. “For instance, powerful sorcerers called ‘plastic surgeons’ roamed the entire globe, casting instant vaginas on the world’s greatest men. Bam! Bam! Bam!” He thrusted a forefinger three times as if he was casting vaginas with every ‘Bam!’.

“Instant vaginas? Everywhere? Okay, I have to admit, that’s pretty fucking amazing,” The Hortboy said as he crawled into his bed on the hard desert sand. “Go on. How else was it the golden age of fucking everything?”

“Apropos, my foul mouthed friend, it was also the golden age of fucking profanity,” Ritch said, looking up for flying things.

“That sounds like fat dragon shit.” The Hortboy shifted under his covers, getting comfortable.

“Ah. Your doubt proves my point. That’s the age that invented the word ‘shit’, and most of the swear words we use to this very day.” Ritch looked to the right.

“They invented shit?” The Hortboy asked.

“Yep,” Ritch said, peering into the dark.

“And shit hasn’t changed in a billion years?”

“Nope.” Ritch looked to the left.

“Fuckin A. Shit invention, instant vaginas, maybe it was a golden age.”

“The Golden Age. Of Everything,” Ritch said, correcting him.

“Fine, have it your way. Baby.”

Ritch handed The Hortboy a media-button. “This is my Golden Age of Everything ‘best of’ collection. Music, shows, even the commercials between shows. And I’m not a baby.” He lifted up his blanket, checking for demons.

“Thanks,” The Hortboy said. “This’ll really help me sleep. I’ve got a big day tomorrow. I getting a haircut. You should get in bed now and try to get some sleep too. Hiking to Zeei is gonna be hard work.”

Ritch stopped checking for demons and looked at The Hortboy. “How am I supposed to sleep, work, or do anything at all when I’m surrounded by giant dicks and stupid assholes?” he asked. “It’s not like we have the Singing/Dancing Army to watch our perimeter while we sleep.”

“Wouldn’t do any good, the S/D Army are pussies these days. It’s their music. Borrrrrring.”

“The current ineffectiveness of the Singing/Dancing Army is not the point. It’s how do we keep ourselves safe from demons while we sleep?”

“Fuckin A, Ritch, smoke a bowl and relax,” The Hortboy said, and pointed to his watch. “After the butts attacked, I set Mapple Demons to ‘repulse’,” he explained, then began watching Ritch’s videos.

“You what?!”

“My demon app, Mapple Demons, I switched it to ‘repulse’ mode, so we’ll be fine. It’s the best app out there. What? You don’t have one? I assumed everyone did, what with global demon swarming and all. They’re very popular. Most people don’t pay extra for the ‘attract’ function, of course.”

“I haven’t heard of them,” Ritch said. “I’m a little bit behind on technology too.”

“Fuckin A, you really are behind the times. Have you been off The Map a while or something?”

“Figuratively,” Ritch answered, then stretched his legs.

“Well, I set my app to switch back to ‘attract’ mode at six thirty tomorrow morning, or is that too early for you?” The Hortboy asked.

“To be woken up by a demon’s dick up my ass?!”

“Fine. I’ll set it for seven. Baby.”

Ritch crawled into his bed. “I’m not a baby.”

7

Ritch had an ongoing nightmare about being eaten by the maggot-mouthed Royal Family of The First Cannibal Church. That night he dreamed of five eaters of human flesh. There were four bald males and one female. They all had bleached white skin and were gathered around a crimson altar. Three of the male cannibals and the one female wore no clothes, and were so malnourished a few of their ribs protruded through their clammy epidermis. The fourth male cannibal was disgustingly fat, clothed only in a moth-eaten red robe, and wore a crooked golden crown. They were all taking turns swirling some poor victim’s freshly severed tibias and femurs in a black fondue cauldron of his melted toes, and then gnawing and sucking on the dripping leg-flesh. Ritch felt sorrow for the victim: ‘Now someone will never run, or walk, and probably even struggle to crawl,’ he thought in his nightmare. Then the fat, crowned cannibal turned to him and spoke: “We love you very much, just not as much as we love how your bone marrow tastes when dipped in your toe sauce.” The feasting cannibals toasted their victim by ‘clinking’ his fleshy leg bones together like they were champagne flutes, then returned to gnawing and slurping on them. Ritch looked down and saw his legs had been chopped off.

“Hey, Ritch, you awake?”

Ritch woke up. “Uh, yeah, I’m awake, Hortboy. What’s up?” He felt for his legs and wiggled his toes, and was happy to feel they were all there.

“I was thinking, did those sorcerers back then, one billion years ago, also cast instant-penis spells? You know, on women?”

“Yep, as a matter of fact, they did,” Ritch answered, then lit his pipe.

The Hortboy scoffed. “Some golden age of everything.”

“No golden age is perfect,” Ritch said, then took a few puffs and got some sleep.

8

“Ten pubes and a gram of cum.”

“Deal.” Ritch agreed to The Hortboy’s price for the Over-Map spell Angelic Vagina, though he was sure he was getting ripped off. ‘Everyone always takes advantage of me,’ he thought. Beneath a rosy desert dawn, Ritch and The Hortboy did the exchange.

“Okay, let’s get going before it gets too hot,” The Hortboy said. He put in ear buds so he could listen to some Golden Age of Everything music while he walked, and began to move in the direction of Zeei.

“But we haven’t had breakfast,” Ritch said, holding up his meal-charm.

“No time. We’ll have to eat while we hike.”

“What’s the hurry?”

“We have to get to Zeei before the shops close. I really want to get a haircut today,” The Hortboy said. “If I have to wait until tomorrow to get my haircut, that would be a bitch, Ritch. A real beeatch. Ha! A real beeatch, Reeatch.”

“When do the shops in Zeei close?” Ritch asked.

‘’Early. Is this your first time to the Bigland, Reeatch?”

“Yep. I just got in from the Soft Sea Arch last week,” Ritch said.

“You’re going to like Zeei, Reeatch.”

“I’ve heard some amazing things about it. Mostly that it’s fancy and expensive.”

“Fuckin A it is,” The Hortboy said. “Good thing I got you covered in valuable pubes and cum that you can sell for lots of mox.”

“Yeah. I really owe you one. Jerk.”

“I’m not a jerk.”

9

Beneath a partly sunny sky with dark clouds in the distance, Ritch and The Hortboy stood on a tall hill of yellow and blue flowers overlooking Zeei. They shared a joint as they marveled at the millions of golden skyscrapers, each topped with a colorful blimp, that made up the riverside metropolis. Ranging from hundreds to thousands of stories tall, the pure gold high-rises lined both sides of the river from horizon to horizon. There were tubular skyscrapers, pyramidal ones, pentagonal ones and so forth. Many were shaped into statues of people, animals, or trees. The tallest was in the shape of a double-bladed sword; its hilts were always above the clouds, when there were clouds. Some high-rises were decoratively studded with rubies and diamonds. Others were laced with marble, pearl and the like. No two were the same. All were of gold.

These golden towers were not business offices, but personal residences. The people of Zeei could afford golden towers because they had become stupendously wealthy by masterfully combining the awesome powers of:

* super-genius magic

* cutting-edge alien technology

* and by far most important: the simplest economic principles

And the Zeeins did it all on only one hour a day per person. At 11 a.m. half the adult population went to work while the other half shopped, then at 12 p.m. they switched for one hour. The children went to school or daycare for the entire two hours. After 1 p.m., everyone partied in their mansions, on their river yachts, up in their blimps, or in the many opulent parks, plazas and squares that dotted the city. Interestingly, the Zeeins once tried a system where they each worked only a fraction of a second per day. Production, due to enhanced worker morale, skyrocketed. But they soon found that a fraction of a second wasn’t enough time to do the day’s shopping, and then the warehouses began to overflow, so they gave that up.

Ritch and The Hortboy walked down a marble path to Zeei’s city gates.

“So, I guess you know a good demon parts dealer?” Ritch asked.

“The best, Reeatch, the best.”

As the guys approached the city entrance, Ritch noticed Zeei was covered in soiled napkins, broken bottles, discarded chicken and rib bones, and litter of all manner. Too the the city reeked of vomit and urine.

“What the fuck?” Ritch asked, gesturing to the filth.

The Hortboy checked his watch and said, “Wait for it. Wait for it.” A bright flash made Ritch blink. When he could see clearly again he saw that Zeei was cleaned and scrubbed to a bright polish.

“What happened?” Ritch asked.

“The clock struck 11 a.m., the morning shift started, and they cleaned everything up. You see, everyday at 1 p.m. everyone is done working and shopping, and so they all begin partying. There’s a big overtime taboo, so no janitors are on duty. And since no one’s ever been able to create a robot or a ‘clean up litter’ spell that can differentiate between trash and not-trash with perfect 100% accuracy, which is critical, there’s no way to keep the city clean, and the place gets kind of dirty.”

“Weird,” Ritch said.

“The good news is we got here plenty early for me to get my haircut.”

“For a guy with long hair, you sure are excited about a haircut.”

“You’ve obviously never been to a Zeein barbershop, Reeatch,” The Hortboy said and slapped Ritch on the back.

10

Ritch and The Hortboy entered Zeei and decided against taking a tomato taxi or cabbage cab. Instead they walked on silver sidewalks and pink ruby streets to The Hortboy’s demon parts dealer. As they passed by the golden towers, they also walked by numerous shops, which were all carved out of mountainous diamonds of various colors. The half of the Zeein citizens that worked the so called ‘late shift’ were out shopping in full during the ‘early shift’. The Zeeins, slim and immaculately groomed to a person, gleamed in gemstone beaded togas of shining platinum-cotton. Ritch and The Hortboy regularly bumped shoulders with them. Here and there, people wearing dull, non-shining clothes stood out like impoverished sore thumbs. This described Ritch and The Hortboy.

“Fuckin A, Reeatch, that billion year old shit you gave me last night was amazing,” The Hortboy said as he waited at a corner for a lime limo to go by.

“Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. What were some of your favorite parts?” Ritch asked.

“Andy Samberg roasting James Franco was a genuinely inspired performance.”

“Bam Boston Market! What else?”

“The movie ‘Beer Vs. Weed, Weed Wins!’ has to be the best ever,” The Hortboy said.

“I couldn’t agree more.”

“And while watching one of the sitcoms, I heard what has to be the funniest punchline of all time: ‘His wife is in a coma.’ Hilarious!”

“Yes! That is also my favorite punchline. I can’t believe you liked that old stuff.”

“I liked all of that old stuff so much, I’m gonna send it all to everyone I know.”

“Everyone you know? You think they’ll appreciate it?” Ritch asked, thinking, ‘No one ever likes the stuff I like, if only because I like it.’

“Sure they will, all that billion year old stuff is awesome. The shows, the adverts between the shows, and especially the music. Even the porn!”

“Huh. Maybe it will catch on, and I’ll turn my unique knowledge of this unappreciated, long forgotten time into a small profit,” Ritch said. A split-second later he thought, ‘No way it’ll catch on, and even if it does, I’ll never earn a single mox. Nothing good ever happens to me.’

11

Ritch and The Hortboy sold their demon-stuffs in the ten story blue diamond that housed Major’s Mighty Mighty Market, and later stood outside saying their goodbyes.

“Thanks for not being sore at me for almost getting you raped to death by a man-sized demon-dick,” The Hortboy told Ritch.

“Forget about it. In fact, I should probably thank you for getting me covered in demon cum and angel pubes. I have enough mox now to buy a car. Not a used one either, but a piece of fresh fruit. I can’t believe something good happened to me, sort of.”

“Like you said, you owe me one. Well, I’m off to get my haircut. There’s my barbershop across the street.”

Ritch looked at the barbershop: ‘Sal and Daughter’s Haircuts and Blowjobs’. “I should have guessed,” he said.

“Goodbye, Reeatch,” The Hortboy said as it began to rain.

“Goodbye, Hortboy,” Ritch said, thinking, ‘I bet he’s glad to get rid of me. Nobody ever wants to be my friend.’

12

Ritch entered the sixty story green diamond that was home to Brain Support Self Improvement Services Inc. This was the real reason for Ritch’s visit to Zeei, he wanted to improve himself. He approached the pretty brunette receptionist, who was too uninterested in him to look up from her monitor.

“My name is Ritch Speerat. I’m here for my twelve o’clock appointment.” A flash made Ritch blink. When he could see clearly again he saw that the brunette receptionist was replaced with a blond woman, also too bored to look at him.

“Twelve o’clock shift-change,” the blond woman explained. “Please stand on the scanner, Mr. Speerat.”

Ritch stood on a crystal circle in the floor, and dozens of rainbow colored lasers fluttered over his entire body, lingering a bit on his head. When the light show ended, he looked at the receptionist and awaited instruction. The young blond instantly sat up to attention when Ritch’s results appeared on her screen, and a force-field popped up around her. She addressed him with direct eye contact and an awkward, forced smile.

“Yes sir, Mr. Speerat, we have indeed received your mox transfer. You may take stairway five to your appointment. We have matched you with Mr. Mindshare.” She pointed the way.

Ritch walked to stairway five. ‘Hmm. Stairs? No elevator? In a diamond this tall? Weird,’ he thought. When he got to the stairs he saw that they only went down. He addressed the receptionist and asked, “Are you certain it’s stairway five? They only go down.”

The receptionist didn’t take her eyes off Ritch. “That’s correct. Go all the way down. There’s a door at the bottom. Mr. Mindshare is behind that door. I’ve warned him, I mean, I informed him you’re coming.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Ritch descended the dim stairway and a few minutes later he stood in front of a unmarked door with a green glow coming through the cracks. He opened the door and entered a room made entirely of black stone. Mr. Mindshare, a man with an over-large cranium and wearing a black toga, sat behind a desk under an emerald light. Mr. Mindshare moved his grotesque mouth, but no sound came out. Instead, Ritch heard Mindshare’s words inside his brain a moment later.

“Hello, Mr. Speerat, I’m Mr. Mindshare. How can I help you to improve yourself today?”

“I have an ongoing nightmare that I’m being eaten by cannibals, which I’d like stop.”

“Go figure. Okay. I think I can help you. Relax and prepare for me to share your mind.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“I’m going to telepathically relive your life through your brain. Don’t worry, even if you have memories of torture, like having your penis sliced off or something, it will only tickle this time around.”

Ritch’s life passed in front of his eyes, but instead of Ritch living it, the grotesquely headed Mr. Mindshare comically stumbled through it. Ritch watched Mr. Mindshare be born, live Ritch’s entire life, get chased by a man-sized demon-dick, and then it was over.

“So, Mr. Mindshare, can you help me?”

Mr. Mindshare took a few seconds to regain his composure. “I’ve seen your condition before,” he said. “The root of your nightmare is that you suffer from the enchantment known as ‘evil schema’.”

“Schema? I’ve never heard of it before,” Ritch said.

“Almost all humans are ignorant of it.”

“Can you tell me who cast it on me, so I can try to get him or her to void it?” Ritch asked.

“Evil schema is of the most wicked class of spells: dark spells one casts upon oneself,” Mr. Mindshare explained.

“I cast this on myself? Why?”

“Your family emotionally abandoned you, and treated you as the lowest status member.”

“I was Megged,” Ritch said through gritted teeth.

“What’s that?” Mr. Mindshare asked.

“Nothing. An ancient reference. Go on.”

“You see, healthy people from good families cast ‘good schema’ spells on themselves in childhood. When someone treats them well, they accept that as normal, and when someone mistreats them, they dismiss it as an aberration. Healthy people thus expect to be treated well, and readily embrace good things that happen to them. The opposite happened to you. The abysmal manner in which you were raised caused you to cast an ‘evil schema’ spell on yourself. Whenever someone treated you poorly you felt it was normal, and if ever someone treated you well, you quickly forgot it, or ignored it as an anomaly. The result is that your whole life, despite having worked very hard and with good intentions, you have rejected anything good that happened to you. Have you ever felt like nothing good ever happens to you?” Mr. Mindshare asked.

“Yep. All the time.”

“This is the source of your ongoing nightmare.”

“I have always wanted to know what was wrong with me,” Ritch said with a sigh. “So what’s the counter-spell?”

“There is no counter-spell,” Mr. Mindshare said. “No one has ever created a magic cure for evil schema.”

“What? How do I void the enchantment?”

“One way is to kill the person who cast it. An elegant solution, in my opinion.”

“Not to me it’s not! Isn’t there another way?”

‘’Murdering your family, as they were the incipient cause, just might do it.”

“I don’t want to murder anyone,” Ritch said.

“Not even to put an end to your terrible dream, once and for all?” Mr. Mindshare asked.

“No. There must be another way. A righteous way.”

“The only other possible way to cure yourself is to expose your family to The One True Law.”

“The One True Law really exists?” Ritch asked.

“Oh yes, it exists,” Mr. Mindshare said.

“What do I do, if I choose to use it?”

“You merely have to go get it, and expose your family to it.”

“What would The One True Law do?”

“The Law will judge and sentence your family, providing you justice, hopefully ending your nightmare.”

“Where is it?”

“The book that contains The One True Law is kept, for safety reasons, at the bottom of the Sleeping Dragon’s treasure hoard. It can only be accessed by using the Magic Shovel, which is kept at the nearby Sleeping Dragon Inn. Just whisper to the innkeeper the passphrase.” Mr. Mindshare slightly smiled, and then whispered, “Can I please suck your dick.”

“Uh, no!”

“No, I wasn’t asking you if I can suck your dick, Mr. Speerat. ‘Can I please suck your dick’ is the passphrase,” Mr. Mindshare explained.

“Oh. Haha. Hmmmm. Besides suicide and murder, is that the only possible way to cure my schema and put an end to my nightmare?”

“Yes,” Mr. Mindshare said firmly. “Exposing your family to The One True Law is the only possible way. Also, I feel obliged to add, if you can rid The Map of those leg eating freaks, it would be the right thing to do.”

13

When Ritch exited Brain Support’s green diamond he saw dozens of police plums, sirens blaring, speeding past. While he waited for the cop cars to go by, Ritch used Mr. Mindshare’s advice to make a plan.

1. Buy a car and drive on the Really Good Road (RGR) to the Arches.

2. Arch to Upperrightland and go to the Sleeping Dragon Inn for the Magic Shovel.

3. Get The One True Law from the Sleeping Dragon’s hoard.

4. Expose my family to The One True Law and live happily ever after.

Ritch bought a new car, and then just barely managed to buy some weed before the shops closed

for the day. After toking up in a park full of kaleidoscope wizard monuments with crystal porticos, he got on with his plan.

Beneath a partly cloudy sky, Ritch crawled through Zeein traffic in his newly bought convertible cantaloupe. Police plums, lights flashing, clogged the streets. He drove up to a police checkpoint.

“Identification please, sir,” a policeman ordered Ritch.

“What’s going on, officer?” Ritch asked as he handed the cop his I.D. button.

“A manhunt. There’s a deviant on the loose,” the policeman said as he used his stylus to check Ritch’s information on his tablet.

“It’s not a cannibal, is it?” Ritch asked nervously, wondering if he could trust Brain Support’s claim of complete privacy.

The policeman’s face twisted in disgust, and he said, “Worse, if you can believe it. This guy’s wanted for the most heinous of Zeein felonies: causing overtime.” The policeman snarled as he snapped his stylus in his hand.

“Sounds like a real sicko,” Ritch said.

“The sickest.”

“What’s he look like?” Ritch asked.

“He has a ponytail and carries a spear,” the policeman answered. “Be extra careful while you’re in town.”

‘Spear? Ponytail? Could it be? Nah,’ Ritch thought. “I guess it’s a good time to be leaving,” he told the policeman. “I’m headed out of town on the RGR right now.”

The policeman was satisfied that Ritch wasn’t the wanted man and he waved him on. “You’re good to go, sir. Drive safely, there are sickos on the RGR too.”

“Thank you,” Ritch said, and drove his cantaloupe through the checkpoint toward open road.

14

Ritch floored his cantaloupe’s accelerator as he entered the RGR on-ramp. As he passed 100 kph he thought about the RGR he drove on back in his homeland, and he wondered if he’d also see feral car races while he traveled on this RGR. As he passed 200 kph he wondered if this RGR also made extensive use of pop-up loop-de-loops, multi-decker roadways and such. As he passed 300 kph he wondered, ‘Who is that fucking idiot that just jumped out in the middle of the road?!’ Ritch stomped on the decelerator. His car screeched to a stop at the idiot’s feet.

The idiot jumped on the cantaloupe and thrust a spear at Ritch. “Get out of the melon! This a a fruit-jacking! Fuckin A! Reeatch?!”

“Hortboy?!”

“What amazing luck!” The Hortboy said as he climbed into the passenger seat. “Go, Reeatch! Go! Go!”

“Nope! No, no, no. No way! Helping a fugitive probably causes a shit-ton of overtime! I can’t have that hanging over me!” Ritch said.

The Hortboy gave Ritch a hurt look. “Reeatch, you owe me!”

“I owe you?”

“Pubes and cum! Pubes and cum! Now go! Go!” The Hortboy slapped on the dashboard.

Ritch muttered, “Fuck,” then floored the accelerator and drove his fast fruit onto the Really Good Road.

15

Magically laid down by the Car Lovers’ Cabal five hundred million years ago, The Really Good Road (RGR) lived up to its name. It boasted:

*Flawless pavement.

*A ‘perfect weather forever’ enchantment.

*A ‘daylight forever’ enchantment.

*The ability to instantly widen, shrink, create tunnels, lane dividers, multiple-level roadways, convoluted spirals, loop-de-loops, or any shape of road needed to avoid collisions and congestion.

*Majestic rest-stops.

*A maternal instinct toward its travelers.

*Free Wi-Fi.

Traveling through the heart of Stone’s Shadow, Ritch and The Hortboy sped away from Zeei’s golden towers (and police plums) on the RGR at 350 kph. Soon they exited Zeei, and gently rolling hills evocative of fantastically large brown potatoes passed by on either side. The hills were pockmarked with sprawling pastel mansions and isolated green forests sprouting tall trees. The elevated city of Tay could be seen in the distance.

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