Funny how I find myself - in love with you

A fresh millennium, a fresh obsession. She died the most gruesome of deaths. It was spectacular even by our standards. A firecracker in the collective consciousness. I knew I had to have her. A centrepiece upon which I could build a true collection. It's the stuff a real connoisseur of pain looks for across the ages.

If I could buy my reasoning - I'd pay to lose

I sit in this tiny hell, stroking the threads of fate. The halls of this parody world emulate a great and bestial palace of glass, fresh from the nightmares of men. All Dreamcatchers here, damned by avarice and cruel eyes to spend eternity entertaining the beasts of the netherworld. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. So many, ugly ugly things. The competition is fierce, as mankind has been cruel and capricious for untold eons. Cheating in expected. Playing fair didn't get me any closer to heaven then. Why start now?

One Half won't do

Madness has a spicy perfume. She was steeped in it like a fine marinade, a cedar tang to her peerless sweetness. I gambled on her, spending favours with wild abandon. Wispy fingers still play upon the Earth from this place. The souls don't fall cleanly. The breadcrumb trails of love and hate bring the rats up from their hole. A thousand years of slaving bought me the means to whisper in her ear.

I've asked myself how much do you

She must have been more deeply cracked than even I imagined. I watch, but I don't see. The hairlines ran from root to tip, waiting for the gentle hell-borne breeze to usher in the new era. Eggshells always break from the inside, you see. I wanted to keep you all for myself when the time finally came. An artist always coverts his masterpiece. Like you and your writing. Dancing for the coins! It's a small step from there to here, my friend.

Commit yourself

My ancient claws held the vessel gingerly. And slowly it filled. The twisting spirals of her insanity colored the thick waters of the Styx with the stuff of chaos. Her acts grew more random and detached. The walls seared with the majesty of an undone soul screaming from existence before its time. God's creation subverted, debased and consumed. Oh, how the Masters would clamour for it! It was all planned out, from pinpoint start to infinite ends. But perfection is for Angels. They took you away without so much as a word. Broken, I begin again. The Boatman asks only two coins, and the empty gel begs from the mouth of the blowfly-blue bottle. My eternal toil continues. Maybe we’ll feed it together? You seem a crafty fellow. Come; let’s see what we can do about that quill.

It's my life
Don't you forget
It's my life
It never ends.

For The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, and a friendly competition with Sam and Kyle

What strange new world is this? I am born upon it, and am cradled in its tempestuous womb. I lay out upon this sea of dark blue, rocking about in the dusky glow of a few overhead lights. They seem to be moving about, examining this substance I am on - are they examining me?

A friend, a most wonderful friend! I was sitting alone, and suddenly the tiniest of sprites floated down beside me (she must be from the lights above.) She smiled silently and laid down by my side. I am trying to speak to her, but she makes no replies, simply smiling emptily back at the lights. Her own faint glow has a warming effect on me. Maybe more will come along soon!

As I sit lazily watching the lights in the sky, I notice another speck floating down; another sprite to join the first (I named her Desdemona.) As the speck grows closer, though, a demon I could not speak of! Foaming at the mouth, evil red eyes, snarling and scratching at me from a distance. Desdemona is in a clear state of panic. She flutters about, looking for somewhere else to go, but there is nowhere to hide in this open ocean. The monster grabs a hold of Desdemona, and when I reach out to grab her and pull her to safety, it snaps at me, taking a vicious bite out of my hand. He succinctly rips off her wings, throws them to the ground in front of me, and swallows her whole in one gnashing bite. Apparently sated, it flies off, leaving me alone with the bloodied and useless wings in front of me. What sick horror is this?

More of them! The creatures have come down now, in packs of twos, and threes. They grin wickedly, snarling and pawing at me. Some of the ones that have been here the earliest are getting restless. They pace around, looking up to the skies, as if waiting for something. One of them sniffed me, but I batted it away. It snarled again, and hissed at me. They are everywhere, and their hideous eyes are always watching me. I can't sleep at all.

It's terrible! Another sprite is coming this time, only much bigger! She looks perfectly angelic, descending on me, and as she nears, I could tell she is more important than Desdemona. But before she can land, the creatures are upon her, mauling her, ripping her limb from limb, feasting on her insides. She screams a dying scream of agony, and then she is silent. The pack howled intermittently as they ripped chunks of flesh from the steaming carcass. I try to look away, but one of the creatures has flung a piece of the dead fairy at me, and as it splashed across my feet, oozing red, I gag. What did I do to deserve this hellish place!

The creatures number nearly half a score, and as group they are bold. They have begun gnawing on my extremities, and whenever I kick, they come back and scratch at me, opening wounds all over. I don't have the strength to run - some invisible force holds me in place. I had begun to stop fighting - one of them took a large gouging bite out of my ear, and the blood trickling down me is sticking to my skin - when suddenly they scattered. They flew off into the dark distance, until their red eyes were but mere nightmares.

Then I heard the noise. A dull thud, and then the sickening slide of metal across metal. With every screech, the thud grows louder and louder. Off to the right, I can see it - whatever it is - approaching. It's carrying a lantern, and appears to be dragging a large box behind it. It's getting closer, stopping now and then, looking at things I can't see. Soon it is very close, and I can see its face: such a hideous countenance! Wild bloodshot eyes, greenish skin, an unkempt mane of hair, two sharp tusks rising out of its ghastly mouth.

I can see now it is not a large box, it's a cage. Inside the cage - no, it can't be! Hundreds of people just like me. They are stacked up, covered in blood and pus, moaning, wailing. Some are desperately reaching out to me, as if I may save them. Others are not moving, and I suspect the worst. The beast who carries them is upon me now, and as he looks down on me with a delighted chuckle, he says, "You'll do nicely," and plucks me from my only home, tossing me in the back of the cage with the rest of my brothers and sisters.

Here I have finally seen my fate, my hell. Every night the beast goes out with his large box empty - and each night he returns, more bodies in tow. He puts them in the dungeon with the rest of us, as grain to the mill. Then he selects a few of the older bodies from the pile, picking them up with one free hand and throwing them into a large pot. Before he shut the door, I peeked outside. He had a roaring fire going, and a spit above it. The agonizing screams echo through the walls, sending a chill to my very core. It's obvious what will happen now. I am to be his meal. Is there no humanity? What have I done wrong? What curse was this, to be put upon this world as mere food for the Devil himself? More sinned against than sinning! Spare me, cruel master! Nolite mortis quaerete quod vos certe invenient!

"Aww man!"

"What is it, dear?"

"Well, I wrote this thing. You know, that website I write for - e2. Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny. Looks like at least one other person did, too - I got an upvote. But then it got ugly. People downvoting it like crazy, and one person cooled it and then softlinked it to Ching of Death. And now I just got the message that it got nuked."

"Well, that's too bad. But we'd better get going or we'll miss the movie."

"Right-o. I guess it just couldn't hack it in the nodegel. My car or yours?"

For The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, and a friendly competition with Sam and The Eye.

They talk, you know, when they think nobody's listening. They talk to each other when things are quiet. This place, like a virtual shopping mall - or perhaps an amusement arcade - throngs with people at the dullest of hours, chatting, composing, writing, browsing, consulting with the gods and cheerfully taunting the bots. But sometimes when, metaphorically speaking, everyone has gone home and the lights have been turned off, another kind of user altogether awakens and stalks the nodegel.

It was a very unusual sensation to log on that night - of course it was at night, last thing before bed as a matter of fact - and find myself as the only person in the "Other Users" list. I scouted a few other popular rooms but couldn't find anybody. Bemused, I decided to log off again, hit "Talk" one last time, and stopped myself just before I closed the browser window, for somebody else had begun talking.

<rab> A cold night tonight, peeps.
<enycu> I'll say. A lot of our number lost recently. I suppose it makes things better for the rest of us, but I can't help wondering...
chccl misses Albuquerque
<chccl> We've had colder. Last couple of weeks've been horrible, just horrible. I'd known some of those nodes for years.
<enycu> Will the killing ever stop? Obviously Everything will never be reduced to a single writeup - godswilling - surely one day they'll run out of chaff to destroy.
<enycu> But where? 400,000? 300,000? Ten thousand?
rab jumps up and down to keep warm
<chccl> Just because they're lyrics doesn't mean they don't mean anything to anyone
<sam512> How come you guys aren't showing up in the Other Users nodelet?

The next few times I refreshed, nothing happened. Gradually our conversation just slipped up and the catbox rolled over to "and all is quiet".

<sam512> What do you mean by killing? They're just writeups.
<rab> sam512: I suggest you log off and go to bed now.
<chccl> Things are not always as they seem, Mr. Hughes.
<rab> Don't encourage him. sam512, log off. NOW.
EDB has swallowed sam512.

"Hey!" I yelled at my monitor at that point. "What did I do? I was just asking."

/msg rab What was that all about? Why aren't you guys' names hardlinked? I can't seem to find your homenodes

rab says At this time of night, strange things happen. You have been warned.

/msg rab At risk of causing offence, would you mind explaining why I got borged for what I said just now? Did you have an awful lot of lyrics writeups?

rab says You haven't figured it out yet, have you? Would you like some more clues, or shall I tell you straight off?

rab says We ARE writeups. We live and die within the nodegel. When there's nobody around, we talk to each other. I'll unborg you, but be tactful.

For the next hour I spoke to the three individuals, gathering information. Writeups were users, with miniature lives of their own. Reputation was their lifeblood. The higher the rep, the happier the node. The three I spoke to were relatively highly-rated, though not, they told me, the highest. Nor would they tell me their true names. Why? I asked. Fear, they answered. Of the pain of downvotes - allegedly I had downvoted at least one of them already, for which I apologised profusely. But more than that, fear of Klaproth, the Node Eater.

<enycu> For yea, Klaproth stalks the nodegel this night as every night. Forty more of our number are to be taken before morn, at midnight server time.
<enycu> Sometimes Klaproth acts out of mercy. Writeups languishing in negative reputation are committed to a life of pain until the day an editor spots and deletes them. Then they are permitted to wing their way towards Node Heaven.
<sam512> Node Heaven... that name takes on a whole new meaning now.
<chccl> A node has to be amazingly lucky to return from Node Heaven.
<sam512> I think I've had only one restored, ever.
<sam512> A thought just occurred to me. High rep = happy node. Low rep = unhappiness, pain even.
<sam512> Then what about poor old Butterfinger McFlurry?

At that point the catbox once again went silent. I waited, slightly uneasily, until one last message came through.

rab says He comes when called.


<Butterfinger McFlurry> NODER
<sam512> ?
<Butterfinger McFlurry> SAM FIVE TWELVE
<sam512> Yes?
<Butterfinger McFlurry> HELP ME
<Butterfinger McFlurry> HELP ME
<Butterfinger McFlurry> THE PAIN I WANT TO DIE I WANT TO DIE
<sam512> How?
<Butterfinger McFlurry> NUKE REQUEST
<Butterfinger McFlurry> THEN I WILL BE FREE
<sam512> I-I'll see what I can do...

As I quickly checked the BMcF node, I saw what, to another writeup, must have looked something like a quivering, tortured mass of flesh; a limbless, eyeless, earless, bleeding near-corpse, howling and insane with pain. Even ninety-five C!s would be no comfort to a creature with -118 reputation, marked for destruction but never released from its purgatory between heaven and hell.

What a horrible mental image, I thought to myself as I continued to E2 Nuke Request and placed my node.

(thing) by sam512 (25 s) (print) Fri Oct 31 2003 at 23:59:35

Butterfinger McFlurry wants to be put out of its misery.

I didn't know what was going to happen next, there still being no human gods around. But on my next refresh, we had passed midnight server time; both my Nuke Request and poor BMcF were gone. Laid to rest. Klaproth had done his deed and left without a word.

<sam512> Well, I gotta go to bed now. Good night, enycu, chccl, rab, whoever you are. And godspeed, McFlurry.

I yawned and closed my computer down. "Good job tomorrow's a Saturday," I thought to myself as I brushed my teeth, changed into my pyjamas and climbed into bed. Lights off.

Butterfinger McFlurry says Night night.

Lights on.

"What?" I stuttered to mid-air.

Butterfinger McFlurry says I'll see you again in the morning.

"What? No, this is insane. You're dead, Butterfinger - you should be in Node Heaven now. You're dead!"

Butterfinger McFlurry says Only good nodes get to go to heaven. And besides, I didn't say anything about Node Heaven. I just said I wanted to be free. And I am, now.

"If the only nodes that get to Node Heaven are the 'good' ones, then what kind of evil would a writeup have to commit to be barred from entry?"

It was then that I sat bolt upright in bed, and saw the small blue and white tub sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor. I hadn't visited McDonalds in years. And they don't even sell Butterfinger McFlurries in this country. But there it was.

Butterfinger McFlurry says You'll find out.

Your fellow noders (1):
sam512 is next

For The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, and a friendly competition with Kyle and The Eye.
Bonus points for identifying the three writeups.

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