Trimming the Fat From the Program

We were on the 1AM train leaving the Cold Forest. There was no heat on the train in the late night rides and Nick and I were shivering. “*Hic* Would you like a sip?” Nick asked. I grabbed the vodka and tipped it back into my throat. I could hear the bottle gurgling and felt it burning.

“It’s fucking cold out,” Nick said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“I’m kind of drunk though,” Nick said.

In the pitiful silence–we had been traveling from Biome Sector 7 for 12 hours and ran out of things to talk about–I reached into my duffel bag to reread my Imperial Scroll and pretend I was doing something productive with it (forming questions, rehearsing my presentation to the King Guards, etc.)


(The Scroll was sealed after that point).

“I present… a scroll for the King,” I imagined myself saying to the soldiers at the Ice Wall. They would probably believe me, they’d probably believe I had this important business, right? Why did I need to convince them, if I wasn’t lying, I wondered.

I took another swig of vodka and curled into a worm-like position across three train seats.

“Do you believe in a Superman?” Nick asked me. I looked over and he was reading out of a comic book.

“No, not really, I mean, what?” I was almost asleep.

“I do. I think there’s someone greater than all of us who could solve our problems.”


“I do. I really do. Why don’t you believe in a Superman?”

“I just think, well, I guess it’s just my natural inclination.”

“I bet Superman would come to our defense if we get in trouble with the King.”

“No, there isn’t one, I told you that.”

“Well why are you so sure? I think he will save us from ourselves.”

“Yeah, maybe.” I rolled over.

“What do you really think, though?” Nick was pleading, he looked at me with a broken, piercing search.

“Maybe there is a Superman, maybe there isn’t, is really what I think,” I said.

“If you really believe, a Superman will come. It’s like Barney.”

“Well…” I just dove my head farther into the folds of the chair. The vodka made me fall asleep.

 I began dreaming of my father. He was getting ready for some big event in his part-time hobby. It was the weekend. He was rushing to get things accomplished. I was searching for his attention, I kept bringing myself into his gaze. He kept moving, naturally. I was searching for him and his attention. Finally he turned and looked at me and began to speak, but I heard his voice underwater. I left our house and began driving. I was gazing at the house numbers carefully. I wondered which one was my father’s house. I knew he had two houses. Where was his secret house? I was looking for my father’s secret house. We were inside the designated “privilege” section of the Sector 7 biome, a giant bubble of glass that held in the human civilization on this corner of the continent. Outside the biome were robots, we had to stay away from them or they’d kill and inspect us. Our privileged position made us repeat to ourselves 4 to 6 times a day in front of a mirror “I am privileged I exhibit the unjust nature of the universe” and to make as good a show as possible of hating ourselves for it and elaborating our intellectual theses on it.

I woke up in the bitter cold morning and looked out the window. It was a frozen expanse of crusty, solid brown ground that I knew held ice deep inside of it. That meant we were close to arriving. I reread the scroll’s header. I can’t believe I was so lucky to be delivering this, I thought. I really am something special..

Nick woke up and we left the train station. We were walking through the downtown area of the outside-the-walls city that would lead us to the gates of the king’s castle. We turned a corner and heard a booming noise, and then the warbled screeching of the Reality Police. I knew in an instant. The Reality Police were coming for me. The Reality Police exist to capture you at your moment of Illusion. I turned to Nick and I said, “We’ll never make it with our scroll in time. They are going to throw us in a dungeon or something we can’t let this happen.” “Don’t worry,” he said. “We just have to cause more abstractions.”

I left the train and conjured a mystical demon. The demon was then playing in a forest named Imagination Forest. I visualized myself being outside of my own body. I visualized myself turning a ship named “reality” into a swimming frog on a frozen lake.

The police were chasing us through the alleyways leading to the Royal King’s Gate.

I was going to make it in time, I thought, I was going to make it.

I was holding the scroll and running toward the gate where two soldiers stood highly alert and ready to kill on sight if I was indeed about to be captured by the Reality Police.

“You are insane,” the guard told me.

“No, I have a scroll for the king, I am delivering it to him,” I said.

“Don’t do it, man, don’t do it,” Nick said.

“I was confused before, but now I know what I am doing,” I said.

“You are insane, the Reality Police are coming for you,” the guards said.

“I need to deliver this message,” I said.

“You are confused,” the guards said.

“I am imitating other people because I am weak and I must change myself, I must,” I said.

“Oh no, not this again,” Nick said. “Please, dear God, for Christ’s sake, shut up…”

“Just stay here til the police come for you,” the guards said.

I handed them the scroll.

“This is an important scroll,” I said.

From across the bend in the road I could see the Reality Police approaching. The Reality Police were coming to get me, I thought. I looked at them.

“Cause more abstractions and the Reality Police will need to cause abstractions to follow you,” Nick said.

“You never were my first pick for friendship,” I told Nick.

“If I could pick any friend I wanted, you wouldn’t be the first friend I’d pick,” I told Nick.

“Well I sure am glad your thoughts are worthless,” Nick said. “I am also unable to be bothered by the things you say because you are clearly insane,” Nick said.

“If you stay in this literal world of friends and likes and dislikes and commenting on the situation you are currently existing in, the police will be able to catch you because your abstractions are not extreme enough and thus can be tethered into the existing reality you are currently in in a more concrete and easy way,” Nick said.

“You need to think of something ridiculous and profane,” he said. “That way they will have to play along in your game and you will leave them behind because you have the initiative and the initiative is always the most important thing in any avenue of combat.”

I began thinking…

I stopped thinking…

“Purple dragons,” I said.

“No,” Nick said. “That kind of thing is too easy. They’ll be here any moment.”

“I am living inside of a glass house.”

“No,” Nick said. “Nothing that can be interpreted at all.”

“Gabba dabba. The super-consciousness.”

Nick said nothing and considered what I said while staring at me in a way that indicated I needed to continue what I was doing without a pause.

“The superego.”

“YES!” Nick said.

“The superego is a real thing that combats the things I’ve read about in the third chapter of the Necronomicon.”

“OK,” Nick said.

“I am going to drink a glass of orange juice from a planet other than Earth,” I said. “I am going to drink indigo colored fruit juice from a foreign planet and see if it kills me,” I said.

“OK,” Nick said.

The Reality Police were approaching.

The gate swung open and the guards stood back.

“Come and see the King,” they said.

“Fruit juice, fruit juice, fruit juice,” I said.


About vurinstitute

Horatio Somersault is the Director and Regent Chancellor of the VUR Institute, a think tank involving some as-yet-unknown and slightly spooky manipulations of time and interdimensionality. In his spare time Somersault enjoys writing poems and fables. You can read his writings, as well as those of other VUR inhabitants, at Though he lives a wanderer's life, his hometown is a domed biome inside the water core of the moon Europa. You can follow his experiences adapting to the customs of the early 21st century on his Twitter @VURdirector and can email him at vurinstitute at gmail dot com.
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