The story so far

Hi.  Patrick Lewis, the Screaming Candle here.  It’s been way too long a pause since I last updated The Strange.  As such, I believe it would be good to catch folks up on the story so far.  There are a lot of threads here and I’m not going to get into everything by necessity.  That’s to say that this DOES NOT fully catch you up because I don’t want to introduce spoilers by pointing out that something or another is important outside of the narrative.  I’m also doing this in pretty much one take so it’s going to be loose.

Yeah, So, The story so far.

Ryan Goldberg went to bed confused and woke up the luckiest man alive.  From there, his day went downhill to the point where we are now, which has him flying through the air looking at potential compound fractures.

That’s possibly a touch too brief.  Let me back up.

You see, Goldberg is a mathematician, working as a Teachers’ Assistant at Hogstown State in Florida, having worked his way up through the various ranks of student and into the position of teacher without ever having moved out or dramatically changed roommates.  He’s not the only math-wiz in town, however.

Alexi Loveless glommed on to probability and recognized it for what it is, a description of the universe, provided one had enough data.  With that end in mind, he stole as much data as he possibly could.  Having gotten away with it, he used it to take over the criminal enterprises he uncovered until he landed himself on the top of the food chain.  Until his data was stolen.

Bill, Goldberg’s co-worker, was always a weirdo. So, when he started acting particularly weird, no one noticed.  He’d come upon … something.  A particular gestalt with the computers he had at his disposal to continue his predilection for hording into the online realm, gathering up everything he could.  When he found himself with a large blob of data with uncrackable encryption, it did some rather unpredictable things to his psyche and outward behavior.

And now you are… only caught up to Chapter 1, or not even.

You see, Frank Riley’s wife has fallen down the stairs and for someone in their nineties, that’s not so great.  Her weakening condition has corresponded to a rise of strange things such as Bill’s further mental instability and Goldberg’s preposterous fortune.  And now, with her in the hospital, Frank Riley is looking at a dark and short future without his soul mate.   …who wakes up and tries to kill him.

And now… Ok, maybe you are now at chapter 2.

Speaking of soulmates, Goldberg’s fortune may or may not have had a hand in his taking up with long-time acquaintance and one-time crush Joy Winter.  His one-night stand, coming on the heels of his recent lottery win, has him flummoxed but pleased with himself.  Never mind that he seems to be able to see complex and absurd machines all around him and know things he should simply have no call to know.  And the visuals are clearly a sign that he’d taken way too many fun-for-you drugs… but still… girlfriend!  Good girlfriend after the cheating child that was Megan.

But enough drama.  Time for coffee and bagels.  On the way, Goldberg enters the house of his Co-worker Bill only to find a message only his uncannily prescient hallucinations can decipher.  And he finds Bill dead in his kitchen and escapes the police man, Officer Small, chasing him through the house by way of a pulley, then gets and loses the message – a puzzle box ball.  On the way down, he makes sure Officer small is not blown up with the bomb before escaping through the wall and into the rotund and squishy body of one Molly Bunn.  Ms. Bunn has coffee, and bagels, and a paper with Goldberg’s face on the front announcing he was the luckiest man alive, and once she gets her clothes on, the two of them escape her apartment before it collapses, coffee and bagels in tow.  It was all very exciting, and I highly recommend going back to those sections and reading them.

Alexi Loveless is pissed.  His data is potentially in the wind, and he sends the formidable Mr. A along with a driver, Carl, to find Goldberg.   Loveless was also about the bomb, but I’m not rewriting the book here.  This is a catch up.

So… cutting to the chase, Loveless’s minions, Mr. Aye and Carl have been chasing Goldberg around town and becoming less and less happy about it.  Mr. Aye has, seemingly, been beaten to within an inch of his life and beyond.  Which is to say he’s been repeatedly beaten to death yet seems to be in remarkably good health for it.  And super angry with Goldberg.

For his part, Goldberg and his roommate Dan have been trying to get lost in a stoned haze for the better part of the day.  After having been blown up, Goldberg called the police, tried to make it their problem, they are the professionals, after all, and promptly went off into the nostalgic woods near the dorms to get fully and utterly high, bothered only slightly by this big asshole who keeps shooting at them.

Meanwhile, in a quest to find anything from Molly’s house, she and Joy Winter cruise by the rubble only to find the ball Goldberg had retrieved and lost.  So, Joy, with Molly in tow, meet up with Joy’s twin sister, Sarah, for lunch with her star tight end boyfriend Teague London.  Goldberg and Dan catch up and after Goldberg pays for everyone’s lunch, they compare notes.  Teague, it turns out, has gone from being an incredibly strong linebacker to being inexplicably and uncontrollably strong.  Having been sent home from practice for hurting a teammate and the coaches thinking he beat the kid up on purpose, Teague is interested, but hardly surprised by Goldberg’s string of luck.

Molly gives Goldberg the ball and Goldberg immediately solves the nearly impossible puzzle to extricate a small thumb drive from its center.  The clueless man finally has his first clue.  Something potentially worth killing for.

Also, meanwhile, Alexi Loveless has been shoring up his defense.   Having undermined the police commissioner and half the force, he asks them to apprehend Goldberg if the opportunity comes across.  In the part of the police force that is not corrupted is Detective Clive Brace, who has been investigating the bombing and is surprised to find his investigation cut short.

Another way Loveless is beefing up security is to employ Mr. Aye’s employer, Ms. Bee (contact arrangement) to whip his lackies into shape.  Having returned from questioning the almost blown up Officer Small and leaving him dazed and confused, she returns to Loveless’s lair of an almost dead mall to find she was the last person to see the officer before he went completely and inexplicably missing.  This is, of course, a gross oversimplification, but this is an overview and I’m already busting through 1K of words here and have long ago said farewell to notions of brevity.  Still, go back and read it if you want it to make sense and not have so many run on sentences.

So, Ms. Bee and Loveless are at his lair, Goldberg has a clue in his pocket along with a card for an old friend’s real estate practice but is on the run after having avoided one too many gunshots from Mr. Aye.  And to wrap it back to the previously mentioned compound fractures, Mr. Aye managed to find Goldberg and do… Well, we’ll figure that out when the story continues.  Sounds painful, though.

In the meantime, Dan hooks up with Molly and Joy and Sarah are puzzled by the fact that they now share each other’s thoughts as well as a striking and seemingly natural purple hair.  Actually, it’s more a lilac color.  The important part here is that the carpet matches the drapes, if you catch my drift.

There have also been a few odd characters wandering around Hogstown.  The strange man with the odd library rattling around in a much too primitive for him VW camper van; the two men who came all the way from California to find weirdness and have only so far found a subcompact golf cart and odd dreams.  They all have been called here.

And now you have been called as well.  Can you handle a dive into The Strange?


Screams from the Candle – 420

On this 420, I wanted to lay out the Screaming Candle’s view on marijuana legalization.  If anyone is reading The Strange, it should be no shock at all that I believe that pot should be legal, taxed, and regulated.  The prohibition on pot has been used for decades as an excuse for the police to harass citizens, especially minorities and poor people.  The suspicion and the surveillance that accompanies this prohibition is demoralizing to the population and breeds mistrust between the citizens and the police, making the situation progressively worse.

Really, it is this opening of an adversarial relationship with the cops that is at the very heart of the problem with the current prohibition.  There are other arguments as well.  With the drug illegal, food purity and sanitary standards that we apply to everything else we put into and onto our bodies are completely out the window.  Your pot could be 20% dog poop or infested with e. coli and it would still be sellable.  Nothing else in this country is like that.  The money that goes to drugs goes to people who thoroughly suck and are terrorizing Mexico, making a proud democracy into a shithole.  Pot is not a gateway drug, BUT it is a drug that is sold alongside the truly dangerous drugs like coke and H at the criminal drug dealer.  AND that guy makes most of his money from the ganja.  Take away those sales and there wouldn’t be nearly as many outlets for the other stuff.  Want to keep pot away from kids?  Put it behind the store counter with the porn or in a special shop like a booze store.  The current system has a criminal being the only gatekeeper between kids and pot and that criminal knows that the school kids – all kids all the same age all talking and networking with one another – is a prime word of mouth marketing opportunity.  All of these arguments wrap up into one unassailable truth, the prohibition on pot is unjust and unjustified, especially if one thinks of it in terms of public safety.

The fact is that as I sit here right now, I want a fucking bong hit.  I’m an adult, a father, a home owner, a tax payer.  I don’t smoke pot because I don’t want to break the law or hand my money over to criminals.  Colorado and other states have already figured out how I could possibly have that bong hit without breaking the law and without handing my money over to criminals.  LETS FUCKING DO THAT!

Oh and last but not least, let’s think of the kids.  I look at my little candle, Captain Q, and I see a potential future pot smoker.  He’s a weird ass who loves humor, spazing out, and cookies – not too far a leap to think he’d enjoy a joint when he gets older.  Thing is, we live in the city.  He gets popped for doing that in high school it’s into the criminal justice system for him.  And he’s so lily white, he practically glows in the dark, but still, we live in DC – stuff happens here.  The thing is, I don’t think it’s as big a deal as getting caught with a beer.  I’d rather have him intoxicated than incarcerated.  He’d get over being stoned and being a stoner WAY before his criminal record was expunged.

So, if we want to “think of the children” let’s do the sensible thing and legalize, regulate and put an age limit on who can have pot.  It is the ONLY thing that makes any sense.