Rebirth of the Author

Excerpts from articles published in late 2018 and early 2019

U Mab, Bro?
Fiction, Metafiction, and Protofiction
by Literature Correspondent (Unofficial) Felicity Baudin
Anartchy Online, 8 September 2018

… So there I was, trapped in a prison of my own making, forced by the cruel chains of narrative to torment my own self-insert

I Can't Stop Thinking About The ESPN Body Issue
Storm Sweep WNBA Finals But Also Sue Bird And Megan Rapinoe Are So Sexy Oh My God
by Sports Correspondent (Unofficial) Sofia Haugen
Three Portlands Augur-Haruspex, 13 September 2018

… Also, it has come to my attention that some bitch in New York is copying my whole bit, with the lesbian misadventures and the barely-relevant asides and the floral-print shirts. This cannot stand.

[lots of stuff]

Workers of the Otherworld, Unite!
Tanksy, the Tanky Banksy, with Fae Correspondent (Unofficial) Queen Mab
Are We Communist Yet? Podcast, [DATE]

Rich Man's World

Or: How Mister Dark Got His Groove Back

Marshall, Carter and Dark, LLC, is due for a change in management. Mr. Marshall and Mr. Carter have chosen their successors; Mr. Dark's, unfortunately, does not want the job.

Main Sequence: Iris I Was A Rich Man

Dramatis Personae

Marshalls, Carters, and Darks

  • Amos Marshall: Patriarch of the Marshall family and a senior partner of Marshall, Carter and Dark. Likes haute cuisine, war profiteering, and bulldozing community centers to build luxury condos.
  • Rupert Carter: Patriarch of the Carter family and a senior partner of Marshall, Carter and Dark. Likes fine wine, tax evasion, and crushing the dreams of the young.
  • Mister Dark: An ancient spirit of avarice and the most senior partner of Marshall, Carter and Dark. Likes profits. Currently occupying the corpse of Percival Black.
  • Chrysophilus "Skitter" Marshall: A rich layabout from the Marshall family and junior partner of Marshall, Carter and Dark. Grand-nephew of Amos Marshall. Likes garish suits, designer demonarcotics, and being obeyed without question.
  • Alphonse Cartier: A rich layabout from the French branch of the Carter family and junior partner of Marshall, Carter and Dark. Second cousin twice removed of Rupert Carter. Likes fast cars, designer clothes, and nibbling on other people's souls.
  • Iris Black: A poor college student from Three Portlands, and Mister Dark's choice for his next host. Granddaughter of Percival Black. Likes roller derby, experimental thaumatology, and not getting her corpse possessed by an ancient spirit of avarice.

Assorted Royalty

  • Gwenhwyfar Thistlebranch: Eleventh in line to the Sidhe monarchy, heir to the Thistlebranch Publishing fortune, and Deer Student Body President-In-Exile. Iris Black's roommate. Likes cryptozoology, pastel goth aesthetics moodboards, and being obeyed without question.
  • Mordecai Diabolus: Alleged antichrist, Prince of Hell and also of Atlantic City, and Deer Student Body President-For-Life. Gwen's enemy-with-benefits. Likes high-stakes poker, light bondage, and nibbling on other people's souls.
  • Alliott Chao: Fashion designer, interdimensional arms dealer, and captain of Three Portlands' worst roller derby team. A Black Queen, but not the local Black Queen. Likes hot dogs, high-caliber ammunition, and having just so many irons in the fire.
  • Alex Chao: Another Black Queen, but also not the local one. Likes hanging out with her multiversal counterparts, long walks on the beach, and shenanigans.
  • Aleison Chaoley: Babalon, the Scarlet Woman, Mother of Abominations and Gateway to the City of Pyramids. Yet another Black Queen, from a universe with a hundred-year time lag to our own. Likes mountain climbing, spelling "magick" with a "k", and infamy.
  • Sargon of Akkad: No, not that one. The original one. Likes conquering Mesopotamia, establishing the world's first multi-ethnic empire, and gardening.

Disgusting Things (You'd Never Anticipate)

It took them two years to find her. Two years of living in hiding, looking over her shoulder, keeping to herself in her shitty basement apartment in Cleveland fucking Ohio, working at a sports bar for less than minimum wage. It was almost a relief when she went out back for a smoke break and saw the pink Rolls Royce idling by the dumpster.

They removed her eyes and tongue first. Then her heart and lungs, her liver and her kidneys, her testicles and her brain. Iris felt it all; her eyes saw the stone barrow-roof above, her tongue tasted coppery blood and stale air, her lungs screamed soundlessly through the mutilation. And whenever they cut, whenever a new hole opened in her living corpse, in flowed the Dark. It was a hundred hands pulling her wounds open and groping her innards; it was a single, massive centipede crawling in and out and around, piercing her bleeding flesh with thousands of sharp legs; it was a numbness, removing all sensation but her pain. It was bound to her, body and soul, and with every new invocation and blasphemy that binding grew tighter.

And then it was finished. She was still in agony, still looking through her absent eyes, still pumping nothing through a torn-out heart, but it was all old agonies, not new ones. The ritual was complete, the beast was bound to her, and she would stay in this tomb until the next unlucky bastard got carved up by the sons or grandsons of the men who did this to her.

Her body had slumped in its throne, head lolling to one side. It straightened, animated by the Dark within; and it smiled a ruined smile.

"Thank you, gentlemen. Very well done." It was her voice, almost, it came from her throat, but the Dark had not used her lips or tongue or voicebox to make it. (Her tongue was on the altar; her lips hung off her face by strands of gristle; her voicebox was pierced through with a silver nail.) "The compact has been followed to the letter. You performed the ritual, step by step, upon the only descendant available…"

It paused for barely a moment, and in that moment, Marshall and Carter finally understood the pact their ancestors had made.

"But I do not believe I am bound within a son of Jushur."

And then Iris felt her body stand, and the terror she felt in that moment overwhelmed anything she had felt during the ritual. It leaned over the altar, over her eyes, and its own eyes were simply black, holes in space where eyes should be.

"This is going to hurt quite a bit, I'm afraid."

It reached forward, and plucked Iris' eyes from the bowl. She would've thrown up, if she was still in control of her throat, as it turned them around and lifted them. She saw Marshall, a growing wet spot in the crotch of his suit, and Carter, on his knees, hands clasped in prayer to an absent God. And then the agony returned, as fresh as it had been the first time, and she blacked out.

She awoke to the sound of weeping. Carter, probably, it was interspersed with French-accented Ave Marias. Then the scratching and pounding would be Marshall, trying to open the doors. They wouldn't open, of course, she had sealed them much too tightly.

Wait. She hadn't done anything. It had sealed the doors, the Dark had, not Iris.

I think you'll find that it'll be much easier to think of us as a single entity. It wasn't talking to her; the thought came as a single idea. There's only one soul in here, you can check if you'd like.

So she did. The spell was simple, almost a reflex; it required only thought, a shifting of channels to see with the extra sense of thaumaturgy. She saw Marshall's soul, half-poisoned by demonic residues and designer damnations, and Carter's soul, engorged with the sips and nibbles he'd taken of a dozen others, and the tatters of the old wardings on the barrow's walls, her own fresh work on the door. And then she turned that sight inwards, and saw her own soul.

Iris knew her soul, as every thaumaturge must. Hers was an idealized version of her body, sculpted from pink marble—or, at least, that was the metaphor that her visual cortex used to interpret a fundamentally immaterial thing. It changed, from day to day, as her self-image changed, as she made choices for good or for ill; it had never changed this much, or this drastically.

Wherever Marshall and Carter had mutilated her physical form, her soul had been wounded as well. Her torso was torn open, her eyes gouged out, dead languages scratched into her skin. And each of these wounds had been filled in, by the Dark. It was a part of her now, though it made just as much sense to say she was a part of it. They were one.


Iris Dark opened her eyes. There was Marshall, trying desperately to wrench the door open. There was Carter, weeping on the floor. And there she was, still naked, still covered in her own blood and bile. That wouldn't do.

She stood from the throne once more, and as she stood, darkness wove itself across her limbs. It billowed and swirled, suggesting a dozen fashions: a toga, a ballgown, a trenchcoat, a doublet. Eventually the darkness condensed, and where there had been an amorphous cloud, there was a perfectly-tailored suit. She lifted one foot, then the other, and the shadows shaped themselves into black leather wingtips; she breathed out a cloud, and it became black lipstick, eyeliner, mascara. Her hair moved of its own accord, tying itself into a tight bun. She cleared her throat, and immediately became the center of attention.

"Mr. Marshall. Mr. Carter." The former pressed his back against the door, the latter curled into a fetal ball. "We're going to be running things a little differently around here."

gwen & morty

"I mean, I'm still mostly myself, but the bits that aren't me any more got filled in with primordial greed spirit, so…" She trailed off awkwardly. There really wasn't a good way to explain that you were suddenly a significantly worse person, but you were totally OK with that. Iris decided not to beat around the bush. "I am suddenly a significantly worse person, but I am totally OK with that."

"Oh. Well, I guess Morty will be happy about that part. Lemme give him a call." Gwen cleared her throat, and intoned in a solemn voice, "Mordecai Baphomet Diabolus, I call upon you!"

A sulfurous smell filled the room, and smoke began billowing from a patch of floor. "Speak my name and I am summoned, daughter of Albion." Black flames shot up, and in them appeared a man, corpse-pale and bloody-eyed, skyclad and tumescent. "The heir to the Morning Star appreciates not- whoah, fuck, Iris, shit, sorry, was NOT expecting you."

"Well met, spawn of Lucifer." Iris let the Dark seep into her eyes. "Mammon has not looked upon one of your father's brood in many a year."

"Noble cousin! My sincerest apologies for not recognizing you." Under the moans and wails that accompanied his voice, Morty was clearly feeling the exact discomfort one feels upon meeting a relative who hasn't seen you since you were this high. "The form you wear is familiar to me. Have you merely borrowed it? If you have stolen it, I am afraid I must ask you to quit it; otherwise, I will do what my father did. Do you understand me, cousin? I will do what my father did."

"Do not trouble yourself, little cousin, it's still me in here." Iris grinned at the stunned look on Morty's face. "Got an upgrade. I'm like 30% greed by mass now."

"Oh, fuck yeah! Welcome to the club!"

"Yeah, it's pretty great actually." She bumped his offered fist enthusiastically. "So… What's the punchline? What did your father do?"

"Hid in a hole and sulked."

"Nice. Hey, Morty?"


"Put some pants on."

  • Amos and Rupert tell Percival the bad news (When Situations Degenerate)
  • Iris encounters Skitter Marshall and Alphonse Cartier (Get Out Of Her Way)
  • Skitter and Alphonse report back to Amos and Rupert (Blind to the Big Surprise)
  • Iris learns about MC&D, goes into hiding
  • The First Compact (They Laid Down the Law)
  • Iris is made Dark


  • Six Or Eight Thousand Years Ago: Mister Dark is first bound into Jushur, King of Kish
  • c. 2300 BCE: They Laid Down The Law
  • 1968-1972: Percival Dark attends ICSUT Portlands.
  • 1972: Unbeknownst to him, Percival Dark's son, Charles Black, is born.
  • 1975: Percival Dark is made Dark. Amos Marshall and Rupert Carter become Senior Partners of MC&D.
  • 1976: Aaron Czarnacki finishes hunting down the entire Schwarz family for collaborating with Nazi party.
  • 1977: GOC strike team kills Aaron Czarnacki.
  • 1986: Negrescu family purged by Ceausescu.
  • 1991: Duncan MacDuff kills wife, sons, self.
  • 1995: Kurokawa Masuyo dies during Aum Shinrikyo subway attacks.
  • 1999: Charles Black's daughter, Iris, is born.
  • 2010: Lenoir mansion disappears into bayou, whole family goes with it.
  • 2012: Charles Black dies from brain cancer.
  • 2014: Iris Black starts school at Deer College.
  • June 2015: Yin and Jianhong Li are assassinated.
  • May 1, 2016: When Situations Degenerate
  • September 16, 2016: Get Out Of Her Way, Blind to the Big Surprise, Late Model Getaway Jeep (bleeds into the 17th)