I wrote this in April and May 1994. Yes, those are Abbott, Borges, and Gardner references. So I like reading Victorian science fiction stories about theoretical mathematics, but that doesn't make me a nerd, does it? I recommend reading this story at the same time as you read my junk food reviews page. And as a writer/typographer, I put " 'N' " in the title just to annoy me.


A Romance Of Many Dementia

James "Kibo" Parry

"Hey, Spot," said Tommy (the Torturer), sitting in his velvety armchair which he'd installed in Spot's living room, "Guess what!"

"Uh, I dunno," said Spot.



"Hey, Spot, guess what!"


There was a long pause while Spot slowly backed across the room. Then he realized that Tommy wasn't about the use the pliers again and came trotting back happily. Tommy used the pliers.

"WAAAH! You're evil and sadistic! Stop crushing my Hummel figurines! Not 'Little Angel No. 37'! Yiiiiieeeeeee!"

Tommy just snickered. He figured he could crush the figurines if he wanted to, since he bought them for Spot for just such an occasion. "Hey, Spot, guess what!"

"No! I refuse!"

"That's right, Spot. And to reward you, I'm not going to crush 'Cheerful Sweeper No. 71'... you are."

Spot took the figurine and the pliers he was holding out. He really had no choice, as Tommy was holding Spot's Ukrainian Easter egg collection hostage in a storage locker somewhere near Brockton. Wincing, feeling all the pain of Cheerful Sweeper No. 71, Spot gingerly crushed the porcelain boy's body with the vice-grips. It made a sound like teeth biting other teeth until they all shattered. The horror! The horror! The psychic pain! Spot was beyond tears at this point. He was just twitching like a connect-the-Mexican-jumping-beans drawing.

"Good boy, Spot," said Tommy with his sincere and winning smile that psychopaths can turn on and off at will, "You did an excellent job. Now I'm going to treat you to dinner."

Tommy pulled a rope which dangled from the ceiling and something like a bar rolled out from Spot's wall, only instead of drinks it had lots of stainless steel cannisters labelled DANGER: EXPERIMENTAL FOOD. "Wow!" said Spot. "You installed a pleasure parlor in my living room!"

Tommy winked. "Yep, Spot. All I had to do was fill up your bedroom with the machinery to move this in and out. Do you like how it has a plastic booth with orange vinyl padding instead of the usual bar-stools? That's so you can get the fast-food experience while taking the time to eat at home!"

Spot hopped into the booth and the vinyl cushion made a whoosh. Tommy sat down with practiced cool, his leather pants making no sound against the vinyl, depressing it just the right amount to conform to the laws of gravity, unlike Spot's careless and sloppy sprawl.

Tommy opened one of the cannisters and pulled out a Mason jar filled with some sort of hot peppers floating in fluid. "Here, Spot, try these."

Spot sampled a few. Flames shot out of his ears, so he gulped down all of the liquid. "Um... they're really hot. Sort of nice, actually. But I didn't much care for this chicken broth. What kind of chili peppers are these?"

"Andre Serrano peppers... and that't not chicken broth."

Suddenly Spot had to go to the bathroom. Of course, Tommy didn't allow that, so he'd have to wait until dinner was over. And knowing Tommy, he had many nasty things remaining for Spot to try... like the seemingly-innocent-looking frozen TV dinner he produced from under the table. "Spot, be a good little puppy and microwave this, will you?"

Spot looked at the box. It showed a picture of a tomato, a couple of raw eggs, and a kiwi fruit. It was labelled THINGS YOU CAN'T FREEZE TV DINNER. "Uh, no, thanks, Mr. The Torturer, sir. That kiwi looks mighty mushy even in the highly-retouched Serving Suggestion."

Tommy simply stared at Spot until Spot burst into tears and ate the dinner anyway. Yes, the kiwi was mushy all right. It was sort of like a Baggie filled with a mixture of glucerin and maple syurp, only less greenish.

Next Tommy broke the seal on a small cannister and took out what looked like a card with a picture of dog food printed on it.

"Now, Spot, this is a new fast food I've invented. It's truly the lightest food ever! It's scratch'n'sniff dog food. Try it!"

Spot scratched and sniffed, and it smelled like dog-food-flavored cardboard, which just made his stomach growl that it wasn't being fed. "Uh, I don't think I like this very much, Tommy, if it's okay to say so, please. Do you have anything a little more substantial?"

Tommy pulled out another card. "This one's a little thicker, in an abstract sense anyway--it's sniff'n'scratch dog food."

Spot sniffed it. It smelled like itching powder, which is what it was! He started frantically scratching his nostrils. "Oh no! I don't like this one at all, even though it's really very good and it's just my worthless opinion, Tommy. Please, sir, may I have another?"

"Scratch and sniff and scratch. No? Scratch and scratch. Scratch and infect? Old Scratch and Lucifer? Okay, you look like you need something truly different. Spot, I give you my proudest creation... peel'n'eat beefy substanceoid!"

Tommy pulled out a reel of what looked like a cross between masking tape and translucent beef jerky. He ripped about a foot off and handed it to Spot. "Don't forget to peel it before you eat it!"

Spot looked at the peel'n'eat beefy substanceoid and noticed that there was a strip of wax paper stuck to the back, like on a bumper sticker. He peeled it off and popped the end of the strip of beefy substanceoid in his mouth. It immediately glued itself to his tongue!

"Oh no! My togue id tuck to ta beepy tubtatoid!"

Tommy took the other end of the strip and stuck it to Spot's tail. "Now swallow!"

Spot did his best, but the beefy substanceoid had a flavor so dissimilar to beef and a texture so dissimilar to substance that it was too revolting to eat, even for Spot! Tommy pulled another dangling rope, and a curtain went up to reveal Spot's favorite Ukrainian Easter egg in the grip of The Jaws Of Life, hotwired to crush instead of save lives! Spot gasped and began to choke down the substanceoid.

In no time at all, he had swallowed his tail, followed by his posterior, followed by his anterior, followed by his mouth, at which point Spot became a wonderful little four-dimensional object shaped like a doughnut with an infinite number of holes which are separate from the doughnut itself. With a pop, Spot vanished from the third dimension!

He found himself standing on an endless plain with sharp ridges. Nearby was an odd-looking building, ten stories high by a hundred feet long by two hundred feet wide by five hundred feet elseways. Diagonally, though, it was only two feet.

A flying paramecium the size of a zeppelin came swooping down out of the sky at Spot, its cilia flickering madly and its cytoplasm a swirl of psychedelic color, scaring Spot so much that he ran into the building to hide. Dumb move, Spot.

"Hello?" said Spot inside the building. The inside looked just like the outside only inside-out and it went on forever. "Is anybody here?"

Spot's voice echoed and echoed, getting a little louder each time, until the number of decibels built to a point where Spot was blown further into the building, riding the crest of an enormous wave of expanding white circles emitting speech balloons saying "IS ANYBODY HERE???"

He found himself at what appeared to be an entrance to some sort of weird library. A sign said WELCOME TO THE LIBRARY WHICH CONTAINS ALL INFORMATION THERE CAN EVER BE. YOU ARE PERMITTED TO TAKE OUT ONE BOOK.

Spot traipsed into the enormous library, noticed that all the information in the universe had been bound into one book, and screamed in terror. The book was so big it would take millennia just to turn each page! The cavelike thumb-indices along the edge were the size of lunar craters, and all the text was in submicroscopic print! Spot did feel mildly curious as to what the submicroscopic print said, but he didn't have a submicroscope, so he just screamed again and ran away.

Spot ran as fast as his little legs could carry him; faster, in fact. He tripped over his tongue and fell into a bottomless pit. He saw his living room approaching rapidly. "Hey wow!" thought Spot, "I'm falling all the way to the third dimension!"

Spot fell past the third dimension into the second dimension, which immediately crushed him into a strip of peel'n'eat doggy substanceoid.


James "Kibo" Parry
last revised Feb. 25, '98

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