The Seven Jewels

January 31st, 2022

by Rev. Joe Kelly
read from the beginning

part three.

Alruf whirled about and charged up the wash, dodging bouncing boulders as the cries of terror turned to bloodcurdling screams. The boulders crushed the soldiers with sickening, fleshy smacks. A rock glanced off the top of Alruf’s head and knocked his helmet off. Reeling from the blow, he charged heedless and half-stunned through the avalanche.

At the top of the wash he halted to catch his breath and steady his spinning head. He looked up, panting–just in time to see the whirl of a jet-black scalp lock and the bronzed, massively muscled flesh that rose before him.

Alruf dragged his backsword out just in time to stop the giant barbarian’s long, thin saber from cleaving his skull open. Too late, though, to brace himself–the blow smashed the back of his own blade into his head. Alruf gave a strangled cry as his legs gave out from under him, and he tumbled back into the rocks below. His body rolled limply back down the wash, came to a halt with a dull thud amidst the last of the tumbling boulders and the ruined and bloody bodies of his men with their faces and limbs grossly distorted and smashed into unnatural angles.

Alruf lay there, very still.

Kan Luodal considered the Wose for a moment. He should have climbed down and made sure Alruf was finished off. But he was tired, exhausted unto collapsing with the strain of the sleepless three-day chase. His mind was fogged, his limbs heavy and uncertain. Even his legendary Kan stamina had been taxed beyond its limits; there was a very real danger, he considered, that he would lose his footing among the rocks and meet his end, with his head smashed open, lying by the very man he had just triumphed over.

Besides, the bastard was dead. Blood covered his limp, expressionless face. If the swordblow hadn’t killed him, the fall surely had.

Insomnia-drunken, Luo turned, shuffled and staggered back across the plateau, considering as he did the sprawling ruins that lay there. If nothing else, they would be a good place to rest.

Vultures and flies began to gather. They circled hungrily over the dead bodies in the silent wash. After some time, one of the bodies stirred. With a pained groan, Alruf sat up, and thanked Zubal-Thurdos that the northerner had been foolish enough to take him for dead. He rose, wearily, achingly, to his feet, and started the long trek back up the wash to retrieve his backsword.






On to part four.

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The Seven Jewels

January 28th, 2022

by Rev. Joe Kelly
read from the beginning

part two.

The captain was a large man, almost heroic in size and stature, but he had a gloomy and dour aspect about him that no hero should have. It was this, and the fact that he was an outsider, a mahogany-skinned Wose of the far western isles, that set him apart from the men.

Nidru sighed as he left the troop and approached the captain. Once again, he would have to play ambassador between the men and their leader, for the sergeant could tell even those loyal soldiers were close to mutiny. And no wonder: they had been dragged far beyond their duties, into a dangerous land… all because of a woman.

Nidru muttered a curse and halted a few steps from the captain. He knew the Wose was aware of him, though he gave no sign of it.

“Captain…”

He got not so much as a grumble from him.

Nidru tried a different tactic: “Alruf.”

The captain grunted, “What?”

“How far do you have to take this?”

“To take what? My duty to the Shah-ru?”

“Midrada doesn’t want you risking a full troop of his city guard in the pursuit of one thief. You know he would never order such a thing.”

Alruf shook his head ever so slightly, his attention still on the wash around them. “My duty is to break up the brotherhood of thieves that plagues Amul. We pursue one of the worst and most murderous of their number.”

“But he’s come all this way–surely he doesn’t intend on returning to Amul! You’ve chased him out of the city. Midrada is rid of him. What need, then, is there to run him down?”

Alruf did not reply.

Nidru swallowed hard. “This is not about your duty to the Shah-ru. This is a personal vendetta. You and I both know it. The men know it.”

Alruf’s shoulders tensed a little, but he said nothing.

Nidru ventured a little further: “No woman–”

Alruf whirled on him, and Nidru found himself halted before his baleful glare. Through Alruf’s tangled black hair there blazed his bright blue eyes. They gleamed ferociously from his face, like Angra Mainyu’s lightless fires dancing madly in the Outer Dark. So uncanny was his aspect, that the men liked to joke with the other troops that their Captain was a djinni. But Alruf’s demoniac temper was no joke, and even his own men quailed a little when those eyes burned fiercely upon them.

Nidru found his voice again. “No woman is worth the lives of the men of your troop. Hell, no woman is worth your life alone!”

Alruf glared at him still, but the burning fury faded; and he hesitated before he shook his head. He muttered, “This isn’t about her.”

“Then it’s about your pride! Your barbarian’s honor! For that, will you get us all killed?”

Alruf considered Nidru’s words a moment. At last he turned back to the head of the wash. “He’s near.”

“He’s miles away!”

Alruf shook his head. “He’s waiting for us. He wants to be done with this thing.”

“How could one thief possibly face two score of men?”

Alruf turned back and smiled sardonically. “He’s a match for any ten of the men. Maybe more.”

“One thief–and a boy, at that?” Nidru scoffed. “You mean to tell me a boy of barely twenty would be a match for even one of the Shah-ru’s hand-picked guards? He’s a big son of a bitch, I’ll grant you that, but he’s no soldier, and by Marodak, he’s certainly no mighty warrior.”

“You haven’t seen him in action. He moves like lightning. And word has it he’s one of the Kans.”

Nidru gave Alruf a canny smirk. “I don’t believe for a second a Chazgar renegade, no matter how impressive his feats, is one of the Kan clan. None of those arrogant bastards would stoop so low as to become a thieving rogue.”

Alruf turned back to the top of the wash, where it opened up to the low plateau. “Like I said, you haven’t seen him in action. I wouldn’t have believed it myself otherwise.”

“You’re just sore that he fucked your woman.”

Alruf’s eyes blazed once more. His jaw tensed with the pain of wounded pride.

Nidru’s smirk faded. “She’s not worth it, Alruf. No woman is–and certainly not her.” He stopped short of calling her what she was: a harlot. That might be enough to set Alruf off.

They held a staring contest for a moment before Alruf turned to the head of the wash once more. Nidru sighed, and turned to walk back to the men. “I’m going to have the men pitch camp at the base of the wash.”

“Belay that,” Alruf barked without turning. “We’ll camp up on–”

Something snapped beneath Nidru’s heel.

Both men whirled to face each other. Tensely they watched the edges of the wash. The troop was staring about in furtive fear. Their hands hefted spears and shields.

There was a slight sigh, a hissing, as of sliding cords–and the sides of the wash exploded to thundering life.

All around, rocks and boulders the size of men’s heads and torsos burst out from the sides and tumbled down in a crashing avalanche. The wash funneled them inward, directly towards the men. The soldiers, the best and bravest of the Shah-ru’s army, screamed, threw their arms aside, and fled like desert hares, stripping off their armor in their panic.

Nidru chased them down without thinking and hollered, “Turn back! Idiots! You’re running into the path of the rocks!” Thinking only of his men, he was heedless that he had made the same mistake. Alruf shouted after him: “NIDRU!” Too late: a boulder smashed into his back and sent his crumpled and bloody body flying limp through the air.




on to part three.

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The Seven Jewels

January 26th, 2022

by Rev. Joe Kelly

part one.

The troop halted near the top of the rocky wash, panting, sweating. Their hands worked anxiously about the hafts of their winged spears as their eyes flickered nervously about, scanning the desert, the horizon, as they had incessantly since leaving Amul. The nomads, those human wolves of the Ogdru desert, rarely ventured this far north, into the ancient hills south of the Ogdarus Sea; but rarely was a far cry from never, and the tales of their brutish savagery, which the men had passed around for gruesome thrills while relaxing in the taverns and the courtyards of the city, now set their nerves on edge.

The captain crept a little further up the wash, and halted again to peer about carefully. There was a trap here. He could smell it, like a wolf smelling carrion a mile off.




on to part two.

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Dude, where’s the Washington Monument?

January 23rd, 2022

Or: the geographical volume of covid’s human toll

by Jimmy Sprinkles


It’s the middle of January, 2022. Nearly two years have elapsed since the virus colloquially known as Covid hit US shores. In that time we have experienced a series of tumultuous events that feel like a work of dystopian fiction. I keep wondering who went back in time to shoot a dinosaur but wound up stomping on a historically critical butterfly. 

We’re bombarded by statistics, colored-coded maps and graphs on an hourly basis by our media outlets. These figures might seem abstract and impersonal to many, while many others have become completely desensitized. It’s hard to understand the scale of this disaster when we’re confronted with death toll figures so high they could be mistaken for a fortune 500 CEO’s salary compared to percentages of the human population so miniscule that said CEO would be dismissed by the board if they appeared on a quarterly report.

With this bewildering data in mind I set out one evening to make sense of it all. There’s a line in Grosse Point Blank where Mini Driver orders John Cusac to, “tell me about the dead people”. I decided to embark on a little thought experiment to do exactly that. 

What follows is my attempt to visualize geographically the cost of America’s muddled response to covid. For this experiment I decided to focus only on America’s death toll. I have checked and rechecked my figures and the results should be sobering to anyone without an antisocial personality disorder.

The first thing to do is arrive at a number of covid deaths that can be, if not accepted, then at least agreed upon by people with differing opinions on the accuracy of case and mortality reporting. We’re going to have to make some concessions here for the sake of argument. It also will make our lives easier to be working from a round, tidy figure. As of writing the official statistic is in excess of 860,000 adult covid related deaths in the United States. 

Let’s agree to focus solely on adult mortality.  Because, well, it’s hard to get a number on covid related deaths of minors. I can come up with a rate via google but that percentage requires additional data and calculation to turn into a number. The death juvenile rate is pretty low. 

To be generous to those who feel the official death toll is grossly overreported, let’s  put some give in that number to appease the skeptic in everyone’s family.

Why don’t we round that 860k+ figure to 800k even. We’ve now taken the minors out of the equation and taken a bite out of this possibly inflated head count. In order to make my point I’m willing to make further concessions. I’ve had people claim to me that the number has been inflated by anywhere between 10 and 50%. I would disagree. My personal opinion is that deaths are underreported, but for the sake of argument let’s assume that there’s quite a bit to certain people’s doubts and say that on average mortality has been 25% overreported due to loose standards of what constitutes a covid related death in some states. Well this is easy arithmetic! With a generous 25% rate of overreported fatalities we have arrived at 600,000 deaths in the USA since the start of the pandemic. That’s the skeptic-friendly number we’re going to base all of our calculations on… 

How do we visualize that number of people? Certainly you don’t know 600,000 other humans. Well that’s why we’re going to lay them out and estimate some acreage. Hopefully in the process the death toll will cease to be a percentage or a hypothetical number for us all. Are you ready? Let’s do this.

What if we lay these unalive individuals end to end, side to side? Let’s make this easy and say we’re going 300k up and 300k across. But how much square footage does a human take up? This is where we’re going to need to consult the CDC. I can hear some of you groaning already. Could we all agree that the US government can at the very least average out all those heights on state driver’s licenses with a tolerable degree of accuracy; and that they’ve done reasonably plausible work averaging chest, hip and shoe size measurements? Well, if not, stop reading.

Still here? Good. Since you were willing to concede the point (or never disputed it in the first place) you should know that according to the CDC the average adult male is 5’9” tall while the average height of an adult female is 5’4”. Thanks to the joys of the imperial system, averaging those 2 measurements comes up with a fractional number of inches that will needlessly complicate this process. I propose we go with 5’3” for the height of an average lady. Throughout this entire process we will estimate low and round down even if rounding up would be more appropriate. Great, now we have an average adult height in the USA: 5 feet and 6 inches. An imperial foot is 12 inches, so moving forward 5.5 will be the figure representing the height of each of the dearly departed.

In general the widest point on the adult male body should be the shoulders while an adult female is typically widest at the hips. Average shoulder width for a man is usually reported at 16.1” or 1’4.1”, and the average woman measures 13.622” or 1’1.622” hip to hip. When we average those numbers we arrive at 14.861”. I think we can safely round down to a single foot. The removal of almost 3” of space will make our calculations easier and hopefully appease anyone who felt that our 25% rate of over reporting was too low. 

Now it’s time to calculate the total width and depth in feet so we can arrive at an acreage. For height we have 300,000 humans who are on average 5.5’ tall, so the height of our rectilinear space will be 1,650,000’. This rectangle is again 300,000 persons long and we’ve conservatively specified 1’ of space for each at their widest point. Now we can easily multiply them the way we were taught in elementary school to arrive at a square footage of 495 billion square feet. That’s 495 followed by 9 zeroes, roughly half a trillion square feet. Mrs. Boyce from my 4th grade math class would be so proud of me right now, but I digress.

Google can easily tell you that an acre is 43,560 square feet. Now that Imperial measurement sounds so particularly arbitrary, but that’s how we play in the USA. So to arrive at acreage we would divide our 495 billion by 43,560. Double check my figures yourself,  you can google an imperial system acreage calculator and plug in 1,650,000 for length and 300,000 for width. You could also double check my division this way if you were so inclined. Working from the imperial system the answer using a calculator is of course annoyingly fractional but for our purposes 600,000 human bodies laid out in the specified arrangement will occupy 11,363,636 acres of land.

Approximately 11.3 million acres of land is a lot of space. It’s not easier to picture than 600,000 people. Why don’t we identify a space we can all understand to compare that number to. Given the federal government’s patchy response to this public health crisis I propose we use the capital, Washington DC. What’s great here apart from the aforementioned stab at irony is that unlike other American cities the borders of DC are fixed, so no matter when you’ve been there, it’s still the same size as what’s stated by Wikipedia and Britannica; 43,766 acres.

Obviously we can’t fit all those covid victims in the district in one layer. It’s time to do a little more division to figure out how high we would have to stack them in order to keep these poor folk from spilling into Maryland and Virginia. That gets us a long fraction but in the spirit of rounding down why don’t we call it 259 discrete layers of victims. This is more of a generalization; DC isn’t square, I used to live there, however I think we can go with this figure just to continue the visualization.

At this point I’m going to have to stretch your credulity a bit further and propose that we imagine removing all the structures in the district (yes, imagine, I said IMAGINE; don’t try to level the capitol) apart from the Washington Monument which will become our yardstick of loss. It’s hard to get a figure for how deep a layer of former covid patients would be because humans vary a lot in that department, and we’re pretty lumpy all over, and some sections of our body have a tendency to compress. Based on measuring my own chest and shoulders, I’m posting a figure of 6 inches for our depth. It’s pretty conservative, but again the goal is to keep rounding down here.

With our figure of 6 inches in hand why don’t we resume working in feet? To estimate a depth of our morbid rectangular cuboid we can just divide 259 in half and since it’s not an even number why don’t we drop the decimal? This gives us 129 feet. Our yardstick, big GW’s quasi-phallic monument? It’s 555 feet and 5 and 1/8ths inches (gotta love non-metric measurements). We’re covering over a quarter of the damned obelisk! Don’t bother trying to climb the steps for an aerial view, because the entrance is no longer going to be accessible, even if you could get into this town full of dead people.

Let me reiterate that this is a thought experiment tinged with more sadness than irony. I just want you to be able to picture the scale of loss in your mind. I am not advocating we bury our lawmakers in corpses to express our disapproval. I’m not advocating we actually level the capital. I’m just asking you to forget the sub-1% death rate that’s often touted and imagine people stacked a quarter of the way up the monument in even rows and columns keeping in mind that each one of them was (hopefully) loved by at least one other person. Imagine all the lives touched by the loss of these people. How much space would their mourners occupy?





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And the Winners Are…

January 17th, 2022


Lord have mercy, what a contest!

Some of our finest flash fictionateering, ever,
ending in a three way tie for both prizes,
decided by the Fan Vote.

Not one to Waste Time, the Winners are:

the grand prize
“Casket Suite” by James Dorr

and runner-up
“Storm Surge” by Laurinda Lind


Yes indeed, a three way tie for both prizes.
The top contenders by judge votes were
“Clouds” by Ilhamul Azam, along with “Casket Suite” and “Storm Surge”.
As you may recall, a draw is decided by the Fan Vote:

“The Toll” by Stephen Page
won the Fan Favorite vote with over 30% of the 228 votes,
followed by
“Casket Suite” by James Dorr
with over 15%.

Of the top contenders, “Casket Suite had the most votes,
followed by “Storm Surge” by Laurinda Lind with almost 14%.


Thus, our winners.
View how the judges voted.



! It’s the 10th Anniversary of Defenestrationism !

We’re celebrating with an absurd amount of publishing–
so be sure to keep surfing through the rest of these cold winter months,
as Defenestrationism.net proudly presents

“Blood Run, a script “
by Chantelle Tibbs
(daily, January 18th through the 21st)

“Dude, Where’s the Washington Monument? The Real-Life Volume of Covid-Deaths”
by Jimmy Sprinkles
(January 23rd)

“The Seven Jewels”
by Rev. Joe Kelly
(thrice weekly, January 26th through February 23rd)

“Cornelius X’s Book of Bad  Dreams”
by Tom Ball
(thrice-weekly, February 25th through March 27th)



read the suites
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Fan Voting is Close– so very close

January 13th, 2022

With 185 votes cast,
one of our finalists has a commanding
— yet not nearly insurmountable–
lead for Fan Favorite, while
the following two are only six votes apart.

The fourth, fifth and sixth contenders
are all within ten votes of each other,
and far from out of the Fan Favorite picture.

Vote early, vote often.
For time to ensure your favorites become winers
is running out.

Voting ends the stroke before midnight, Eastern, on the 15th.
!That’s this Saturday night!





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Blood Run script, day 3

January 12th, 2022

Join us thrice-weekly as we post new scenes from this production, written by Chantelle Tibbs– our Defenestrationism.net co-editor.


Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/


Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0

Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0








Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/

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Blood Run script, pt. 2

January 10th, 2022

Join us thrice-weekly as we post new scenes from this production, written by Chantelle Tibbs– our Defenestrationism.net co-editor.


Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/


Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0

Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0



Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/

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Blood Run Script

January 7th, 2022

Join us thrice-weekly as we post new scenes from this production, written by Chantelle Tibbs– our Defenestrationism.net co-editor.

Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/

Please support her project: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0

support Blood Run: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
support Blood Run: https://gofund.me/e9a991c0



Check out the project and full script:
https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/

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Blood Run: a film by Jaszmin Kuhner & Chantelle Tibbs

January 5th, 2022

Support Blood Run
https://gofund.me/e9a991c0

Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0
Support Blood Run — https://gofund.me/e9a991c0



Check out the full script: https://defenestrationism.net/blood-run/


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