The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Phelps Says Uncle

April 20th, 2005

I knew I was in trouble when I checked my email and my keyboard began to smoke. I was lucky that my training kicked in, because I only had moments to recall as much as possible before the entire laptop was engulfed in flames. I saw two things — a string symbols that were obviously Mayan, and the mon for the Black Ayar Clan. I was only able to glimpse the symbols for a fraction of a second, but that was enough. They were committed to memory.

I hummed a short note in the resonant frequency of the laptop case to quench the flames, and headed down the hall to my library. Son of a bitch killed my laptop. I still have three payments on it. I pulled the old journal off the shelf, blew the dust off of it, and cracked it. Gerald was always a studious note taker, God rest his soul. It was as I suspected. The string of symbols was a date. Some quick arithmetic and I knew that I had a week and three hours.

I filed a quick report letting my handler know that I had been contacted, and began to prepare. I would need three days meditation, so I had to handle logistics in four. It was going to take a full two days for the flight to Kobe to have my blade polished and back. It couldn’t be helped. I packed my no dachi and a clean pair of khakis. I had a flight to catch. I shoved a couple more dusty tomes into my carryon, and headed for the airport. I booked my flight in the car. I had to slow down to 115. I was too dangerous to drive any faster in a construction zone while navigating delta.com.

Of course I had trouble at the airport. No one can fly without being hassled these days. The mouth-breathing screener was an inconvenience I didn’t need. Someone had been slipping these critters some caffeine, because the girl on the X-ray machine apparently saw the blade in my bag. “Hand check,” she called out. Her voice clawed through my brain like Pomeranian digging for a Hershey kiss between the cushions of the couch.

The screener opened my bag, and gasped. “What’s this?!?” he asked. I knew I had no other choice. I waved my hand in front of him. “This is a pair of nail clippers.”

“This is a pair of nail clippers!”

I waved my hand.

“You know better than that.”

“You know better than that!”

I stood up straight. “Nail clippers are legal to carry-on now.” The mental process of the screener ground to a halt. I could see the memories of his training pushing through the layers of doughnuts and amphetamines that served as his brain.

He grinned sheepishly. “That’s right sir; I forgot. Enjoy your flight.”

I had cleared that hurdle, but I knew it wasn’t going to be this easy in a few days.


Harimaki was at home. I was afraid that the damned fool would be up on the mountain again. I didn’t want to have to go climbing the sheer ice face of that monster after him without my crampons. I kicked the stool from under him. It was no more successful than the dozen times I had tried the same trick. He stayed up in the same position from sheer force of will. “Polish my blade, old man.”

He refused to look up at me. “I don’t swing that way, gaijin. Try the nightclub in town.”

“I’m serious, Hari. I’ve got shit to do, so hurry up.”

“Oh, you have shit to doo-doo. Oh, me rearry solly, Meesta beeg shot.”

“You’re mixing your Jap and Spic accents again. I’m telling you, I don’t have time for this. I’ve got a shit storm on the horizon, and I’m fresh out of toilet bowl mints.”

“You wouldn’t know a shit storm if Kronos himself popped a squat on a mortarboard and had Vishnu flinging it at you with all his hands.”

“I got a message. It was sealed with the Black Ayar mon.”

Harimaki fell silent. “Details?”

I shook my head. “Just a date. Encoded.”

“No shit. Those assholes wouldn’t know how to say anything straight. If the message was in the clear, it would be fake. I’m guessing it was trivial to decipher?”

“Mayan. Whoever it is knows me. Made it easy.” I slipped my hand into the bag, and drew the no dachi in a smooth stroke that laid the bag in twain and had the tip at the old man’s throat before the leather hit his ratan mat. “Like I said, you old lecher, polish my blade before you get dealt with.”

He grinned. “Fuck you.”

“Fuck you.”

“When you leave, I’m square with the Order. Deal?”

Shit. WT is going to be pissed when he finds out I used up the Crimson Caduceus’ favor. “Deal.”


I arrived back at DFW two and a half days later. A trail of ruined mecha and broken ninja lay behind me, but they weren’t my concern. The ritual cleansing had to begin, and it had to begin now. I went to Ft. Worth and circled the building. I hadn’t entered an enclave for years, and it was in Irving last time I did. I looked for the marks. They were all there. It was amazing that none of our enemies had figured out the signs. It was just a matter of time before they did and burned all the enclaves out in a surprise simultaneous attack. Of course, that is why I avoided them.

I went down the spiraling staircase in the rear to the hollow and rapped on the door. A Gibbonator answered at the bolt hole beside it. I hate monkeys, I thought. “Open up, abomination. I’m here to prepare for a visit.” The beast screeched at me while the gears in its cerebellum implant ground. It isn’t even a well maintained gibbonator. The beast screeched at me. I showed him the brand, and he disappeared. I could hear the locks and bolts begin to throw. The door finally began to glide out, soundlessly and smoothly. 60 seconds later, all eight feet were past the threshold, and I slipped into the gap.

The enclave was filthy with the beasts. There were at least 30 of them, and they were the only company for the lizardroid caretaker. “Prepare me a room, lizard. And what are these fucking monkeys doing here?”

“Spoilssss, massster. From Libya.” Ghadaffi. I should have known. He’s the only true villain left with the style to reopen the manufacturing tubes of such a classic beast. All the others have moved on to newer creations, but Ghadaffi was always a sentimentalist. You have to give him that. He bowed deeply. “The Vast Right Wing Conssspiraccy welcomesss the Order of the Crimsson Caduceusss to our humble enclave.”

I rapped the minion across the back of the neck. “You garble our name one more time, and I’ll bring this coalition of the willing down. Have any Ayars been here lately?”

“No, masster.” He picked himself up. “Thisss way.”

The room was furnished traditionally. I grimaced as I chewed the peyote and began to concentrate on the fifteen foot portrait of J.R. Bob Dobbs. It was going to be a long three days.


I emerged cranky and hungry. The cleansing worked, though. I was ready to murder a gaggle of hippies with an olive fork while spraying DDT on condors and squeezing sweet crude off the forehead of Pocahontas. I grabbed one of the gibbons by the forehead with an Iron Claw and whipped it once, flinging the body away while I held the skull. The body crashed into the wall, and I feasted on the organs attached to the spine. I relished the tortured look on its face as consciousness slipped away. Filthy monkey. The others ran. I guess they didn’t know I was a light eater.

As the door finally cleared the threshold, I saw a dark outline at the top of the stairs. I could tell from the bib overalls and the stench of cheap moonshine that it was a hillbilly. This could be bad. “Clear out, old man,” I shouted.

He continued breaking the filters off his Camels. “I done come 800 miles and you just tell me to clear out? What kind of welcome is that?”

I recognized the voice from my briefings. “I take it this isn’t a chance encounter?”

“Nope.”

I loosened the blade in its sheath. “What do you want?”

He leered. “Tacos.”

“Then I guess we fight.” I kicked a stone up the staircase, wrapping it around with two ricochets. I have to get out of this murder hole. The stone caught him square between the eyes. He chuckled. “So much for the Goliath bit,” I quipped.

He snapped the signature rifle up to his shoulder. I could smell the ozone from the capacitors that fed the magnetic coils that turned this varmint gun into a hypersonic magnetically assisted rail gun hybrid. I performed an inverted coiled serpent leap to avoid the bullets as I counted them off. twenty eight, twenty nine, thirty! I leapt at him, naked blade at the fore. I had to end this quick. The force of the incoming slugs knocked me senseless for a moment. I managed to arrow cut about three quarters of them, but the fifteen that got through had mangled my mono molecular mesh armor and crushed at least eight of my ribs. I could feel two of them digging into my left lung.

He cackled madly. “90 round mag! Got it from MWG! Gratis, baby!” Heathen. He ambled over to my broken form. “Whatchoo got to say for yourself, cowboy?”

“I say I’m not dead yet!” I punctuated the last word with a chi blast that ripped into him. It was misaimed, though, and merely managed to peel away the skin and some of the muscle. It was my turn to scream, however, when I saw him drop the rifle and bring the flamethrower to bear.

God hates me, I thought as I rolled out of the stairwell. Another rib dug into my lung. I would be coughing up blood for weeks. I kept my blade, though, and had it at ready. A fat lot of good it would do against a torrent of napalm, but I would die with it my hands. I readied for the blast as I saw him patting down the pockets up his overalls. He scowled. “Fuggin TSA. Sumbitches got my Bic.”

I sighed. If I passed up a chance for reconciliation in the condition I was in, my Sensei would never forgive me, God bless his soul. The first thing he taught me was when to cut my losses. “Tacos, right?”

He looked up. “Yeah. And gimme a light.” A gesture of good faith. I was game. I tossed him a book of matches. He struck one under his throat and lit the broken Camel.

“How about Mi Cocinas?”

He scowled. “It’s your town, man. Just so long as it ain’t Taco Bell.”

I spit. “Taco Bell is for hippies and Frank J.”

He grinned. “I knew we could get along.”

Best. Answer. Ever.

October 20th, 2004

Neal Stephenson 10 Questions on Slashdot

4) Who would win? (Score:5, Funny) – by Call Me Black Cloud

In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?

Neal:

You don’t have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson’s Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson’s arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building’s roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling’s professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers’ conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments.

A filthy lie to bind all other filthy lies and drag them down into darkness. The Lie of Lies, the art of lying in its penultimate expression, by a truely skilled and professional liar. I bow my head humbly to you, sir, and bask in the glory that is your lie.

Dan’s New Adventures

September 10th, 2004

So the blogosphere is all in a big circle, patting each other on the back. We’ve gone straight past the foregone conclusion (to us, at least) that Dan Rather is going to end up “on the beach” and now, I’ve taken it to the next level and decided to predict where Danny-boy is going to be working once he’s been shitcanned from CBS.

What’s that? Did I hear “Photoshops?” Then Photoshops ye shall have!

This Just In

July 9th, 2004

I was running low on Filthy Lies, and the muse strucke me when I thought about this sign, and decided to look and see if there were any photos from Kerry about the war, and look what I found!

JD’s Black Dress (No Blacks Allowed)

July 1st, 2004

JD_Klan.jpg

Here’s some proof for those people who think that JD isn’t the Grand Dragon. I think that is his mistress that he has on the side. He needs some toothless Klanette to bang on the side while he is at his meetings, since Joy doesn’t go.

On the other hand, I’ve never seen Russ’ mom, so that may be her. I figure that any mother who will pour hot motor oil from a Grand Prix on her kid’s eyes to wake him up in the morning is the type that would join the Klan.

Oh no, a Negro!
— The Grand Dragon John David Ryan

The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.