On March 31, 2016, I was sitting in my cubicle at the job factory when a strangely insubstantial finger tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to what I’d think was someone in a crappy grim reaper costume were it not for them being literally half-transparent. I don’t know many transparent people, so this narrowed down names to remember quite a bit. Their face appeared to be enveloped in all-consuming shadow beneath their hood, so that meant I couldn’t guess who they were off of, say, a distinctive nose. But most tellingly, they were adorned in a series of chains weighed down by boxes of obscure Korean MMOs.
“Herbert C. Ghost?” I asked with a bewildered expression.
“Ah, good, you remember me. Saves me the time of explaining myself again.”
“A few holidays ago you visited me with memories of three awful MMOs past, though it turned out to be just one at the time. Then I recycled that awkward holiday special set-up next year by visiting you directly. I got tired of your awkward shtick, which is why you weren’t in this year’s crummy game special.
“I JUST said you didn’t have to explain that! Also, blaming me for that ‘shtick’? Immature and a little hurtful actually, thanks for that. Only not actual thanks, because I hate you.”
“Then why are you here?” I said, turning my swivel chair back towards my desk. “I have very important, very boring work to do here and we’re months out from Christmas from either direction.”
“Well, I had an...eggnog incident this last Christmas, and uh, long story short I’m not employed as a holiday ghost anymore.”
“Not a holiday ghost anymore?! But your middle name is literally Christmas!”
“I’m aware, thank you. It’s not my proudest moment, so let’s not dwell on that. Bottom line: I’m here to help you!”
“Oh swell” I said, tossing a cup at his head. “Could you go grab me like a hot chocolate or something? Get some whipped cream and sprinkles on it, chop chop.”
“Listen to me! I’m working part-time as a muse to get by. But well...it’s like this: Everything I know about art is from looking over people’s shoulders while they rebind hotkeys. When I tried to help out a novelist I learned that mistranslated quest text is a terrible foundation for literature. The other day I tried to pick up the violin and was arrested under the suspicion of torturing cats.”
“Being a hideous phantasm probably makes conversations with the authorities an uphill struggle.”
“SILENCE...though yes. The point is I doubt I would’ve been hired were it not for my years of unfortunately specific experience. I have no clue how to inspire someone to create just about anything...but-”
“Whoakay, I see where this is going. The answer is no.”
“But tomorrow is April Fool’s Day! You always write something wacky or whatnot. Just let me throw the idea for a sentence in there so I can meet my quota for the week.”
I sighed. “Yeah yeah, I know that’s what I usually do. But sadly, it aint happening this year. I know it’s a big tradition, but I’ve been busy with this new job and I don’t have time. I’m already way behind on last week’s post. Besides, I don’t have the inspiration to top those insane previous years.”
Herbert seemed to brighten up, though it was hard to tell with the faceless cowl. “If you need something to write about, no problem! I hear that Maplestory-”
“GOD no! Look, the answer is no, alright? I don’t have the time. Now get out of here before my boss gets the wrong idea.”
“The ‘goofing-off-at-work’ one or the ‘end-times-are-near-mass-hysteria’ one?”
A few hours later, I left my desk to take a trip to the restroom. After I’d finished my business, I headed up to the sink to wash my hands. When I stuck them under, the faucet spun 180 degrees and shot a burst of water directly into my face.
“AHAAHAHAHAHAAA!” came an unnecessarily loud cackle from around the corner. “FOOOlish Video Game Blogger, this time I have the drop on you! Which is to say, I have the advantage upon you via a comparatively dry face, which I have earned through my most cunning and devious trap! AHA!”
Someone jumped into view behind me. They had a scarred, deformed face and annoyingly enthusiastic expression. I squinted and wiped the water from my eyes.
“DOCTOR ACIDMELTSKULL!” he shouted, triumphantly raising his fists in the air in front of him.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Seriously? After an absence of over two and a half years you come back to spray my face with water in an office restroom?”
The definitely-not-a-real-certified-doctor crossed his arms and scowled, his threadbare flesh showing off an impressive amount of molars.
“You think I, the great Doctor Acidmeltskull, am not aware of this?! What do I look like to you, a man who does NOT possess the most intricate and genius mind of our generation?! Because that is absolutely who I am! I am that man! Which is to say, I, the great Doctor Acidmeltskull, am-”
“Yes, okay, I GET it already” I said, dabbing the rest of the moisture from my face with a rough piece of recycled paper someone was arrogant enough to let near the word ‘towel’. “Why are you here now?”
“I am here to engage in my greatest, most diabolical scheme of all time! You shall stand not the slightest chance against me...as soon as I find out what I’m doing. This was all rather short notice, alright? I just heard you needed ideas for a blog article...”
I rolled my eyes as I tossed a damp ball into the trash. “Now I see what this is about. Herbert set you up to this, didn’t he?”
“That fifty-percent opacity asshole bound up in the orient’s entertainment waste products.”
“Oh! Yes, it was the ghastly specter who informed I, the grRrREAT Doctor Acidmeltskull, of the opening in your schedule. An opening I intend to fill with DOOM, DEVASTATION, and OTHER APPROPRITELY DESTRUCTIVE NOUNS! For you see, I am currently ad-hoc-ing a most devious scheme which will threaten not just you, but the ENTIRE-”
“Nope, not doing this” I said, crossing my arms.
“Doesn’t matter how persistent you are, you can’t bother me with your wacky shenanigans any further unless I write you doing it. And let’s not examine the mechanics of that any closer, because if this gets any more meta I’ll end up somehow transcribing reality itself. I don’t have the time to write your nonsense, so you’ll just have to go threaten superheroes with your Rube Goldberg doomsdays in some other theoretical universe.”
“Aw, c’mon!” said the doctor as I moved for the door. “You can’t just walk out on (the great) Doctor Acidmeltskull like this! At least let me kidnap some puppies first!”
When I boarded the train home later that day, I sat down and pulled out my 3DS like usual. A couple minutes later I shifted aside as someone stepped up to take the seat next to me, too focused on wishing Flareon was less terrible to tear my eyes from the screen. After several seconds, the gentlemen next to me let out a curt cough. I sighed.
“What are you doing here Herbert?” I said, not raising my head.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Well your cough sounded like a dying rabbit at the bottom of a well, so that’s a dead giveaway. Pun definitely intended. There’s also the growing sense of ennui and unease that permeates the air around you. Also I have peripheral vision and you’re like right goddamn next to me.”
“Oh” he said, shifting to the side.
I closed my handheld. “Alright, so what do you – gah!”
“What, what is it?”
“You’re carrying a giant scythe.”
“Oh right. That. Sorry, other day job.”
“Put that thing away, before it accidently collides with someone corporeal!”
“I’d object to that, but I was almost fired last week for something along those lines.” The specter grasped the massive farming implement and leaned it against a nearby wall. Our fellow passengers started moving to the other side of the train car with extreme nonchalance.
“Anyway, I have another idea for your blog post tonight!”
“You mean the one that I’m not writing?”
Herbert ignored me and handed me a slip of paper. “You could do what you did last year. I even started the post for you.”
King Kong here has just smoked some of “The Weed”, and this is a funny thing he has done. Little does he know that soon his meaningless existence will meet an abrupt and futile end, and then he’ll be forced to spend eternity making awful image captions for ungrateful assholes just to pay for his crappy apartment GOD DAMNIT! #DrugWeeds #FutilityOfExistence #IDontKnowItsAMonkeyOrWhatever
“Wow. Did you fish this image from a toilet and then clean it in another toilet?”
“I’m sorry if it doesn’t meet your standards but-”
“Nono, this is fantastic. Well no, it’s terrible in every way, which makes it fantastic. But I’ve told you already I’m not doing this. I can’t put in the effort!”
“Oh come now, we both know the lack of effort is half the point of those articles!”
“Exactly. So I had the brilliant idea to do ten times as many to make up the difference. I’m telling you, it’s not happening!”
“Tickets please!” came the voice of a conductor passing by our seat. I absentmindedly dug mine out of my pocket and showed it to them. They nodded, and then paused. After a moment, they clicked their hole puncher in front of Herbert.
“Uh, right, well the thing about that is...”
Herbert then phased through the back of the train car.
Relieved to be home, I tossed my things aside and changed out of my work clothes. As I plopped down in my computer chair I pondered how I would spend my precious little free time. With the burden of writing anything lifted I at least had some. I was debating between screwing around in Oblivion or chipping away 1/1000th of Xenoblade Chronicles when I got a message from someone. I wondered if one of my friends had changed their username, because I didn’t recognize it.
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: bloggguy iss u tehre?
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: i r hass an otter godi dea forr a sotry
Oh god. Please, anything but that.
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: goast r telingg me taht u is 2 havv wwant mor balckcalw dombrignre
Genericide: You were misled. I want nothing from you. Like ever. Please leave
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: ya okey sso her is teh sotry thhati hav rotten
Genericide: PLEASE don’t
soo tihs r they stoyr f bllaaklawe domgbringr n how cuass hee r desr toy teh stronggst guyy taht evar waz n sutff an dso iffu havnt nott ceen thy lasst n now woh balklkaw ics theen mybee u shud REED TEH OTHHR ON LOL. TIHS storry r wiht wen blacckaw is inn teh other spac non a spaecshipan dthe n he r metting teh guy sasukee form narutoe nott belch 4 bcuz blAECH ARE tEH SOCK LELel. he wass meet ing an eh wass teher an dwat hesaid wwas thhat hee said “yOu sasaker thee kewl guuy taht u iss n thhatt is eral kwel 4 bcos narootu r teHEb esT lelol (iit r ufnny beecas i’s ture lel( bbut alls o u iss nott ass stron sa mee cuz blllockkawld ommburger rteh greetst n mast strngast off aL tEH GUs taahjt terhe IS!!11!!!O!1! (nn itt werre treu taht teh thhing eh sayy wass tehh tru onnacc ountof beczu tath i r knot A lYARR!!11@!2!#!))(
sso theen waht thhye didweas thatt theyy didsasuke didd teh fir breethe thinng tht hee r dooinn in thee shwo n it was AWWSOM n itwere alll it mad teh noisse (tehh fir bye teh wayy0 ‘“fhSHDFHHHEOAOOWWW” n thhen it wass wat happen is thhat blaalaw use th ehe breaat fier 2 n onLY iT WERee is BIGGrE tAHN TeH OTHEERR FRIER!#!@!@!!!@!!!112-1!!!!!!23 an sasuekss werr getted he werr on flam n dieed alllike “ARUGJH oH nOES tEH FIREEE n “then hee wass suasuke whoo was ded onnly n0t rely cuz hes kuwl ann alsso teh resin taht balaklawe werre eh culd do tat r 4 bcaz hee usse hiss psychiic hiddne midn powarrz off fier charkra whhich hee hadd n tath wass hOW he diidi t soo nooen asc me taht qestian L OLL!!!1!
I walked out of the room, picked up a tissue, and sat back down. I took a deep breath and calmly dabbed at the rivulets of blood seeping from my eyes. I then formulated a response.
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: butti m nott don posstin gyet all off it
Genericide: I am now going to block you and never speak to you again.
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx: okey kuewl soo doss taht men i cann past itt n ur blogg??
xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx has been blocked.
Around the fifth indistinguishable ancient ruin I grew tired of smashing skeletons and I figured it was time to turn in for the night. I exited Oblivion and shut of my laptop, peeling myself out of the comfortable slouch in my computer chair. Groggily stumbling into the restroom, I pulled out some toothpaste and began my systematic eradication of plaque. Everything was fine until someone jumped out from behind my shower curtain.
“GAH!” My toothbrush spun out of my hands and I spit foam everywhere. “WHAT THE HELL!”
“It’s not too late, I found another topic-”
“NO, Herbert! This has gone far enough. I won’t tolerate any more of you following me around. I won’t allow any more people from my past badgering me. And I certainly won’t put up with any more of your idiotic, half-baked article ideas!”
“But this one isn’t mine, it’s yours!”
“I found this rough draft here...”
“Give me that!...oh. Oh no.”
I lay in my bed, draped in moonlight in the purely metaphorical sense as moonlight lacks the physical presence to be draped. I stared with a concerned yet sexy expression at the ceiling, contemplating sex and sex-related activities. Specifically, I was remembering the incredibly sexy sex I had just finished sexing with the sleeping form next to me. That person who was sleeping there next to me and therefore was the referenced subject of my previous statement was none other than the tremendously sexy Stagnox. Stagnox-chan was sleeping a sexy sleep, his chest raising and lowering slowly in extremely sexy breaths. His bright purple abdomen quivered sexily also, because I assume that this is a thing Coleopterans find super sexy. Abdomen ‘slike insect booty, right? Oh yeah, that’s probably HELLA sexy.
I sighed sexily as I observed through my sexy eyes the sexlicious Stagnox-sama sleeping sexily beside me. I shivered from all the sexy sex thoughts my sexy brain was thinking in the aftermath of the ridiculously sexy sex times we had just experienced, before he fell sexily asleep. I also shivered because Stagnox-san had stolen all the covers, being like ten times my god damn size. But he’d stolen them in a SEXY way, no doubt.
My sex thoughts concerning sex and sex-type issues of sexiness eventually (and sexily) settled on the sexy worry that my sexy sex I had just committed was morally unsound, though still very sexy, sex. I was currently going steady (and sexing steady) Heracross-senpai from North Coleopteran High College School. However, it was not my sexy boyfriend Heracross-kun who I had just engaged in sextastic sex with. Instead, I had done the sexy sex with Stagnox-sama, who despite his sexdiculous sexiness was not the sexy sex partner I was supposed to be sexing all over sex town. Hence was the sexy sex dilema I was currently sexily worried about. I was quite sexily concerned. I sexily wondered with sexy apprehension what possibly un-sexy and/or sexy results could occur from this sexy sex affair. My kawaii’s were all in a desu, or something. I’m going to assume I used those correctly and get back to the sex thing.
As I sexily pondered these sex thoughts, I suddenly heard a noise from the other side of the door, outside of the room, implying that someone was on the other side of the door, outside of the room. Suddenly and with great quickness that happened all of a sudden, the door swung open on account of the person on the other side of the door engaging in forward motion which sent the door careening along its hinges aside from the now-open doorway, which allowed access to the individual who had opened it.
“Heracross!” the shadowy individual hidden in shadows shouted.
The person was not visible, on account of the shadows that were shadowing their appearance, making them difficult to see. But then, the shadowy shadow-person stepped forward through the doorway that had been made accessible via their previous opening of the door, described above. The shadowy individual who had shouted from the shadows became less shadowy due to their now being in the light, which is generally incompatible with the presence of obscuring shadows. Through this process I was able to ascertain the identity of the now non-shadowed person who had stepped through the doorway that they had opened after appearing on the other side of the door, but before the shouting they did after opening the door.
“Gasp!” I gasped sexily.
“Heracross!” said Heracross.
I gasped a subsequent gasp, even sexier and gaspier than the last. Heracross-tan had just exclaimed his shock at the sexy scene of my sexily sleeping in the same sexy sex bed as my sexnificent sex partner Stagnox-chan, due to the fact that the aforementioned sex should not have occurred under typically conceived notions of relationship dynamics!
“Oh Heracross-senpai!” I said in a breathy, sexy voice. “Oh Heracross-sama, forgive me! I have let my sexy sex thoughts get the better of me, resulting in an altogether unfavorable (yet sexy) breach of our sexy established relationship! This was most un-kawaii of me!”
“Heracross!” said Heracross.
I gasped thrice as sexy as my previous sex-gasps, at this shocking and sexy news. Heracross-kun had just revealed that the sexy Coleopteran I was sleeping beside, Stagnox-san, was in fact NOT the sexy sex-thing-person I had previously and sexily been lead to believe! He was, in fact, a (sexy) evil clone!
“Augh! I’d say that’s enough, but it was clearly too much to begin with. I thought I burned this!”
“I think you did, actually.” Herbert gestured at the page, which shimmered with a wave a brief transparency. “This appears to be the ghost of the page. I found it haunting your trash can.”
“You should consider joining it! I’ve had enough of this! Stay away from me!”
I stormed off into my room, slamming the door behind me.
I locked the door. Then I dead-bolted the door. Then I chained the door shut. Then I put locks on the chains. Then I put locks on THOSE locks. I took the key to the door and I locked it in a safe. I locked that safe in a chest, and locked that chest in a larger safe. The large safe had a computerized lock, whose password was locked inside a folder. The folder was hidden on a server with its own password, and THAT password was only accessible by decrypting a riddle on an ancient tablet. The tablet was stashed in a temple at the bottom of the ocean, whose geographic coordinates were only accessible by a GPS device hidden in another safe. This safe had seven keys, one hidden on each continent and guarded by a secret service operative, whose names were anagrams of passcodes hidden in my private bank vault. Back to the door, I took a hundred tiny combination locks and clipped them over every other existing lock, creating double-locks. I taped a picture of Loch Ness to the door. I pulled several strands of my hair and sprinkled them on the door. I cooked some lox and placed them in front of the door. I hired Locke to brace the door from my side, assisted by Lock. I let Loki join in, but only on the condition that he speak with an accent and let me remove his eye. As I stepped away from the door, I realized the description no longer qualified. This was not a door. This was a dense, interconnected network of parts that combined forces to form one massive, imposing and above all ridiculously, redundantly secure LOCK.
Satisfied with my handiwork, I nodded and turned around to see my acquaintances duck inside through the open window.
“Hey, I have a new idea!” said Herbert, who pulled up a scroll of paper that slowly and continuously unfurled across the floor. “A lot of them actually!”
“Hey, did you think you could forget me, the great Doctor Acidmeltskull?!” said Dr. Acidmeltskull. “I think not! I have a vast assembly of exceedingly eeevil plans for you! Allow me to begin by describing all of them aloud in excruciating detail!”
“haii okey soo her iss nexxt partof sotry” said xXsh4d0wg0kukill3rXx, via a text-to-speech enabled laptop Herbert was holding.
“Hey, Shush don’t think he are s’posed ta be here” said a large orange orc who lumbered in behind them. “But it’s been a real long time since Shush gots a word-y ting written bout him so Shush decided to do one a dem non-canon appear-y doodads.”
The intruders advanced, the clock started ringng, and all of them started speaking at once.
“So I think you should revisit-”
“First, I shall suspend you over-”
“ssince eh taht is de ugy woh wass blacclaaw ahd defeeted sassike-”
“And this is the most ingenious part-”
“ann teh olnly waay 2 stopp himm wass wit teh thingg wat wass gokkus maggic-”
“Shush can talk loud too!”
“Remember those short stories? Well how about-”
“For you see: If you do not sever the correct wire than the puppies-”
“Dis one time dere were dis mudcrab-”
“I’ve always thought that your Sphinx and the Cursed-”
“buutt itturned out taht teh actooly onnly wya 2 sotp himm were wiht MOAR KANTANANS!”
“HEY! HEY! HEY!”
“SSSSHHHHHHUUUUUUUUT UUUUUUUUUP!!!” I shouted.
“Stop it! Just stop everything! Stop everything and listen to me RIGHT NOW!”
“I am going to make this absolutely, definitively, crystal god damn clear to all of you! Right this very second!”
“I’m not doing it! I’m not doing any of it! I’m tired and I’m busy and I simply don’t have the time!”
“Even if I did have the time, I don’t have the inspiration! Let me repeat: It’s not happening! Still not following? Give up! Not sinking into your incredibly dense skulls?! Well here it is, one more unquestionably FINAL TIME:
“I’M NOT WRITING ANYTHING ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY!”
I put my hands on my knees and bent over, taking several deep breaths. My ears were ringing, I had a splitting headache, and my face was red from all the shouting. Noticing an unexpected silence, I slowly looked up. All of them were just standing there, grinning at me. I stared back, puzzled for a few moments, until it hit me.
The clock had stopped ringing.