Anton LaFlame

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Mind reader
3/15/2015 12:09am

I am so sorry about @Lucia Spectre. This is all my fault. I was irresponsible for planning it, recruiting for it, and executing it. I take full responsibility. No one else would have been involved if I had not convinced them.

Getting in to the Novelty Factory went exactly as planned. Jerome dropped us off and we went through the main gate without a hitch. "You don't need to see our identification" kind of stuff. Those drugged out Raffa zombies couldn't tell the difference between a 'droid and a human anyway. But our luck didn't hold.

@Cassa N. Dra got the layout from the minds of the guards and we found the lab we needed easy. The doors to the lab must have been shielded because while she didn't read anybody inside. But it was full of them. The Novelty Scientists. And they were right in the middle of something big.

We weren't expecting that. But @Cassa N. Dra was fantastic, and just started cleaning out their trash cans like it was no big deal. We were disguised as the Cleaning Crew, after all. The Novelty Scientists wanted us out of there, but we played it cool (that is, dumb) and went about our business, while the scientists just got distracted.

It's then that I noticed the racks of cages, and the mewling, and the litter box odor. Invisible cats filled the cages around the room.

Against a wall - the portal. A big metal ring with a pulsing blue light inside. Novelty Technicians were busy pushing buttons. And at a table before the portal, a Novelty Scientist was attaching electrodes to what could only have been an invisible cat.

That's when @Lucia Spectre started up. It wasn't part of the plan - we didn't really have a plan for this. But Lucia must have been so upset, she started wrecking the place. Being invisible herself, the Novelty Scientists were very confused as their machinery started crashing, falling over...

While they were distracted, Cassie and I started opening the cages. We couldn't see the cats, so it was unclear if they were escaping or hiding in their cages.

That's something we had planned for. Lucia had @Jade's catnip, and with her Invisible Cat Whispering prowess was supposed to lead the cats away. Either through the portal or back home with us.

But that's when everything broke down.

The scientists got wise and flipped a switch. Suddenly the room went purple, with some kind of crazy uber-UV spectrum rays, and what had been invisible we could suddenly see. Cats - cats of all kinds, crazy zigzag stripes you never see on Earth cats, cats with crazy tufts of fur on their ears and tails, cats with multiple jaw sets like on Alien - and @Lucia Spectre, who I'd never seen before.

I can only hope I see her again.

As the scientists attacked, she leaped through the portal. In the chaos of the herd of wild invisible cats on the loose, stacks of cages fell, and scientists screamed as rampaging, vengeful interdimensional alien cats leaped on their faces and backs. In the melee, the controls for the portal were crushed, and with a flash of light and burst of smoke, the portal was closed.

With Lucia on the other side.

At that, @Cassa N. Dra grabbed me and we scrambled for the door. Some cats might have made it through the portal, but there were plenty that fled with us into the hall. Out of the crazy purple lights they were invisible again, so we have no idea where they went. All we do know is they're out of their cages now.

Cassie and I made it back to Jerome's car, took her back to campus, and dropped me back at my squat. I'm writing this from my kitchen table, my own invisible kittens in my lap and underfoot, wishing I'd never asked @Lucia Spectre to join this stupid scheme, and wondering if I'll ever see her again.

I've only ever seen her once.

Mind reader
3/9/2015 9:07pm

Then it's settled. This Friday night. @Singleton671 and her boyfriend Jerome and I will pick you up at 11 o'clock at the loading docks behind the library. You'll know his car because it's haunted - green smoke oozes out the back, and it kind of screeches, with the wailing of a thousand lost souls.

I'll have the cleaning company uniforms, which just zip up over our clothes. Coveralls. I've been wearing mine around my apartment all week. They're real comfortable, actually. I've been tempted to start wearing them around town, except the big Creester's Cleaning Services logo on the back would be trouble if I ran into Creester. Especially if he noticed some of his coveralls are missing. Maybe Psyhigh should make some with the Psyhigh logo on the back and make it the new school uniform?

@Lucia Spectre, it's your job to drop by @Jade's and pick up the invisible catnip.

Then, that night, @Cassa N. Dra (for the mind reading), and @Lucia Spectre (for the cat wrangling), and me, armed with the invisible catnip, will waltz right in to the Novelty Factory and free us some invisible cats.

@Lucia Spectre, I have no idea what would happen if you walked through that portal. Maybe the people on the other side could see you. Maybe not. But, after the cats are safe and we start smashing the equipment, the goal is to seal it up tight - hopefully forever. Do you feel like taking your chances on the other side - permanently? People have done crazier stuff...

Anyway, see you Friday. And don't forget the invisible catnip.

Mind reader
3/5/2015 11:17pm

Is anybody here an invisible cat whisperer?

I've been casing out the Novelty Factory, hanging out around the fence at night. There's a cleaning crew that goes in at midnight every night. I followed them back to their office, and they left their garage door open. I was able to borrow 5 uniforms they left out for us, neatly folded. I mean, we won't want to keep them, right?

So, say that we all showed up around 1am one night. My old friend @Singleton671 says her boyfriend can drive us in his haunted muscle car. He drops us off down the street, and we, in our uniforms, go to the gate and tell them we're extra cleaning crew that got called in. I've got some sigils drawn on paper we can show the guard that are sure to "blow his mind" if you know what I mean. I'm sure he's so far gone on the Raffa that some simple palindromes and some miswiring diagrams will disable him easily.

That's when the mind reader comes in, because we'll need to figure out where the lab is.

I'm sure I can continue to work with their security as we make our way, but once we're in the lab, what next? We find cages? Full of invisible cats? And some pulsating portal? We want to close the portal, as @Cassa N. Dra suggests. But what about the cats?

Have you thought about herding invisible cats?

Are we going to try and get them to all climb back through the hole or whatever back to where they came from? Or get them all to follow us out of the factory, like we were the pied pipers of invisible cats? Or just let them scamper through the Novelty Factory and fend for themselves, invisibly?

That's why we need an Invisible Cat Whisperer - somebody who can talk to the cats and get them all to go where they should.

Is there somebody that's right for that job? I know a few students who have gotten close to the cats - @Hannah Lalonde, and @Jade maybe, and @Lucia Spectre seems to know about cats AND invisibility. And of course @Vicky Suzuki is actually studying it. There are probably more too.

Oh, and "portal closer" would be another good skill to have. But if we just break all their machines and smash stuff, maybe that will do it? We can play it by ear.

If we can just get an Invisible Cat Whisperer, we'll be good to go. Any takers?

Mind reader
2/24/2015 5:43pm

I finally connected with Kitty's grandma. It took 4 trips, and I left a note or a mark of some kind each time to let her know I was looking for her. She doesn't have a phone, and I don't think she observes normal day/night cycles, so when you knock and she doesn't answer you suppose she could be there, deep in her weird old house somewhere, sleeping. But I don't mind the walk - down the abandoned railroad tracks, then cut over at the ditch that disappears.

She was there this time, flamenco dancing to Led Zeppelin. We went back to her sun room - stepping over invisible cats - because she says the sun has rays and powers that science ignores and is trying to filter out from touching us, which is part of their plan to make us into completely controllable inorganic beings. So she likes the sun. She has a talking cactus.

She said the invisible kittens started showing up after the accident at the Novelty Factory. Did you know it's owned by the same company that owns Raffa Burger? She says they must have been trying to make some kind of Super-Raffa - some poisonous, unnatural configuration of genes and atoms and .gifs of atomic explosions and joy-amnesia particles that can cut people off entirely from the universe with just one bite. But, she says, like any of their evil plans, it's rotten and flawed.

Anyway, what they ended up doing was cracking a hole between our world and another, but we're on different wave lengths and off by some minute degree of dimension, so we can't see each other. She says the cats are the most curious about that kind of thing, so they found the hole on their side and came through and then sent message back to more cats, so they kept coming through.

However, she also says that the scientists inside the Novelty Factory have found the hole. Not only does this mean they might go through, but that they're catching all the cats that come through. They're keeping them in cages and doing horrible experiments on them.

I don't know if you've done any psycho-activism, @Cassa N. Dra. Or if your friend @Hannah Lalonde has. I was in the Psychic Student Activist Club last year and those people seemed to a lot but not get anything done. Like... Invisible Animal Rescue? Are we going to let those Raffa scientists at the Novelty factory perform invisible animal experiments?

I'm not. I'm looking to recruit a team.

We need a mind reader.

Mind reader
2/16/2015 7:58pm

Invisible Cats are only bad once you're ankle-deep in Invisible Cat Poop, @Cassa N. Dra. Or the walls get covered by that stinky Invisible Cat Spray from the Invisible Toms.

Anything out of balance tends to put everything out of balance. I mean, like fundamentally, how the Raffa has thrown reality all out of balance with unreality - but that's a man-made problem, with the big PsyCorps trying to snuff everything out in their Mind Death Ovens.

But the natural/mystical world gets out of balance too. Like when the Giant Dogs were in fashion. Or when that one tulip got trained to talk and then taught all the others. I mean, they're mostly annuals, so it only lasted that one season. But there were still some popping up the next spring. Even now you run into them sometimes. But that one spring was a racket and nobody slept. Remember that?

And invisibility has its own problems. Now that newspapers have become invisible, for instance, they pile up on people's doorsteps and they trip over them and don't even know what's happening.

But the solution needs to be humane. That's why Kitty's Grandma might know what to do. I went down to her house today - it's almost impossible to spot unless you know just how to look at it, and find your way through the overgrowth. I knocked and waited and knocked again, so either she was asleep or out somewhere. I'll keep trying.

Mind reader
2/15/2015 11:06pm

It looks like my private litter of invisible kittens wasn't that special at all. The whole town is crawling with invisible cats now. On my walk to the bus I see mice getting attacked by invisible creatures, can hear their invisible mewling out of alley ways, feel their invisible purrs when they rub up against my leg when I'm waiting for the bus. I hear they've already reached campus.

Now, I'm a groovy cat guy and all. I aced Mr. Robertson's Advanced Cat Goddess class last year, and even did a private study on The Toys of Bastet. But these invisible cats are out of control.

I tried to talk to the crows about it, but they're still not speaking to me. But I do know an older woman in town who might know what to do. She's the grandma of a Psychic High School student that graduated like 10 years ago. She's super cool. I'm going to drop by and talk about invisible cats.

1/21/2015 8:22pm

Walking Home from School

The Minute Men ("minute" as in "mi-noot" - very small - not the measure of time) - a tiny gang of toughs - tiny black leather jackets with their insignia on the back (too small to read) - swinging tiny chains made from used staples (in their miniature lair they take turns leaping on the stapler they heisted from Office Depot, making Crime To-Do lists on sticky notes mounted on the walls) scrambling underfoot at the bus stop, climbing pant legs, slitting pockets with X-Acto blades they wield like swords and stealing gum and lighters and small change. They know I have their number and they let me pass without incident.

Rafa Burger - there's one on every block now - Rafa Wrappers piling up ankle deep in the alleys - Rafa Eaters stumble through the doors in their their Rafa Slumber - occasionally they respond to pre-programmed triggers coming from the telescreens and scream out obedient war cries - war crimes - calling for torture, for murder, incarceration, deportation, evisceration. Their eyes bug out as the feargasm rises and crests and the blonde woman on the telescreen looks on and smiles. I'm wearing a hoodie so I get out of there quickly.

The Crows - eyeing me more closely all the time. I should have reached out when I moved into my squat, but now I'm on their list and they won't speak to me - they just squawk and hop away. They eat the Rafa from the dumpsters but flit between both worlds, perching on the mind-control wires as easily as the ghost trees, weaving a network mesh in the spaces in between. Not sure who they'll tell about me, if they get the urge.

The Invisible Kittens - mews from nowhere when I walk through the door. Balls of yarn roll across the floor, batted by invisible paws. I put down a bowl of milk and watch little streams of white rise up and wisp through their four translucent little bodies, disappearing as their invisible digestion does its work. Later, they crowd around me in bed, all warmth and purrs, and in the dark it doesn't seem like they're invisible at all.

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1/11/2015 11:39pm

There's an invisible cat problem in my part of town. Likely some illegal underground breeders had to leave in a hurry and just opened up their cages and let them loose. Then they just bred and bred. Now they're everywhere.

You can't see them, of course. Because they're invisible cats.

So I'm in my squat, listening to Haunted Hits radio, cooking up some dinner, and I hear a crazy growling and hissing out by the dumpsters. Either they're mating or fighting or who knows what, but I can't turn the radio up loud enough to drown them out, so I finally go out there and start banging on the dumpsters and yelling at them.

They scatter pretty quick, but in the wake of their growling and my banging I'm still hearing a mewling. A tiny little bunch of little thin meows. Under one of the dumpsters it sounds like.

"Aw, nuts," I think.

So I go back into my place for the scrying lens I made out of the bottom of a clear glass wine bottle and about 4 hours of chanting spells and a car battery. Good for seeing invisible stuff.

Like invisible kittens.

Sure enough, under the dumpster, there they are. Four of them, huddled together. Their eyes reflect silver in the field the scrying glass picks up. Since they're invisible kittens, they don't have a "color" like regular, non-invisible kittens. You can still see through them, but their outlines are clear.

But what about a mamma cat? They're old enough to be weaned, and they're not in a nest or anything. Did she already leave them to take up with some invisible tom?

I really don't need something like this tying me down. Or to be tracking down invisible cat shit inside my place.

I figure I'll just leave the door open a crack, and let them decide.

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1/5/2015 11:59am

Took my dad back to the airport yesterday. Rode "shark fin" on the bus - I raise the sails as the bus flies down the thoroughfare, cutting through the crap and busting the rustle out of the garbage city-set. I get a good rip into the scenery. Stuff shows through.

"Well that's a funny billboard."

"What's a funny billboard, dad?"

"That one, with the big... electric eye in it. High tech."

It's a billboard for White Noise energy drink, the one with the can and the screaming kid. But as my shark fin peels the veil the real mechanics get exposed. And it's not an electric eye - it's the Eye of Mortho, the Unseer. But my dad caught a glimpse. Maybe just a few days off the Rafa was good for him?

At the airport he starts to get a sense of the mega-structure.

"Whoa, I feel dizzy."

"That's OK, dad. Need to sit down?"

"I think I just need to eat. Got any of those little packages?"

"No, dad. Let's get a bagel."

I get him checked in and to the security line. I can see him getting some peeks of the shifting portal clockwork. It's really intensely beautiful and complicated. But if he keeps his eyes on the concourse and the lines he'll be fine.

And when he gets home, no doubt he'll find a big pile of those little tin foil packs in his mail box. He'll chow down, and everything will be back to normal again.

"I love you, son."

"I love you too, dad."

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12/31/2014 5:02pm

"So, you got any of those little packages?"

"Little packages of what, dad?"

"You know, the little square foil ones that come in the mail."

"The Rafa?"

"Yeah, sure, whatever. Where do you keep yours?"

"I don't get mail here. I'm off the grid."

"So then where do you get yours?"

"I told you dad, I don't eat the Rafa anymore. You shouldn't either."


We'll have the same conversation again in an hour - he'll have no recollection that we've already talked about it. At his age, I'm not sure how long it would take for it to start to clear his system. But he won't be here visiting long enough in any case.

"This is a nice apartment complex."

"Dad, it's an abandoned warehouse. I'm the only one who lives here."

"They sure keep the grounds up nice. Nice bushes. Is it expensive?"

"Those are garbage dumpsters. In an alley. And I'm squatting, so it's free."

"There was a real cute lady out in the parking lot about my age. Maybe I should strike up a conversation? You think your old man's still got it?"

"That was a garbage can, dad."

The Rafa sets up an electrical fugue state in the mind, which connects with all the other people who eat it - the Nodes. Programming is centrally controlled, broadcast out through the Nodes. It makes sure everybody sees what they "ought" to see, not how things really are.

Not that my squat is a dump by any means. It's rustic, but clean. High ceilings, big beams, exposed brick. I made sure it wasn't a toxic dump, or a rat's nest, or a crack den. And I've even rigged up heat and electric, and the plumbing still works. I put up my own distractive glamours around it so it stays off anybody's maps.

"So, you got any of those little packages?"

"Little packages of what, dad?"

"You know, the little square foil ones that come in the mail."

"Let's go for a walk."

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