Everybody should know how to cook. More than just providing you with nutrition, food is a fundamental expression of what it is to be alive, and unlike breathing and shelter, it's one we can all express ourselves through. Though if you count clothes as shelter, we can do that too, but that's for a later post.
Cooking is really easy. Many people are afraid of it for some reason, but you shouldn't be. You can start out just cooking for yourself, and then there's not even the chance of embarrassing yourself.
If you've never cooked before, get yourself a good frying pan and some nice oil (I like grassfed butter, but some like coconut oil or olive oil. Olive oil is pretty flavorful, so it's best to use either extra virgin or only use it in dishes where it matches, like Italian food). That plus a knife, cutting board, and spatula, will get you very far. Oh, also a little bit of salt for every dish.
The key to getting better at cooking is experimenting. This means that whenever you think "hmm I wonder if X would go well in this", try it! Also, taste everything you make all the time.
The easiest way to make any vegetable delicious is to cut it into pieces small enough that it can be cooked effectively in the pan (so for instance, peas are fine as is, but a zucchini needs to be sliced or dice) and then cook it in butter on low heat until it's warm.
There's been a lot of talk about the idea of doing a practical career vs doing one you're passionate about. Beyond the point that the kind of career considered "practical" in our parent's day doesn't really exist any more, I think that perhaps I can rephrase this as something that draws a more important distinction.
I think that the practical vs passionate choice is a false one. All that practical means, or should mean, is that you can make a living off of it-if you want to get all ethical, you could add "without hurting other people" to that. Unfortunately, quite a lot of people cram a lot of other considerations in there when deciding what does or should count as a practical/respectable/whatever, and most of those don't have anything to do with how useful the job is to apes, or how beneficial it is to the ape/meme-creature performing the job, they're all about the meme-creatures causing the apes to criticize it.
It is a definite fact that people perform jobs they're passionate about better than ones they aren't. If they're sufficiently apathetic about it, they might even produce negative value at it-see the characters in Dilbert. But a passionate person will make a huge difference at whatever they're doing. The problem is that apes don't tend to be passionate about the things the meme-creatures running society want them to be. While meme-creatures can stir up passions, they also often cannot. Our animal passions rule us as often as not.
Here's an example of something that apes are big into but a lot of meme-creatures are opposed to: consensual, harmless, frequent, frivolous sex. Man apes love having sex. Meme-creatures often try to exploit this, but seem to have a strange tendency to oppose it. Maybe it's because they don't reproduce sexually? Anyways, this results in a lot of societal pressures against people making money in ways that directly involve sex. This means that there is a huge, barely tapped market there!
My partner is a sex worker. Now it's fortunate that the horrid meme-creature known as Monogamy never got its hooks into either of us, which means that its terrible weapon Jealousy the Envy-Blade, Breaker of Relationships, passes through me like the aethereal nothingness that it is, leaving me wrapped in the warm glow of my Breastplate of Compersion, That Which Heals When Hurt. This means we're open to explore those means of making money. Both of us have worked in pornography, making decent wages. But she's now working directly as an escort, which, given that she is an incredibly sexy, intelligent, and particularly business savvy lady, is making her quite a bit more. She tells me it is uncouth to discuss money explicitly, but I will say that this is earning much more money working far fewer hours than any of the "legitimate" jobs that either of us have worked.
The woman no longer in red moved through the crowded, dusty streets. She stole furtive glances around her, but was much more calm at this point. Completely obscured by her all-encompassing black attire, her dark eyes the only potentially identifying feature exposed, she felt confident that she was able to blend in. She deliberately adopted a more humble pose, slouching her shoulders and avoiding standing near any men, as was the local custom. She clutched her robes to her and recited a silent prayer that her subterfuge was working, and that she could continue to evade her pursuers. She longed for rest, but knew it was unlikely to come soon.
“Where has he gotten off to? Have you seen-Aha! Jason, there you are, you silly thing, whatever are you doing out here? It can’t possibly be good for your health to stand out here in the cold, and you do know how I worry. Honestly, I don’t know what possesses you to put yourself in such an obviously unpleasant, dangerous situation. What do you get out of this?”
The Contessa stepped briefly onto the balcony, gave an exaggerated shiver, grabbed Jason by the arm in a mock attempt to gain warmth, and not giving him a chance to respond, pulled him back into the interior. On her way, she shot a disapproving scowl at the couple, who looked suitably embarrassed at being caught out by someone who they knew had influence over their respective partners. She jerked her head in the direction of her study, and the couple knew this meant that they would need to meet with her later to work out what sort of favor they would owe her to maintain their secret.
“Now Jason, there’s a fellow you simply must meet here!” Jason rolled his eyes at hearing that for the umpteenth time. She pretended not to notice and went on. “He says he might have a job for you.” She took great satisfaction in seeing Jason perk up and become legitimately interested at that. She knew that her talent for making connections between the many people she knew was of great value, and so while she enjoyed making sort of mocking, unnecessary introductions, enjoying that her guests could not refuse her, she also preferred to give everyone at least one introduction that would actually serve their purposes each time they attended one of her soirees. Not letting go of Jason’s arm, she pulled him along and made mutual introductions between him and a large man in an expensive suit, who was chewing on the end of an unlit cigar. He was looking at a golden pocket watch, as though anxious for something to happen, and while he broke into a grin when he saw the Contessa, he still looked preoccupied.
There are two kinds of stress: distress and eustress. Stress is what you feel when you're in a situation where your fight-or-flight reaction is brought into play. Everybody's familiar with distress, the unpleasant version of stress (compare discomfort, dystopia, dismay). It's what you feel when you are in a bad situation you can't get out of. You got a bad grade and you have to show your parents. You're being hunted by a tiger. You're on a rollercoaster and it's climbing up the hill and it's too late for you to get off
Eustress is a much less well known concept, but one I like a lot. It's the positive form of stress. Compare euphoria, utopia, eudaimonia. Eustress is what you feel when, if you don't give your all to something, there could be really bad consequences (the kind that would distress you), but that you can still work hard and overcome. It's what you feel when you're pulling an all nighter to finish a project. You're hunting a tiger. The rollercoaster has gone over the top of the hill, the dread is done with, and it's nothing but exhilaration.
Eustress is, for me at least, a very reliable way of getting into a flow state. A lot of my best work has been done under eustress. Setting deadlines where there are real consequences if you don't follow through by then is the best way I know of to get yourself into a eustress mood, but I'm sure there are others. Most of the time it comes from the environment forcing you to do something
Eustress is great for productivity, but I don't think I would be able to live in that sort of a state for very long. Fortunately, since it's almost always caused by a time crunch, it's inherently temporary. And the relaxation after finishing a project and letting all that stress drain out of you is like none other.
So go out and foment some eustress in your life! Set yourself to work on projects it will be hard to complete. Give yourself a ridiculous deadline to do something really audacious. Really grab the bull by the horns, and see how far you can ride it! It's sure to be further than you think.
I got linked this: http://superopinionated.com/2012/08/14/im-done-with-your-ableist-word-choices/
And it made me think about words and their etymologies. If you know me, you may know me as “the guy who likes etymology.” I’m pretty into it. And so of course I already know the etymology of lame (as in a person with a physical handicap), retarded (as in a person with a mental handicap), dumb (a mute), and I know the problems with crazy and its synonyms, and while I’m less sympathetic to them, I am aware of the problems with dumb and its synonyms.
Then I remember that I’m a consequentialist, and coming up for rules is for suckers and deontologists. So I’ll just base my usage on what the consequences of it are. “Retarded” as an insult seems to hurt the feelings of the mentally handicapped more than the people I’m trying to insult, so I won’t use that one. There’s no need for a big overarching law, I can just figure it out on a case by case basis, and update when I hear new things.
just ran my very first LARP: Murder at Highgarden, a murder mystery dinnear theatre, written for the occasion by one Jacqueline Bryk. Highgarden is the name of the mansion sharehouse I live in in Brooklyn, and Jax is someone you may know of if you are involved in the LARP scene in this corner of the world. In spite of my constantly being overwhelmed floundering to stay on top of things, it went quite well. While running it, I had an idea for how I would like to run another game in the future, which I am entitling Murder Most Foul. The following is a write up of that idea, which in its current form incorporates none of the rules used in Murder at Highgarden.
There are two important roles in the game: the Guests and the Host. The Host is the person organizing the event, and is the victim of the eponymous murder. They should provide the house to play in, provide the Guestswith their roles, explain the rules, set up the props, make the food, and take the money if this is being charged for, which I plan to, because groceries and time are not free. The Guests are not involved in the setup at all.
Each Guest wants to kill the Host. Each player is given a character sheet describing their Guest, including a reason that you wish to kill the Host, and a few things you know about some of the other characters. (knowing a few of these, but not having to know everyone’s, should give you any given person’s motivation). At the beginning of the evening, each Guest flips a coin. On a heads, they decide to kill the Host. On a Tails, they chicken out and decide to delay their vengeance.
There are a number of different weapons, think the variety of the Clue traditional ones (knife, candlestick, lead pipe, revolver, wrench – one blade, three bludgeons, one gun, interesting), strewn throughout the house. They are marked by having something obvious, like a big ribbon tied around them. Anyone can pick these up and hide them however they wish. In order to kill someone, you simply get them alone in a room, reveal your weapon, and inform them that you have murdered them. If they also have a weapon, you rock-paper-scissors to see who kills whom. Guests may kill the Host, and may kill each other.
At the end of the game, each living Guest makes a single guess as to who the Killer of the Host is. If you are the Killer, unless you are guessed by the plurality of voters (including yourself), you Escape. Regardless of whether you Escape, everyone who guesses you Catches you.
“Ah’ve never seen mist like this befoah,” Molly said, slipping back into her native Southern drawl, as she did whenever particularly impressed by something. She took cares to manage her presentation to appear as respectable and impressive as any of her peers, and though most of that was getting over their biases against the fairer sex (though she wouldn’t go quite so far as to wear pants; first, she was pretty sure that would make them respect her less, and second, she considered it a bit of an uncouth betrayal of femininity), she also spent significant effort disguising her antebellum ancestry. When overwhelmed with awe or surprise, though, her accent shone through. Her Chemistry professor, himself displaced from the Deep South, found this an endearing trait and it had caused him to give her a fairer shake than he would have otherwise (and when he discovered this about himself, he spent a dark night of the soul reexamining his own biases and came out a supporter of the suffragettes, and was willing to go to bat on her behalf should the trepidatious University decide admitting women had been a mistake. The fact that he had come to consider her brilliant was just icing on the cake), though in her ignorance of her own habits she was unaware of her lingual foibles.
“Oh yeah, you’re from den seth, you’ve never seen a winter before,” Jim responded in a terrible imitation of Molly’s accent. She scowled and stuck her tongue out at him. Adam clapped them both on their backs, hard enough to knock them each off balance, and strode forward into the fog. “Come along chaps, we have a luncheon appointment.”
Molly and Jim both scowled at him, then looked at each other and grinned. Adam’s attempt at improving their sense of camaraderie at his own expense had succeeded. They moved on into the fog, Adam turning around so he could face them, walking backwards.
“Aren’t you worried you’ll bump into something?” Adam turned around and stared ahead into the fog. “Oh yes, this is much better, you’re right, I can see so much more now,” he responded in a mocking tone, turning back around. “We’re in the quad, it’s 100 yards to the dining hall, what’s going to-” his explanation was cut short as he tripped over a fallen tree.
He quickly scrambled to his feet and looked down at the tree. It was evident from the exploded side and scorch marks on it that it had been struck down by lightning the night prior. There had been a terrible storm, and some bolts had come closer than comfort truly allowed.
Molly had flipped on the lights, which were quickly gaining their glow and illuminating the empty hallway before them. “I miss the old gas lamps. They had character, and they warmed the room for you!” Professor Ellery lamented. Indeed, it was only marginally warmer inside than out, and they removed their muddy footwear out of polite deference rather than their own preferences. Molly looked around the now lit hallway. It seemed unfamiliar somehow.
“Guys, this isn’t the dining hall,” she called out, just as Jim opened one of the side doors. “No, really? But it does have food. Free food, the very best kind of food,” Jim replied, moving over to a table at the back of the lecture hall he had just entered. The chalkboard at the front was covered in partially erased scribblings, but he was much more focused on the snacks at the back of the room. When guest lecturers came to visit, the school provided an assortment of snacks - usually sweet pastries, sometimes cured meats and other savory foods. Jim recalled fondly one time an Archaeology lecture about south-sea idols carved from green soapstone recovered during a Miskatonic expedition that had captured his interest, but not nearly as much as the deviled eggs in the back had. This time there were just a handful of pastries left, enough for everyone to have two and Jim to have three, plus half a pot of cold coffee which the four of them split from three mugs. Adam and Molly shared, which Professor Elery took note of. He was surprised to find in himself a pang of what he at first thought was jealousy. He hadn’t thought of himself as being attracted to the young woman, though attractive she clearly was. He had prided himself on having a jovial yet completely professional relationship with her and all his students. And besides, his heart still belonged to his beloved Marcia, though she was dead and long since buried. Still, the pangs of loneliness and heartache can make one think and occasionally even do terrible things, as he knew all too well, and Molly and the others would discover soon enough… he determined to think of his feelings as a fatherly protectiveness. Molly was one of his best students, and perhaps the one most in need of his guidance and protection, being in a uniquely vulnerable position as the only female Chemistry major at Miskatonic University. May in the administration still resented being “forced” by public opinion to allow women to enter, and his position as head of a department carried a good deal of weight, even if Miskatonic was focused more on the Humanities than the Sciences.
Adam had opened the door on the opposite side of the entrance hall. It led into a smaller room, a simple classroom instead of a large auditorium. There was nothing there besides the desks and chairs one would expect, small bits of litter, and the chalk board at the back, scribbled over with symbols he had no idea the meaning of. Adam was also a student of the histories, focusing more on Archaeology than Anthropology-he didn’t like having to think about the personal aspects of other cultures, especially ones still existing in the present day, but there was something about physical artifacts from the past that intrigued him, and therefore he had chosen to major in that. While his true passion was sport, he did feel a visceral thrill whenever he held something that was known to be ancient. He felt it even stronger when he was able to identify that for himself. While Adam was not particularly bright in terms of raw intelligence, he had incredible willpower, honed from years of daily exercise and practice, and was an excellent team player. When there was a project he was focused on, he was focused like a laser beam, and could continue working on it for long stretches, often overnight, and function well with minimal sleep (especially during the off season). When he was assigned to group projects, even if he did not feel particularly passionate about the specific project, he felt intensely loyal to his partners, and would go to extraordinary efforts to make sure that he pulled at least his fair share. More than one person had been assigned to a group project with him, inwardly groaned at having to work with “the jock”, and then been astonished and a bit ashamed at the effort and sincerity he displayed. The results were rarely astonishing, never genius, but often impressive.
Adam hoped that he would be able to focus his studies on deducing and verifying the ages of artefacts. He could easily picture himself as being on a team (he always pictured himself on a team) of experts hired by museums, universities, and private collectors, to verify the authenticity of the items in their collection. He hated cheats and frauds - unlike many of his teammates, past and present, he had never done anything unethical to improve his grades to stay on the team, he had just buckled down, worked hard, and been sure to only choose classes he was confident he could do well enough on - and the thought of being able to find out and expose people who made a living by tricking others filled him with a righteous warmth. He, like Jim, was a year ahead of Molly - Adam and Jim were sophomores, while Molly was only a freshman (“First Year,” as she insisted on being called), and he hoped he would be able to focus and specialize more on the verification of antiquities in the rest of his college career. Already he was developing instincts, and so when he slid his fingers across one of the desks and they came up dusty, he was surprised, and noticed this fact. He wasn’t sure what to make of it, save to be confused. How could dust have accumulated this quickly? This was the first true day of Winter Break, after the initial weekend, and surely this classroom had seen use the week before. Adam had never been inside it before, but surely it was used by other classes. Pondering it for a moment, he thought of the possibility that perhaps only some of the classrooms were needed during final exams, and so this one could have been out of use for a week or two more. That might be enough to explain the dust. Yes, that must be it.
He looked up at the blackboard again. He had assumed that the symbols were mathematical or greek, but looking closer he thought they were a mixture of something - hieroglyphs too blurred to be legible even if he could read hieroglyphs in the first place, and a series of triangles or blurred dots that may have been Sanskrit? But that was odd, because this definitely wasn’t the Historical Studies building. Maybe there had been a guest lecture here? But he would have heard about it. Oh, that must be it: some students were having a study session in here on their own for the finals. That also explained why the room was so messy - if the janitor hadn’t known people were going to be using the room, he wouldn’t have thought it necessary to clean again before the Christmas Break. Yes, that explained everything. He still couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off, that he wasn’t noticing something. It was like examining a vase for the chips and the different, visible layers of lacquer to try to determine its age, only looking at the minute details, never pulling back and seeing the big picture, only to miss that it was covered in a painting depicting the 1915 World’s Fair. He noticed this sensation and tried to pull his consciousness back and see what he was missing, but he could not quite manage it, and when his efforts led him nowhere fast, and he heard Molly call out that there were pastries in the other room, he went back and rejoined them.
Professor Ellery thought of himself as an honest man, though he had to admit to himself that he had just lied to the students. What’s done is done, that’s true, but to say it cannot be undone, that is something else entirely. It is far from certain that what was considered irrevocable in years past must continue to be so in the future. He was aware of recent discoveries showing that a mold - a mold! - might well be able to eliminate most diseases. He had no doubt that one day polio would be cured. These views were not uncommon among learned men. Indeed, in the modern era, to consider anything permanent and ever lasting seemed a sign of an outdated and antiquated world view, or of a weak or ignorant intellect unaware and unobserving of the incredible progress being made in every field of Science, as well as in culture and society at large. The automobile and assembly line had already begun to change the face of the nation’s economy; what learned man thought that their progress would stop where it was now, or stop at the arbitrary borders of nations? None, no one could possibly think such a thing and still be considered a reasonable man. Why, then, did so many of them have their thoughts stop at still other arbitrary borders? What was it about their minds that made them unable to correlate all its contents and follow them to their natural, logical conclusion, and join him in his beliefs and aspirations? Before the invention and discovery of the chemicals used in the embalmer’s arts, the body of a loved one would surely decay as fast as any other meat. But now it could be preserved, almost indefinitely! And it had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of surely anyone who cared to look that electricity, when applied to the limbs of a live man or a dead man alike, made them twitch and leap about as surely as any intentional motion, albeit significantly more clumsily. Who then could doubt that the mind controlled the body by means of electrical stimulation? A motion, a flow of electrons carried from the brain via the nerves to the muscles, made more precise by the tiny size of the nerves and their ability to be layered precisely within the muscles, unlike their crude approximation with electrodes - what more was needed to explain how the brain controlled the body?
What remained, then, was to determine how the mind controlled the brain. Some men, mechanistic, deterministic atheists, of a sort that Prof. Ellery found distasteful, considered there to be no such separate thing as a mind. They thought that what was perceived as a mind was simply the operations of an incredibly complex machine. Their explanations of this he might have perhaps found convincing, were it not for a number of objections he had argued at length with some of them. How could one explain qualia, then? The subjective experience of a mind, which surely did not extend beyond the body during waking life, but which seemed to wander through this world and others during sleep? Who had not dreamed of unknown Kadath, so vivid in sleep, so inaccessible when waking, yet surely no less real than the waking world? Who had not had signs sent to them in sleep, visions of the future, of distant galaxies unseen as yet by waking man, of great alien beings dancing in the darkness to mad, soundless piping? James Ellery had long been fascinated by dreams, and kept a dream journal which he wrote in every morning immediately upon waking. He had started this as a young man shortly before going to University, and had found that after a week he could always remember his dreams, whereas before he had often forgotten them within a few minutes of waking. A few weeks later he had become able to lucid dream-to have dreams wherein one realizes one is dreaming, and is able to control oneself. This seemed to him so eerily similar to the primitive concept of so-called “astral projection” that he felt he had no choice but to read more on the subject. He had attended Miskatonic for his education, in part because he had formed a friendly relationship with some of the faculty, his father being a friend of Dr. Allen Halsey, the aged Dean of the Medical School, and in part to gain access to the locked vaults of the forbidden section of the library, which contained numerous books that he had discovered, in his research concerning astral projection, as rarely but influentially cited primary documents on the subject. Upon becoming a student, he had read all that he could gain access to without arousing suspicion, which to his frustration was not all of them. When he graduated with honors, went to a different Massachusetts university to attain his doctorate, and then returned to Miskatonic as first an adjunct and then tenure track and now full Professor, he had access to all of the books he wished, and plenty of time to read them (thank heavens for hard working lab assistants; he only needed to describe the setup of experiments and then could almost leave them be).
His reading had convinced him fully of at least one thing: that the concept of a “soul” pointed at a real, tangible thing. Tangible may seem like a poor choice of words, but he was convinced it was not. There was a real, actual, physical reality to the soul. Others had done experiments and determined that it even had a precise mass: 21 grams! The soul was not made of the same sort of material as everyday matter. It was not made of protons and electrons. It could not be held in one’s hands. But the soul is hardly the only physical thing that that is true of. Oortz and Zwicky have conjectured that there is a sort of “dark matter”, invisible to humans, incapable of touching ordinary matter, but which still exerts a gravitational pull that can be felt by ordinary matter. Perhaps this is the stuff souls were made of? Professor Ellery was not an expert astrophysicist, he could not say the hypothesized properties of dark matter for certain, but he had consulted with those who were. He had his own theories, as well. If this is what souls are, then it must have electro-magnetic properties. We know already that the body is controlled by electricity, and the body by the brain, and the brain by the soul. This must mean that the soul is either able to exert electrical or magnetic forces (for really, they are the same) on the body, or that the brain has some sort of organ able to sense the soul, and which the soul can interact with it by. But given that the brain, such as it is, seems to be made entirely of ordinary matter, and that surely the brain cannot be directly controlled by means of gravity - if the gravity around one’s head were to change regularly, that would surely be a hair-raising experience! This left either the nuclear forces or the electro-magnetical. The nuclear forces it seemed clear to Ellery were not the ones responsible. Those only showed up either in the molecular interactions of regular quotidien chemistry, or in the unimaginably small-scale forces of the particles making up the atom. These it seemed to Ellery were both too small and too large to be the mechanism of action for the soul. They were too small, they could only affect the very smallest of components in their immediate vicinity, and they were too large - fine control like the motion of electricity necessary for control of the muscles seemed impossible, given the huge amounts of energy needed to break or form their bonds. This, combined with the pre-existing evidence of the fact that muscles were controlled by electricity, led Professor Ellery to the conclusion that the means by which the soul harnessed the body and set it into motion were most likely to be the electro-magnetic forces. And so that was where he concentrated his investigations.
With the aid of some students eager for extra credit, even if that meant being the subject of strange science, he had performed a series of experiments. Though they seemed to straddle the divide between chemistry and biology, he had his tenure now and could do as he liked. Plus, he had other, more mundane experiments being performed by his assistants, and as long as he kept churning out publications at a regular rate, the University didn’t mind what he did. Indeed, his papers soon became so well received that he found himself moving up the ladder, and with the retirement of his predecessor, he found himself Chair of the Chemistry Department. Though he now had almost unfettered freedom and a budget large enough to perform any experiment he wanted, he still kept the true nature of his beliefs secret to nearly all, save his wife Marcia. He knew from bitter experience that talk of astral projecting and of using science to study souls was not well received, in the scientific or theological communities. There were some in the esoteric circles he occasionally visited that took to his work, but they were usually far too ignorant to be of any help or interest to him.
The experiments he performed were as such: he built a series of contraptions which would hook onto a person’s head. There were two types. The first contained electrodes placed in various parts around the head, which, when the device was hooked to the control panel he had developed, allowed for the conductance of electricity throughout the brain. The second device was quite similar, save that it used magnetic field generators instead of electrical ones. In this instance, a powerful, well organized magnetic field was directed through various parts of the brain, again at the control of the panel that he had developed.
Doctor Allen Halsey, Dean of the Medical School at Miskatonic University, had told him of someone who had theories similar to his own. Halsey was a narrow minded fool who had thought Ellery’s theories implausible, (what little he knew of them; Ellery was careful not to share his full ideas with small minds. Only Marcia had known their full extent), but he had told Ellery about someone else who may prove useful. Ellery stalked out of the hospital on borrowed crutches, his twisted leg rendered near useless, and when he got to the nearest pay telephone and found the man’s number and address (so close by! Please, God, let this work!), and he called him, and the man answered, and as soon as he understood the situation he rushed over in his car, picked up Ellery from the phone booth, and took him back to the hospital, and then Ellery went back inside and insisted on seeing the body that had been Marcia Ellery alone, and that was when he injected her corpse with the syringe he had been given by Herbert West.
The knowledgeable reader may have an expectation as to what will happen next, but he is encouraged to keep it private lest he spoil things for others. He will also likely find that he was mistaken. This was not the reagents made by West in his later career, which would work their full, though fatally flawed, effect on their own. This was only a preservative. But my god, what a preservative.
Later that day, Ellery was allowed to take the body of his beloved Marcia home. West helped him to move her. West was interested, preternaturally interested, and Ellery, in a fit of protectiveness, snarled at him to stay away from her if he knew what was best for him, and West decided that it was best to leave Ellery to his own investigations, and to keep an eye on him from afar, as one does with academic rivals.
Ellery set up an elaborate facility in his house to care for the now vacant body of his beloved. He kept it cold, far below freezing, in a container he commissioned for just this purpose, in the cellar of his house. The reagent prevented any freezing of the blood, lymph, vitreous humor, or other bodily fluids. Her corpse was preserved better than any other corpse in history had been. A Pharaoh would have been jealous. Alarms were rigged to the room; if a change of even one half of one degree occurred in the temperature, Ellery would be notified, much less if anyone had opened the chamber door. Ellery had kept her there for four long, agonizing years, as he set up what was needed. His other experiments fell by the way side. He stopped taking on assistants; he couldn’t entrust what he was doing to anyone else, it was far too valuable. He read forbidden books far more often than before. Indeed, it seemed they were the only kind of book he read these days. He even fell behind in his reading of the journals of Chemistry, and had to give up his position as an editor on one and a reviewer on three others. His dreams, wherein he had been a passive or perhaps active observer, he now took on the role of an active seeker. He sought out new locations, new peoples, new individuals to question and learn from. Interrogate, really. He was desperate for any knowledge that he felt would aid in his attempts. In his dreams he spoke with many creatures. Fungus based beings that reminded him of the stories of the Abominable Snow-Men, and which complimented him on his preservation technique, and told him they could have helped him if he had come to him before she died, but that now they were as helpless as he. Beings shaped like Yule trees that referenced conversations yet to happen and could not remember ones that had already occurred. A man in a yellow cloak who seemed to delight in his suffering. He glimpsed a series of bubbling spheres whose size he could begin to estimate - it could have been the smallest bit of froth in a beer, or the largest thing he had ever seen - until one of the spheres passed in front of a star and blotted it out, and another passed behind it at the same time, and he saw it was larger than any sun. And then one day he heard a thin piping, and met in his dreams a tall, dark man, dressed like unto a Pharaoh, who finally told him what he wanted to hear. The thing called Nyarlothotep told James Ellery the location of Heaven.
Heaven is in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists know, or will know it, as an inordinately dense and large conglomeration of Dark Matter. Souls, being also made of Dark Matter, are unable to touch anything made of normal matter, once the life-force connecting them uniquely to a single brain is severed. The energy from this severing, like that of splitting an atom, pushes on them - it breaks them free of whatever orbit they were in, and then they are pulled towards the largest object around. In the Milky Way, that is the enormous cluster of Dark Matter at its heart. That is where the soul of every living creature that dies in our galaxy goes: the enormous Black Hole at the center of the Galaxy. That is Heaven.