The Symposium was a WoD E-zine that disappeared many years ago, that I happened to have archived and will display some of their old entries here for archiving. All credits belong to the old staff of the Symposium.
Do You Know What I know?
With a whoop and a yell, the raid on Kutchion’s Candy Counter began. Big Mikey and War-Horse Dan led the band, waving their six-shooters. Pistol Pete and Little Chief Waldo followed grimly behind. Gripping rifles in both hands, Pete and Waldo took up position on either side of the porch steps. Mikey and Dan pounded across the paint-peeled beams of the porch and sprang through the screen door which slapped shut behind them.
It was cool and dark inside after the aggressiveness of the summer day outside. The Coca-cola clock ticked the seconds away casually, as if brushing away flies. Cases and cases of delectable treats opened shiny glass eyes towards the two boys, beckoning: chocolates called from their crinkled foil nests, twisted coils of licorice whips hung tantalizingly within reach, gummy bears and jelly beans glistened in the flickering fluorescent light that hadn’t been fixed in years. Mikey and Dan’s eyes bulged with desire. They had entered their shrine – the Temple of the Sugar Gods. Between them, they fought the primal urge to prostrate themselves before the shimmering alter of candy. Mikey swallowed the saliva that had seeped into his mouth and looked back towards the door. The rest of the band had abandoned their positions by the steps and instead stood on either side of the door, noses mashed against the screen. Pete saw his gaze, and tried once again to talk Mikey out of the raid idea, but in was futile. Waldo hissed a “G’wan,” tough-guy like, out of the corner of his mouth.
Mikey looked back at the cases. He took a deep breath and did his best to swagger over to the counter. Placing both hands on the formica edge, he pulled himself up far enough to get his whole chin over the top. The fudge cutting board was within an inch from his chin. By looking cross-eyed down his nose, Mikey could see it was stained with the chocolately remains of past sacrifices. A long fudge knife lay next to the cutting board, as if it had been carelessly tossed aside after its most recent use. In fact, it had obviously been used in the near past, for the tip was smeared in dark brown. Mikey began to lose his grip on the counter top, so he quickly darted his eyes to the left and the right. No sign of Mrs. Kutchion, or the pimply teenage girl who filled in sometimes. No light shown under the curtain that sectioned off the entrance to the back room and staircase leading up to the Kutchion’s living quarters either. Mikey released his grip on the counter.
War Horse Dan stood in the center of the floor scratching absentmindedly at the permanent marker war paint he had applied to his face. He tore his gaze away from the marzipan carousel to see Mikey shrug his shoulders. Dan relayed the message to Waldo and Pete. Pete took the news happily, and stepped back from the door. Waldo however was not so easily defeated. He yanked the door open – colliding with Pete’s head in the process – and stomped inside. Snatching Mikey’s Hopalong six-shooter, Waldo let out a yell that caused an avalanche of pixie-sticks down the counter. From somewhere upstairs there was an identical shriek. Assumedly it was a woman, but since the pitch of the scream was nearly the same as Waldo’s, one never could tell. Then, again from upstairs a thud that shook the jell-o squares down in the candy case. Waldo snaked out a pudgy hand to the paper straws scattering across the formica. He snatched a handful and shoved them into his plastic holster, sliding Mikey’s gun in afterwards.
Mikey and Dan solemnly watched this maneuver. Yes, it was wrong . . . but after all, it was just booty from the raid, wasn’t it? Pete frowned and opened his mouth to speak, but just then, a terrific clattering came from upstairs, as if a tin of jawbreakers had been upset. That sound died away, and a new sound took its place. Someone came running down the stairs, and paused before the curtain. Dan began retreating to the door, a worried expression on his face. Mikey reached a hand out to pull him back. Pete took a threatening step towards Waldo, who put up his chubby hands innocently. All four were frozen in that tableau when Mrs. Kutchion stepped through the curtain.
“Well, well boys, what have we here?” she asked, a saccharine smile balanced precariously on here face.
The band was silent, staring at her wild appearance. Her usually calm eyes were wild and dilated – darting here and there across the room. Strands hung from her but, plastered to her pale face by the moisture. An apron had been thrown over her dress: one string hung below the back of her knees, and the bow had been tied with fudge stained fingers. Getting no response, she tried again.
“What are you boys doing?”
Waldo was the first to recover himself. He reached for the pistol on his holster, but thought better of it at the last second. Instead, he waved his fist and yelled, “This is a stick-up lady! We’re dangerous criminals here to steal your candy!”
Dan, Pete, and Mikey nodded mutely.
Mrs. Kutchion crossed to the counter and began tidying up the pixie sticks with shaking fingers. She smiled at the boys, obviously deciding to play along. “Oh my! Dangerous criminals you say? But you look so familiar!”
Waldo was delighted. “We should look familiar. Our faces are plastered on every wanted poster from here to Atlanta – or even further than that! This here’s Big Mikey, the bank robber that broke into Fort Knox. War Horse Dan did worse than that. He stuck up so many stagecoaches that even the Lone Ranger couldn’t keep up with him. And Pistol Pete, who stole 50 pounds of Yukon gold from the museum. And I’m Little Chief Waldo and I done the worst.”
His voice dropped to a dramatic level.
“I . . . killed a man. Hacked him to little bits.” He licked his lips maliciously.
Mrs. Kutchion’s smile slipped and hung very crookedly. “You what?”
Mikey unfroze and seized Waldo’s shoulder. His other hand fumbled near Waldo’s mouth, trying to cover it. Waldo spun away and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Killed a Man!!! I killed him dead, and his blood was spillin’ all over the place!”
The woman looked visibly shaken. “Waldo, hush. You shouldn’t even joke about it.” She passed a hand over her forehead and stared for the first time at the counter. Her eyes gazed upon the fudge cutting board and the knife beside it. In an explosion of movement, she seized the knife and thrust it into the sink basin behind her. Metal clattered eerily on porcelain, and then went silent as water poured onto basin. She turned back to find the boys’ eyes upon her. “Shouldn’t leave knives lying around . . . might hurt somebody . . . might cut them badly.” Her hands went to her apron and began tugging at the waist-band.
Pete hissed at Mikey. He leaned over and whispered hoarsely, “Call off the raid. She’s sick. She doesn’t want to play today.” Mikey nodded. He motioned to Dan and Waldo, and began edging towards the door. Dan followed, and a moment later, the screen door slammed behind the two retreating figures. Waldo was standing his ground though, waiting for an opportunity to snatch more of the pixie sticks lying tantalizingly within reach. Pete watched him carefully, but he was also very aware of Mrs. Kutchion’s staring at him.
Mrs. Kutchion tore her eyes away from Pete’s face finally, and looked at Waldo, who was drooling at the promise of more free candy.
“Can I help you, Waldo?” she asked abruptly. Waldo shook his head no. “Then please leave the store. I have a lot of work to do, and I may have to close the store for a while.”
Waldo stared rebelliously at her. “Don’wanna.”
The woman looked helplessly at Pete. Pete bounded forward and seized the pudgy boy in his arms. Lifting Waldo bodily off the ground, Pete removed the pixie sticks from the holster, placed them on the counter, and carried the howling figure out the door. Once down the porch stairs, Pete dropped the boy onto the dusty ground. Waldo dragged a hand across his snotty face, leaving slug tracks of mucus on his cheek. In a sniveling voice, he yelled, “I’m gonna tell Mom, Pete! She’s gonna whup the tar outta you!”
Pete shook his head slowly. “I’d like to see her try, little Bro. Now scram after your little friends and if I catch you around here again, I’ll slice your little yellow belly.”
Waldo scrambled off down the broken sidewalk.
The young man returned to the store. Mrs. Kutchion was leaning weakly against the counter. As Pete closed and locked the heavy wooden door behind the screen, Mrs. Kutchion asked softly, “Isn’t nineteen a little old to be playing cowboys?”
Pete drew close to her and nestled his face in her damp hair. “I heard what they were planning, and I didn’t know what to do. I . . came along to see if I could keep them from knowing.”
His hand went to the apron strings and drew them apart. The apron fell to her ankles, revealing a blood soaked dress underneath.
Mrs. Kutchion looked at him with shining eyes. “I killed him, Pete. Now we’re free.”
Amid the spilled pixie sticks, Pete kissed his lover passionately.
Mr Krane took another sip from his champagne. He stood on the terrace of his penthouse building in New York. The cool night air caressed his skin as a breeze brought in the acrid scent of smoke. The entire city was aglow, mesmerizing him. “Beautiful, Georgy,” a woman’s voice commented from behind him.
Krane came out his trance. “Isn’t it?” He gave the city one last glance, then turned to look at the beautiful woman in front of him. She was slender, her cascading blonde hair tied back in a pony tail. She wore an expensive white evening gown that fit her form nicely. Around her neck was a necklace of diamonds that matched her earrings.
“You were right… About everything,” she said after a pause.
“They wouldn’t listen. I tried to warn them. They just laughed. All of them… except you, Katherine.” The woman, too, held a glass of bubbling champagne in her delicate hands, the glass half full.
She walked over to the edge of the terrace. The building they were on was decorated with gargoyles snarling out at the rest of the glowing city. She gave a little laugh, “Oh, at first I thought you were crazy. I mean, why would anyone take all of their fortune out of the banks and stocks? Why would anyone stockpile on supplies? The thing that decided it was that you were my husband. Crazy or not, I loved you. And you were right.”
“I wasn’t sure at first,” the man said, almost to himself.
“Then crime began to rise and I knew that I was right. The stockmarket soon fell. That was followed quickly by civil war breaking out among the smaller countries. The collapse of our corrupt government was what surprised me. I knew it was inevitable, but it happened so quickly. It couldn’t stand tall against anarchy. All the political bickering caused it to weaken. Caused it to fall. The anarchy just pulled away the curtain. It fell long ago.”
He went over to his wife and put an arm around her. He drew a breath of air and his nostrils were filled with smoke again. Far in the distance he heard an explosion. It was nothing new, all it did was add to the glow that lit the city. The glow of the fires.
The man held up his glass and stared into the twinkling that the fire made off its surface. “After that pathetic government refused to believe me. I knew that there was no hope, I simply sat back and watched the world burn… And so it did.” And it continues…
Lord Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen: Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay withered and strewn.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not a breath of his pride; And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail: And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
It was a normal day when Micelle returned to her dorm room. But then the feeling came, the one that had been lingering slightly behind her for quite some time. Micelle pitched forward, flashes burning in her mind. She envisioned people slowly screaming as she stumbled into the table face first. Her head throbbed as she saw the refrigerator fly by; her feet went up and her head met the cold floor violently. She stood to grab a coat rack, but the treacherous thing moved quickly to her left and she embraced the wall. Her senses were bombarded by the existence of a chair behind her, and it took all of her concentration to sit in it. She slept well there.
“Who are you?” Micelle asked the man in the grey overalls. “The Dogs call me Starmaker dear.” His voice was sweet, which betrayed his scorched and dirty clothes perfectly. Micelle could see and feel more than before the sickness of the previous day. Starmaker was speaking again. “I felt your power and pulled my strings here. I have opened you up, dear.” She was so confused. “You opened me up?” He laughed and walked to the kitchen. “Yes Rainbringer, take your wings and fly.”
The Dogs rode their black bikes down the alley in a cloud of papers, glass dust and pebbles. “Yeah, look at her squirm.” Their bikes tore black legs into the road and the man went down with a sick thud in the middle of the road. Amid the flashing greens and pulsing violets she screamed and her hands went up. Starmaker had shown her how the fire came but she could not bring it for some reason. The dogs dismounted and strode up to her. “Hey baby, looking good! How bout some love?” Dirty leather and gas, she could smell it all over them. Starmaker left her three days ago, and she had immediately called Mark, her boyfriend of two years, who was now laying in a pool of his own blood. Micelle stood in stunned silence. “She aint givin it, Danny, we gonna haft to take it.” Then she heard something, a loud rough sound from far away. The Dogs didn’t notice it as they began to push her around the circle. She could feel the power coming and she was to scared to even cry out. Then the Dogs heard what she had, the bikes. “What the hell are those?” Then they came, the black and purple colors of their jackets and bikes striking the sky like the eyes and lips of gods. The Dogs scrambled for their bikes, but the Snakes came in too fast. Three loud cracks and they were down, with the blood of victim and predator mingling nicely. The head snake climbed from his dark red steed and extended his hand. “Would you like a ride on my Harley, mam. I can take you to a safe place.” She slipped behind him in a daze, the power leaving as fast as it came. Her eyes lingered only momentarily on the unmoving body of her old lover.
Her mind slipped into crazy cracks in her period of unconsciousness. Starmaker extended his hands, and then dropped her. She tried to reach up, but she saw the red snake instead of Starmaker. When she looked down she saw a thundercloud, so she screamed, and the power came. Then it was gone and she lay under the cloud, the red man was dead on his bike, burned and blasted, his skull opened to the air, his black and red rubber boots melting on his legs. Lighting struck her in the chest.
The sheets, when she woke, were damp with sweat. The man in purple leaned over her, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. “Man, you were out for a while. You high or something?” Micelle sat up and put her hands on her forehead. “No man, I’m not high.” She said, “But you got something to fix that. I could sure use a hit of that reefer you’re smoking up there.” The purple man laughed. “You must be pretty far gone babe, this is just a normal smoke, but I got these.” He extended his pill laden hand, and she downed three of them without even a glass of water. The derms cleared her head and she took in her surroundings. “That bike you have is incredible. ” She said, admiring his black and red harley. “Thanks, rebuilt it myself, ” he said. Then he cocked his head to a strange angle and regarded her seriously. “This is a very strange way for a girl to act after being attacked and watching her boyfriend beaten, but I understand you, see, I am like you are, my name is Cloud Crimson.” She looked at him and felt the power of his strings.
The men had grabbed them in the night, beat them savagely and left them in the alley. Cloud Crimson was the first to rise, he shook his head and woke Rainbringer. The stones were cold, and the walls were too close to be friendly. The feeling came back and she felt nauseated, but it was quickly subdued by the reassurance of her power. She was glad Cloud Crimson was there, she would be terribly frightened if she was alone with her power. But she wasn’t even alone with Cloud Crimson, for soon the entire alley erupted with laughter. The wall shouted down and the floor came up quickly to meet her, but Cloud Crimson caught her. The voice was smooth and mocking. “Very good Cloud Crimson. So much work for one night in bed? That seems kind of crazy, but you always get your woman, don’t you? By the way, nice boots, rebellious and practical at the same time, you gotta love rubber.” The blast of lightning shattered the air and Cloud Crimson’s body. His head exploded with all the glory of a peniata, his boots formed multi-colored puddles around his scorched leg-bones. The man wearing the green and black suit looked at Rainbringer and smiled. “Now that we’re alone my pet I must comment on your beauty. Such should not go to waste. Wont you stand by my side, think of it, you’d be royalty.” Micelle looked around with the stunned silence of one who can not comprehend a single thing in her life.
“I’m so tired.” She managed to mumble. The dark green King smiled. “It is truly sad to see such intelligence and beauty go towards nothing. You are sure you cannot join me?” Rainbringer looked up at him dumbly ” what did you say again.” The man smiled. “Well then, I see you did not adjust to your new life very well. It is truly a sorry situation, but there is only one thing I can do.” He sighed heavily. “Off with her head.” Said the king of lightning.