Off You Go, Martin!

“Martin! Martin! Urgent! Get over here!” Gordon screamed into the telephone. “Get over here now!” He slammed the telephone on to the receiver.

Gordon shook his arms violently. “This is big! This is big!”

The man facing him on the other side of the desk was smiling from ear to ear. “I’m glad that you’re so glad, Gordon,” he said. “I knew you’d be happy. I knew it.”

“Happy!? By Jove, I’m ecstatic! Just wait until Martin hears what you just told me!”

“Oh, Martin’s going to love it too, I’m sure.”

“Love it!? By Jove, he’s going to be out of his socks! He’s going to be out of his drawers! His coat will be out of the window, I tell you!” Gordon cackled mightily. “Ooooh!” He rubbed his hands together and puckered his lips. “This is big, Jeremy!”

Martin burst through the door, his suit jacket flailing around as if caught in a windstorm. “What’s going on, Gordon?”

“Martin!” Gordon’s bushy eyebrows were in his hairline. “Just listen to what Jeremy just told me!”

“What’s that, Gordon?”

“Just listen!”

Jeremy stood up from the chair he had just seconds before sat down in. He patted down his shirt. He brushed off his pants. He adjusted his cuffs, one after the other. A sheepishness had overtaken him. He looked down at the floor.

“Jeremy!” Gordon was jumping up and down in the air. “Jeremy! Tell Martin what you just told me!” He looked at Martin again. “You’re going to love this, Martin! Your coat’s gonna go flying out the window!”

Martin began taking his arms out of his coat. “What is it!?” He ran over to the window.

“Ooooh, Jeremy! Jeremy! Tell him!”

Jeremy sat down again, drumming on his lap with his hands. He was smiling so hard it was impossible. “Well, Martin…” His drumming was in triple-time. Gordon began to waltz. “I was just telling Gordon here…” Gordon screamed in the highest pitch he could muster.

“Gordon! I’m trying to listen!” yelled Martin, struggling with the bolt on the window.

Jeremy continued. “I knew Gordon was going to love this. I knew it was big. I didn’t realize how big, but the way Gordon is reacting, well, I guess it’s pretty big.”

“You better believe it! You better believe it!” said Gordon.

Martin had one leg out the window.

“Step down from there, Martin! Martin!” Gordon made a flapping, beckoning gesture with his right hand.

Martin looked down at his leg, and stepped back inside. “Sorry. I was trying to listen to Jeremy and I forgot what I was doing.”

“Screw your head on, Martin! You’re going to need your head for this. You’re going to need every neuron in that beautiful brain of yours. This is going to send you flying out the window! This is going to send you into the stratosphere! You’re going to be Halley’s Comet, Martin!”

Jeremy burst forth in a loud voice. He explained to Martin exactly what he had explained to Gordon, in twice as many words and twice as fast. It all came out in a single breath, and when he was done, he collapsed on to the floor, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Martin’s coat was floating down towards the busy New York streets. Gordon’s head burst through the floor of the conference room upstairs, startling a tableful of bespectacled men. Lava poured out of his ears. Jeremy lay perfectly still on the floor, white as a sheet. His face shew unparalleled ecstasy.

Aflame in the atmosphere, Martin reached speeds immeasurable.


It has been night every day recently. No one walks the streets around my home. I hear cars one at a time – usually loud ones, screaming by at unimaginable speeds. I can not fathom where they are coming from, or where they are off to. It’s night time; there’s no knowing what anyone is up to.




My husband stared at the familiar object in disbelief.

“Honey?” I asked, approaching him from behind. “What are you doing?”

“Something seems off about this lamp,” he said, without looking back at me. He was looking at the standing lamp that sat next to the couch in our living room. “Did you move it?” he asked.


Toshikyu Railways Bicycle Parking, Office #73

Hidetaka worked at Toshikyu-Chuo Station on the Toshikyu Railways Green Line in Kanagawa, Japan. The station was in the suburbs, and only local trains stopped there. Most people rode their bikes to the station, took the train two stops north, then transferred to a rapid express that would take them into their offices in southern Tokyo much more quickly. Because of the sheer number of daily commuters, the eastern edge of the train tracks at Toshikyu-Chuo Station was sided with rows upon rows of bicycle parking. Bike racks were stacked on top of bike racks, each adorned with a number.

Continue reading “Toshikyu Railways Bicycle Parking, Office #73”

The Formidable Expressions of Harold Leblanc

Harold Leblanc was a fellow of unique mannerism for he rarely, if ever, spoke. Rather, Harold would fully converse via facial expression. From minute to exaggerated movements, he was able to convey perfectly what he wanted through his countenance alone. Despite apprehension for most of hearing such a farcical story, upon meeting Harold, all thoughts of poppycockery, joke-making, and frustration would withdraw. For they would be met with a face of sublimity and wholesome welcome. In turn, they themselves would quickly melt into a friendly reception.

Continue reading “The Formidable Expressions of Harold Leblanc”

The Space Between – Part 2

Xiù – handsome, graceful, elegant
Guāng – light
Dì – earth, ground

Journey Within

Xiu Guangdi began his travels across the black and brown mottled landscape, toward a great mountain in the distance which exuded a powerful energy that resonated deeply within him. Xiu Guangdi met all challenges in his way with ease. He glided over chasms following great leaps into the air. He scaled cliffs without hesitation, digging his fingers into the stone itself to anchor himself and move further upward. In narrow valleys, with a single fist he crushed boulders that blocked his path. With his expedient travel, the trek to the great mountain took him one years time. Over the course of that year, the energy Xiu Guangdi felt from the mountain continued to resonate deeper and deeper as he drew closer. Standing at the base of the mountain, he felt heavier than he ever had before.

A distant voice called to Xiu Guangdi from a cave cut into the mountain. The voice was eternally deep, as if rock were scraping together leagues underground. This voice was the first noise that Xiu Guangdi had experienced separate from himself since he moved from his cauldron of creation. He stepped into the cave and stood a moment in silence, taking in the darkness before continuing down into the earth. With each step his body felt heavier than the last and his movement soon lost its gracefulness. His back began to stoop as his feet cut themselves into the stone as he walked. With his sense of sight lost to him in the cave filled with true darkness, each crashing step echoed further into his ears. He staved off madness by delving deep into his inner ocean, returning to his reminiscing of the universe itself, although even that was being strained.

The three day journey had nearly eaten away at Xiu Guangdi’s resolve when the voice resonated in the cave again and he knew that the goal was close. However, at this point he was so heavy that each step pulled his leg deep into the ground up to his knee. His legs could move no longer and instead, he grabbed his right thigh with both arms, wrenching his leg from the ground and throwing it forward. He grabbed his left thigh in kind and attempted to throw it past his right leg but it merely fell aside his right leg, unable to pass any further. His legs then shot through the ground and Xiu Guangdi found himself embedded in stone up to his waist.

A bellow echoed, bouncing against the walls and Xiu Guangdi was able to grasp that he had breached out from the tunnel into a larger chamber. “Xiu Guangdi, son born within the rage of Earth and Heaven; the rock itself has nearly defeated you.”

Xiu Guangdi immediately understood his position and attempted to straighten himself upright but it was to no avail. “Forgive this ones insolent appearance before such a great being as yourself. The gravity of this cavern weighs deeply on my body and soul alike.”

“Pah!” As the deep voice blasted a nearly unbearable weight feel upon Xiu Guangdi, forcing his strained back further downward. Xiu Guangdi’s head and forearms smashed into the stone, embedding themselves deeply. “To have journeyed here despite such soft countenance; your exterior belies the earth you come from. You were called to complete a task; this weakness before me deserves nothing!”

The voice rumbled in the chamber and faded away back into silence. Stone shifted and pebbles fell from the face and arms of Xiu Guangdi as he felt the extra weight put upon him disperse following the silence. He was unable to pull himself beyond a stoop, but his face was free from the stone. He waited in silence for the voice of Earth to speak again but it did not come. Left to himself and trapped within the stone, Xiu Guangdi delved back inside of himself to search for his next step. He felt the essence of the earth weighing down so greatly upon his soul ocean with barely any light supporting it from below.

Xiu Guangdi utilized his solid construction, lifting his fists up as far as he could manage, then combining the pressure from the earth and his own strength smashed downward into the stone. The stone cracked, multiplying into many smaller rocks as Xiu Guangdi’s fists rapidly fell upon the earth. Rocks flew from the ground as his legs became free from their imprisonment. He crawled back up onto the firm ground and lifted himself to his knees. He spread his aura between his legs as he stood again, this time in a wide, bracing stance. His feet connected with each other by his aura and formed a platform for which he could disperse his weight, allowing him to hold firm. Slowly, Xiu Guangdi lessened the distance between his feet. He condensed his aura further and further until he was able to hold his feet steady, a shoulder-width apart.

This first challenge met, Xiu Guangdi looked back upon the unfathomable weight pressured onto him by the Earth at a whim. Despite success in his current state, it was not enough to combat such power. Xiu Guangdi sat and began to meditate while still controlling his aura of earth steadily beneath. He focused his mind upward, toward Heaven, trying to make some kind of connection with the weightlessness of the light he had held until entering this cave. Sweat dripped down his face as hours passed. Xiu Guangdi’s head shot upward as he was finally able to detect the most minuscule hint of light from directly above him. It was struggling to get to him, through the mountain itself.

Xiu Guangdi stood back up, taking a wide stance again. This time he focused all of the aura he could spare into his right fist. Slowly and meticulously, he moved his aura, ensuring that none would go to waste. His fist clenched as he crouched down. His knuckles moved across the stone floor, etching themselves into the surface as if it were butter. In an instant, Xiu Guangdi threw his body upward, lead by his fist. It met the ceiling of the tunnel and effortlessly melted into the stone, dispersing it outward. Xiu Guangdi reached the apex of his jump several meters into the stone and fell back to the floor, bracing himself on one knee.

The earth and entire mountain itself shook outrageously as the impact from his aura-filled fist launched a fissure upward through the mountain. Rubble fell from the ceiling as the shaking intensified. The mountain screeched as the fissure continued on, cutting through the solid stone. It met with the light and burst outward, launching gigantic slabs of stone from the mountain large enough to be called mountains themselves. The mountain split down to its core where Xiu Guangdi stood.

The light that he had called out for shined down upon his face and illuminated his body in a brilliant glow. It mixed in with Xiu Guangdi’s soul ocean, lifting it back to equilibrium. After being separated from the light for so many days, its embrace reinvigorated him, even after using nearly all of his aura focused into that one punch. After mastering control of his aura to such an extent without it, the reintroduction of light filled Xiu Guangdi with the realization of the extent he could still grow. Alongside that, he realized how weak he still was and his desire for growth blazed within.

The Space Between – Part 1


In the beginning, there was the ground and there was the ceiling with nigh a hairs breadth between. Then came the First One. Through the course of the First’s one hundred year life, he spent ninety-nine of those years crafting the first Great Pillar. It pushed against the ground and pushed against the ceiling, forcing them apart beyond a hairs breadth and for the last year of his life, the First was able to stand upright at last. At the end of his life, the First from his limb, begat the Second. From his right arm a formidable body was forged through the relentless physical labour of ninety-nine years. From his hand, a mind that knew nothing but the craft. As the First fell, the Second stood, hitting his head on the ceiling. Thus began work on the second Great Pillar. With each new generation came another Pillar. The ground and ceiling groaned as they shifted, moving further and further away from one another through the extreme effort of the pillar craftsmen. Over eons, the generations of pillar craftsmen expanded to the point of infinity and eventually, the ground and the ceiling were pushed so far from one another, they never laid eyes upon their counterpart ever again.

Thus is the story of the separation of two brothers, once so close, until the Pillars forced them into their own realms. The Earth shook and cried out to the Heavens, quaking with rage, realizing it had lost sight of its brother, possibly eons prior. The Heavens could not hear such a cry any longer but also realizing the loss of its brother, crashed in fury. It screamed out as lightning blots ripped through the Space Between. Lightning cooked the air and the quakes stirred the pots for time even longer than their separation took place. Despite their utmost rage and languish, the Pillars stood firm, an ultimate testament to the abilities of the craftsmen.

The Space Between became a cauldron of earth and lightning, mixing the soil and light of the brothers until a great being was born. This being of earth and light would lie in wait for eons as Earth and Heaven continued their rampage. He boiled in the stew and became even more powerful still as he reminisced on all things in the universe. Eventually, Earth and Heaven began to regain their composure and the end of their rampaging was marked with a deafening lull. The being within the cauldron took this as his time to depart.

When he arose, he assumed the name Xiu Guangdi. His body was as firm as stone but he himself was light as a feather. He was clothed in robes of light and a lengthy tunic of firm earth beneath. Xiu Guangdi climbed out of the cauldron of cooked soil and rock with great ease. He paused on the rim of the cauldron and looked out on the world. There he found a devastated landscape. Blackened soil formed crags, valleys, chasms, and mountains. He found his way to the ground off the edge of the cauldron, landing with noiseless grace, adding to the lull in the Space Between.

Legends of Love and Luck – Chapter Five

A mysterious ship appeared on the water, approaching the docks of Green Capital. It was of a curious hexagonal design, and sailed under a flag unknown to any of the spotters at the port authority.

Legends of Love and Luck is a collaborative epic novel composed by Balckwell and Hoober, for publication on the Soup Web Zone. It is inspired by Classical Chinese Novels such as Journey to the WestRomance of the Three Kingdoms, and Bandits of the Water-Margin. Odd-numbered chapters will be composed by Balckwell, and even-numbered chapters by Hoober. We hope you enjoy the result.

Captain Shufflepuck Sails Into Town / Saint Stunk Discovers a Hullabaloo

A mysterious ship appeared on the water, approaching the docks of Green Capital. It was of a curious hexagonal design, and sailed under a flag unknown to any of the spotters at the port authority. A rowboat was sent out to reconnoitre with it in order to discover its origin as well as its purpose. In the rowboat was River Thrushing and his sister, Steam Wasping. They attached their boat to the mysterious ship. A ladder was thrown down, and they climbed aboard.

A man was awaiting them at the top, arms akimbo. This was Captain Shufflepuck. He was a burly man with perpetually sunburned pale skin. He wore a purple cap atop his head, an eyepatch over his left eye, and a great, grey, rugged coat. Beneath his misshapen moustache was a wide mouth bent into a cruel grin. River Thrushing and Steam Wasping approached him cautiously.

“My friends!” Captain Shufflepuck yelled in a booming voice, his arms spread out wide, “Welcome aboard! This is my ship, the Heophisotpopehles!”

“A fine ship, this Heophisotpopehles,” River Thrushing said, gazing around at the piles of multicoloured cloth strewn around the deck. “And where is it you are sailing from, Captain…”

“Shufflepuck! I have sailed all around the Iron Sea, my friends. Where I am from, even I can not say. Perhaps I was born of the sea! Alas, it does oft treat me as a mother may. One day scolding me, the next day providing a comforting embrace. Ah, the sea, it is my home, my mistress, my mother, my father, ah…” His words drifted away as he stared out into the great ocean.

“Just write the Isle of Ayle,” River Thrushing whispered to Steam Wasping, whose pen was wavering over the empty space next to “Origin” on a large form. “Well, Captain,” he said in a louder voice towards Shufflepuck, “what brings you to the Green Capital? Unfortunately, we can not let you dock without certain permissions, which in order to be granted require certain information…”

“My friend! I have been invited here! Were you not informed?”

“It seems not.” River Thrushing glanced at his sister, and then back at Shufflepuck. “Who was it that invited you?”

“Ah… It was a man wearing one glove too large for him, and one too small. He slouched before me, and told me, in a faint whisper, that my presence was required in the Green Capital. Of course, this was a few years ago now! I have been a little busy, ha ha!” Captain Shufflepuck’s laughter was so vigorous that it pushed him backwards a few feet.

“That sounds like Mr. Chimney…” Steam Wasping whispered.

“It does.” said River Thrushing. “And where did you meet this man?”

“It was in a dream, my friend! I remember it well. I was sailing into a land full of beautiful mermaids. They were calling to me from their rocks, and I remember that I was halfway through removing my breeches, when the man appeared before me. ‘Ah,’ I said to him, ‘We have not met before! Are you here to join in the festivities?’ He shook his head, and that was when he whispered his invitation. Of course, the dream fell apart from there, and try as I might, I have not been able to navigate my mind palace back to that delightful dream again since! Ah, but once I do my friends, once I do…”

River Thrushing cut him off. “Well, Captain, I would confirm this information with Mr. Chimney himself, but unfortunately he is out of town right now.”

“Curse my luck!” Captain Shufflepuck guffawed. “It is just like me to show up at in the right place at the wrong time! Alas, I will park my ship wherever is convenient and wait. My crew will appreciate the shore leave!” He looked around the ship, excited. The deck was entirely devoid of any crew. “And how long will I be waiting for our esteemed friend?”

“It will be within a week’s time,” River Thrushing replied. Steam Wasping opened her mouth to speak, but he nudged her with his elbow. “For the time being, you may park your ship in the dock, but unfortunately, none of your crew members will be able to disembark until we receive the proper authorization.”

“Hmm… the lads will not be happy,” said Shufflepuck, shaking his head, “but it is unavoidable. We have been at sea for many months now; one more week is but a short time to wait.”

“I am glad you understand,” said River Thrushing. “We will be off now. A pilot will be here shortly to direct your ship to a suitable docking location.” With that, River Thrushing and Steam Wasping descended the ladder and rowed back to shore.

“A queer fellow,” River Thrushing said, once they were out of earshot.

“It is not beyond Mr. Chimney’s power to employ dream summons,” said Steam Wasping. “But I wonder why he would summon such a man as that. It seems that whatever task he invited him to do would be irrelevant by now, though…”

“Perhaps he knew it would take him this long,” River Thrushing wondered aloud. “It could be that Mr. Chimney meant for him to arrive at exactly this time.”

“Do you really think so? Curious…”

“I’m just thinking out loud,” said River Thrushing. “With the recent troubles and Mr. Chimney’s disappearance, I’ve been having to think much more than usual. Perhaps I’m growing paranoid.”


They reached the shore in silence.

    *       *       *

As Saint Stunk forded the ancient dying river of Oxun, she could percieve the disctinct smells of village life. She altered her course towards the smells, hoping to find some hospitality on this long, lonely trip. As she approached a small forest village, Boddhisatva Green Onion descended from the sky on a cloud.

“Take care, Saint Stunk!” she cried. “There is disaster in this village. I fear that a demon has hidden itself among the villagers, and is sowing great disharmony. The famous Wa Hu school of martial arts has split asunder, and its disciples are on the verge of a battle that could destroy the entire village.”

Saint Stunk nodded. “Thank you Green Onion for your gracious warning. I will be careful.”

The village was shrouded in a dense forest. Before Saint Stunk entered, she sat patiently on a stump nearby and attuned her hyper-sensitive ears to the sounds. She heard a dastardly sort of music emanating from the East, and a menacing sort of music emanating from the West. These were the chants of the newly rivalling Wa and Hu schools. The two sets of music were converging in the town square.

Saint Stunk knew of the Wa Hu school. It had been founded by Mah Ryo in ancient times. The discipline was based around impeccably timed jumps. The masters of the practice employed a flurry of dives, leaps, and flips in order to attain a favourable position against their adversaries.

When the music halted, Saint Stunk sat up and entered the village. The two factions were lined up in the village square, arranged in two long lines facing each other. The Wa clan was led by Jin Ryo, the latest in the long Ryo line. The Hu clan was led by Frivolous Jenga, who stood eight-feet tall and three inches. Jin Ryo was famous for his speed, his jumps launching him many feet into the air with no perceptible wind-up or warning. Frivolous Jenga used his long legs for powerful jumps that sent him soaring to the tops of the highest trees, from which he performed death-defying diving attacks that could crush boulders.

When Saint Stunk arrived, the two were exchanging bitter words. Saint Stunk leaned against the railing of a balcony where two older men watched the stand-off. “Not a great time to arrive in town,” one of them said.

“Seems like good timing to me,” Saint Stunk replied. She reached into her tunic and brought out a blank piece of paper. On the piece of paper, she wrote an elaborate character that neither man recognized.

Calmly, she approached Jin Ryo and Ferocious Jenga. They ceased their quibbling, and looked at her in stunned silence. She placed herself equidistant between the two combatants. Placing the paper on the ground, she whispered a single word. The paper was then picked up by a gust of wind, and sailed towards the forest. It was caught in mid-air by a phoenix, which had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The phoenix circled the rivalling clans several times as every member stared up in awe. Then, it landed on Saint Stunk’s shoulder.

Ferocious Jenga was the first to speak. “What brings you here, Saint Stunk? This dispute is a private affair of the Wa Hu school.”

“I am not here to get in the way of any dispute,” Saint Stunk replied. “I am simply passing through on my way to the Green Capital.”

“In that case, you will find a graceful welcome at the local inn,” said Ferocious Jenga. “It is but a little ways up the street.”

“Thank you.” Saint Stunk began to walk away, phoenix still on her shoulder.

“Wait!” The squeaky voice belonged to Jin Ryo. “That phoenix… what is its significance?”

“Oh, this old thing?” Saint Stunk stroked the phoenix’s head, causing it to let out a small squawk. “Just a companion of mine.” She turned her back on the fight, and continued walking away.

Jin Ryo and Ferocious Jenga looked at each other. All of a sudden, a terrifying scream was unleashed from someone in the town square. The skin on said person’s face began to burn, dripping off their face and landing in puddles on the floor, revealing a grotesque demonic countenance underneath. The burned demon fell on their knees, writhing in pain, while their body bulged and squished, transmogrifying into a bestial shape.

But who was it? Read on to find out.