the-arraignment (joined about 10 years ago)


What is that, Dad, I asked.

It's the tree, he said. A tree? I repeated. No, he said, it's THE tree. The tree of knowledge, the source of all wisdom and power. Once upon a time humans ate its fruit, and that's why we got smart. It's why we made all these clever machines, you see.

It doesn't look like much, I said after a minute.

Oh, well that's not the FIRST tree, he said. It was planted from a seed of that tree. The original tree is long gone, and this is its last descendant, which still has all...

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Back in 1943
Everywhere was tyranny
It seems the perfect time to me
To test my backwards time machine

If Hitler dies, what happens then?
To future women, future men?
Perhaps we've come to pick the locks
To history's temp'ral paradox

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I'd had so many plans, just before I went back. I was prepared to an insane degree. I'd spent days camping in the wilderness, gathering enough iron to create a goddamned magnet. I'd memorized the fundamentals of aviation, chemistry, nuclear physics. I knew all there was to know about rebuilding civilization.

And it had all slipped away, one memory after another, fading into a blur, after I'd fallen through the time vortex.

So here I am, trying to explain to some neolithic ignoramus how to make gunpowder. The most I can remember is that it requires a mixture of sulfur,...

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A breeze is a current of air
A portent that hasn't a care
For the cold that it causes

Please forgive me these pauses
The author was killed by a bear

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Gavin was gloating. "Enjoy your final moments, Kevin ... maybe use them to wonder how I found you. Good-bye ..."

He dismissively gestured at Paul, his personal bodyguard and hitman. Paul, with an expression of a stone, drew a nine-millimeter out of his coat and pointed it at me.

I had to stop him. "Paul, I can give you two very good reasons not to pull that trigger."

Paul said nothing. But he also did nothing. "First: I know where Kendra is."

That got his attention. He still didn't move, though. "She's in China, which you probably already know, but...

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I was trying to count them. The little bastards kept moving around, making me lose track, infuriating me to no end. I had been awake for almost thirty hours and sleep was no closer than it had been twenty-nine hours ago. Even my imagination wouldn't collaborate in sending me into unconsciousness. Goddamn sheep.

Sheep and sleep were two very similar words, I decided. I instantly sought to catalog all the words that rhymed with sleep. Bleep, steep, reap, peep, seep, weep, beep, keep, jeep. Meryl Streep.

The original verb still eluded me. It would be a long night (and day).

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"I'm writing you a ticket," the cop said.

"That isn't fair," I complained. "I didn't do anything wrong."

"You're selling illegal oranges in a public place," the other cop admonished me. "That means a fine, and you're lucky we're not taking you down to the station."

"What's the matter with my oranges?" I cried despondently. Those oranges were all I had. I would be destitute without them, and what little income I could get from them. I had to convince them not to take that away from me. My family was counting on me; I couldn't let them down.


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Holly scrutinized the first sentence of her novel. It was odd how not reading it for months had given her a wildly new perspective. When she was writing it, she'd been too close to the material, she hadn't been objective, hadn't made herself consider the fact that she was wrong in anything that she did. There were mental grooves worn deep in her mind that only now were swept away like footprints in the snow.

It ... sucked.

The ecstasy of seeing her work in print was instantly deflated by how awful she judged it to be. A single sentence...

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A chicken tried to cross the road
Upon which fate had last bestowed
A fetid mess of flesh and gore
From those who tried to cross before

The other side was just in reach
When road and fate allied to teach
The chicken's desperate, futile cause
Was ended by a couple cars

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"What is it?" Sharon asked, not looking up from her work.

"Do you know why there are a couple of police outside wearing masks?"

"Um ... can't say that I do," she lied. Damn. They weren't supposed to get here so soon.

"Shall I let them in?" Camden said.

"Sure," Sharon replied. "We have nothing to hide, right, dear?"

A minute later, the two were standing before her in the living room. "Sharon Vasquez?" one of them said.

"That's me," Sharon said blithely.

"You're under arrest."

"What for?" she said, trying to sound indignant.

"The charge is causing a...

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