Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tom Reed: Flasher of Fiction.

So here’s a little something I tossed up on the Caribbean. Not it’s not. That’s a blatant lie. Here’s a little something I tossed up on the train as I was sandwiched between an erratic head-swivelling woman and a guy with long grey hair that you only normally find on wizards and/or pedophiles.

It’s a little bit of flash fiction based around a set of perimeters set by this:

Or if you can’t be bothered clicking on the above link, essentially the rules went something like this: Here’s ten randomly generated words, takes five of these words and construct a story based around them. The word count was 1000, I went over it a little because I’m new at this and shut up and stop judging me okay I have difficulty counting and yes I know there’s a word count but I distrust it and it’s ways because what if it’s counting words that aren’t there and it’s just trying to ruin my life…WHY AM I BEING SO PARANOID AND DEFENSIVE!? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

Anyway, my five words were Dolphin, Undertaker, Ethereal, Envelope and Storm. I hope you like it. It’s a bit…twisted.

It’s Okay, Your Ancestors Think You’re An Idiot Too.

Fitzroy Toombes hated his surname. It clung to him like a bad family heirloom; a cursed painting that killed its owners as it was bequeathed down the bloodline.

He felt the ethereal fingers of his ancestors reaching out from beyond the grave, grasping and tracing their cold hands around his face and lips every time he had to say it out loud. He felt their ghostly grip around his hands when he had to write it down. But mostly he heard their faint phantom laughter ringing in his ears every time someone saw it proudly displayed on his bronze nametag.

Right underneath the words ‘Heavenly Rests For Heavenly Pets’.

There’s a tradition with surnames. Smiths were blacksmiths. Fletchers affixed the heads to arrows. Taylors stitched cloth. And Toombes-es it seemed were destined to deal in death.

The last generation had managed to get away from the undertaking trade, but unfortunately Fitzroy had fallen headfirst into it when he his great uncle had left him his damned pet cemetery.

Oh yes. A fucking pet fucking cemetery.

Not only had he managed to get stuck in the family business, he wasn’t even dealing with people. He was arranging funerals and digging plots for Lassies, Mittenses and Fidoes.

Last week had held a funeral for a frog, Marvin. They had to dig a plot up near the Memorial Rose Garden & Hedge Maze. Marvin had been buried in a scented, powdered blue envelope that had cost his former owners $25.

$25 for fucking envelope for a dead damn frog.

There they were, his dead relations pissing themselves stupid behind the curtain.

And Fitzroy could hear them as he watched through rain-drenched windows, a large truck pull up out the front.

A large leering, mermaid winked stupidly at him from the side.

She looked like she had seen better days. Fitzroy couldn’t help but think that this mermaid was the Elizabeth Taylor of mermaids. She’d been glamorous in her hey-day, and you could still sort of see that, but there was some hard living underneath that.

The door swung open and for a brief moment the rainstorm burst through into the front office. Pamphlets explaining the pet grieving process and advertising axolotl cremation were sent flying.

A woman, in a dark blue polo shirt decorated with whales and turtles, dripped into the room. Under one arm she carried a stack of paperwork.

“Hello, welcome to Heavenly Rests For Heavenly Pets. How can I help you today?”

She ignored the greeting and dropped the sodden forms on the desk.

“Got a Squeaky for a burial.”

Squeaky used to be the hottest attraction at the aquarium. Everyone knows tourists love dolphins. And this dolphin was the shit. Flips, tricks and hilarious gags involving sardines and hoops. Until ol’ Squeaky had slammed through a barrier and attempted to have his way with a young, terminal girl from some last wish foundation.

And now, horny Squeaky had found himself here, in the back of a truck, on his way to spending the rest of eternity between a stupid spaniel that had tried to bite a police car and an incredibly fat cat that had finally eaten it’s way into an early grave last month.

Oh how the mighty have fallen…

“Yep. I’ve got him penciled in for plot 46. I’ll grab my associate and then will get started putting dear Squeaky to rest.”

The woman stared at him. Didn’t think much of Squeaky then did we.

“Look…Fitzroy, it’s pouring out here and I have a very pregnant seal to deal with back at the Aquarium. So let’s cut the shit and bury this thing. People think dolphins are majestic creatures and that they should be revered or something. Squeaky was a serial offender. How do you think we got him so cheap?”

Fitzroy let the pretence and professionalism slip off his shoulders. That could be arranged.

He grabbed a walkie-talkie and a rain poncho and set out into the squall.

“Follow me up to the plot, and we’ll winch the fucker six-feet under.”

The woman smiled.

“That’s what I’m talking about.”


The rain poncho did nothing. The storm soaked it solid, to the point where it clung to Fitzroy’s body like a thin layer of slime. His hair was plastered to his forehead and his hands shook as they maneuvered the winch controls.

He’d been hoping to get a hold of Benji but apparently the torrential rain had unsettled a few plots and Benji was too busy dealing with collecting bits and pieces of beloved pets before they flowed into the storm water.

So Fitzroy was on his own.

Besides the Aquarium woman, who he learnt was named Jan.

He lowered the winch so that it hung directly above the large tarp that was Squeaky the Rapey Dolphin. Jan gave him the thumbs up and he jumped down into muck to help load the blubbery bastard onto the winch’s canvas sling.

He really shouldn’t have been doing it on his own. He really should have asked more questions about Squeaky’s weight. He probably should have waited for Benji to come and help him, or at least for Monica to start in 20 minutes.

But it was pissing rain and awful and he didn’t think Jan was keen to wait around. In fact he was pretty sure she would’ve dumped the dolphin and driven off if he’d told her to wait any longer than three seconds.

All of these thoughts had crossed Fitzroy’s mind as he helped Jan slide the rotting cetacean into the sling.

They crossed his mind as he heard the winch groan and as he cautiously maneuvered it towards the plot turned pool. He turned to Jan to say something witty about how Squeaky was getting a water burial…when there was a loud crunch.

The winch gave way.

The sling split.

And Squeaky the Randy Dolphin, landed with a resounding thud. His back half dangled precariously over the edge of the plot.

Fitzroy swore.

Jan was not impressed.

“What the fuck?!”

Fitzroy leapt down from the controls and pulled a large crowbar from underneath the winch platform.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll wedge this under the front and lever him into the plot. We’ll just cover him temporarily until the weather clears up.”

He crammed the crowbar somewhere underneath the beast’s belly. A loud clap of thunder exploded above his head…and he missed Jan’s cry, only catching the word “gas.”

He turned to ask her what she’d said but she was diving back into the truck.

He turned back to Squeaky’s corpse and pushed against the crowbar. He heard a low gurgle.

When a living thing dies there’s a chemical process that takes place deep within it. All of the gases and chemicals and putrid little bits and pieces inside it build up and combine.

When Squeaky had been euthanized by Chuck the dolphin guy, his blubbery body had begun the process of transforming into a great, big dolphin dirty bomb. The pressure had gradually built up in the creature’s stomach, bulging it outwards.

Fitzroy, in his moment of rain-soaked wisdom, had prodded this rather dangerous chunk of Squeaky’s body.

The result was horrific.

With a noise that sounded like an elephant farting into a megaphone underwater, Squeaky exploded forwards. The force wrenched his bloated corpse in half, expelling even more of the noxious propellant.

Fitzroy was blown off his feet; Squeaky’s top half slamming into him.

Jan watched in bemused horror, as the undertaker flew through the air and crashed into a large puddle, bits of dolphin raining down on him.

And as Fitzroy lay there unconscious in the rain and mud, with a dead dolphin’s head pressed up against his face he could hear the raucous, ethereal laughter of his dead ancestors from somewhere beyond the veil.

So I hoped you liked that. If you didn’t I hope you get eaten by robot vultures. I’m kidding. I love you. Platonically. Ironically. Spiritually. Deeply…
That’s all for now.



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I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas In Australia, Brought About Due To What Is Known As ‘Nuclear Winter’.

Guess where I am? If you said the University library (one of my favourite procrastination destinations) then you would be right. If you also said that I am standing right behind you…that is also right. Because I am. Feel that. That’s me. Breathing. Really close.

What? I don’t even understand what just happened but I feel like one of us needs to take a shower (and since we’ve already established that I’m in the University library and have no way of doing so without causing a scene and severe water damage to University property…I feel like it’s you) and that this game needs to stop, whatever this game is. “Charlie give me those dice! No. No more I say!” I now have the bastard’s dice…

Right, so as we have established I am in the library, situated in a corner that enticed me with its empty promise of a power point, but alas this was just a dirty trick and I can’t get up and sit somewhere else because I sat down and got comfortable and set up all my stuff and moving now would look foolish and I just can’t deal with the collective judgement of miscellaneous students today. So just get off my back okay? This is where I’m staying, even if it means my laptop battery withers and dies like my self-esteem with every ‘Thank you sending us an email with your CV but we’re just not interested in taking you on as an intern’ I receive. Which is one. I’m bad at rejection…

I had every intent when I wandered into the library (that makes it sound like it was accident, but I assure you I did deliberately set out to arrive at the library today) to tackle my first assessment task (due tomorrow), which is a five-minute pitch about…myself…and my particular set of skills…not unlike those employed by Liam Neeson in that movie. Anyway, it’s obvious I have blown that off and turned my attention to other things. It’s not that I’m lazy, I actually do have some dot points, but I’m kind of excellent at spinning bullshit so I figure there’s not much more I can write except some of the stuff I’ve outlined for other things. Besides it’s only five minutes. I could talk for five minutes on anything, easy. In fact this, so far, has taken me five minutes to write and it’s rubbish. So there’s no stress there, it’s not an essay. Not that I’m proactive about those either.

So 400 plus words in and I haven’t said much of anything. Congratulations if you’re still reading. Your prize is a cake in shape of your favourite disgraced American president (Nixon, you’ll always have a soft spot in my heart, for the sheer ballsiness that accompanied your flat-out denial of everything). But all jokes aside I sat down today to test drive an idea. I’m currently in the process of working through ideas and concepts for my Major Project which will take up the bulk of my life this year, and essentially I wanted to test out some of the characters etc for the concept I’m currently toying with (because let’s be honest, this monster will change and switch faces so many times it could be the written equivalent of a love child belonging to Joan Rivers and Frankenstein’s Monster). And once more into the breach, ladies and bearded counterparts!

Dave At The End.

Have you ever noticed how when the Apocalypse hits everyone is suddenly insanely useful, or at the very least when the atomic dust storms dissipate they are revealed to have a transferable set of skills that suddenly come to aid of those around them?

Like all those years of studying taxidermy now come to the fore when identifying toxic mutations in animals, making them impossible to digest and therefore saving hundreds from food poisoning?

But what about the others?

What about those people who were utterly useless before the Apocalypse? Surely they didn’t all just die or become spontaneously good with a crossbow? What about the people who, under normal circumstances, had such a limited, non-transferable skill set that they struggled in the Pre-Apocalyptic society?

Take Dave for instance.

He spent the last 26 years perfecting his uselessness…he’s not about to change that just because the dead begin walking and the phrase a ‘sun shower’ gets a whole new, dangerous meaning. What about the ‘Daves’?

They end up here.

Welcome to Outpost 128: Sheeps Stations. A resource and census outpost located halfway between anywhere and nowhere. Here the humble employees amuse themselves by performing menial tasks and hiding from monsters. Just because the world ended, doesn’t mean that middle management did too.

Yes there are wars being fought elsewhere, and yes sometimes it snows in the middle of the outback, and sure there are groups of highly organised spider-people who have made it their function and goal in life to eat most of humanity…but there are reports to make, files to sort and records to update.

This is the Post-Apocalyptic story of everyone else.

Dave was a loser.
And then the world ended.
And Dave was still a loser.

The idea would follow the day to day life of Dave, our idiotic protagonist, as he negotiates office politics, insane human resources demands, inter-office football and tries to prove to everyone that he’s not totally useless…all against the backdrop of an amalgamated Apocalypse. There’s mutated animals, zombies, savages, Mad Max inspired idiots, environmentalists, government stooges, hipster demons and a pair of lost celestial beings wandering around out there.

So that’s Dave. Maybe more to come. Maybe. Don’t hold me to anything. I’m not very adhesive and I’m actually quite clumsy. Anyways it’s time to get back to doing the thing I was doing before I got here.


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Congratulations On Arriving At Your Third Year Of University: Majoring In PANIC!

You know that part in a quest where the hero (or heroine or heroin if you’re watching a really weird movie were drugs are played by people, which may actually be related to the fakt that you’re watching a movie on drugs but whatever) has defeated a whole bunch of monsters, managed to identify the member of their questing team that is actually holding them back and banished them, suffered some serious physical and psychological trauma and has made it most of the way to the top of the mountain/cave/castle/skyscraper/church hierarchy but is still faced with one final, bowel loosening, knee trembling, nightmare fuelling, muscle tightening act/task before they’re actually done?

That’s me. I’m at that part.

I’ve navigated my way through two (technically three, but we don’t talk about what happened at Melbourne Uni) years of tertiary study and I have managed to, surprisingly, come out half okay. Yes my shoes are scuffed and that gaping wound on my chest is still healing up, but otherwise I have actually coped. As is the case with any great endeavour there are things that have sucked and seemed nearly insurmountable at the time, and look those deaths were probably avoidable but I’ve already defended my actions in the queue at Officeworks that day, however I’m still standing and no-one in an ominous suit has come to take me away just yet. I’m in front.  My quest is nearing its completion and the vultures circling overhead have stopped taking bets on how long I’ll last. I can almost taste the sweet nectar of success (I’m hoping it’s spaghetti related).

However there is still one final monstrosity standing between me and that ‘maybe spaghetti related success’. I have to actually finish these last two semesters. And, naturally, as you get closer to the end the chances of fucking up royally increase slightly, as do the odds of being swallowed by a giant squid in my sleep. So while I am standing at the crossroads of THE REST OF LIFE (FUCK), I can’t help but get oddly reflective. Like a mirror. Only if you hold up objects to my chest I won’t reflect them back at you. So not at all like mirror. More like a pensive elderly gentleman at the pier, staring wistfully at the horizon and thinking: How did I get here? Not even metaphorically…I have no idea where I am.

Instead my reflectivity focuses outwards and captures what is still to come. Like an internship. Like more assignments. Like more philosophy (seriously don’t understand how I managed to get conned into doing more philosophy, it’s like killing a series of giant spiders at the start of my quest, only to discover their babies halfway through and, after killing all of them, realising that the original batch of spiders have been reanimated by some dickhole of a wizard). And soon the reflection and introspection turns to outrospection and sheer, fuck-off terror. Yesterday it was Douglas Adams birthday, the man who first told me not to panic, so it’s only fitting that the day after sees me falling victim to the soul crushing, sphincter testing, malaise of a slow burn panic.

It’s the sort that starts in the soles of your shoes and works its way up your legs, constricting gently so as not to draw any attention to its black, wiry tentacles…at least not until you realise it’s grip tightening around your neck and a soft hissing laugh from somewhere in the shadows. Cutting away all the analogies and metaphors, I’m scared. But a little bit excited. It’s like Christmas…but there is a high chance that I will be receiving a punch to the face instead of new shoes (clearly I lied about cutting away analogies…).

The main food source for my dark, malicious jellyfish of panic is this internship. The worst part of it all is the resume writing, the cover letter creating and the CV generating. I’m basically standing out in front a crowd of people, naked, and they will in all likelihood reject me and crush my soul into a small discus to be flung into the sun. Something you may have learnt about me is that I don’t like going outside of my comfort zone. Why the hell would I want to leave a zone that actually has the word ‘comfort’ in it? It’s like turning down something called Delicious All-Your-Favourite-Foods-Taco. So what am I going to do about this? Well naturally my first instinct was to go with my tired and true method of procrastination…but I felt that would only help the jellyfish tighten its hold on my windpipe.

So instead I am going to the much more dangerous road of proactivity.

Yes it is terrifying.

Yes it will take me very, very far out of my comfort zone.

But I think it will be okay.

If not I can always go crazy, wear a Driza-Bone everywhere and pee in jars. My options are endless.

The group was silent, looking at the hero with intent in their gleaming, hopeful eyes. The horrors of the past lay behind them, especially that dickhole of a wizard who resurrected those spiders, and new horrors would face them if they forged ahead. They looked at their hero to tell them that even though it was going to get a lot worse before it got better, everything was going to be okay. He said something really inspirational, picked up his sword and began to make his way forward.

High above them a pair of vultures made lazy circles in the sky. One squawked to the other, “So what are the odds on him falling flat on his arse in the next ten days?”

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The Keyboard I’m Writing This On Feels Nice To Touch.

It’s true. It’s like my fingers are being gently massaged as they type, also I think someone has attached a silencer to the keys because the clickity-click normally associated with typing, trains and annoying children with four-click pens is notably absent. Instead there’s a sort of muted popping sound. Think the faint buzzing sound of popping candy that can be heard through your jaw as you chew. That’s what this keyboard sounds like. Popping candy. Which doesn’t so much pop as it does fizzle and slighty tickle the gums and molars. Anyway the whole thing gives a very Zen like aura to the business of typing. I feel like I am typing this out in a pristine Zen orb, that is silently floating over the planet, collecting data and information about what I believe to be an extinct Earth but is in actual fact a large piece of space fruit elaborately bruised and painted by giant God-like beings to trick people in Zen orbs into flying to close, at which point they make themselves known and devour said orbs (and their occupants) in a single Galactusian gulp.

Because that’s what Gods do: eat people. Or encourage their people to ingest them in some way. It’s a relationship entirely based on the consumption of one of the parties involved by the other, in much the same way my relationship with cake operates (except the cake rarely tries to eat me back, besides that one incident which has been put down to a bad batch of ‘Devil’s Food Cake’ that was literally made from food possessed by the Devil and subsequently tried to consume my soul as I attempted to ingest it). The Aztec gods ate the hearts of their followers (or more accurately the hearts of those who were the other side of the followers, otherwise known as everyone else). Zeus, the king of the Greek Gods, ate people all the time. And animals. And mountains. And other Gods. In fact his father, Kronos, actually ate all of his children, who were only freed when the uneaten Zeus (or Z-money to his friends) cut his nutsack off. Even moving away from the less acceptable gods and into the generally accepted Christian Omniscient Creator we find evidence of ingestion of worshippers and/or the worshipped: “This is my body, so chow down dudes?” (A gross mistranslation of the Last Supper by Tom Reed).

When consumption peppers most of the religious stories and ideas of both our past, present and future, it’s not surprising that we, as a collective race of sexual organs and a brain (often mistaken for the same thing), find ourselves eating and ingesting and absorbing kilograms and kilojules of stuff everyday. Whether it be sandwiches, shoes covered in random sections of metal or information, we perform god-like feats of ingestion every single day. So it only makes sense that as we drift away from heart-eating, ball-chopping, crucified beings we find new deities (or should that be dieties?) to worship in their place. However before I descend into the next phase of ‘Tom’s Discussion On Worship’ I want to clarify something. I like stuff. I have an iPhone, a Mac, a Kindle and Nintendo DS (SUBTLE TECHNOLOGICAL PISSING CONTEST). I like to spend money on various things ranging from delicious to comfortable. This is not necessarily a rant on the dangers of consumerism and capitalism and consumption and all the other stuff that the Socialist Alternatives yell about while they ironically (either deliberately or not) try to hock badges to unsuspecting victims. So before you roll your eyes, put your headphones in and cross the street to avoid me (although that is still an excellent idea) hear me out. because once again this is not an anti-capitalist rant from a guy wearing a beret and assuming it makes him look like Che (I saw this the other day…it just made him look like a douche). This is instead me making a statement of sorts about the new forms of Gods/Worshipped Beings we create/manifest/give birth to in this modern-day. Because it’s time for a new reign of Gods. Specifically multiple as I think the need for the plural is important because in this modern age we prefer to have options…so why not have multiple Gods rather than an individual being that is so hard to reach even his most loyal follower gave up (TWO POINTS FOR A BENEDICT MENTION)?! If you disagree with me, then may The Great Troll who controls the Internet spam and frustrate you for eternity.

Essentially I feel that the New Order of Gods be broken into three distinct categories: Merciful Benefactors, Ambivalent Extras and Assholes of Infinite Power. In the Merciful Benefactors category you would find the sorts of divine beings that behave in a way that is generally favourable towards mankind (I want to clarify that because these gods are ones that we are creating for ourselves we have to take the assumption that we are the single most important aspect in the Universe, so to all of those who are already firing up their objection machines to inform me that this is a selfish and ignorant act, shut up. I’m inventing gods. I am literally a creator of Creators…) and are responsible for ‘nice’ things. This would include Mr Kathmandu, who lacks a head and instead possess a helium balloon in the vacant space where his head should and is responsible for balloons, balloon animals and other sources of  inflatable entertainment (big hit with the kids). He lives in a jumping castle and is summoned by inhaling all of the helium from a balloon and chanting a special ritual. Or the equally affable Barock Of Holey Pockets, who smiles kindly on poor students and their ilk by strategically dropping small to mid ranged notes in gutters, bushes and garden beds when he goes a-walking at night. Named for the large coat pockmarked with holes just the right size for money to fall through (not to be confused with your run-of-the-mill flasher/crazy homeless man). There’s also Bert, the god of popcorn chicken, The Heir of Dog, who can cure hangovers with his breath, Wiffles O’Rourke, the Irish Goddess of cider whose tears are said to be delicious, and The Spacerbaby, a strange infantile creature that can manipulate the very fabric of space in order to ease traffic congestion and create parking spaces. All of these fall under the rank of Merciful Benefactors.

Next we move into perhaps the largest category of beings, spirits and demi-persons (as they prefer to be called, because this isn’t the Sixties): Ambivalent Extras. These gods are more like us than the Merciful Benefactors in the sense that they can switch their general outlook on humanity from ‘smiles’ to ‘fuck off and die’ on a whim. Generally though they behave in mysterious ways that don’t always make sense to mere mortals such as ourselves, hence their title of ambivalent. These include beings like The Prince of Likes, who patrols social media sites and randomly adds likes or dislikes. The Prince is a wily, trickster who has been responsible for ruining several celebrity careers and launching many Facebook profiles from the doldrums of the Internet into the stratosphere of Likes and Comments. He is said to occasionally appear in Instagram filters of popular or well-received insta-users and can be summoned by the use of #princeoflikesibeesechthee. Another notable example is Yarni The Clean Yet Defiled, who is the patron demi-god of public restrooms. On a good day Yarni is quiet and peaceful, dribbling soap from her many soap teats, however if she is in a foul mood than whichever restroom she has decided to reside in for the day will be left in state of shit smearing and drowning in ambiguous liquids. We also have Brambles The Taxi-Driver, whose concept of time is greatly varied from that of a normal human being and as a result can take anywhere between 5 minutes and six days to get to a destination, The Spirit of Public Graffito, who can appear in anything from a penis carved into a desk to a glorious wall mural painted by some hipster maestro, and The Ultimate Hipster, whose occasional good deeds are only dwarfed by the pretense and bad attitude with which he occasionally carries them out.

Finally we have The Assholes of Infinite Power who fall into this category because they either a) live only to cause pain and misery on their mortal subjects, b) control or associated with things that generally seen as ‘shithouse’ or ‘fucking awful’ or c) a combination of both plus a bit of added malicious name calling. These include the infamous Schizoid Mary, a strange demonic spirit that manifests in the form of crazy people on public transport (it should be noted that those under the influence of Schizoid Mary are never able to remember what they did while possessed and most of them a genuinely lovely people who have jobs, families and enjoy reading books). There’s Olgoth, a particularly devious trickster who feeds on commuter frustration like some sort of succubus, who uses his awesome powers to cancel trams, trains and buses and occasionally has been known to devote all of his energies into holding up airports for several hours. The Mayor of Struggletown is a nasty overlord who imprisons unsuspecting foes in a vicious re-election cycle were they are forced to switch places for anywhere between a couple of hours to several days, making them lethargic and irritable. But perhaps one of the most notorious members of this particular group is Wilful Dennis, who is universally feared for his ability to just fuck your life up royally for no other reason than it pleases him to do so. The worst thing about Dennis is that he can only be summoned accidentally, whenever someone verbally confirms that their life is actually going pretty well. What a dick. Rounding out this miserly lot are a collection of bastards called The Awful Trio, comprised of Ashley The Terrible, who hides car keys, phone chargers etc, David The Reckless, who just breaks things whilst you are using them, and George The Tenacious, who spreads rumours about everyone and generally causes arguments and workplace harassment disputes.

So I should probably go back to the thing I was doing before this started, but I just had to do lots of typing because this keyboard is actually like Jesus’ tears. Actually. Healing properties etc. I hope you enjoyed this long and meaningless list of things.  I did. But I am biased as all get out.



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