This is a game I like to play called Porcupine. It takes many different forms, in song, poetry, sentences, words, pictures even. The idea is that you create a thing, and then your friend creates another like-thing that matches with the thing you created. Generally in some sort of order. The rules are maleable, this is the story format. This story is undone as it is @DrWeidinger‘s turn to play. I hope you enjoy what we have collectively created so far.
In the beginning, well, we think it was the beginning. Most stories start in the middle, or the end really, but this one it starts in the beginning. At least we think it’s the beginning; we’ll have to get back to you on that one, this requires more research.
Anyway… where was I? Yea! The beginning. In the beginning, that may or may not have been the beginning there was a man. His name was Ralph; he resented his name but had never quite figured out what to change it to. He was going to change it to Richard, but wasn’t sure if he preferred “Dick” to “Vomiting.”
Ralph, as we’ll continue to call him, was walking to get his morning coffee. He did this every day, and had for as long as he could remember. Which wasn’t much, Ralph wasn’t in the habit of remembering very much of anything. He felt that it took away from the experience.
Upon entering the coffee shop, Ralph immediately noticed the barista standing behind the counter with its long matted hair and a peculiar sheen on the surface of its skin. This was like no ordinary person Ralph had seen before. “What is this!” exclaimed the barista, “Every day you come in here with that look on your face and you askin’ all these questions like you already know the answer!” Ralph wondered to himself, why on earth is this person so upset? The only thing I have done is walk into a coffee shop. Is this a crime? There are no security cameras in here, so it must not be a crime. Crimes only happen in places where there are security cameras, and there are no security cameras in here so everything must be okay. Unless they have hidden cameras… No, it would be foolish to hide cameras in a warm and inviting coffee shop such as this one.
Ralph was still staring at the barista, who was still visibly upset. Suddenly a cheap polyester armchair demanded Ralph’s attention. The chair was checkered with a vibrant yellow and orange Penrose pattern. His mind raced around the broken circles, looking at the center in this madness of this pattern. After a few seconds his eye ran into the seam of a cushion and lost the thread. That would be a nice place to sit. The barista stared back at him hotly, then turned around and lifted a to-go cup from the bottom of the stack, filled it with decaf, put in three cubes of sugar and turned back to Ralph. “And I am not going to tell you any more stories about Vostok. I’ve told you all I know.”
At this Ralph stopped, “Who the fuck is Vostok?” he thought to himself while juggling the cup in his hands. “Damn this is hot, oh wait, the little cardboard thing isn’t on it.” But at this he was already half a block away and wasn’t inclined to go back to coffee shop that seemed welcoming but really was a suffocating pit of despair, especially with that confusing barista hanging around.
As he walked, Ralph considered what he was going to do with his day. Perhaps work on that project he said he would work on, his wife had been badgering him about it for a while now. What was she so concerned about anyway? It wasn’t like their lives depended on him completing the building of a new buffet. They didn’t really ever invite guests over, so nobody would be seeing it besides them. What was the point if only two people derived joy from such a thing. Even if they had guests, or friends at all, they probably wouldn’t really like it. It would be one of those items that you see in houses that you talk about when there isn’t anything else to talk about. Like the furniture-world’s equivalent of talking about the weather.
No, Ralph thought to himself. If he finished the buffet then she would just go on to nag him about the next thing. She never seemed to be satisfied with what she had, always wanting for a relentless stream of more. It seemed absurd that any household could possibly need a fourth buffet table. Especially since they hadn’t had a single guest over in two hundred fifty six days. His wife, what was her name? Ralph held up his left arm and rolled up his sleeve to reveal the copious notes scrawled above his wrist, dotted lines connecting obscure symbols. Bold red letters spelled out MARSHA-L. That must be it.
Two hundred and fifty seven days ago Marsha had invited over a person who made the most delicious cakes. Ah yes, the man with the cakes had asked if Ralph could help with his satellite-launching rail gun. He was happy to help the man with some of the more complicated Lorentz force equations. These equations kept coming back to him, over the phone, from the man, always with cakes on the front stoop the next morning. They kept getting more complex. The equations, not the cakes, the cakes were always equally delicious. Ralph continued helping the cake man until one day he formulated a new theory of magnetism, which his pigeons utterly failed to comprehend. Maybe he would knock on his neighbor’s door and inquire as to how the rail gun was going. He hadn’t had a cake for quite some time. And this would certainly be more interesting than making another buffet table.
So Ralph, only a few doors from the cake man’s house, turned around, and headed up the alley to the cake man’s place. Taking in the sweet smells of the city, the ten block radius in which he had lived out his entire life. Leaving only once for his honeymoon to Cancun, that was a terrible idea. So much sand, and birds, and sunshine, Ralph didn’t like any of these things. Especially birds. Well save for pigeons, but they seemed to have a hard time dealing with magnets for some reason.
“Heya Ralph! What are you doing you old bastard!” hollered a middle aged balding man wearing red suspenders and beaten khaki pants from a small, crowded landing.
“Not much, just thought I’d come by and see you. I was craving cake, you been baking much lately?” replied Ralph, not sure if he could continue the conversation much longer without saying the squat man’s name. “Sure, come on in. I’ll show you what I’ve got going.” As Ralph went up to the door stoop, he paused at the mail box to take a peak at the name, G-A-R-N-E-R it read. “Good, I’ll call him Garner… I really should remember this stuff better.”
The man, now called Garner, let Ralph in. “How ya’ been lately buddy? Haven’t seen you in an age.” Garner said with special enthusiasm, “I have something exciting to show you!”
“What is this?” Ralph sat at Garner’s table eating what seemed to be a cake, but it had what could’ve been chunks of zucchini in it.
“Here, let me bring it to you.” At that Garner left the room and returned with a giant object, a square, and oblong, and round, and probably geometric object. “This is my new creation, I’ve found that if you put ingredients in it, any ingredients it will create a tasty cake. What you’re eating now is a made from batteries and spare television parts I found on the street, and maybe on mattress.”
“Well, it’s delicious! Are you sure this is edible?”
“Of course it’s edible, you’re eating it right?”
Ralph had to except this logic, he was indeed eating and even enjoying the television and batteries, and mattress? He wasn’t sure about the mattress, he suspected that he could still taste some of the street slime that had inevitably been soaked into the sponge as it likely laid on the sidewalk. Nasty street sponges, mattresses are.