How do you get into Miskatonic University? Patience, true believer. First, get accepted somewhere that hasn’t lost either its reputation or its location. A school in the same region, like Harvard or Yale, Brown or Mount Holyoke, to throw off parental suspicions. Just another precaution any eager seeker of the Necronomicron should take, to keep them blissfully ignorant of the cosmic path you’ve heedlessly plunged down.
Basic scrying will locate the main gates. Save your best magic for the journey through them. When you find the campus, you’ll know you’ve been accepted. (By the school, anyway. The dean is another matter.) Good luck, true believer. Miskatonic University awaits your arrival.
This was Tully’s mission statement, the home page of his website. As a New Student Adviser at Miskatonic, Tully felt it his highest duty to lure new students to advise. Otherwise, the dean preferred to mistake Tully for a janitor. Tully didn’t fancy himself stuck with post-ritual mop up duty.
Of course, if a spell was successful, Tully doubted there’d be anyone left to mop up. Lately, it was nothing more sinister than rampant dead professors putting the frights to anyone within reach. Other than the occasional smear of ectoplasm, mop up duty meant bodily fluids.
These days, a summoning counted as a success if the newbies puked and pissed themselves. There was always a great deal of retching, but since the location of the cafeteria was variable, so was the barf output.
Sadly, the Old Ones no longer answered, regardless of the elaborate invocations the students created. There hadn’t been a genuine plague of nightmares or psychotic breaks in decades. The last time Tully had seen a shoggoth…
Ah, nooooo. Ain’t goin’ there. Nice deep breaths, find happy place, get a grip.
“At least the true believers still show up,” Tully muttered to himself. “More power to ’em.” He glanced at his watch, hoped it was the same time outside the campus as in, then put a hand on his doorknob.
“Buck up,” he told himself. “There hasn’t been a shoggoth infestation in ages. The worst you might see is that student you lost in the library last year.”
With another deep breath, Tully stepped into the corridor. So far so good. Staying close to the wall, but not too close, he took a long stride over a nasty stain in the floor, then a hop-skip-jump around a series of unfortunate experiments left to fend for themselves. Somewhat winded, he made the dorm entrance.
After a careful recon of the quad, he moved out. It wasn’t always safe in the open, no matter how many people were around. Never knew what you might step in, or what might step in you. Another glance at his watch made Tully decide it was worth an expedition in search of the elusive cafeteria.
He hoped it was currently in this universe. He hadn’t eaten in hours. Or days, perhaps. It was so hard to tell, here. Head down, intent on his destination, he did his best to dodge the other campus dwellers.
Tully wasn’t sure which were more dangerous, the graduate skulkers muttering improvised incantations, or the wide-eyed undergrad dreamers who accosted any creature unfortunate enough to make eye contact. Like the one he smacked into as he dodged a creeper that might once have been someone’s pet. Or perhaps a bit of the ivy was out for walkies again.
Tully tried another sidestep, but the kid moved right with him.
“So, the library is off limits? How are we supposed to study the Necronomicron? Or study at all? How come Administration is locked? I can’t find the dean or even the Student Adviser.”
Tully rolled his eyes, waiting for the kid to come up for air. “At ease, newby! I’m Tully, the Student Adviser. You’re early. I think. Time’s a bit squishy, once you get past the main gates. As for study, I hate to burst your bubble. The Necronomicron disappeared ages ago, along with most of the library. You’re lucky you actually reached the campus when you stepped through the gates. Sometimes the whole place pops off into the never-never, not just bits of it. That’s why the library is off limits. Have you eaten? What is your name, by the way?”
The kid put his hands on his hips, otherwise, Tully wouldn’t have noticed he had…
Curves. And a ferocious scowl.
“Okay, fine! It’s Hermione on my birth certificate, but as soon as I get control of my trust fund, it’s gonna be Herman. Problem?”
“Absolutely not, Mr. Newby. Trust fund, huh? Then you’ve not murdered your parents yet?”
Newby grinned. “Why else would anyone seek the Necronomicron? And no, I haven’t eaten, but what’s that got to do with the library being off limits?”
“Nothing at all, I guess, but the first survival tip here at Miskatonic U is, any chance you have to find the cafeteria really must be taken. Because you can’t always find it, even when it seems to be there. So if you do find it, it’s best to eat as much as you can, because you never know when you might find it again. Come along, Newby! On to the cafeteria!”
Since another duty as Student Adviser was to keep newbies alive as long as possible, Tully took him in tow with a handful of collar. “Watch where you put your feet. Some of these potholes are interdimensional. No important engagements in the near future, I hope?”
“Well, uh, I just got here. You were next on the list after I found my dorm. Have you got my class schedule?”
“Class schedule?” Tully winked. “Aren’t you here to find the Necronomicron?”
“Well, yeah, that’s the most important engagement. Will food interfere with that?”
“Depends. We get into the cafeteria, stuff ourselves silly, might be next week before we get out again.”
“You sure take your food seriously around here.”
Tully swatted away what might have been a pigeon. Or a really big, ancient bumblebee. Self-preservation stepped aside. His dormant enthusiasm for the quest yawned wide, licked its chops, then swallowed him whole. Alarmed, Tully began to lecture himself as much as Newby. “You don’t get it, man. This place is off the map. It isn’t altogether here. Or there, either. The only reason the cafeteria isn’t off limits is because we have to eat. The library looks like it’s there, but most of the time it isn’t. We can pry the boards off a window or cut the chains on the door, but we won’t find the library in there.”
“But Tully! If we cast the right spell…”
“Dude! You think people haven’t tried? You can’t just transfer in here expecting an audience with the Old Ones your first day. There’s old profs been around here for years, camped out in the corridors because they opened a gateway in their offices and barely got out alive. Oh yeah, don’t try to take any leftovers from the cafeteria. It draws stuff to you.”
“Right,” Newby agreed, much too cheery for Tully’s taste. “Don’t feed the bears. Got it.”
Tully sighed, dragging the young man along to the last known location of the cafeteria. This was gonna be a long day, even if they managed the miracle of a more or less normal meal. Tully heard his stomach growl in reaction to a message from his eyes. With a tug on Newby’s collar, he changed course.
“Ha! The cafeteria is in phase. That’s at least half the battle. Not so fast, there, Newby. We still don’t know what dimension might occupy the inside. Never assume you know what’s on the other side of any door, or around any corner. Never assume shit, around here. You might live long enough to graduate.”
“I didn’t come here to graduate,” Newby insisted. “I came…”
“To find the Necronomicron,” Tully finished in chorus. “First, we eat.”
Tully spotted an empty beer can near the cafeteria door. He stomped it flat, just to make sure it wouldn’t sprout jaws full of razor teeth ready to munch his fingers to the elbow. Even then he circled it warily before picking it up.
“What’s that for?” Newby bubbled. “Is there a campus recycle program?”
“Dude, shut up and pay attention. What did I just tell you?”
“Never assume. Oh, you mean the beer can might not have been a beer can? Wow, really? That. Is. So. Cool.”
“Yeah, yeah, it’s all cool until a shoggoth shreds you into kibble. Get ready to run.”
Tully shoved Newby into position behind the cafeteria door before carefully easing it open. The usual cacophony associated with such places spilled out. Even so, Tully tossed the beer can through the door, then slammed it shut. One hundred woodchucks later, he took a peek.
“C’mon, Newby. Let’s eat.” With the door open wide, Tully let Newby enter first. Both made straight for the chow line. When they were seated at a relatively secluded table, trays piled high with food, Newby pulled a notebook out of his jacket, the cardboard cover embellished with runes and other magical symbols.
Tully slapped the book out of Newby’s hand.
“Put that away, man! This place is unstable enough without you waving a grimoire around! Are you friggin nuts?”
“I’m not gonna read it. I just wanted to show it to you. See, I’ve researched sources that contained different parts of the Necronomicron…”
“Stop, okay? What do you think everyone else in this place has done? You see that old white-haired guy gibbering in the corner?”
“Yeah. The one in the drool puddle. So?”
“He’s an undergrad, just like you. Transferred in from Yale last spring, ready to dive in for a swim with Dagon. He didn’t believe me about the Necronomicron, or the library. Sound familiar?”
Newby nodded. “Yes, sir. What happened, sir?”
Tully raised a disbelieving eyebrow but continued anyway. “One night, he got inside. Wasn’t seen again for six months. Lenore happened to walk past the place, just before the holiday break. She saw the board over one of the windows blow out. Like a bomb, except there wasn’t any noise. Only a thud, from that guy cratering the lawn. Soaked to the skin he was, not to mention half drowned. By the time we laid down enough temporal stabilization spells to get him to a hospital in Arkham, he was catatonic. Hair turned white at some point. What you see there, that is a vast improvement. Imagine the state he’d be in if he’d returned while everyone was on holiday. Now ask me how he got back.”
“Okay.” Newby was still completely undaunted. “How did he get back?”
“The Old One threw him out, man. Lenore saw the tentacles.”
“What about the Necronomicron? He must have seen it, or at least part of it, right?”
“Forget about the damn Necronomicron, Newby. No one has seen it for like a hundred years. All that guy had was a few scraps of paper, stuff he’d copied down from other people’s notebooks. Same as that crap you’ve got there.”
Newby, however, gleaned only what he wanted to hear. “So, maybe he’s still got them. Maybe we can get hold of them. C’mon, Tully! I know you want this as much as I do. To search out the secrets. To find the Old Ones.”
“Ever occur to you the Old Ones don’t want to be found?”
Yet even as he said that, Tully could feel the old thrill sweep over him. The call of Cthulhu welcomed him back into its coils. While they ate, giddy with their conquest of the cafeteria, the new cohorts vowed to search the library. Reckless, they scribbled improvised summoning incantations on the napkins.
It was dark when they finally got out. “Best we stick together,” Tully told Newby. “You don’t know the ropes yet. The serious weirdness happens after dark. We’ll make a run for the dorm. Hang onto my coat, so we don’t get separated.”
They dashed across the quad, not stopping until they reached Tully’s rooms. Once there, Tully shuffled their scribbles into an incantation he thought might actually work, while Newby gathered candles, matches, and a couple of crowbars.
Out on the quad once more, they sprinted through undulating shadows to the barricaded library. The screams which echoed across the campus were ignored. They had their own hides to worry about, their own spells to cast. If the ordinary monsters were distracted by others, they stood a better chance of success in their own endeavor.
By moonlight only, they pried loose the boards over a small basement window. Quietly as possible, they lowered themselves through the darkness, only to land with a loud splash in a puddle of cold, stagnant water.
“We must be on the right track,” Newby whispered, his voice two octaves higher from excitement.
“Slime track is more like it,” Tully grumbled. “I should’ve thought to wear waders. I think there’s algae under my feet. Get the candles lit, so we can see. Mind you don’t wet the matches.”
After a great deal of fumbling, broken matches, and a couple of dropped candles, they raised their feeble lights. The tiny flames reflected back from the water all around. The two could see each other, but very little else.
“Let’s try to find a table or something,” Newby said, as he took a tentative step deeper into the darkness.
“Be careful,” Tully warned. “This floor’s damned slippery, and who knows what’s under this water? We might step into more than a puddle, dude. Maybe we should start the ritual right here.”
“No, no!” Newby warned. “Not so close to the window! The others might hear us! We should find the center of the room!”
“Come on, man, anyone else out there is only interested in their own summoning. Hold the candles while I get these napkins in order.”
“You did that already, Tully! Come on!” Newby ventured further into the room even as he turned toward Tully. Tully handed Newby his candle, drawn along with the kid.
They’d barely grunted the phrase scribbled on the first napkin when the floor opened up into icy water. The Old One did not come to them.
The Old One came for them.
Thick, heavy tentacles snatched their ankles, pulling them down into the depths of the multiverse.
There was an air pocket beneath the floor, or rather, within the dimensional divide. Both dropped their useless candles, the better to hang onto each other.
“Tully,” Newby gasped, “is it supposed to be this dark?”
“How the hell should I know? It’s never worked for me before! Wait, there’s a light. Looks like…”
“Torchlight,” Newby decided.
Before the light, there was more water. Tully got hold of a deep breath. Newby, on the other hand, panicked, struggling against the relentless tentacles.
Tully let go of Newby to clamp both hands over his nose and mouth. He wished he had an extra pair for his ears. He’d never heard anyone scream underwater.
He never wanted to hear that again.
Newby ran out of air before he ran out of panic. A stream of bubbles from Newby’s mouth was followed by one huge bubble. Tully screwed his eyes tight shut as Newby’s body tried to expel the water he’d inhaled.
Tully gave one last, feeble attempt to break free of the tentacles coiled firmly around his legs. If only he could reach the light which glowed red through his tightly closed eyelids.
With a sudden yank, Tully was flung over the lip of a huge old well, into a stone vault lit with bright torches. He rolled over to cough up water, suck in air, his gag reflex in overdrive. A moment later he made a note to self.
Do not binge in the cafeteria before attempting to summon the Old Ones.
When at last he could crawl weakly away from the mess he’d made, Tully lifted his head toward the light. Smooth stone walls lined with torches, arched overhead like an old forgotten subway tunnel, stretched away in front of him. Flopping over on his back, Tully propped himself on his elbows to look back toward the well.
There it was, a flurry of tentacles high above several human-type figures. Cthulhu’s minions, no doubt, with poor Newby their prisoner. Tully blinked away tears, creeping backward, away from the awful scene.
A familiar rattle, like a grocery cart, sounded far down the tunnel. A heartbeat later Tully shrieked as a hospital gurney blasted past his splayed knees.
“Clear!” a voice commanded, like Bela Lugosi on steroids. There came the electric buzz bang of a defibrillator, then a string of orders delivered in a Slavic language.
Poor xenophobic Lovecraft’s worst nightmare, Tully thought, as a corner of his mind sniggered with enlightened glee. The Old Ones here are served by the barbaric non-Anglo-Saxons Lovecraft so feared.
Newby’s limp body was lifted onto the gurney. Tully screamed again, unprepared as it blurred past, nearly taking off his leg. The other minions now moved toward him, but his attention stayed riveted on the swarm of tentacles above his head.
Darkness descended like a shroud. Or rather, a blanket, Tully realized as he clawed it into his lap.
A blanket with fluffy bunnies and chicks on it. Bunnies and chicks in little blue uniforms stenciled NYPD.
With a whimper, Tully threw the smothering plush away from him. What sort of horrible police state universe had he been sucked into? How did he get from the Miskatonic campus in Arkham to some precinct dungeon in Gotham?
Someone leaned over him. Tully got a glimpse of steel blue eyes above bushy whiskers before the man turned to bellow, “Doc! This ‘un’s still breathin’!”
A fairy tale character wobbled over to peer at Tully through a pair of granny glasses. “Yep, you’re right,” Doc confirmed. “Mario!”
The blur that was Mario put Tully in a rescue carry. Time twisted into a corkscrew. In the space of a blink, Mario put Tully on a table. When Tully’s eyes focused again his fuddled brain told him he was in a hospital trauma room. Looked like it, smelled like it. Sounded like it too, as the Transylvanians fought to resuscitate Newby.
That droning, flat-line beep couldn’t be good.
Dammit, Tully raged silently, not another one! I’m tired of losing my assignments. Why be a student adviser if they don’t even last twenty-four hours on campus?
Technically, he argued with himself, they had not gone off campus. But could Miskatonic even be said to have a campus, anymore?
Yes! Tully defended his school fiercely. The biggest campus ever, scattered across the multiverse! Can’t get that at those stuffed up, ivy-choked hallows, no matter how much loot your old man hoards.
Doc the Dwarf climbed a step stool to check Tully’s vital signs.
“You’ll live,” he told Tully, “thanks to Louie. Also no thanks to Louie. He really hates it when you wannabe sorcerers interrupt his poker games. Why do you think he tossed your library into the cosmos before he packed off here? You little smartasses think college is all about throwin’ a kegger so you can conjure entities best left undisturbed. Ever consider what the Old Ones think of bein’ summoned by every drunken halfwit with a notebook full of consonants?”
“The thought has recently occurred,” Tully mumbled. “Where the hell am I? Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Doc. You are in the infirmary of the 86th Precinct, Manhattan. Don’t look for us in the city directory, because we ain’t there. Just like Miskatonic University ain’t there. When you summoned an Old One, you got the one came down here followin’ that writer fella. Louie thought ol’ H.P. was amusing. Till he got here, anyway. Now he thinks underground Manhattan is much more fun. A lot more water, for one, than the old, slow Miskatonic River. In any case, he needed a lair. Somewhere to hide the Necronomicron from you buggers. As it happened, we needed unlimited storage space, protected by someone who can put a tentacle on whatever’s required, at a second’s notice.”
“Wait a minute – the Old One works for you?”
“No way!” Doc admonished Tully. “Louie does it for the fun. He probably discovered poker at Miskatonic, but a cop shop is as good as a campus for that. The table stakes are shellfish and stout. We lose to him, regular. In return, he acts as quartermaster. Trusts us with the Necronomicron, too, since we don’t use it like a facebook invite.”
Chastised, Tully changed the subject. “Is Newby… Jeez, I can’t believe that’s his real name! Is he really dead?”
Doc sighed. “He, you say? Explains the failed resuscitation. Can’t force an unwilling soul back into the wrong package. Gather your wits to follow me, okay? This gets complicated. In the so-called real world, yeah, Newby is dead. But since we’re a paranormal unit, his soul’s in luck. The precinct chaplain’s havin’ a chat with him. Layin’ out his options. Not your problem anymore, Tully.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Kid, seriously? You got snatched by an Old One in the middle of our poker game. Bet your over-privileged ass Louie knows your name. But don’t you worry. He’ll drop you right back where he found you. As for your friend’s corpse, we’ll contact his family to make the notification. We have Authority. He’ll be just another casualty of the city.”
Tully dropped his head into his hands. “You don’t understand. He’s the second one in a row I’ve lost in their first semester. Hell, Newby only just arrived! All he could think about was how to find the Necronomicron. Meet an Old One.”
Doc patted Tully on the shoulder. “No worries then, kid. He got his wish. Captain O’Brien wants that book, Louie forks it over. On your feet, then. Time for Louie to toss you back.”
“I, uh, no disrespect, sir, but I’d rather take the train.” Tully turned out his pockets, came up with a box of matches. Soaked. “Or maybe I’ll hitchhike.”
“Can’t let you do that, son,” Doc replied gruffly. “But I can give you a bit of something to make the trip back, ah, shall we say, more of a trip.” Doc winked. “Might also be enough lobster and Guinness left over to bribe Louie to take it easy on you.”
“You can bribe Cth…”
“Hush! Don’t get him riled again. We call him Louie da Squid because that’s what he calls himself when he’s here, and he’s always here, except when he ain’t, but even then he’s here. Understand?”
“Um, yeah. The Old Ones are everywhere, all the time. Space and time are just two of the infinite dimensions they travel through.”
“Give the lad a prize,” a new voice interrupted. Tully looked up into those steel blue eyes again.
“Padraig O’Brien,” the man rumbled, as his meaty paw engulfed Tully’s hand. “Captain of the 86th Precinct. Yer lucky Louie just won the pot, not that he ever loses. He’s in a reasonably good mood. He couldn’t do anything about yer pal, but he can toss ye back before anyone notices ye were gone if we go right now. Mario? I think a bit of assistance is still in order.”
A man who matched his name, from his Armani suit to his gelled black hair, materialized behind a wheelchair. Tully sat up, eased himself off the exam table, then gave up and let O’Brien help him into the chair. There was a blur, a breeze, then Tully was back beside the well. O’Brien took Tully’s hand, pulling him to his feet as the chair went out from under him.
“How does he do that?” Tully gasped when his voice caught up with his body.
“Mario? He’s a speed elemental. A city sprite. Looks like Louie’s ready ta take ye back ta Miskatonic.”
Tentacles oozed out of the well. Some of them twitched as if they wanted to strangle Tully. Tully’s eyelids drooped as he flirted with surrender. Then he noticed a pair of tentacles off to one side, shuffling a crisp Tally-Ho Circle card deck. Off to the other side, slightly behind Tully, was a bucket of lobsters, along with a case of Guinness. After a deep breath to dredge up all his courage, Tully attempted the most radical invocation of his life.
“I’ve been known to play a bit of poker. Not very good at it, I’m afraid.”
Tully took a step back, then to the side. He snaked a foot behind the bucket to push the lobsters forward.
A gargle down the well resolved itself into words. “Five card stud. Aces wild.”
The cards were dealt, but Louie didn’t ante up.
Tully looked at his hand, discarded, and took another deep breath. “Two, please.”
Louie flicked a tentacle.
Tully studied the new hand, then raised with the case of stout. Louie discarded, took three cards.
“Cards?” the Old One gargled.
Now Tully understood. All in, this was his cue to fold.
Louie never lost. Louie never bet. Louie knew all the cards, all the time. He chose to accept what they brought as his due. What more could Tully offer?
“I know it isn’t table stakes,” Tully blurted, “but I’ll raise you an idea.”
The tentacles thrashed. One of them melted into Tully’s forehead for a nanosecond eternity. The gargle intensified.
“Proceed. Poker night is every Thursday. Bring fresh fish.”
“We don’t get lobster in the cafeteria. When we can find the cafeteria. Begging your pardon.”
“Noted. Bring fresh fish from the Miskatonic River. Do not go to the library. You will be collected from the river.”
“Please don’t drown anyone?” Tully squeaked.
“Take precautions against panic.”
“Um,” Tully gulped, “noted. Yeah. Next Thursday. River. Fish. No panic. Big poker game. Yeah.”
Doc appeared, popping an orange pill onto Tully’s tongue. “Have a little Sunshine. It’ll help.”
Tully barely glimpsed an orange smiley face on the pill before the tentacles ensnared him.
Tully landed with a splash in a puddle of cold, stagnant water. Sunlight streamed in from a window just above his head. It took Tully several minutes to realize he was in the basement of the library. He sat, smiley-faced, mesmerized by the dance of dust motes in sunshine while water soaked his clothing.
Right under the window he’d pried the boards from… When? He couldn’t remember. Last night? He pulled himself up to peer out the window. The coast was clear, so he scrambled through. His shoes squished water with every step as he dripped across the quad to his rooms. If he couldn’t find his waders, he’d have to buy new ones. Fishing tackle as well. First, he needed to know how long till Thursday.
After a shower, a change of wardrobe, and a few nonchalant inquiries, Tully learned now was Friday. Plenty of time to gather the true believers. He found a group of new students in front of Administration, milling in confusion.
The door, as usual, was locked. If you couldn’t conjure your way in, the dean didn’t want to be bothered with you. All the better for Tully.
“Good morning, my newbies!” he enthused, as they gathered near. “I’m Tully, your Student Adviser. I’ve got bad news, darlings. That pesky, infamous Necronomicron, well, it can no longer be found at Miskatonic U. The Old Ones cannot be summoned. They are no longer amused by our ritual antics. However, there is one place where an Old One might be found. I shall be your field guide on this expedition. How many of you know how to fish?”
A few tentative hands went up. “Excellent!” Tully boomed, arms wide in welcome to his minions. “Who brought their tackle? Anyone? Well then, my darlings, your first assignment into the unknown will be to get from here to the hardware store in Arkham, acquire the necessary accoutrements, and find your way back into the campus. Accomplish that, then, on Thursday night, you will fish with me in the misty mysterious Miskatonic River.”
“What if the fish aren’t biting, sir?” One of the minions, a girl in braids, ventured boldly.
“The fish will bite, dude,” Tully slipped into comradely slang. “On Thursday night, the fish will for sure bite. Once we’ve caught the fish, we shall see what comes from the deeps to catch us. You all know how to play poker, of course? Excellent! Off we go!”
“Yeah man!” Tully’s minions exclaimed as the rest of the newbies trailed along. “Field trip! Thursday night! We’ll summon the Old One from the depths!”
Transfer enrollment at Miskatonic soared. Tully’s newbies soon called him “professor.” Tully chose not to correct them. He changed his rooms to a suite on the first floor of Administration. It was mostly in the same dimension and could be entered through a large casement window, thwarting the dean’s fetish for locked doors. Professor Tully’s only course was the weekly field trip. The only way to flunk was to drown. Successful students often took jobs with the 86th Precinct.
Every semester, he greeted a new contingent of eager young magicians.
“Professor Tully? I don’t know how to play poker.”
“All the better, dude. All the better. Louie da Squid will love you. Oh, by the way, how long can you hold your breath?”
“Poker Night With Louie da Squid” by Karen Ovér. Copyright © 2018 by Karen Ovér.
Karen Ovér is currently living and writing in New York City. Her work has appeared in Collective Fallout, Sweater Weather, and Sci Phi Journal, in the anthologies Fairy Tale Riot and From a Cat’s View, and is available at amazon.com and balletsandbogeys.weebly.com/golemwerks
When not in the midst of negotiating with the cat for desk space, she can sometimes be found clinging to a ballet barre, attempting to realign the vertebrae sent in all directions by hours of maniacal word processing.