Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life After, scene from near the end of the story, sometimes villainy is just making people very, very uncomfortable.

[Ok, you know what? I'm only posting this here because I've always said that I'll post everything here. It comes at the end of story I've barely begun, and ... yeah. Don't really know I originally posted it at Slacktivist anyway. what follows is the text of the original comment with minimal editing for formatting.]

[Fred Clark wrote:]
“I just saw her with my best friend,” he sings, then asks, repeatedly, “Do you know what I mean?” And I want to assure him that, yes, everybody knows what you mean. We get it. Her and Bobby are boinking. No need, really, to keep going on about it or to keep asking. We all know what you mean.
Ok, so I have this random scene that comes at the end of the story Life After which I've barely written the beginning of.

At this point the draugr have been routed though the rift between earth and the unsavory regions of Helhiem will remain open for another quarter century, the living darkness is held at bay, the problem of the bodiless spirits taking over machines has largely been solved by ensouling the machines (AIs are people too) thus making possession significantly harder.

Memorial services are being held. Some individuals are exploring trade relations with the savory regions of the afterlife even though the route there is dangerous (since the rift opens into hostile territory which must be navigated to get to the good places.) The people from the alternate future where the rift never happened are finally integrating themselves into what is now their world, villains are going back to being villainous now that the existential threat has ended, and generally everything is winding down as people get on with their lives.

So a lot of it involves wrapping up character stories, which is where this comes in.

Note that the name of Mag/Mags is different depending on who the viewpoint character is. "Mags" is a holdover from when they were children and only Jacob uses it since he's the only person still extant who was a child with Mag. To everyone else her name is "Mag" with no "s".


"You seem happier today," Kim said.

Mag walked into the kitchen as Jacob said, "You don't even want to know the last time I was kissed before last night."

"My bet is it was on a dare from Regina," Mag said.

"Yeah," Jacob said. "That was it."

Kim couldn't put her finger on exactly how she knew, but something about the way that exchange went told her that Mag and Jacob were more than friends now. She really hadn't seen that one coming. "You two were kissing?"

"And dancing," Jacob said. A moment later he added, "Just actual dancing, not the 'We can't say sex on the radio so we'll call it 'dancing' instead,' 'dancing' of the latter half of the twentieth century."

And Kim's mind broke a little. "That's a thing?" she asked.

* * *

Jacob just looked at Kim for a moment, then at Mags, then back at Kim. Did she seriously not know this?

"Well it was never a hard and fast rule," Jacob said, "but bear in mind that record company executives heard the words 'No sugar tonight // No sugar tonight' and ordered it to be changed to 'No sugar tonight in my coffee // No sugar tonight in my tea,' because they thought the first was too explicit of a reference to sex."

"On the other hand," Mags said, "there was no problem with 'making love in the afternoon with Cecilia // up in my bedroom' so you see how uneven things were."

"But, yeah," Jacob said. "Sometimes 'dancing' got used to mean 'sex'."

"Not all the time of course," Mags said. "Dancing does go with music pretty commonly."

"Sure," Jacob said, "and context helps. If the song says 'dancing there by the record machine' then it's a fair bet that it really means dancing-dancing."

"I Love Rock and Roll is a pretty extreme case though," Mags said. "Beyond the record machine and jukebox it also has a public-private dichotomy and a clear demarcation between actual dancing and 'moving on.' So there's really no ambiguity."

Jacob nodded. Kim remained silent with a face that looked like it was trying to turn itself into a "vacancy" sign.

"If you want an example where there aren't clear demarcations but you still know what's being talked about," Mags said, "then it's pretty clear when you hear:" Mags sang the next words.

"I'm tired of dancing here all by my self
"Tonight I want to dance with someone else."

As she said, "someone else," she made a "come here" gesture to Jacob and Jacob stepped closer while Mags stepped back in a way intended to look seductive.

"You know that's not talking about--" Mags stopped. "Oh," she said with a bit of surprise.

"What?" Jacob asked. No one said anything.

Mags was looking at Kim, so Jacob turned to do the same. Kim was blushing furiously.

"Seriously, Possible?" Jacob asked. "This," he made a "come here" gesture, "has got to be the least explicit reference to sex in the history of human gesture."

"I actually think it was my first gesture," Mags said.

"I must have missed that," Jacob said. "What was it?"

Mags held her left hand in front of her, fingers together, palm in, pointing down. Hardly the lewdest symbol of dancing by one's self.

"That's it?" Jacob asked. Mags didn't respond. Jacob turned to Kim, "That's it?" Kim's blush deepened. "Jesus, that's it."

For a moment or two there was silence.

"You're worse than your daughter, Possible," Jacob said.

"I wasn't exactly standing perfectly still," Mags said. "Maybe the motion made it look worse than I intended."

"People playing air guitar are more explicit than that," Jacob said.

Kim gasped and clapped her hands over her face.

"She'll never look at air guitar the same way," Mags said.

Ron chose that moment to enter the kitchen. Jacob had a question and didn't even try to resist asking it. "Has she," he pointed to Kim, "met Motor Ed yet?"

"Oh My God!" Kim screamed and ran from the room.

Ron looked at Jacob, then looked at Mags, then backed out of the kitchen slowly.

"You're evil," Mags said.

"And proud," Jacob said. After a moment he decided to add something. "You know how I know I'm really evil?"


"I did that without even trying, and I don't feel the least bit guilty."

"Not even a little bit?"

"Well, a culture that raises its kids to be so uptight about sexuality is clearly broken," Jacob said, "and it sucks that she's caught up in it, but ... not really, no."

- -
∗ ∗ ∗
- -

And that's why teaming up with villains is never a good idea, even if they don't betray you once the common enemy is dealt with, they're still fully capable of being jerks.


  1. Tell you the truth. I never really cared for Jacob as a character until this. Though I'm still not entirely sold on his "villainy"

  2. A lot of those "dance" references go over my head.

    "So I'll be dancing with myself - oh, oh - dancing with myself"

    Puts a really different spin on the whole thing.

    1. I didn't originally intend it to be that way, but as the characters developed music became the closest thing Jacob and Mag have to a religion and they are devout.*

      Thus they know things that you wouldn't necessarily expect.


      *But sectarian. Their knowledge in their area of preference is deep.