The Zen of SILVER BROWN

My Homemade Get Well Card to Civilization

It’s fall in this here Northern Hemisphere. Or autumn, if you’re fancy. A season of transformative molting, of dispensing with that which is no longer necessary. Certain anatomical structures withering away to preserve the life of the organism as a whole, the useless structures in question becoming bombastic and colourful before they are ultimately cast aside, wilted and impotent. It was out of this ancient rhythm of Nature that the time-honoured autumnal tradition of the wicker man was born.

In the spirit of getting rid of things that are no longer needed, every year I customarily dress my wicker man in old clothes of mine that are far too shabby and tattered to be worn in polite company, adding to its bulk by stuffing it with handfuls of the ever-present dry foliage. A significant part of this tradition calls for all participants to compose a handwritten list of everything they would like to lose in the coming year, to be affixed to the effigy moments before the great sacrifice. This year’s list was augmented with a special attachment, of a type I would not normally include.

It goes without saying that this past year has been an exceptionally trying one for the human species. Among other things, there is an irritating pimple on the sphincter of the world that is all but certain to rupture and cause a life-threatening infection if it is not promptly removed. To that end, I incorporated a conspicuous image of said pimple into the construction of my wicker man…

The pointed hood visual effect was not something I originally planned, but it works.

In addition to a hideous mug, I also festooned him with a tiny camouflage penis, which I probably made too big…


…and somewhere on the back of the figure’s head, I did a little Sharpie doodle of the other Lovecraftian abomination that is actively threatening human civilization…

This is hands down the ugliest wicker man I’ve ever built.

Dousing the effigy in some kind of flammable liquid before the party starts is highly recommended, speaking from personal experience. Any kind of distilled spirit is ideal for this purpose; the higher the proof, the better. Fittingly enough, this year I went with Trumplethinskin’s national beverage. Vodka.

The stage was now set for the main event. It took several attempts to get the show on the road, because the wicker man’s sleazy “fixer” The Wind kept trying to persuade the High Court of Nature to delay the sentencing. But once things got underway, it was a magical mystery tour from start to finish. I present it here in spectacular GIF-o-vision™ for the viewing pleasure of the good guys and ghouls of Planet Earth…

“You cursed brat, look what you’ve done! I’m melting!”

The face fell off when it was about half-melted, landing nearby. It gave me the most menacing stare (highly reminiscent of filmdom’s Chucky, minus the charm) as it laid on the cold stone, the flames engulfing it and reducing it to embers. Obsolete, irrelevant and scientifically debunked embers…

“I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little democracy, too!” [manic cackling followed by abrupt shortness of breath and involuntary sniffing.]

Occasionally you see ghouls manifest in the flames when these things burn, like that time a dragon peered out into the land of the living a few years ago…

The Draconis Lux of ’17, who has no platform and probably won’t be the next Bigfoot.

This year it was the orange phantom with the big eyes staring at me from what remained of the wicker man’s head, shortly after the face fell off. It resembled either C-3PO or Gonzo the Great. Or perhaps Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama. It’s a highly subjective thing, really. I’m leaning towards Gonzo myself. A fitting interpretation, on account of his subordinates being all chickens.

Miigwetch.

The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen of SILVER BROWN is currently being tossed into the deep dark Twitterverse for the reading pleasure of the good people of Planet Earth (and maybe a few of the bad people too, as long as they promise not to bring their guns) at a rate of one page per day. In this chapter, an unseen character who has been mentioned several times in the narrative thus far formally introduces himself to the audience. I like to think of this guy as the cigar-chomping white rabbit who leads Florys MacNab down the rabbit hole. Or an earthier version of Indiana Jones. Take your pick. Named after a street I used to live on years ago. One of the streets depicted in the screen capture below, specifically. If you can guess which one it is on the first try, you don’t win shit.



The Journey of SILVER BROWN

The Curious Case of Elmýr Garfield

My first apartment in Toronto was literally right next door to a Buddhist temple. Every Sunday morning, I could hear the sound of the gongs coming right through my walls. Never saw the inside of that temple, though. Mostly on account of the fact that it was a Theravada sanctuary catering to the diaspora, and I don’t speak a lick of Vietnamese outside of exactly one word. But I nevertheless appreciated the vibrations of those gongs every Sunday. After spending Monday through Friday (and frequently Saturday to boot) catering to the hyper-frazzled demands of The Machine, that weekly dose of sonic medicine was a most welcome reprieve.

The day those healing vibrations stopped came when my building was sold to a new owner, and I ended up getting renovicted. The next apartment after that was something I subletted from the company I was working for at the time. I only called that place home for a mere eight months, for it was inhabited by vast insurmountable colonies of bedbugs (and fleas!) and a handful of very cranky people. One woman who lived there told me the building was haunted. She was probably right.


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I recall a foursome of geriatric men who would spend the daylight hours sitting on lounge chairs in front of the Apartment Building of the Damned, wiling away their golden years complaining loudly about things their juniors would seldom think to complain about, occasionally yelling obscenities at random passersby just for the sheer hell of it. Like a cruder version of King of the Hill. I’m not a hundred percent sure if their demeanour was merely because of the bedbug problem or something that could be chalked up to senility (it was probably a combination of the two), but this meditation on cranky old geezerhood manifested itself into what would eventually become SILVER BROWN. Its chosen guise was that of an Eccentric Mentor with a mastery of cybersorcery and certain forbidden knowledge sought out by the main characters in their quest for the Secret Ingredient.

The warlock Elmýr Garfield was a cursed character from the very beginning, but after several rewrites his curses have only multiplied. In the second or third draft I introduced the idea that the story starts off with him being dead, necessitating a cybermagickal trip to the netherworlds of the Environment to retrieve his innate isness and bring it back to the Sea of Joy to reboot it. Yet he is not so much reanimated as he is reborn. The audience is first introduced to him as a seventy-five-year-old man in the body of a seventy-five-second-old infant. An allusion to old stories of Gautama Buddha that told of him walking and talking on the day he was born. Or to Baby Herman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Either one works. Take your pick.



As a result of the cursed nature of his existence (or more likely, because Florys errs slightly when she casts the spell to bring him back to life), Elmýr ages very rapidly after his rebirth, advancing through all the different life stages over the course of several chapters before finally exiting the story as a withered lifeless husk. At an inopportune moment in the narrative that greatly inconveniences the protagonists. If his final wilting occurred at a more convenient time, it wouldn’t be much of a story.

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