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BESTIAR IUM M U N USTOL I DU “Dull Workplace Creatures” Written by Lee Stadler Design by Aileen Taylor

Creature Index: Bahrthrĕelde Woestix S’ Poophen Constance Suelfedģe Smiter the Proud Gremebahron Płłop

Myth & Legend, Lore & Tale (Introduction to the Introduction)

What we know of the mind is that it is a busy thing. We have made it so. Synapses orchestrate the whims of what would seem to be a single thought or a simple act, yet in reality hundreds and thousands of actions are at play each with the next and all with the goal of fulfilling that want or desire. If you interrupt the chain, chaos ensues. A story is hardly different. Letters, sentences, paragraphs and pages, all ready to play their part within the mind. Alas, without context, without order, letters and pages incomprehensible they remain. So we order things to understand them, or better, to make sense of them. If we truly can “make” sense of things. It would be better to realize how it is we sense and the reasons we proclaim for doing so. But without an ordered mind ready to understand the order of things, perhaps making sense is quite quo. As far back into our collective histories as we can reach, we find that minds have always been busy and that they have always found ways to order the chaos that surrounds them. From the ancient Sumerians and their pantheon of deities to the eastern Taoists, from the aboriginal north island burial mounds to the quaking moments of colonial settlers, legend and lore have followed them all. And it is good to say “followed,” knowing that man and his kind may not have been first to any one of these small points in space and time. It could be that they were the only creatures so preoccupied with self that they alone cared to leave a record.

Lore is the collection things known as passed in story. Stories are things told. Things told are meant to be heard. We record what we wish others to know when our faulty selves will cease. We preserve our place, however fleetingly in the element of time by traveling with it, no longer bound by the frailty of a mortal frame. So, then, we become the story, the tale; passing a mere sketch of our existence into the hands of hopeful caretakers who often desire our tale more than we ourselves once had. To our tale is added the weight of their telling. A new tint. A new color. A new place. A new breath. By transcending time and space we climb to greater heights and sink to lower depths. We become the myth. We become the legend. A hairsbreadth of distance separates a myth and a history. It often depends entirely upon the person selling the wares. What is myth to one mind may be lifeblood to another. And may it be known that, aside from the minds we embody, it is only us who can account for us. After our bodies fade, who will live to confirm the reality of life once so vibrantly fluttering on this, our temporal plane? Who is left to take and care for our stories as we would have wished, if we had wished at all? Who indeed. As we pass, so shall they. Legends grow. Truth remains.

Introduction: Many years ago I set forth upon a journey to discover what I, with growing realization, considered a marvel of the world. A subject written upon countless times but without a proper sum to sate my curiosity. No text to date nor translation of ancient hymn had brought to light what I knew to be the truth concerning this most important of matters. My mind wracked and reeling from tempestuous nights and feverish days set me on the edge of many a cliff. I would not let my temple rot. The mystery would not best what countless moments of solitude in meditation had wrought within me. A new creature I had become. How the earth shook beneath my gaze! Humility left me as an autumn leaf leaves its brethren, without thought or care on the winds of an unsettled breeze. I set my affairs in order. I packed for long travels over vast continents both in and out of the mind. I steeled body and soul, leaving no weakness, no pain. Having donned my cloak, staff in hand, I stepped out onto my front porch where I saw the rain dripping lightly from the heavens. I paused at the beauty and wonder of the moment. Then I stepped back inside, closed the door and laid on the sofa for a nap. It was breezy too. Rain and wind, who wants to step out into that? Thus, I awoke from my slumber and, having only a few moments left before needing to settle in to a full night’s rest (naps will do that to you every time) I decided to pen some thoughts about creatures I have met. The creatures presented herein are not listed in any particular order. No hierarchies or ghastly oneupsmanshippery. No fits of narcolepsy induced by the monotonous drone of purposefully useless lip flapping.

Yes. Purposefully. Oh, not that they wouldn’t like that, sitting a big room in big chairs thinking big things. Yet, the room is a small broom closet, the chairs are imaginary and the thoughts are things like, “If I was a raincloud, I wouldn’t rain on Billy’s flowers because he looked at me funny the other day. Where does he get off having flowers? I’m the pretty one and... oh look at those lovely cheese samples.” You see, while most creatures survive on a diet of important things like food and drink and air, these creatures survive on the acrid stench that is manifest only in an environment of total self unawareness. Their minds (if applicable) are much like tupperware; not the good stuff though, the stuff where the lid almost fits and there’s a weird shaped bubble on the bottom because it was micro waved for too long or it sat too close to a burner while you were packing your lunch and forgot that you’d just made tea on that burner and now the smell is filling the kitchen and you wish you hadn’t eaten so much for breakfast because it’s really starting to get at you. Inside the mind(s) exists only what can be described as what happens when a bit of egg salad is left in the back seat of an old car on a hot summer day. Carry these words with you, dear reader, for though they seem mysterious and fanciful, they are with great reality living and thriving. These torrid creatures may even tempt you with their doe-eyed gazes and their carefully manicured leg hair*. Take heed! Fall not prey, lest you be trapped as they are trapped and become as they have become.

*Depending upon the season, said creature may or may not have leg hair, or legs.

If you give a Bahrthrĕelde a task it may or may not accomplish said task. That’s really not what matters. What matters is that the Bahrthrĕelde, satisfied neither by itself or its surroundings, only accomplishes what it truly can; a simple game of tug o’ war with its own inability.

The danger spreads when the Bahrthrĕelde leaves the confines of its own dissatisfaction for the supposedly greener pastures of another. Silly barbs are lobbed without aim and the resulting playing field becomes littered with ineptitude, making a mess of what was once, possibly, a decent place to have a quiet lunch. Said greener pastures of another may be actual greener pastures (that have now become only a slightly lighter shade of tannish-yellow due to said recent arrival) or they may be pastures of the mind. Regardless, once the Bahrthrĕelde surprises itself with the revelation that there is no remaining fauna to wilt with remarks about its slow rate of growth or how, in spite of its own lack of ability to be fauna it intuitively knows that to live on the other side of the pasture would be much better, proceeds to produce a garden spade, chop the fauna’s roots and plant it on the

other side of the pasture where it soon expires, the Bahrthrĕelde begins its retreat to a former abode. The ensuing exit dance has been described by social anthropologists and pharmaceutics sales representatives as a nearly perfect hybridization of moderately motivated sleep walking and the personal response to six hornet stings to the armpit. Which armpit, precisely, is a matter of continuing debate. To spot a Bahrthrĕelde in the wild, simply step outside to where any number of objects may be. You will most likely find the creature engaged in a coy game of wits where (it) pretends the object of interest is not satisfactorily existing and proceeds to admonish it for not being either better or worse than what it is. Task or no task, a Bahrthrĕelde pretends beyond reason that it is capable... of something. What they are most capable of, sadly (or plaintively if you ask them) is being a Bahrthrĕelde.

Thunder rolls across a darkened sky. Sweat pours from a disparaged brow. Hands tremor. Skirts ruffle*. All in the wake of the onslaught of the dire Woestix.

Addressed in an ancient conversational haiku:

“What is it, Edgar?” “The sun has quit, now we die.” “It yet shines. Please leave.”

No matter the variety of Woestix (some smell of cranberry jelly spiced with fear and indigestion while others look like constipated Meerkats) distress must be hurled. It is a form of currency. Where no duress exists, the Woestix has nothing with which to pay, and therefore is argumentatively impoverished. Note the striking difference between impoverished and sterile. Attempting to sterilize a Woestix is to take one’s sanity in his own hands, place it in a blender and press “puree.� Grumble and rumble as they may, the Woestix thunders and rolls against itself. To spot a Woestix in the wild, simply imagine a situation that is less than optimal and the Woestix will appear, running in circles with flailing hands raised towards the skies.

*A skirt is an article of clothing a bed wears.

Many years ago, when man first discovered the joy of cooking meat over an open flame, he discovered the timely consequence of hot cinders precipitating the combustion of his hair.

The meat was well seasoned. Possibly with a bit of course ground black pepper, sea salt and some Greek oregano. Of course, if the meat is poultry, a light sprinkling of rosemary topped with butter and tart apples. A side dish is nice as well. With the red meat, deep greens always compliment the palette, along with a moderate amount of starches. So his hair caught on fire and this made him run around yelling lots of things that were probably impolite and grammatically shaky. Because the idea of “stop, drop and roll” had not yet been invented, male pattern baldness became a hereditary trait. Splotchy baldness, like pop art splatter painting from the previous century – the kind that sells for a cool million dollars but was probably somebody’s pet ocelot tipping over cans of paint in the middle of the night because it didn’t get the type of treat it wanted. (Poultry flavored instead of red meat flavored) Running around yelling impolite and grammatically shaky words and phrases with the pretense of intense pain is a distinct marker of the

S’ Poophen. After nearly three decades and 37 seconds of observation of the S’ Poophen in its native environment resulted in the following conclusion: S’ Poophen are never injured nor are they suffering actual pain of any sort that would warrant mistakes in grammar. Further research has concluded that they are semi-delusional, mistaking normal and common place situations for those of a most extreme nature. Further further research has concluded that, though the S’ Poophen will mistake anything for something warranting poor grammar and crazed runnings from both to and fro causing harm to body and place finally resulting in spontaneous combustion, they are awfully fun to watch. Further further further research has finally concluded that they are, indeed, silly. There is no need to travel great distances to spot a S’ Poophen in the wild. They are an invasive species now inhabiting most corners of the world.

Three hundred years ago the famed spelunker Archibald Carnassus Le ‘Deut happened upon a most startling discovering – a freshly painted fresco on the wall of his favorite bistro detailing a long-necked, squat bodied creature sitting at a desk. Or it may have been a credenza. They are very similar.

Now, more than 300 years later, the descendent of Le ‘Deut, a Mr. John, Whipperbean has made as nearly as startling discovery regarding the squat bodied creature featured in the fresco. Chiefly, it looks just like his aunt Matilda. Sure the clothing looks different, but it could have been the light it was painted in. Even the exquisite detail in the lack of facial expression. The way the hands look as if they had at one point in time held a great deal of desire but have remained stationary for nigh the creature’s entire life. The way it favored truncated sentences. The likeness is striking. Oddly, aunt Matilda never comes out of her sewing room, requiring of others such items as intrusion and invasion of privacy in attempts to discover whether or not she is still breathing. Some physicists have expressed a great interest in studying both the painting and the aunt Matilda for the purpose of establishing parameters for human time travel.

While a bold venture, the search may be in vain. For, if one looks closely, he would realize that not only are they one and the same, but also that the Matilda creature has not moved an inch in the past three hundred years. Society has merely build around her. If asked, a Constance such as fresco Matilda would quietly state that, “this is how it’s always been done.” What a grand explanatory response for the longevity and overall survival of such a seemingly useless creature; one that moves neither back or forth. No progress made. No ground lost. To spot a Constance in the wild, look for things that are ill-shaped and immobile. If such a thing is found, there is a reasonable chance that it is a Constance. To be doubly sure, attempt to move the Constance. If it shrieks in terror and slashes the cushions on your sofa* in retaliation for a possible upsetting of its small, small world, you have found a Constance.

*Due to an atrophied vascular system caused by centuries on motionless existence, the sofa would have to be very close at hand. Otherwise, the Constance will fall over sideways and faint from overexertion. This will leave an unsightly mark upon flooring or lawn.

“iagreiluvewebarem’kin” (Ancient Suelfedģe field chant)

A Suelfedģe is one of the most abominable creatures imaginable. Though able to think for themselves at younger ages, they willfully attach themselves to any organism imaginable via an intricate set of tubes generated by various parts of their bodies in an attempt to survive existence without exerting any amount of personal effort. Attempts to communicate with a Suelfedģe without its symbiont are fruitless as they are inclined to speak through the symbiont or to not speak at all. Indeed, beyond old recordings of younger Suelfedģe voices, no recordings exist. Sadly, and due to hormone injection in a Suelfedģe’s dietary staple of braerckenspats, maturity occurs at quite a young age with preliminary tubing forming in the larval stage. Do not attempt to spot a Suelfedģe in the wild. Do not attempt to

make any form of contact with a Suelfedģe. If, for any reason, a Suelfedģe attaches one or more of its tubes to your person, do not pull or attempt to run away. Stand perfectly still and make no sounds whatsoever. Look the Suelfedģe directly in the eye* with an expression of utter disappointment. The gaze will cause the Suelfedģe to second-guess its purpose, thereby loosening its tubular grip and allowing for escape. A word of extreme caution! If you do not take the opportunity to run from the now loosened Suelfedģe, it will mistake your disappointment for an advanced training exercise and believe it is doing exceptionally well. It will then re-attach permanently to the nearest object with the highest internally regulated temperature. Experts suggest carrying a small combustion engine with oneself at all times.

*Good luck finding the eye. Many “ false” eyes have been found during numerous autopsies, but actual eyes or photosensitive receptors have yet to be discovered. False eyes may resemble various pieces of manually operated office equipment or the drapes you purchased last fall. If not the drapes, then the blinds. If not the blinds, the flooring.

Ago once lived a sordid breed Tilted nostrils, paid no heed Awe and struck inside their minds With think and thought of self divine A grand parade they made of time Walking, running in the brine Of satisfaction in the murk Of belief in their own work It wasn’t really work at all But gain amidst the torrid fall The sum of haught and heedless haste Desolate, the weight of waste.

A more lovely verse was has rarely been inscribed upon the stoneware pottery of a bygone civilization. This, however, was inscribed upon a very thin creature’s outer thigh, presumably by the hands of some other creature just as preoccupied with skin and ink as the other. Both were the particularly fiendish variety of creature known as a Smiter. They are nearly blind and are completely deaf. Thought extinct by many a culinary expert, recent evidence from some remote Pacific island in the continental Midwest has shown that they are very much alive. As the verse is wise to point out, they are quick to make a grand parade of self. Such parades are only made grander by the fact that the aforementioned blindness and deafness results in quite a menagerie of

misdirection, bumpings in to and fallings of over. They are rarely allowed to carry scissors. To spot a Smiter the Proud in the wild look for a traces of potential scattered alongside the edge of a walking path. The nearby footprints will become deeper with each new deposit of potential (evidence as assumed by some to be the beginnings of a fabled Smiter’s March to Oblivion) culminating in the final eschewing of reason and sound advice heaped up in a pile along with the Smiter’s poorly tailored clothing and a tiny sign directing somebody else to pick up after it, for it has become much too important for menial things.

Long ago, witches had cauldrons. Sometimes they were really big (the cauldrons) and the witches would throw in odd assortments of things that fit rather well. Through much story we have come to know of “eye of newt” and “hair of warthog” as ingredients in these strange brews. Rest assured that they are merely fanciful characterizations of the actual ingredients and that they taste much better than what was normally used.

The Gremebahron is a product of one of several failed experimental concoctions that were stored on a shelf together during an otherwise pleasant afternoon in the month of what is commonly called November. And by combined, do not read that they were mixed together. They were put on the shelf in separate jars for a reason. But because they were not rendered inert and used as garden sprinklings and because one contained much too much maple syrup and because they were thought harmless they decided to hold a vote. The vote, as best we can recount, went something like this: Jar 1: “Phhlllllbbbtttt!” Jar 2: “I second the motion.” Jar 9: “Commotion? What train am I on?” Jar 2: “I second the train!” Jar 2: “I second the train again and I love maple syrup.” Jar 1: “Flaaaargeeessptt!!” Jar 2: “Yes!” Jar 9: “I wanted eggs.” Jar 1: “Raaaaarggh.” Jar 2: “Yes. Yes! You must lead us. You see the lands beyond!” Jar 9: “And ham.” Jar 2: “Guide us. Move us. Be our completion and devotion.” Jar 9: “And jelly.” Jar 2: “You must take us to the highest heights as only you can.” Jar 9: “Where’s the bathroom?” Jar 1: “Gromgromgromgromgromgrom.” Jar 2: “And so it shall be! The vote is cast and our future is bound!”

That is the record of how Jar 1 became the first Gremebahron. The remaining jars were either asleep or had already been spilled upon the floor. A Gremebahron, though its principal ingredients are unknown, consists of amorphously disproportionate amounts of: •  Possible ability •  Desire to gutteralize long strings of abstract phonemes •  Imitation desire to listen (from extract) •  Off-brand cough syrup •  Dye #2 •  Polyester •  3 bags of spoiled dreams •  The ability to spawn more Gremebahrons. Additional curious descriptions regarding the construct of the Gremebahron need not be mentioned. It should be enough to know that they were things not meant to happen but happened anyway. Some of them smell a bit like a newt’s eye.

A Płłop’s name is as odd to pronounce as the manner in which it lives is to understand. Some pronunciations include: pyop, pee-op, pie-hop, preestop, hwooeeo-knop, psyflop, red #7, feedlot, and Stewart III of Tellingham.

The most striking characteristic of a Płłop is the exaggerated disproportion between the amount of work it does and the amount that it actually accomplishes. Strikingly so. In fact the properly stated ratio is: Large Mountain Range to Miniature Thimble Full of Sadness. This has most likely been expressed as an advanced algebraic equation at some point in history, though none remain who even remotely care about it. Hundreds of years ago, perhaps even several dozens of years ago, it was a well documented fact that the Płłop would spend most of its entire day getting ready for the day. This generally involved: waking; thinking about “important” things that needed to be done; making lists about the aforementioned “important” things; re-organizing the list; copying the list in quadraplet; mailing several copies to itself; phoning (or signaling in

a hitherto and unknown archaic fashion) several members of its hive to let them know they had made a list of very “important” things that needed to be accomplished that day; making toast poorly; retrieving the incorrectly metered envelopes from the mailbox; re-mailing the lists with correct postage; making new toast because the old toast got cold; going to sleep for the winter. To spot a Płłop in the wild, look for something that needs to be done. Often, (if it is not busy with its lists or winter slumber) the Płłop will be standing nearby talking about how long it will take to accomplish the thing that needs to be done. Following talking, it will make a list, mail the list, signal another Płłop and tell them about the list and the thing, make toast poorly, and then fall asleep without ever really doing anything.

G L O S S A RY O F T E R M S Alphabetize – what you do to make words more orderly Non-alphabetic – what has been done to the terms in this glossary Glossary – a list of things you ignore until you can’t find something you’re trying to remember Term – a thing you can’t remember that’s probably in a glossary somewhere Myth – Unverifiable accounts of the events of existence (though not necessarily untrue) held in strong belief by many or few Legend – A narrative of facts or figures passed down through many generations, often becoming accepted as true Lore – The body of knowledge on a given subject Tale – A story meant to inform, no matter how fanciful Sate – To satisfy or fill Hymn – Poem set to song. There’s probably a better definition somewhere. Not to be confused with, “him,” whoever he is Woe – A state of being in ill in one’s omen Sofa – A cushy thing good for naps Hair – striated masses of dead cells upon which we put things like eucalyptus oil and avocado for a “better shine” Egg – The product of any number of living creatures that produces live young after a given period of incubation. Also something scrambled over heat. Also something boiled until hard, diced, slathered with mayonnaise and left on the back seat of an old car on a hot summer day Complete – What this glossary is not Grammar – The useful putting together of words and phrases so that they read sensibly. Not that they read themselves. That would involve some sort of textual anthropomorphism or machines gaining sentience and storming our homes. Fight! Be the revolution against our computer overlords! Ability – what some creatures lack in spite of their declarations to the contrary Edgar – An ancient Woestix who was told to leave Season – A period of time either literal or figurative Tannish-yellow – Depending upon the visual context, a very unpleasant color Greek – A term descriptive of physical origin, collegiate pledge group or financial insecurity German – A term descriptive of attempting to fix “Greek” Fauna – Plants and things Ocelot – A wild feline twice the size of an average housecat with neat looking fur and rounded ears which would look more

intimidating if they had pointy ear hair List – A collection of things often found in row and column form that are only useful if they can be deciphered and used (see “Ability”) And – The word “and” Expression – An outward display of inner goings on Le ‘Deut – A silly name Credenza – Something like a desk but with a longer name Spawn – See “Egg” Phoneme – A portion of a morpheme Grom – A phoneme * - * Tube – A hollow device through which things move in either direction Cauldron – A very large or big metal cup Chant – A gathering of morphemes that are put together in chant form Gaze – What you do when you look at something for an inappropriately long season. Garden – A place where things grow. Loosened – A de-tightening of something Wild(e) – The end result of something being too loosened Combustion – What happens when some things get too hot Scissors – The product of an experiment involving two knives. “Scissors” is not plural. Like buying a pair of jeans or underwear. It’s not like you can buy a jean or a single underwear. It should be “Scissor,” but that’s a verb. “Jean” is still a noun, or an adjective describing a type of outerwear. But not underwear. Tsk! We can’t do that, now can we? Vascular – Of or pertaining to the vessels or ducts that convey fluids It – A noun Parade – What used to be held in honor of excellence but is commonly an exaggerated gesture placed in the middle of a lovely holiday. Parades are closely related to “Standing Ovations” in their misapplication Lawn – Often a carefully manicured collection of fauna that nobody is supposed to walk on Comma – Something easily confused with an M Dash M Dash – Something easily confused with a Semicolon Semicolon – Something easily confused with a Comma Capitalization – The process of making something more important than it probably should be Proud – A word describing an often permanent state of existence eventually leading to a state of woe

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