Editing drama

It’s been a while since anything has bothered me enough to want to blog about it. I edit book submissions for a small publishing company called Grey Gecko Press, and a few weeks ago, I got an email about how my editing style and that of another editor have been conflicting on a recent project. As I look over the other editor’s work, I see a lot that I wish I’d caught. The more I see that she fixed, the more it feels like she’s better at editing than I am.

What really bothers me is the idea that I did a bad job. That’s probably not the case, but maybe I could have done better on this book. I don’t get very much work, so when I get something after a long lull, I’m rusty. I procrastinate and end up not spending the time I should be spending carefully looking through everything. It’s not just that someone did a better job. It’s that I did a bad job.

I guess I’m disappointed with the work I did, and now it’s being pointed out in a way that nobody is saying what I’m worried about (other than myself), but I think my failure is a big part of the reason for the “conflicting styles.”

So what’s going on underneath it all? Am I losing interest in editing? I do that too much. I start learning to do something, I get good at it, my talents are recognized, and then I lose interest and move on to something else. Then my skills fail as I go through the motions disguised as the person who is really good at that thing but isn’t any more because I don’t care about it any more. Maybe I have ADHD. Or maybe this is normal. Hey, is this why people get jobs and then become miserable? Are they just bored with the monotony of a career they’ve invested so much time and money building?

Well, it’s not like I’ve invested all that much into editing. And I don’t think I’ve really lost interest. I lost focus. When there’s something that I have to spend a lot of time focusing on, like a video project or an editing project, I get guilted because of the time I’m not spending with other people.

Blerg. I just hope this all blows over soon. I have too much on my plate sometimes.

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President Camacho is a better president than Trump, and here’s why

donald (that’s what I call the current illegitimate president of the United States, he doesn’t deserve for his name to be capitalized even at the beginning of a sentence) is an idiot. You might say that he’s just like President Camacho from Idiocracy, but you’d be way off.

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho inherited a mess. An actual mess, that is. Not the good economy that donald called a mess that he inherited from Obama. Crops were dying, the economy was failing, and people were starving. Rather than fill his cabinet with idiots, morons, and more idiots, he sought out the brightest people his world had to offer. One guy had won a contest. They didn’t say what kind, but since he tested all prisoners’ intelligence and got Joe out so quickly because of his results, it’s safe to assume it was some kind of intelligence assessment. So the first thing Camacho did that donald didn’t was go to great lengths to surround himself with intelligent people.

The second thing he did was listen to the smart people. When Joe said that the plants needed water, even the other cabinet members thought it was ridiculous, but Camacho implemented his solution without hesitation. He got some toilet water and sprayed it on the crops.

The third thing Camacho did that donald wouldn’t was keep his word. When he saw that the water worked to make the crops grow, he saved Joe from rehabilitation and pardoned him just like he said he would.

President Camacho was probably the most intelligent person in the world before Joe woke up. He was committed to solving the world’s problems, and he put the needs of the people ahead of the needs of corporations like Brawndo. We should be so lucky for Idiocracy to come true, because right now, it would be an improvement.

My family was bullied out of Houston Oasis

When I first came to Houston Oasis, I didn’t feel like it was a home to me or like I belonged there. This isn’t the fault of Oasis. I wasn’t looking for a community. I didn’t like church when I was religious, and I don’t like it as an atheist. But to my girlfriend, it was an important social hub. We all made good friends there, and we felt genuinely welcomed…

…at first.

After a while, leadership changed hands. The board of directors got a new president, and we were excited about what new direction they might take the organization. There was great emphasis on growth, and they started collecting money for a place to fit throngs of people I didn’t really see coming to meetings. They started a program where they asked people to commit to recurring monthly donations, and many members spoke of how they were extending themselves quite a bit to contribute. One person even stood before the congregation and used what felt to me like a slimy sales technique to get more people in the crowd to commit to the program.

My girlfriend and I were concerned about this new emphasis on drumming up donations, so she brought it up in the Facebook group. The public discussion was lively and civil, but one member of the board posted something very passive aggressive on her wall. My girlfriend sensed that it was about her, so she pressed her and received the private message that I posted and responded to a couple of blog posts ago.

We were utterly shocked. We considered her to be among the best friends we’d made at Houston Oasis. How could she pretend to be so nice and harbor such nastiness? Why would she do such a thing? Something was, and presumably still is, seriously wrong with her. I lodged a complaint with the board, and we were assured that even though they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do anything to discipline her, they were about to roll out a new code of conduct for board members. We were confident that she would bring herself to justice the next time she pulled a stunt like that on anyone else.

A few weeks later, I had a disagreement with the board member’s sister, who was a moderator in the Facebook group for Houston Oasis. After trying to talk it out, she blocked me, and together with her sister, lodged two complaints against me. The first was in regards to some pictures of her that I had posted on my photography website that I had already taken down. The second was about some messages that she had received from a fraudulent Facebook account that somebody (someone capable of being very nasty in private but friendly in a group setting) had opened up in my name.

The board members we spoke to about these complaints said they felt bad that they even had to investigate the complaints, but it was their policy, so they had no choice. We were able to prove our innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt, and we thought the matter was dropped.

Nope.

The atmosphere at Houston Oasis meetings was no longer as welcoming as it had once been. People we’d had very friendly chats with were suddenly cold to us. We hadn’t done anything wrong, but somebody had turned them against us. Then an innocent joke I made was taken as if I’d meant to insult someone else, and I think whoever had made the fake Josh Mitchell account had been busy sending nasty messages to other people.

Any attempt to bring this up with the group was met with disapproval, people saying they didn’t want to get involved in the “drama.” They were as responsible as the fake Josh Mitchell for my inability to clear my name. I was never particularly attached to Houston Oasis, but it meant a lot to my girlfriend, and it was taken from her by bullies and cowards on the board of directors and in the general community.

And we’re not the only people who had been bullied out of Houston Oasis. There is a growing number of us who have had lies spread about us by ambitious social climbers. We could almost start our own community. Maybe we should.

Not my president

I once called myself an anarchist. I believed that taxation was theft, that the nonaggression principle was the only rule society needed, and that, left to their own devices, people would self-organize into societies that more or less avoided using coercion against each other to get what they need.

I don’t think that any more. I believe that government is necessary to establish laws for the good of society and to organize it in a way that allows everyone the opportunity to have a good life. The government of the United States has never done that particularly well, but it’s a work in progress, and plenty of other governments do much worse.

But the current administration seems dedicated to doing exactly the opposite of what a good government should do. Daffy Donald has found the absolute worst people possible for every cabinet position in an obvious attempt to ruin everything that his predecessors have worked to create. He himself is the worst possible person to be president.

I’m not an anarchist, but the Trump regime is clearly illegitimate. We know Russia interfered with the election, we know Hillary Clinton got more votes (never mind that she pulled some shady tricks to win the nomination, that’s immaterial now), and we know that Daffy Donald is in way over his head. He can’t do the job he was installed to do. He can only make a mess that gets bigger and bigger every day he’s allowed to sign executive orders that he’s too lazy to actually read and too stupid to understand.

Daffy Donald Trump cannot be president. For the good of the world, we need someone else. Anyone else.

Responding to a former friend’s betrayal

Most Sundays, I attend a weekly secular gathering called Houston Oasis. I go to take pictures for them to use in their marketing. It’s a lot of fun, and I feel like the people really appreciate it. It’s also built up my photography skills a lot. I would go with my girlfriend and her two sons, the older of which has Asperger’s Syndrome like me and their mother.

A few weeks ago, they announced a fundraising campaign, and my girlfriend posted some concerns she had about it on the group’s private Facebook group. Discussion followed, and it was all fine and dandy.

Then a member of the board, Alexis, posted something on her wall basically saying that she was upset about something (she didn’t say exactly what) and she wanted to post something passive aggressive about it. Because that in itself wasn’t passive aggressive. Despite the fact that we’ve had Alexis and her husband over for dinner several times and thought she was a good friend, my girlfriend thought it was about her, so she asked in a comment to it if it was about her. After a bit of prodding, she got a private message that took us completely by surprise. For your reading pleasure, here it is with my rebuttals.

Michelle, I want to explain what happened yesterday from my personal point of view. I was feeling frustrated and wanted to share that frustration without going into detail with friends, so I made a vague post to facebook. If I had responded to your question of “What’s it about?” that would obviously defeat the purpose of not posting details, so I chose not to respond to your question.

Judging by the rest of this message, you were more than just frustrated. You were angry. Decisions made in anger are rarely wise ones, and I’m surprised you think that you can defend posting vague, passive-aggressive things about someone on your friends list. You know how that makes you look, don’t you?

I am under no obligation to explain everything I post to you or anyone else. You then publically demanded an answer, asking if I was annoyed with you.

But it was about her. It turns out that she was actually completely justified in suspecting that it was about her, and she called you out on it. Nobody likes being called out when they’re being idiots, but adults accept it and take it in stride.

Honestly, this is completely unacceptable behavior for an adult.

This from a person who posted something vague to publicly complain about a friend without her knowing it. That’s a nice glass house you’ve got there.

I gave no indication that the post was about you, yet you chose to assume it was and make yourself a victim.

It was about her, and she was the victim! Like I said, you just don’t like your bad behavior being called out, so now you’re projecting your immaturity on her.

Josh and you then both privately messaged me, neither of you apologized, and honestly Josh had no reason to get involved what so ever, you and I are both grown adults.

(I’m Josh. Hi!) My private message read as follows: “I hope everything is all right with you. Michelle didn’t mean to pry.” If you had read it carefully, you would have read it as an apology. At the time, I didn’t think it necessarily was about her, so I thought it was a little inappropriate for her to press so hard for an answer as to whether or not it was about her. I totally had a reason to get involved, because I considered you a friend, and I care about my girlfriend. She is a grown adult, but you are clearly not.

Furthermore, you then once again acted the victim by saying I had hurt your feelings.

Umm you were hurting her feelings, and you’re doing it right now. Do you even care about other people’s feelings? I think you might be some kind of psychopath.

You asked if I was annoyed with you and I am under no obligation to explain why I am frustrated, but you are clearly choosing to make MY post about YOUR hurt feelings.

Alexis, your post was about her. And you’re explaining why you’re frustrated right now. You posted what you posted so that she would see it and be hurt by it, and that’s why you sent her this message. She’s not merely “acting” the victim. She is the victim of your passive aggressiveness and now your direct aggressiveness.

Since you clearly must know why I am frustrated.

Well, she thought you were her friend and she cared about you, so of course she wanted to know. You could have just said that you didn’t want to talk about it.

Yes, I am frustrated with you. Honestly, I found your post regarding the Oasis fundraising campaign offensive on a personal level.

It wasn’t offensive or directed at you personally. You took it personally when you shouldn’t have. All she said was that she wasn’t sure it was the best idea to start pressuring people to donate more than they already do.

Considering that I put in 15-20 hours a week into Houston Oasis, [Alexis’s husband] easily puts in 5-10 hours a week, and I’m assuming Josh puts in roughly the same, not to mention the countless other hours put into podcasts, organization, and childcare.

This is beside the point, but here’s what I think you’re saying. Since you put more time into Oasis than you believe Michelle does, you think that means that she has no right to criticize it.

The fact that you took this as a personal attack on you and jumped to conclusions without bothering to talk to anyone makes me feel that you want to get as much out of Oasis without giving a damn about the effort anyone else puts in.

That’s an idiotic assumption, not to mention completely out of line. You’re trying to make your outrage into everyone’s outrage. Only you are outraged, Alexis, and you have no good reason to be. Nobody else was offended, because they didn’t have a huge chip on their shoulders. Nobody else is pretending to be her friend and secretly hating her. Everyone else is a decent person.

As a whole and individually, I have felt that we’ve bent over backward to accommodate you.

There you go again presuming to speak for people other than just yourself. You haven’t bent over backward for anyone. Everything you do is for yourself. You volunteer at Oasis for your own ego, and when it’s bruised by someone questioning an Oasis program, you react like a child.

There is a special one on one person in the childcare room every single week for your son. I personally spent 4 or 5 hours one night talking with you and Josh after it came to light that many people were avoiding family friendly happy hour because of you and your kids, and trying to find a reasonable solution.

And we really appreciated all of that. It further cemented my commitment to Oasis, but I guess my contribution doesn’t cover that. Michelle’s older son, as I said before, is on the autism spectrum. He’s high functioning, but he’s had behavior challenges. We addressed the problem, and now he’s much better. Many people acknowledged it. The situation was resolved. Now you’re dragging it up again just to hurt my girlfriend’s feelings, and I don’t appreciate that.

Not to mention how hard we have tried to work with you and [girlfriend’s aspie son] after he has repeatedly injured another child.

That’s an exaggeration. There was some hitting and kicking, and we addressed it. He lost TV for a month. He learned his lesson. Again, you’re only bringing this up to make my girlfriend feel guilty.

In short, I feel Oasis and I bend over backwards for you.

“Oasis and I” You do not speak for Oasis, Alexis. You’re on the board of directors, but this is all you. In fact, this conduct goes against two sections of the code of conduct. You should know better.

I feel you make no effort to reciprocate and then have the nerve to criticize when an organization I put so much of myself into says “here are the facts.”

Your feelings are an idiot. They must have constructed that horrible sentence. Your ego was bruised, so now you’re lashing out like a little kid. That’s all there is to this.

I recognize you have the right to feel how you feel,

No you don’t.

but I have the right to be offended by it.

Again, no you don’t. If you had thought about it for two seconds, you would have realized that you are being totally irrational. My girlfriend didn’t say anything offensive, so you shouldn’t be offended.

I have tried to be your friend, but I don’tappreciate you taking a situation like this and trying to turn it around on me to once again, view yourself as the victim.

She is the victim. You are a bully. We thought you were our friend, but you clearly never were. You were just storing up things to use against her. You’re not a good friend, Alexis.

It is a behavior I have seen repeatedly from you and I am tired of dealing with it. I will continue to be civil with you, however I can no longer deal with the continued repeated drama and victimization you bring.

I don’t think you know what it means to be civil. Bringing up qualms with a program that Oasis is doing is not drama. It’s something every member has a right to do.

If you have an issue with MY feelings, please discuss this situation with me. This is a personal matter between two adults, you and me, and does not need to be posted on the Oasis facebook group. This is not a group issue, this is a you and me issue.

Why don’t you want it posted on Oasis’s Facebook group? Because it makes you look bad? I agree that it does, and that’s why I’m posting it here. It is a group issue, Alexis, because you are a member of the board of directors. You are saying all of this on behalf of Oasis, and you are wrong to do that. That’s why I am going to ensure that other members of the board see it and take appropriate action.

————————————-

If anyone wants to read Alexis’s message without my commentary, I’ll post it below.

“Michelle, I want to explain what happened yesterday from my personal point of view. I was feeling frustrated and wanted to share that frustration without going into detail with friends, so I made a vague post to facebook. If I had responded to your question of “What’s it about?” that would obviously defeat the purpose of not posting details, so I chose not to respond to your question. I am under no obligation to explain everything I post to you or anyone else. You then publically demanded an answer, asking if I was annoyed with you. Honestly, this is completely unacceptable behavior for an adult. I gave no indication that the post was about you, yet you chose to assume it was and make yourself a victim. Josh and you then both privately messaged me, neither of you apologized, and honestly Josh had no reason to get involved what so ever, you and I are both grown adults. Furthermore, you then once again acted the victim by saying I had hurt your feelings. You asked if I was annoyed with you and I am under no obligation to explain why I am frustrated, but you are clearly choosing to make MY post about YOUR hurt feelings. Since you clearly must know why I am frustrated. Yes, I am frustrated with you. Honestly, I found your post regarding the Oasis fundraising campaign offensive on a personal level. Considering that I put in 15-20 hours a week into Houston Oasis, Gosha easily puts in 5-10 hours a week, and I’m assuming Josh puts in roughly the same, not to mention the countless other hours put into podcasts, organization, and childcare. The fact that you took this as a personal attack on you and jumped to conclusions without bothering to talk to anyone makes me feel that you want to get as much out of Oasis without giving a damn about the effort anyone else puts in. As a whole and individually, I have felt that we’ve bent over backward to accommodate you. There is a special one on one person in the childcare room every single week for your son. I personally spent 4 or 5 hours one night talking with you and Josh after it came to light that many people were avoiding family friendly happy hour because of you and your kids, and trying to find a reasonable solution. Not to mention how hard we have tried to work with you and Isaac after he has repeatedly injured another child. In short, I feel Oasis and I bend over backwards for you. I feel you make no effort to reciprocate and then have the nerve to criticize when an organization I put so much of myself into says “here are the facts.” I recognize you have the right to feel how you feel, but I have the right to be offended by it. I have tried to be your friend, but I don’t appreciate you taking a situation like this and trying to turn it around on me to once again, view yourself as the victim. It is a behavior I have seen repeatedly from you and I am tired of dealing with it. I will continue to be civil with you, however I can no longer deal with the continued repeated drama and victimization you bring. If you have an issue with MY feelings, please discuss this situation with me. This is a personal matter between two adults, you and me, and does not need to be posted on the Oasis facebook group. This is not a group issue, this is a you and me issue.”

A Figment’s Tale part 13

A small hole opened in the clouds beneath Joshua and Happy, and a pale-green, tennis-ball-sized ball of light flew up through it and stopped near them. In a calming, androgynous voice, it told them, “Follow me.”

Happy became a pair of leathery dragon wings on Joshua’s back, and they flew after the glowing orb. Whoever sent it must have had some awareness of what speeds Happy Face was capable of going, because it flew at many times the speed of sound. Happy and Joshua, of course, had no trouble keeping up, and the sky was clear until they began to see airplanes. This told them that they were near land, but what land they couldn’t yet tell. They were too high up to make out any details yet not high enough to see which continent they were flying over.

The orb made a sudden nosedive, and though it slowed down to half the speed of sound, it was still traveling perilously fast considering anything could pop up in front of them at any moment. Fortunately, nothing did, and they soon landed in the middle of the grand courtyard of a castle.

“Welcome to Dawkins Castle,” the orb said. “Built six hundred years ago for King Richard the wise, it now serves as the home base for the Global Bureau of Celestial Events. The director will be here shortly to show you around.”

The orb disappeared, and Joshua and Happy Face started to look around the throne room, where the orb had left them. It was vast and mostly empty, aside from many thick marble columns that divided the room into large squares. There was also a tremendous throne that could have seated five large men, suggesting to Joshua and Happy that King Richard was either morbidly obese or compensating for something. Along the walls were paintings of young women in outfits that would have been considered skimpy six hundred years ago. They left the women’s necks and shoulders exposed, but no ankles could be seen.

“They weren’t Richard’s wives,” said the voice of a little girl from behind Joshua.

Happy had already noticed her, but he assumed she was the child of one of the Bureau members. Joshua turned and looked down to see that the girl was wearing a very nice grey business suit and had her hair tied back in a bun. She looked and spoke exactly like a small adult.

“Are you a midget?” Happy asked.

“Happy!” Josh admonished him. “I’m sorry, he doesn’t have much of a filter.”

“That’s all right, neither do I. I’m Evelyn Carlisle, executive directer of the GBCE. No, I’m not a midget. I have the mind of an adult and the body of a child. We don’t have time to get into it right now, but I’m sure you’ll discover a lot of things about this organization that will strike you as strange or even impossible. But believe me when I say that you are by far the most amazing thing here. That’s why we recruited you.”

“Is it why you attacked us?” Joshua asked.

“Yes. When you fled from our agents, I assumed that you weren’t interested in joining, so I thought it was best to have you eliminated. I’m glad to see I was wrong about you.”

“Like we were going to go anywhere with a couple of men in black,” Happy said.

“I didn’t assign the particular agents. I just told my assistant to have you brought here. I agree that they weren’t the best choice, but hindsight is 20/20. Now if you’ll come with me to my office, we’ll discuss the terms of your employment.”

Evelyn led them down a long hallway to a luxurious office. It had been the king’s bedroom, so it was the largest room in the castle other than the throne room. She handed Joshua a folder containing details of his first job and told him that he would be doing that same kind of thing for the first year. When she asked what they wanted to be paid, Happy joked that they wanted a million dollars a month. Their eyes went wide when she said, “Done.” They took a closer look at the folder to see what they wanted them to do for that kind of money.

They were to infiltrate a newly formed religion called Scirotology, get close to its leader, Daviid McCavige, and report their observations to their supervisor, Abraham Lincoln.

“Abraham Lincoln?” Joshua asked. “What an unfortunate name.”

“He’s not just a guy named Abraham Lincoln,” Evelyn told him. “He’s the Abraham Lincoln.”

“But isn’t he dead?”

“Yes. That’s why he’s a ghost. Don’t stare at his forehead. I told you there were stranger things at the Bureau than me.”

———

Evelyn sent them, head spinning, out to find their own lodging and begin their assignment with a month’s salary in advance in the form of a debit card. They could live anywhere they wanted, and they wouldn’t have to use their powers to steal what they needed. Evelyn also assured them that nobody would be looking to recapture them and throw them back into the Happy Place. They were declared sane, and their record was wiped clean of anything that would flag them to law enforcement. That made it safe for them to get some new clothes and travel to the church in Rome where Happy was able to summon Catholic Yahweh. Surely that was where the god would be recovering.

Nobody recognized them as they walked through the doors of the church wearing a ten-thousand-dollar suit. They sat in a pew and tried reaching out to the Catholic god with their thoughts.

Yahweh? they said together. It’s Happy Face and Joshua Peterson. Can you hear us? We came to say we’re sorry for what Happy did to you and to offer our help in getting back on your feet.

At first, they were answered only by silence. Then they heard a whisper in their mind. They strained to hear it.

When I get my strength back, I’m going to smite you into oblivion.

A Figment’s Tale part 12

Joshua and Happy’s conversation was interrupted by a visitor, which they didn’t expect all the way up in the clouds above the Indian Ocean. Another dragon approached them, but it didn’t attack like the last one. It had a flatter face than the previous one, with forward-facing eyes and a short snout. Its intelligent and wise appearance put Joshua and Happy Face at ease, as did its small size. It was about the size of a housecat.

“Good day, o mighty ones,” it said. “I wouldn’t dream of attacking you after what happened to the last ‘representative’ that was sent to you. I come from a team of imaginers who work for the Global Bureau of Celestial Events.”

“Did they send the last dragon?” Happy asked.

“I apologize for that. It was a miscommunication within the Bureau. It won’t happen again, I promise  you. It couldn’t possibly, since the people who sent it are now in comas. They overestimated their own strength.”

“So why did they send you?” Joshua asked.

“Yes, of course. The Bureau would like to extend an offer of employment. in exchange for your cooperation and services, they’ll pay you anything you want.”

“What do they want us to do for them?” Happy asked.

“First, they want to scan you to gauge your strength. It’s really just aiming a device at your head for a few seconds, not painful at all. Then they want to put you–the figment–through some training exercises.”

“My name is Happy Face,” Happy told him.

“Oh, you have a name already? That’s interesting. Anyway, after the testing and training, you’ll be sent out on assignments about once a month. Nothing dangerous, just reconnaissance. We investigate the formation of gods in new religions. I gather you know by now the truth behind gods.”

“They’re figments like me,” Happy said.

“Yes,” the dragon said. “When people gather together for a common belief, they can give form to what they believe in where there was none before. There is a delicate balance of power among the current gods and goddesses, and new ones have to be worked in gracefully to prevent war. When you fought the Catholic god, the Bureau was afraid that a war had broken out. We couldn’t believe it when we found out it was the figment of a single individual who had challenged him and nearly won.”

“Hey!” Happy protested. “I did win!”

“From what our agents observed, I’d call it a tie. You both used a lot of energy and emerged from the fight extremely depleted. The god you fought will take centuries to recover, while you seem to be back at full strength.”

“What do you mean he’ll take centuries to recover?” Joshua asked.

“What I mean is that half of the world’s Catholics are in comas because of the beating you gave their god.”

Joshua and Happy Face were stunned. They never meant to hurt anyone, let alone millions of people.

“I didn’t know,” Happy said sadly. “I never meant for that…”

“What can we do to undo the damage?” Joshua asked.

“You can’t do anything for them,” the dragon said. “Their minds took a heavy blow, but they’ll recover eventually. The children will awaken first, then the adults, and then hopefully some of the elders.”

“Hopefully some of the elders?” Happy asked. “What does that mean?”

“We don’t expect many of them to ever come out of their comas. But like you said, you didn’t know. This isn’t your fault.”

“Of course it’s my fault!” Happy shouted. “And I don’t understand why you’re so unemotional about it. Don’t you care?”

“I’m not connected to my creators’ emotions like you are. I’m a product of their intellect. They don’t sincerely believe in me. They’re just projecting me so I can talk to you here. So will you join us?”

“We’ll consider your offer after we find a way to help the people we’ It’ve hurt,” Joshua answered. “How can we contact you?”

“You won’t need to. We have eyes and ears everywhere. When you’re ready, you’ll see me again.”

The dragon disappeared, leaving Joshua and Happy to ponder what he’d told them. They communicated to each other through their emotions. Happy was beside himself with grief for what he did, and Joshua wanted to comfort him, but it really was pretty bad.

“What can I do?” Happy asked. “I can move things, but I’m not telepathic except for projecting a few illusions like this body and clothes for you.”

“When I’m totally asleep, you’re extremely strong,” Joshua said. “And when you needed to rest, I was able to do things I can’t do when you’re awake. Maybe if you go completely dormant, I can use my telepathic abilities to help the people.”

Happy smiled, the fog of his despondency lifting. “Oh yeah, that’s right. You’re telepathic. Maybe you can go into their dreams and wake them up from there.”

“I don’t think people dream while they’re in comas. It’s not normal sleep. But maybe I can go into their minds and fix the damage. That would take forever, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Happy said. “You’d have better luck healing Catholic Yahweh and healing everyone through him.”

Joshua smiled at his figment. It was the best idea he could think of, and they could use their new connection with the GBCE to contact the version of Yahweh believed in by the world’s Catholics and undo the damage they did. He stood up and shouted to the sky, “We’re ready to join you now!”

Worship it or go to Hell.