The Life and Diary of Harris Dueller: Dissollusion

24 DEC 91
December 24, 1991
        I’ve decided to keep a diary now that my life is “open.” It’s been two months since I arrived in New England to start over as a private eye. Things are rather quiet here, but it’s the kind of quiet that has skeletons waiting to fall out of closets or jump out of shadows. I’m not hunting cases yet, but once I’m settled in, I expect it won’t be long before action starts walking through the door.
        It would be easier to put everything in order if I had my money. I should’ve received my first pension check by now; I put in a call this morning to check on it. Whatever nameless paper pusher answered told me he couldn’t find any reference to Harris Dueller in the system. I tried to explain that I was an x-employee, but he didn’t seem to get it. I can expect a call from a supervisor sometime tomorrow. Their human resources department is every bit as efficient as Congress.
~ Harris Dueller

     “Ugh!” Well, that’s the last of what’s going in the attic. Who knew I had so many boxes of junk? I hate these flimsy collapsing stairs. For all the money I put into that bookcase in the living room, I should’ve thought to have some real stairs built up here.
     I guess that’s about all I can do for now; everything that can go somewhere is where it belongs. There won’t be any more renovations until I get paid.
     That better be my pension calling, “this is Harris Dueller.”
     “Hello Mr.Dueller,” oh no, it can’t be, please not him, “I understand you’re expecting some pension payments that haven’t come; how unfortunate.”
     Chyort voz'mi, “Hefling Balduque, it’s been a long time. Merry Christmas.”
     “You have me at a disadvantage, sir. I don’t believe I know a ‘Harris Dueller.’ In fact, I can’t seem to find a record of anyone by that name ever working here. Are you sure this is the right place? Perhaps you should try the Ace Tomato Company.”
     “Ha ha, very funny. You know my company nom de guerre. Now, quit messing around, I’ve got bills to pay and more on the way.”
     “I’m afraid I haven’t the foggiest idea what you mean, Mr.Dueller. There simply is no payment scheduled for you in our system.”
     I don’t have time for this, “Hefling, if you’re not going to take this seriously than at least have the decency to put me through to the department head.”
     “I AM the department head, and you will address me as Commissioner Balduque. You’re just as arrogant now as ever, aren’t you?”
     Wait a minute, “you’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Why? Oh, you can’t possibly still be blaming me for how things turned out. It’s been twenty years!”
     “WHY NOT‽ It’s your fault! If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be sitting here sorting through other people’s careers all day; I’d HAVE one!”
     He’s a nut! “They were competitive placement exams. It’s not my fault I scored higher than you. I wasn’t grading them! I was just trying to do my best; same as anybody.”
     “NO! You CHEATED! You cheated me in the exams, you cheated me out of field duty, and you cheated me out the career I should’ve had. You stole my life, Karson!”
     “I think you’re confusing me with someone else. My name is Dueller, and I didn’t cheat. I thought outside the box. That’s probably why they chose me! You were always a rules lawyer. Well guess what, you think inside the box and they put you in a cubicle. You got exactly what you earned!” Oh, I shouldn’t have said that.
     “There it is. You do think you’re better than me. Well guess what, now you’re gonna get what you deserve: nothing. Go think your way outta that box.”
     “Fine, I do think I’m better than you, because it’s true. If you think you’re gonna get away with this, just wait ‘till I—“ ::click::
     Yeah, I definitely shouldn’t have said that. Well that’s just great. Now what do I do? I’ve got bills going past due, no work lined up, and no pension coming any time soon. I’m gonna have to go looking for trouble, and I’ll need somewhere to bring it. Maybe I should turn that back room into an office, just for the time being.
     It’s coffee time. I need to relax. I need to think. I wonder how the local police feel about sharing. Maybe there’re some missing persons or something in the paper. May as well sit down, enjoy some hot black caffeine and mosey through the late edition.


“Yeah, you and me both. Merry Christmas to you too, ‘ol Gorby.”

A New Step Backward, er forward ...

    I've decided to write a series of flash-fiction stories to get myself going on writing again. This way I can get used to the feeling and habit writing regularly AND finishing writing things regularly. I want to do a set of nine from different genres, but this first one is to kick off an on-going series I'd like to keep flowing for a while. It's kind of a prequel to The Investigation of Prof. Elwood Gerrts. It doesn't deal directly with that story line, but it's about detective Dueller. The first insallment will mostly be set-up, establishing his place in the world. As it moves forward, I'm hoping to make it a series of "gritty detective stories." I'm a little nervous to fulfill that concept, but I want to try it. Here's my complete list of "The Nine" flash-fictions I want to write, aka, 9,000 Words. Some of these are marked with titles I'm considering.

    Modern (20th century to present)
Hopeless Horror: Subjunct
Weird Science: The Planes Station
Detective: Dueller

Space Opera: Battle Cruiser Azusa
Allegory (the more things change …)
Sci-Fi Adventure

Adventure-horror: Mythostrosity or Mythstrosity
(i.e. “Konan VS Cthulhu” where Konan wins)
Fantasy (traditional swords and sorcerers): Terratoise
Period (realistic)


ParserLewis.Lose = false

    {Dialogue="Ugh, another letter from

      {ReadsLetter="Dear Mr.Parser, while we have
      had our differences in the past, it is my
      sincere hope that we can come to a meaningful
      discourse regarding the following request I
      have entered for your approval:"}

      {SkimsRemainder="Hmm...'wait for,' yadda,
      yadda, ... 'on ready, wait for,' what? ...
      blah, blah, 'print to screen,' trash ...
      garbage ... nonsense! Okay, I think I'm ready
      to respond to this."}


      {Dialogue="Oh, I got message back from

        {ReadsLetter="Error compiling: attribute not
        found 'TriangleGames.Brain'"}


Smashing the Kaleidoscope

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

      This is one of my favorite quotes, although today is the first time I've had the pleasure of seeing it sans paraphrase. I completed a survey for Nintendo's 3DS, and part of my answer reminded me of this again. I said, "Modern video games are like modern cars: they're all starting to look the same."
      My greater point was that I appreciate how Nintendo continues to innovate without losing the traditional "feel" that so intangibly makes video games what they are. Then I started thinking about all the naysayers who insist Nintendo is not the innovation machine its fans make of it, and that lead me back to Mr.Twain. There are no new ideas, only new combinations of ideas. The statement seems to be true in so many facets of our world.
      Are smartphones innovative? They're basically cellphones with computer programs on them. Cellphones are just portable-phones with more range, and those are just regular phones with no cord.
      All the newest car styles are mixed-up parts of existing vehicles. It's right in the name of some of them; SUV simply stands for Sport/Utility Vehicle. There's really nothing new about powering a machine with electricity either.
      The film currently regarded as the highest grossing theater release of all time is Avatar, or as I call it, "Pocahontas In Space."
      One of the big selling points for Microsoft's xBox360 is its network service that lets you play with/against numerous other users, much like home computer games have been doing since at least the early 90's.
      So how are we to define innovation in a world devoid of any truly "new" ideas?

INNOVATION (from Merriam-Webster online)
1: the introduction of something new
2: a new idea, method, or device : novelty

      If a new "method" counts, then surely a new application does, and that should suffice to allow Nintendo to keep its fan-awarded innovation merit badge as well as anyone else. I'd like to add one more Twainism in support of Nintendo's reputation.

The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds.
- Following the Equator

      Putting aside my defensive Nintendo fan-boy mentality, there's a greater reason I decided to write all this today, and it goes back to the statement that started this thought-train on the long winding track I thank you for following. They're all starting to look the same.
      Not just video games but everything, especially in technology. Even as a kid, I was very put off by the sight of a TV with a built in VCR. In recent times they've made game consoles act more like full computers, computers act like phones, phones act like cameras, the internet is a place where people can buy groceries, cars, and books or attend college courses and go to work. Now, I can call a friend, post to a blog, play games, take photos/videos, listen to music, read a book, watch movies, run a variety of computer applications, and surf the net all on one device. I won't lie, it's quite handy, but it also makes me sick.
      It seems to me that the electronics industry, and basically everyone, is looking to break open Mr.Twain's kaleidoscope of creativity and frankenstein ALL the pieces together into one large pane of stained-glass that presents no meaningful primary image or artistic design.
      The paranoia this gives me (at least I HOPE it's only paranoia) is that the convenience of this single Master Device will become such a focus to those responsible for pushing technology forward that progress in separate single function items like phones, TV's, computers, and video games will be noticeably slowed or even halted. A leftovers casserole can be perfectly good when cooked up by the right person, but it lacks the uniqueness, artistry, and flavor of any individual dish. As an artistic techno-junky, I enjoy seeing each artist express themselves through the specific aesthetics of their own craft. It saddens me to think that there's even a possibility of so many people losing the opportunity to do so.
      Video games are the easiest way for me to describe it. With the ability to make fully 3 dimensional play environments for games, that seems to be what everyone wants to do for every genre of game. As graphic capabilities improve, more and more developers seem convinced that every game should look as much like reality as possible. In my opinion, that hampers designers' ability to express their own unique art style in the game's animation as well as the general design and feel of each game. We've already hit a point where it's considered passe to make an actual RPG simulator, as they used to be called. It was a kind of game designed to emulate the experience of playing a table-top RPG. Now, video game RPG's are as much action games as any first-person shooter.
      The art and game-play styles of many well remembered games was a big part of what made them so memorable. What if the characters and backgrounds in games like Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy, Super BomberMan, and MegaMan all simply looked like real people and places with an over-the-shoulder view of a 3D setting? Would so many people remember them so fondly? Would they be able to maintain their individual charms? Or would we get them mixed-up with each other in our minds?
      Compare those questions to technology and the world in general. I feel the same way about the features and sleek casing of a camera, the cover and binding of a book, the operating system of a computer, the actual physical buttons of a phone, or the controller of a game console. Are we moving toward a time when none of that will exist anymore, because all of our pieces of ideas have been lumped together in one item which looks and functions almost identically from every manufacturer? If we ever truly reach that point...

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
- Prof.Farnsworth, Futurama


Unusual Password Systems

A note to the young at age: Some of you may only think of passwords as a mildly annoying security function to be dealt with by auto-fill, but back in the old days passwords were used to record progress in video games, sometimes to humorous results.

A lot of passwords in the old console era were only about 16 characters long. Some were as short as 4, and a few were much longer. Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) for instance had a 60 character password using both upper and lower case letters, numbers, AND special characters! Ugh, what a chore.

I was recently playing an NES title named Faxandu, a side-scrolling RPG/adventure game that I'd heard of many times but never seen in action before. I was amazed by the ingenuity and flaws in the passwords. In Faxandu, you must go to a town sage to receive a password. The passwords record which town you are in, what items you have, and your Title. “What’s a title,” you ask?

As you gain experience and levels you reach certain benchmarks where the same sages in each town will bestow you with a title. Rather than recording your exact experience points or even your level the passwords you take record your current title. Each title is set to a specific amount of experience and gold that you start with when enter your current password. So for instance let’s say your current title provides you with 5,000 experience and 3,000 gold. If you have anything more than those amounts when you stop playing, you lose anything ‘extra’ when you return. However, because these amounts are set, if you have LESS than 3,000 gold when you take a password (say because you just spent it all on healing items), then you can stop, reset, re-enter the password, and magically be back up to 3,000 gold.

At first I thought this was just some crazy idea to be innovative, but then I thought about what a password does. Faxandu’s passwords are already 32 characters long. If they had to record exact numeric values for experience and gold through cryptic lettering then the passwords would be huge. Instead, the password only needs to use enough characters to know your title which the program can use to reference static numbers for your progress. So, while it is EXTREMELY easy to exploit, this was actual a very clever solution for such an early RPG(-ish) game.

I have to assume that these kinds of password issues are a big part of why traditional RPG simulation titles never became big until the battery powered save files were introduced. Thank god for save files, but these kinds of bizarre quirks are one of the things I miss most about older games.


I simply refuse to accept that.

As far as I am concerned, the following films do not exist until a sequel admits that they were simply dream sequences, as that is the only context in which I can accept them.

Alien3 (and therefore...)
Alien: Resurrection (though it tried it's best with what it had to work with.)
Star Wars: Episodes 1, 2, and 3
The Hitcher 2
The Exorcist 2
Fright Night 2
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

I feel like something's missing...
There may be a sequel to this post.


The Investigation of Prof. Elwood Gerrits: Part IX

Here I am back at the museum. Karson told me that key-gel capsules never existed. I’ll have to use a lock-pick gun. Hopefully, Mathews assumes I’m in Arkham. I should surprise him. If not, there’s the M203. And they said it was pointless to keep one around the house.
There’re new guards, but no time for subtlety. This is it.
No mercy for the wicked. Have to move in fast now.
“Mathews! It’s over. Get rid of that thing and shut down the device!” Great beyond, it’s worse than I remembered it.
It’s like some mammoth carnivorous jar-plant overflowing with tendrils, yet it has a reptilian quality. But that bulb on top is the worst part, pulsating with that sickening violet light!
I was right, Mathews is surprised, “Dueller! Why?! No matter; Ichsrloj, erase him!”
Go time. Sling the M203 under my arm, aim for that hellish bulb, and launch a grenade!
::THUP! hooooo-POW!::
It’s amazing how immediately I regret that. Instead of its flesh exploding, it has exploded with more flesh. The bulb expanded chaotically like a malignant tumor seen in time-lapse, then burst forth with countless more tendrils, each baring a bulb. What have I done? I understand now what it is I hate so much about that… those bulbs. They’re what let it rewrite reality, and now it’s going haywire.
It’s freaking out too, I think. The walls are convulsing with mutations of form to break Euclidean’s heart as reality seems to vomit new laws continuously. New spacial dimensions warp the battlefield incomprehensibly.
I would take advantage of it to get across the room to the Spire of Sobek and remove the coin, but everything’s changing so rapidly I can’t. The thing has found its balance. It seems to move by spinning like a leaning top, making it reel towards me.
Okay, new scene, old idea, “COME ON, FREAK!”
“SHOW ME WHAT YOU’VE GOT!” Have to maneuver carefully, and pray to god it only strikes me instead of grabbing.
“UGH!” Yes! It threw me the right way. Land into a slide, hands steady. Fire! ::BLAM!::
I wind up at the Spire and shoot the coin, hoping some good will come of it. It pays off. As I watch the coin slide up and off into the air, flipping over and over, Mathews screams madly and the thing strobe’s with sound. The coin goes straight back down on the Spire, but it’s reversed. No chance that’s luck or skill.
The gate immediately begins drawing the creature in like a vortex. I have to get away fast, before it gets me too. No time to watch and double-check anything.
Outside, I can see the whole building folding in, then all stops. The gate must have stopped when the Spire got pulled through. It’s over. The thing is gone. Mathews is gone. What Am I forgetting?
“Agent Dueller, I’m sorry.” Oh, Karson.
Well, can’t say I blame him. What a beautiful light.



That's right, it's Two Times Tuesday!

My apologies to anyone whose looking for having missed last Thursday's installment. I've been wearing myself too thin to keep up with the kids and etc etc blah blah yadda yadda you know what I mean, right?

Anyway, I've got to have at least nine prts to this thing, right? So, Witrh a little extra coffee and determination I pounded out one late last night and the other this morning. So I guess the last one will be ... Let's call it Friday just to be safe, but hope that it come "early" on Thursday.

Also, I haven't been commenting on anyone else's stories because I just haven't been at the computer long enough to read them, but I'll catch up on that too. I'm dying to know what's going on in some of these! Best of luck to all (and myself), see you on the other side! (Of the project)

The Investigation of Prof. Elwood Gerrits: Part VIII

Mathews isn’t done yet. He’s gonna call every one of those damnable abominations to the gate he opened using the Spire of Sobek. There’s no knowing how many there are, but if they can alter physics just be looking at it then it wouldn’t take many to completely warp our reality to their blasphemous whim. Why would anyone want to worship these things? I’ll never understand cultists.
I’m banking he’s still got everything set up at the museum. I better head there immediately. They told me Gerrits never worked there, and they haven’t received any new inventory in years, but they’re all liars. Somehow Mathews has got everyone lying to me to cover this up. My old partner, Karson, was one of the truest and most loyal people I’ve ever known, but even he’s full of sh—wait, is he?
Oh god. The planar wraiths can alter reality. Maybe it’s all been changed. I’m not crazy, and there’s no cover up or conspiracy. All my memories are real, but none of them ever happened to me. Mathews and that creature have made it all true so that I look crazy. Or, if my memories are all based on a reality that no longer exists, then am I crazy?
That would mean Karson’s not a traitor. He’s the same as he’s always been, and he’s going to come after me. He’s going to go for blood, because I really am a murderous lunatic. Do I even have any right to stop him?
Stop it! That’s nonsense! Even if all that’s true, I’m still justified, because I know the truth. Hmm, I know …. If that thing used its mind to alter my reality, then maybe it left some extra stuff in my mind. That would explain all the strange things that have been popping into my head.
Hey! If I really am still CIA, then maybe my old house is still there! It was in my brother’s name, so there’d be no reason to sell it when I “went crazy.” He never used it either, it'd be just the way I left it! I’m making a stop before the museum. This could be very helpful.

Ah, home sweet home. Now let’s see, a spare key should be … taped inside the door above the mail slot … YES! Wow, I had a lot of cheesy 80’s stuff. No time for nostalgia. The equipment room should still have all my old gear.
::COUGH! COUGH!:: Ech, I’ve never seen dust like this.
Okay, I gotta remember this: Set the radio to AM 1066 … reverse the window blinds … and pull on this hanging lamp …
::K-TUNG! Cree-eek::
Hidden room revealed! What have I got in here? 9mm, flak vest, radio jammer … alright, I’m as ready as I’m gonna be now. It’s time to high-tail it to the museum and stop an apocalypse … I do sound crazy. But then if I wasn’t, I might give up.

The investigation of Pro. Elwood Gerrits: Part VII

Options: museum, university.
If I’m right about the body-morph, then Mathews may still be living at ‘Professor Gerrits’s’ home, which should be in the university’s records.
If that … entity is still around, then it might use the museum as a base, if it even thinks that way. Mathews might be with it. Although, if I can avoid confronting the planar wraith, I’d prefer—whoa, where did I get ‘planar wraith?’
“Planar wraith: a conglomerate of displaced spirits merged through anmitosis in limbo, taking uncertain abstract physical form or possessing a mortal, and adept with reverse perception in the prior,” UGH, my head! Why do I know all this? I’m not sure what’s worse: what the thing is or the fact that I know. What is ‘reverse perception?’
“…” oh, sure, now I can’t have random information.
I think I’ll start at the university, after dark.

I couldn’t find any real burgling tools while waiting for nightfall. I’ll have to go in the old fashioned way, which will probably set off an alarm. Fortunately, I noticed where the records are when I was in Dean Crowley’s office. Let’s see them explain that with me in an asylum.
This looks like a good spot; it’s well obscured and near the office. Alright, time to … notice an open window? That’s … disturbingly helpful, but I’ll take it. I’m in. The office should be this way.
What? Come on, Crowley! What do you need with a network linked electric door lock? I’ll have to log into his secretary’s PC. Let’s try the WarGames method. Not the cabinet … or under the desk … ah! Her password post-it is inside the drawer. I love human flaws.
Log in … security admin … entries … office …
Files on left, employee records: A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I—eeexcuse me? Somebody took the whole G section. They were either in a hurry, or extremely cavalier. It’s probably pointless, but I’ll check the computer. Yup, someone actually deleted the entire file tree.
I wonder if Google knows about “reverse perception” or “anmitosis”… nope. As long as I’m here, I’ll see if their infamous occult library can help. I can unlock it from here.
Even the hallways are creepy. Here. There’s occult science. These ought to be covered in Tobin’s edition of the necronomicon … this random knowledge is starting to bother me.
There it is, “Anmitosis: an involuntary process by which multiple objects are forced by the absence of relative spacial dimensions to combine into a singular form; common amongst spirits trapped between planes.”
That’s disturbing. How about, “Reverse perception: possessed by humans at such a low degree as to be generally uncredited; the altering of physical laws through forcefully re-interpretive observation; sends information out to reality as opposed to receiving it; a defining characteristic of planar wraiths.”
Whoa, there’s a ritual to form a “summoning beacon” which brings all planar-wraiths to an open plane-gate … which is torn out.