Stream of Consciousness
A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl
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  18  Shortbottom Possessed
    All things considered, demonic possession isn't that bad.  Of course, Robert Shortbottom wasn't exactly evil incarnate to begin with, just a confused warlock who was unlucky at love.  It certainly made the rail ride home more interesting.  I'm used to carrying on my own internal dialog, but with Robert inside the conversation was less predictable.  He did have a fairly short fuse, so if he got angry I'd start feeling twinges in my toes.  I had to explain to him, that between looking for an exorcist in the yellow pages, and googling,  I could be free of him in no time, at which point the pain he'd produced would quickly subside.  It did take a while initially to try to explain telephones and the Internet to him.  This was particularly true since I don't really understand them myself.   When I was done, he said, "So the Internets are  like a series of tubes?"
    "That's close enough for government work," I said.

    My wife was waiting to get us at the train depot. My cell plan doesn't include Canada, so we had a bit of catching up to do.
    "So how did the trip go?"  she asked.
     "Well, I did sell a lovely Deering banjo.  And then, I picked up a sort of, er, hitch hiker..."
    "How could you do that when you weren't driving?"
    This wench is your wife?  A tasty dish indeed... "Keep your comments to yourself," I said.
    "Have you been drinking?" my wife asked...
    "Certainly not.  I was just going to explain, that while there, I picked up the spirit of a distant ancestor."  Not too distant...
I rapidly appraised her of my situation.  She might have doubted me, as she did when I told her about my alien abduction, but Robert kept butting in with his odd comments enough that she accepted him as the Status Quo.
    "So what do you plan to do about him?" she asked.
    "I think I'll have to do some research.  I never even went to see the movie, The Exorcist..."
    "Until you get this settled, I think you should sleep in the spare bedroom.  I never made any vows for menage a trois."
    This was tough love, indeed, but probably the motivation that I needed, since otherwise I was rapidly adapting to Robert's coexistence.

    The next day I went to visit
Vladivostock Bahclava, the cursed bitar player.   After we jammed for a while, I brought up the issue of Robert.
    He said, "So that explains why you're singing Old English ballads today."
    "Since this sort of falls in the realm of curses, I thought of you," I said.   "Got any ideas on ending this one?"
    "Curses I'm good at...  Ending them--not so good...  Living with curses--that I know about.  Maybe you should join my support group--CA..."
    "Curses Anonymous.  Just follow me this evening when I turn into a werefox.  Meanwhile, sing that ballad of the cruel sisters again.  I liked that one..."

    That evening I went trotting into the woods after the werefox, to a moonlit hill top, where several odd forms were seated in a circle.  They were just making introductions as I joined them.
    "My name is Wolfgang, and I am a werewolf."
    "My name is Vlad, and I am a vampire."
    "My name is Walter, and I'm a zombie."
    "My name is Nicole, and I'm cursed with incredible beauty."
    "That's a curse?"  I said.
    "If you were hit on as often as I am, you'd see it as a curse, " she said.  
    "Perhaps we could discuss it later, over coffee,"  I found myself saying.  "Oh," I said, coming to my senses.  "I see what you mean.
    "Anyway, My name is Phil, and I'm demon possessed.  Well, he's not exactly a demon, just a sort of misguided spirit.  Not exactly evil--more like depressed..."
    "Yip, yip, yip," said the werefox.

    Since the introductions were complete, some of us started telling how CA had improved our lives.  
    "I came upon this old woman walking on the moor the other day, and I thought, ugh, she's probably tough and gristly, so I didn't attack her on the spot. "  There was a smattering of applause.  
    "Me too," said the zombie.  "I haven't bitten anyone for days...."
    "Robert told how he'd resisted the temptation to take over my mouth and shout blasphemies during church.  I told him I really appreciated that.  Then I pointed out how it wasn't really fair of him to be taking over, since this was supposed to be MY support group, not his.   They went on with the meeting while we argued internally.
    Before we knew it the meeting had concluded.  I guess they didn't have a lot of successes to talk over.   I asked the vampire if CA would be likely to cure me.  
    "Cure--there is no cure for some curses.  But I've been going to CA for 200 years, and I figure it's reduced my body count by 20-30 per cent.  As we say in CA, 'It's one body at a time.'"

    By the time I finished talking to the vampire, the others had all disappeared into the night, especially the vampire, with a flapping of wings.  That was too bad, because I really wanted to talk to Nicole--no wait--no I didn't--er--I did but..."
    Even my friend the werefox had trotted off.  I knew from experience he wasn't responsible for his actions as a werefox.  He'd done great to make it to the meeting instead of just stealing some chickens.  But still--here I was, lost in the hills, surrounded by semi reformed monsters.   Robert and I had a spirited conversation about it.
    What's to worry, he said.  At the worst, you'll end up dead like me...  Of course, if you do, I'll have to figure out somewhere else to haunt...
Why don't you zoom up with your astral body, or whatever, to locate which way it is to home?"  I asked.  "You ought to be good for something."
    I am a specialist, he said, an artist of foot related spectral ailments. Would you trouble a brain surgeon with  a wart?  Don't look to an artist for mundane advice.  Anyway I don't remember what your house even looks like.
We were still arguing it out when a bright light appeared zooming across the sky, and suddenly we were floating up inside a space ship.
    "Snoid!" said the alien cat creature.  "We've already probed this one.  Throw it back!"
    "No wait!  You remember me--the banjo salesman!"
    "Yes, we already have you recorded. Sorry for this inconvenience. If you like we can erase your memory of this visit so you won't have disquieting dreams."
    "Wait, I'm different now.  I'm demon possessed.  I bet you haven't gotten one of those before..."
    The large cat creatures consulted a screen.  "You are correct.  It looks like you've got a dead one."
    "Yes, and for the right price, I'd be willing to part with it. "
    "Pay?  For a 300 year old ghost?  You've got to be kidding--it's all worn out."
      I knew I had them then.  I could tell even Robert was titillated by the idea.  There was nothing left but the dickering over the price.  
    I sold Robert Shortbottom for a ride home and a pocket full of semiprecious stones.  I'd requested diamonds, but they laughed and said these were much more beautiful.  Although disappointed, I had to agree.  They pointed a thing at me that they called a collector, with a few flashing lights and buzzing sounds, and suddenly Robert was gone.  One of the cats began singing  "What shall we do with the drunken sailor?" and giggled, claiming that Robert was tickling his toes.  
    When I got home, my wife, though generally long suffering of my interesting life experiences,  has never been a UFO believer.  So I just told her that one trip to the CA meeting produced a total cure.   That evening as we were going to bed, I teased her with a fake English accent, but a night in the guest room exorcised that particular demon...

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Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death