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The Origin of Erika (as told by Josefina)

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Download MP3| Download Audiobook | Duration: 00:12:40

{sound of tapping on microphone}

Josefina: Now?

Erika: {stern opera}

Josefina (subdued): Oh, okay.

Josefina (clears throat): Erika was born—

Erika: {chiding opera, opera that raises its eyebrow at you}

Josefina: Erika coalesced from the darkest stardust and brightest shadows. The mortal coil gave boundary and form, but slowly Erika — she during the time of her youth, although now a being of power and will, transcending definitions of body and form — began to see. She fought—

Erika: {reprimanding opera, opera that clears its throat}

Josefina: She explored the limits of her life, always pushing at the edges between herself and the object of her curiosity. Under her questing fingers, clay became snakes and horses fighting to protect their arroyo from thirsting giants and rampaging goats. Her sisters—

Erika: {stern opera, opera that says 'you can do better'}

Josefina (upset but trying to hide it): The mortal entities that shared genetic material with Erika's decaying form taught her to cook, the skills of transforming raw ingredients into something that wouldn't leave them wheezing and frothing on the clay floor. She was fascinated by how the the bloody scraps of the chupacabra their chickens brought down could become such a tasty stew, and so she set off to learn all she could about the bloody alchemy of cooking.

Erika: {soothing opera, opera that tells you to stop crying because it's silly and will give you a headache}


Josefina: Ummm, hi again. I'm here to continue the story of Erika.

Erika: {bees buzz quietly}

Josefina: Right, it's been a while. Some stuff happened, but I'm back. Although I'm not really sure why.

Erika: {agitated bees}

Josefina: Okay, okay, I guess it is important to document Erika's past, and I know Erika isn't the Smiling God—

Erika: {BEES}

Josefina: Fine, Erika isn't Catheryn-with-a-C, called the Smiling God, or ####.

Erika: {bees}

Josefine: Okay, let me restart. You can edit this, right?

Erika: {bees on a lovely night}

Josefina: I'm here to tell the story of Erika, who values knowledge and the deep understanding that only comes from seeing through into the glowing cracks of WHAT-IS. I resume my truth after Erika left those with whom her mortal prison shared chemicals and aether and biochemical reactions that are interpreted, by those who endure them, as emotions.

Erika: {bees}

Josefina (sharply): I'm telling the story of Erika, as Erika understood it to be. Don't, you can't, it's against the rules to exercise undue influence.

Erika: {bees}

Josefina (determined): Erika left those whom she called sisters, a relationship designation influenced by the limitations of language and understanding, and sought out master chefs. She learned the arts of filleting and maceration, of cracking bones for marrow and creating the fluffiest, puffiest souffle de cerveaux, of bludgeoning the rude instruments her then-body used to perceive the attribute known as taste and letting them scream in exquisite agony.

Erika: {BEES}

Josefina (cranky): I'm just following instructions, relating Erika's story with as much truth as I am able.

Erika: {bees}

Josefina (a little remorseful): I know, and you are helpful. I'm glad it's you, I just…. Well, anyway.

Erika: {bees}

Josefina: Erika mastered skills and techniques, methods and marvels, but she was unsatisfied.

Erika: {bees}

Josefina: Erika yearned to know more, the whys and the hows. Erika went to the Library.


Josie: Hello, listener. I'm Josie, and once more I resume the story of Erika.

Erika: {burbling stream}

Josie (laughs): Erika says hello.

Josie: It's been so long listeners. Why has it been so long?

Erika: {the glubbing sound of a stopped up sink draining}

Josie: Pft, rainbows, it was only a flesh wound. Ah, that's where I was. Erika was visiting the Library.

Erika: {dramatic rain}

Josie: Exactly! She didn't even know the proper offerings for the librarians, took bloodstones instead of heartstones, can you imagine?

Erika: {indoor waterfall}

Josie: Okay, no one knows the proper offerings, but she was lucky they didn't eviscerate her on principle. But they respect seekers of knowledge, so they taught her instead.

Erika: {dramatic rain}

Josie (melodramatic): The keepers of the veil recognized the potential in the young supplicant, and they guided her through the waters limning reality, letting her see ever-deeper, ever-stronger, ever-true, and so Erika sipped at the spring of knowledge and did not drown.


Erika: {deep, dark, chthonic tolling}

Old Woman Josie (wind whistles underneath her words): Oh, pipe down, drama llama.

Erika: {church bell}

Old Woman Josie (wind howls): Don't even start with me. I'm here to finish this tale, and you're here to witness, no more.

Erika: {cowbell says 'hey'}

Old Woman Josie (the echoing wind of a lonely mountain): Erika learned from the Librarians, the disciples of knowledge and the keepers of the veil, and slowly the scales fell from her eyes. She perceived the ##### who would ooze throughout the world if not held in check. She perceived the Smiling God who would crack open the skulls of all living things and drink their entrails. She perceived Erika who would break the strings that kept the world from drifting into the indifferent void just to see what happened.

Erika: {single chime}

Old Woman Josie (wind whistles underneath her words): Erika's just not found a heartstone sharp enough yet, and you know it.

Erika: {triangle dings as a shrug}

Old Woman Josie (the echoing wind of a lonely mountain): Erika saw ever-deeper, ever-stronger, ever-true, and Erika began to see that the strings tying herself to her mortal body were fragile, and if she just—

Erika: {school bell says A-HEM}

Old Woman Josie (wind whistles underneath her words): You do realize the hypocrisy of obscuring Erika's epiphany, you overwrought feathermop? Especially since Erika is the only sentience who will ever hear this story?

Erika: {sullen, deep bell}

Old Woman Josie (wind whistles underneath her words): No, you cannot have Cecil instead of me, you greedy guts. ##### has already claimed him. Honestly, you'd think you were bereft and deprived, like they didn't just have a summer reading program opening young minds.

Erika: {little hand bell is affronted}

Old Woman Josie (laughing zephyr): There, there greedy, more will become. (sad wind) More will always become Erika.


Josie turns off the tape recorder and slouches back with a sigh. Recently doing so feels neither good nor bad, but long habit moves her flesh in such motions without her conscious thought. Something is coming — the Erikas have been antsy lately — but she knows not what. She can perceive the atoms stringing together the universe, the transdimensional vortices that inhabit Radon Canyon, and the true face of the Sheriff, but perceiving the future remains beyond her as long as she binds herself to this form.

Josie pops the tape describing Erika's past out of the tape recorder. She runs a finger along over the label, "The History of Josefina Ortega" in copperplate script, wondering what Erika in the future will hear her tale. She levers herself out of her chair and slowly walks over to the reference desk. The librarians are off duty, so she leaves the tape on the desk; they'll make sure it's shelved correctly until such time as it can join the vaults of Erika's history in the basement.


Erika digs around the interdimensional vortex in the table until the correct deck of cards is located; unfortunately, it's wedged between the Goatfoot Nebula and a bag of marbles, and extracting it makes Erika's waveforms cramp.

Erika, who is terrible at Pai Sho and has been delegated to snack duty, brings out trays of comestibles. ##### looks at the steaks. A long appendage emerges from beneath voluminous robes and pokes them; they don't bleed.

"I don't know," Erika says "I figured you or Smiley over there were trying some weird fad diet."

##### and the Smiling God look at Erika. "Whatever," Erika says, annoyed by their melodrama and bloody teeth. "You deal with the take-out next time."

Erika shuffles, extracting favorable cards with the ease of long practice. The last game had ended poorly for Erika, but this round has such interesting new players on the board. It's a gamble, putting constitutionally opposed forces into play towards the same end, but Erika's willing to take the chance. Besides, Erika is better than Erika at Morningstar Crescent, and there are enough dice in play that the Smiling God (pretentious twit; Erika remembered when the so-called god was just Catheryn-with-a-C) will lose track and forget certain things.

The fleshy pith of an orange. The harmonic resonances between oaks.

The finer points of contract law.

Erika smirks and makes the first move.