Sunday, November 10, 2019
Chapter 14 Meanwhile, back at the hotel room, Raziel has given up his hopes to be a professional wrestler and has resumed his ambition to be Spider-Man. He made the decision after I pointed out that in Genesis, Jacob wrestles an angel and wins. In short, a human defeated an angel. Raziel kept insisting that he didn't remember that happening and I was tempted to bring the Gideon Bible in out of the bathroom and show him the reference, but I've just started reading the Gospel of Mark and I'd lose the book if the angel found out about it. I thought Matthew was bad, skipping right from Joshua's birth to his baptism, but Mark doesn't even bother with the birth. It's as if Joshua springs forth full grown from the head of Zeus. (Okay, bad metaphor, but you know what I mean.) Mark begins with the baptism, at thirty! Where did these guys get these stories? Ã¢â¬Å"I once met a guy in a bar who knew a guy who's sister's best friend was at the baptism of Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth, and here's the story as best as he could remember it.Ã¢â¬ Well, at least Mark mentions me, once. And then it's totally out of context, as if I was just sitting around doing nothing and Joshua happened by and asked me to tag along. And Mark tells of the demon named Legion. Yeah, I remember Legion. Compared to what Balthasar called up, Legion was a wuss. I asked Balthasar if he was smitten with me,Ã¢â¬ Joshua said over supper. Ã¢â¬Å"Oh no,Ã¢â¬ said Joy. We were eating in the girls' quarters. It smelled really good and the girls would rub our shoulders while we ate. Just what we needed after a tough day of studying. Ã¢â¬Å"You weren't supposed to let him know we were on to him. What did he say?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He said that he'd just come off of a hard breakup and he wasn't ready for a relationship because he just needed to spend a little time getting to know himself, but that he'd love it if we could just be friends.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He lies,Ã¢â¬ said Joy. Ã¢â¬Å"He hasn't had a breakup in a hundred years.Ã¢â¬ I said, Ã¢â¬Å"Josh, you are so gullible. Guys always lie about stuff like that. That's the problem with your not being allowed to know women, it means you don't understand the most fundamental nature of men.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Which is?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"We're lying pigs. We'll say anything to get what we want.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"That's true,Ã¢â¬ said Joy. The other girls nodded in agreement. Ã¢â¬Å"But,Ã¢â¬ said Josh, Ã¢â¬Å"the superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue, according to Confucius.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Of course,Ã¢â¬ said I, Ã¢â¬Å"but the superior man can get laid without lying. I'm talking about the rest of us.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"So should I be worried about this trip he wants me to take with him?Ã¢â¬ Joy nodded gravely and the other girls nodded with her. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't see why,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"What trip?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He says we'll only be gone a couple of weeks. He wants to go to a temple at a city in the mountains. He believes that the temple was built by Solomon, it's called the Temple of the Seal.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"And why do you have to go along?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He wants to show me something.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Uh-oh,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"Uh-oh,Ã¢â¬ echoed the girls, not unlike a Greek chorus, except of course they were speaking Chinese. In the week leading up to Joshua and Balthasar's departure, I managed to talk Pea Pods into taking on a huge risk during her shift in Balthasar's bed. I picked Pea Pods not because she was the most athletic and nimble of the girls, which she was; nor because she was the lightest of foot and most stealthy, which she was also; but because she was the one who had taught me to make bronze castings of the Chinese characters that were the mark of my name (my chop), and she could be trusted to get the most accurate impression of the key that Balthasar wore on the chain around his neck. (Oh yes, there was a key to the ironclad door. Joy had let it slip where Balthasar kept it, but I was sure that she was too loyal to him to steal it. Pea Pods, on the other hand, was more fickle in her loyalties, and lately I had been spending a lot of time with her on and off.) Ã¢â¬Å"By the time you return, I'll know what's going on here,Ã¢â¬ I whispered to Joshua as he climbed onto his camel. Ã¢â¬Å"Find out what you can from Balthasar.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I will. But be careful. Don't do anything while I'm gone. I think this trip, whatever it is that we are going to see, has something to do with the house of doom.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I'm just going to look around. You be careful.Ã¢â¬ The girls and I stood at the top of the plateau and waved until Joshua and the magus, leading the extra camel loaded with supplies, rode out of sight, then, one by one, we made our way down the rope ladder to the passageway in the cliff's face. The entrance to the passageway, and the tunnel for perhaps thirty cubits, were just wide enough for one man to pass through if he stooped, and I always managed to bruise an elbow or a shoulder along the way, which allowed me to show off my ability to curse in four languages. By the time I got to the chamber of the elements, where we practiced the art of the Nine Elixirs, Pea Pods had the small furnace stoked to a red heat and was adding ingots of brass to a small stone crucible. From the wax impression we had made a wax duplicate of the key, from that we'd made a plaster mold, which we'd fired to melt out the wax. Now we'd have one chance to cast the key, because once the metal cooled in the plaster mold, the only way to release it was to break off the plaster. When we broke off the mold Pea Pods held the end of what looked like a brass dragon on a stick. Ã¢â¬Å"That's some key,Ã¢â¬ I said. The only locks I'd ever seen were big bulky iron boys, nothing elegant enough for a key like this. Ã¢â¬Å"When are you going to use it?Ã¢â¬ asked Pea Pods. Her eyes went wide like those of an excited child. Times like that I almost fell in love with her, but fortunately I was always distracted by Joy's sophistication, Pillow's maternal fussing, Number Six's dexterity, or any one of the other charms that were heaped upon me daily. I understood completely Balthasar's strategy to keep from falling in love with any one of them. Joshua's situation, on the other hand, was harder to figure, because he enjoyed spending time with the girls, trading stories from the Torah for legends of the storm dragons and the monkey king. He said that there was an innate kindness born in women that he'd never seen in a man, and he liked being around them. His strength in resisting their physical charms astounded me perhaps even more than the other miraculous things I'd seen him do over the years. I couldn't relate to the act of raising someone from the dead, but turning down a beautiful woman, that to ok courage beyond my understanding. Ã¢â¬Å"I'll take it from here,Ã¢â¬ I said to Pea Pods. I didn't want her to be involved any further in case things didn't turn out well. Ã¢â¬Å"When?Ã¢â¬ asked Pea Pods, meaning when would I attempt to open the door. Ã¢â¬Å"Tonight, when you have all gone to live in the world of pleasant dreams.Ã¢â¬ I tweaked her nose affectionately and she giggled. It was the last time I ever saw her in one piece. At night the halls of the fortress were lit by the ambient light from the moon and the stars that filtered in from the windows. Everywhere we went we carried a clay oil lamp which made the serpentine curves of the passageways seem even more like the inside of a huge creature as they swallowed up the dim orange light. After several years with Balthasar, I could find my way through the main living quarters of the fortress without any light at all, so I carried an unlit lamp with me until I had passed the girls' quarters, stopping at the beaded doorway to listen for their gentle snores. Once I was well away from the girls' door, I lit my lamp using one of the fire sticks that I'd invented using some of the same chemicals we used to make the explosive black powder. The fire stick made a soft pop as I struck it on the stone wall and I could swear I heard it echo from the hall up ahead. As I made my way to the ironclad door I could smell burning brimstone and I thought it strange that the smell of the fire stick had stayed with me. Then I saw Joy standing by the door holding an oil lamp and the charred remains of the fire stick she'd used to light it. Ã¢â¬Å"Let me see the key,Ã¢â¬ she said. Ã¢â¬Å"What key?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Don't be foolish. I saw what was left of the mold in the room of the elements.Ã¢â¬ I took the key from where I'd tucked it in my belt and handed it to Joy. She examined it by lamplight, turning it this way and that. Ã¢â¬Å"Pea Pods cast this,Ã¢â¬ she said matter-of-factly. Ã¢â¬Å"Did she take the impression as well?Ã¢â¬ I nodded. Joy didn't seem angry, and Pea Pods was the only one of the girls skilled enough in metallurgy to have done the casting, so why deny it? Ã¢â¬Å"Getting the impression must have been the hard part,Ã¢â¬ Joy said. Ã¢â¬Å"Balthasar is fierce about guarding this key. I'll have to ask her what she did to distract him. Could be a good thing to know, huh? For both of us.Ã¢â¬ She smiled seductively, then turned toward the door and pushed aside the brass plate that covered the keyhole. In that second I felt as if a frozen dagger had been dragged over my spine. Ã¢â¬Å"No!Ã¢â¬ I grabbed her hand. Ã¢â¬Å"Don't.Ã¢â¬ I was overcome with a feeling of revulsion that wrenched my insides. Ã¢â¬Å"We can't.Ã¢â¬ Joy smiled again and pushed my hand away. Ã¢â¬Å"I have seen many wondrous things since I came here, but there has never been anything that was harmful. You planned this, you must want to know what is in here as much as I do.Ã¢â¬ I wanted to stop her, I even tried to take the key away from her, but she grabbed my arm and pushed into a pressure point that made my whole left side go numb. She raised an eyebrow as if to ask, Ã¢â¬Å"Do you really want to try that, knowing what I can do to you?Ã¢â¬ And I stepped back. She put the dragon key into the lock and turned it three times. There was a clicking of machinery finer than anything I had ever heard, then she withdrew the key and shot the three heavy iron bolts. As she pulled the door open there was a rush of air, as if something had moved by us very quickly, and my lamp went out. Joshua told me what had happened later and I put the timing together myself. As Joy and I were opening the room they called the house of doom, Joshua and Balthasar were camped in the arid mountains of what is now Afghanistan. The night was crisp and the stars shone with a cold blue light like loneliness or infinity. They had eaten some bread and cheese, then settled in close to the fire to share the last of a flask of fortified wine, Balthasar's second that evening. Ã¢â¬Å"Have I told you of the prophecy that sent me in search of you when you were born, Joshua?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You spoke of the star. My mother told me of the star.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Yes, the three of us followed that star, and by chance we met up in the mountains east of Kabul and finished the journey together, but the star wasn't the reason we went, it was only our means of navigation. We made the journey because each of us was looking for something at the end.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Me?Ã¢â¬ Joshua said. Ã¢â¬Å"Yes, but not just you, but what it is said was brought with you. In the temple where we travel now, there lies a set of clay tablets Ã¢â¬â very old Ã¢â¬â the priests say that they date back to the time of Solomon, and they foretell the coming of a child who will have power over evil and victory over death. They say he will carry the key to immortality.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Me? Immortality? Nope.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I think you do, you just don't know it yet.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Nope, I'm sure,Ã¢â¬ said Joshua. Ã¢â¬Å"It's true that I have brought people back from the dead, but never for very long. I've gotten better at healing over the years, but my back-from-the-dead stuff still needs work. I need to learn more.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Which is why I have taught you, and why I am taking you to the temple now, so you may read the tablets yourself, but you must have the power of immortality within you.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No, really, I haven't a clue.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I am two hundred and sixty years old, Joshua.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I've heard that, but I still can't help you. You look good though, I mean for two hundred and sixty.Ã¢â¬ At this point Balthasar started to sound desperate. Ã¢â¬Å"Joshua, I know that you have power over evil. Biff has told me of you banishing demons in Antioch.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Little ones,Ã¢â¬ Joshua said modestly. Ã¢â¬Å"You must have power over death as well or it does me no good.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"What I am able to do comes through my father, I didn't bargain for it.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Joshua, I am preserved by a pact with a demon. If you do not have the powers foretold in the prophecy I will never be free, I will never have peace, I will never have love. Every minute of my life I must have my will focused on controlling the demon. Should my will fail, the destruction would be unlike anything the world has ever seen.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I know how it is. I'm not allowed to know a woman,Ã¢â¬ Joshua said. Ã¢â¬Å"Although it was an angel that told me, not a demon. But still, you know, it's hard sometimes. I really like your concubines. The other night Pillows was giving me a back rub after a long day of studying, and I started getting this massive Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å" Ã¢â¬Å"By the Golden Tenderloin of the Calf!Ã¢â¬ Balthasar exclaimed, leaping to his feet, his eyes wide with terror. The old man began loading his camel, thrashing around in the darkness like a madman. Joshua was following him, trying to calm him down, fearing he might have a fit any second. Ã¢â¬Å"What? What?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It is out!Ã¢â¬ the magus said. Ã¢â¬Å"Help me pack up. We must go back. The demon is out.Ã¢â¬ I stood cringing in the dark, waiting for disaster to fall, for mayhem to reign, for pain and pestilence and no good to manifest, then Joy struck a fire stick and lit our lamps. We were alone. The iron door hung open into a very small room, it too lined with iron. The entire room was just big enough to contain a small bed and a chair. Every span of the black iron walls was inlaid with golden symbols: pentagrams and hex symbols and a dozen others I had never seen before. Joy held her lamp close to the wall. Ã¢â¬Å"These are symbols of containment,Ã¢â¬ Joy said. Ã¢â¬Å"I used to hear voices coming from in here.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"There was nothing in here when I opened the door. I could see in the second before the lamp blew out.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Then what blew it out?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"The wind?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't think so. I felt something brush me as it passed.Ã¢â¬ Just then someone in the girls' quarters screamed, then a chorus of screams joined in, primal screams of absolute terror and pain. Instantly Joy's eyes filled with tears. Ã¢â¬Å"What have I done?Ã¢â¬ I took her sleeve and dragged her down the passage toward the girls' quarters, snatching up two heavy lances that were supporting a tapestry as we passed and handing one to her. As we rounded the curves I could see an orange light ahead and soon I could see that it was fire blazing on the stone walls from broken oil lamps. The screaming was reaching a higher pitch, but every few seconds a voice was removed from the chorus, until there was only one. As we approached the beaded doorway into the concubines' chamber the screaming stopped and a severed human head rolled in front of us. The creature stepped through the curtain, oblivious to the flames that licked the walls around it, its massive body filling the passageway, the reptilian skin on its shoulders and its tall pointed ears grating against the walls and ceiling. In its talonlike hand it held the bloody torso of one of the girls. Ã¢â¬Å"Hey, kid,Ã¢â¬ it said, its voice like a sword point dragged across stone, a yellow light coming from behind its dinner-plate-sized cat's eyes, Ã¢â¬Å"it took you long enough.Ã¢â¬ As they rode back to the fortress, Balthasar explained to Joshua about the demon: Ã¢â¬Å"His name is Catch, and he is a demon of the twenty-seventh order, a destroyer angel before the fall. As far as I could tell, he was first called up to assist Solomon in building the great temple, but something got out of hand and with the help of a djinn, Solomon was able to send the demon back to hell. I found the seal of Solomon and the incantation for raising the demon almost two hundred years ago in the Temple of the Seal.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Oh,Ã¢â¬ Joshua said, Ã¢â¬Å"so that's why they call it that. I thought it had something to do with one of the barky sea animals.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I had to become an acolyte and study with the priests there for years before I was allowed access to the seal, but what is a few years against immortality. I was given immortality, but only so long as the demon walks the earth. And as long as he is on earth he must be fed, Joshua. That's the curse that goes with being this destroyer's master. He must be fed.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't understand, he feeds on your will?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No, he feeds on human beings. It is only my will that keeps him in check, or it was until I was able to build the iron room and put golden symbols on the wall that would hold the demon. I've been able to keep him in the fortress I made him build for twenty years now, and it has been some respite. Until then he was with me every minute, everywhere I went.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Didn't that attract enemies to you?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No. Unless he is in his eating form, I am the only one who can see Catch. In his noneating form he's small, the size of a child, and he can do little harm (except for being incredibly irritating). When he feeds, however, he's fully ten cubits tall, and he can tear a man in half with the swipe of his claw. No, enemies are not a problem, Joshua. Why do you think there are no guards at the fortress? In those years before the girls came to live there, some bandits attacked. What happened to them is legend now in Kabul, and no one has tried since. The problem is that if my will were to fail, he would be set loose again on the world as he was in the time of Solomon. I don't know what could stop him.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"And you can't send him back to hell?Ã¢â¬ Joshua asked. Ã¢â¬Å"I can with the seal and the right incantation, which is why I was going to the Temple of the Seal. Which is why you are here. If you are the Messiah predicted in Isaiah, and on the clay tablets in the temple, then you are the direct descendant of David, and therefore Solomon. I believe that you can send the demon back and keep me from suffering the fate of his return.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Why, what happens to you if he is sent back to hell?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I will assume the aspect of my true age. Which I would guess, by this time, would be dust. But you have the gift of immortality. You can stop that from happening.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"So this demon from hell is loose, and we are returning to the fortress without the Seal of Solomon or this incantation to do exactly what?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I hope to bring him back under control of my will. The room has always held him before. I didn't know, I truly didn't knowÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Know what?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"That my will had been broken by my feelings for you.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You love me?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"How was I to know?Ã¢â¬ The magus sighed. And Joshua laughed here, despite the dire circumstances. Ã¢â¬Å"Of course you do, but it is not me, it's what I represent. I am not sure yet what I am to do, but I know that I am here in the name of my father. You love life so much that you would brave hell to hold on to it, it's only natural that you would love the one who gave you that life.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Then you can banish the demon and preserve my life?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Of course not, I'm just saying that I understand how you feel.Ã¢â¬ I don't know where she found the strength, but the diminutive Joy came from behind me and hurled the heavy lance with as much power as any soldier. (I felt my own knees starting to buckle in the face of the demon.) The bronze tip of the lance seemed to find its way between two of the monster's armored chest scales and drove itself a span deep under the weight of the heavy shaft. The demon gasped, and roared, opening his massive maw to show rows of saw-edged teeth. He grabbed the shaft of the lance and attempted to pull it out, his huge biceps quivering with the strain. He looked sadly down at the spear, then at Joy, and said, Ã¢â¬Å"Oh, foul woe upon you, you have kilt me most dead,Ã¢â¬ then he fell back and the floor shook with the impact of his huge body. Ã¢â¬Å"What'd he say, what'd he say?Ã¢â¬ Joy asked, digging her nails into my shoulder. The demon had spoken in Hebrew. Ã¢â¬Å"He said that you killed him.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Well, duh,Ã¢â¬ said the concubine. (Strangely enough, Ã¢â¬Å"duhÃ¢â¬ sounds exactly the same in all languages.) I had started to inch forward to see if anyone was still alive in the girls' quarters when the demon sat up. Ã¢â¬Å"Just kidding,Ã¢â¬ he said. Ã¢â¬Å"I'm not kilt.Ã¢â¬ And he plucked the spear from his chest with less effort than it might take to brush away a fly. I threw my own lance, but didn't wait to see where it hit. I grabbed Joy and ran. Ã¢â¬Å"Where?Ã¢â¬ she said. Ã¢â¬Å"Far,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"No,Ã¢â¬ she said, grabbing my tunic and jerking me around a corner, causing me to nearly coldcock myself on the wall. Ã¢â¬Å"To the cliff passage.Ã¢â¬ We were in total darkness now, neither one of us having thought to grab a lamp, and I was trusting my life to Joy's memory of these stone halls. As we ran we could hear the demon's scales scraping the walls and the occasional curse in Hebrew as he found a low ceiling. Perhaps he could see in the dark somewhat, but not a lot better than we could. Ã¢â¬Å"Duck,Ã¢â¬ Joy said, pushing my head down as we entered the narrow passage that led to the cliff above. I crouched in this passage the way the monster had to crouch to move in the normal-sized halls and I suddenly realized the brilliance of Joy's choice in taking this route. We were just seeing the moonlight breaking in through the opening in the cliff's face when I heard the monster hit the bottleneck of the passage. Ã¢â¬Å"Fuck! Ouch! You weasels! I'm going to crunch your little heads between my teeth like candied dates.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"What'd he say?Ã¢â¬ asked Joy. Ã¢â¬Å"He says that you are a sweet of uncommon delicacy.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He did not say that.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Believe me, my translation is as close as you want to the truth.Ã¢â¬ I heard a horrible scraping noise from inside the passage as we climbed out on the ledge and up the rope ladder to the top of the plateau. Joy helped me up, then pulled the ladder up behind us. We ran to the stable where the camel saddles and other supplies were normally kept. There were only the three camels that Joshua and Balthasar had taken, and no horses, so I couldn't figure out why we were taking the time to stop until I saw Joy filling two water skins at the cistern behind the stable. Ã¢â¬Å"We'll never make it to Kabul without water,Ã¢â¬ Joy said. Ã¢â¬Å"And what happens when we make it to Kabul? Can anyone there help? What in the hell is that thing?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"If I knew, would I have opened that door?Ã¢â¬ She was remarkably calm for someone who had just lost her friends to a hideous beast. Ã¢â¬Å"I guess not. But I didn't see it come out of there. I felt something, but nothing that size.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Act, Biff, don't think. Act.Ã¢â¬ She handed me a water skin and I held it in the cistern, trying to listen for the sound of the monster over the bubbles as it filled. All I could hear was the occasional bleating of the goats and the sound of my own pulse in my ears. Joy corked her water skin, then went about opening the pig and goat pens, shooing the animals out onto the plateau. Ã¢â¬Å"Let's go!Ã¢â¬ she shouted to me. She took off down the path toward the hidden road. I pulled the water skin from the cistern and followed as quickly as I could. There was enough moonlight to make traveling fairly easy, but since I hadn't even seen the road in daylight, I didn't want to try to negotiate its deadly cutbacks at night without a guide. We had almost made the first leg of the road when we heard a hideous wailing and something heavy landed in the dust in front of us. When I could get my breath again I stepped up to find the bloodied carcass of a goat. Ã¢â¬Å"There,Ã¢â¬ Joy said, pointing down the mountainside to something moving among the rocks. Then it looked up at us and there was no mistaking the glowing yellow eyes. Ã¢â¬Å"Back,Ã¢â¬ Joy said, pulling me back from the road. Ã¢â¬Å"Is that the only way down?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"That or diving off the edge. It's a fortress, remember Ã¢â¬â it's not supposed to be easy to get in and out of.Ã¢â¬ We made our way back to the rope ladder, tossed it over the side, and started down. As Joy made it to the ledge and ducked into the cave something heavy hit me on the right shoulder. My arm went numb with the impact and I let go of the ladder. Mercifully, my feet had tangled in the rungs as I fell, and I found myself hanging upside down looking into the cave entrance where Joy stood. I could hear the terrified goat that had hit me screaming as it fell into the abyss, then there was a distant thump and the screaming stopped. Ã¢â¬Å"Hey, kid, you're a Jew, aren't you?Ã¢â¬ said the monster from above. Ã¢â¬Å"None of your business,Ã¢â¬ I said. Joy grabbed the ladder and pulled me inside the cave, ladder and all, just as another goat came screaming past. I fell on my face in the dust and sputtered, trying to breathe and spit at the same time. Ã¢â¬Å"It's been a long time since I've eaten a Jew. A good Jew sticks to your ribs. That's the problem with Chinese, you eat six or seven of them and in a half hour you're hungry again. No offense, miss.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"What'd he say?Ã¢â¬ Joy asked. Ã¢â¬Å"He says he likes kosher food. Will that ladder hold him?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I made it myself.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Swell,Ã¢â¬ I said. We heard the ropes creak with the strain as the monster climbed onto the ladder.
Friday, November 8, 2019
Cheap and Simple Desk Hacks That Will Boost Your Productivity [Video] A clean and clear desk makes for a clean and clear mindwhich, in turn, makes for better work. It sounds like nonsense, but theres no denying that clutter is distractingÃ¢â¬âif not to you, than to the people around you.Be respectful to your colleagues as well as yourself by trying out some of these no-cost desk hacks from BuzzFeedYellow.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
The following paper will present aspects of two fictional plays compared to a non-fictional play, The Laramie Project. The Glass Managerie and Death of a Salesman are both fictional works, but are reflections on the difficulties of life. An author of a fictional play text uses plot, setting and characters to create imagery and influence the reader's response on how the author wishes the reader to perceive a situation. An author can present his or her work to a reader or audience by descriptions of any settings, detail of weather, characters stereotypical of society and color association. The author has an opportunity to be creative in his descriptions of characters. Characters have certain features that all contribute to the 'characters profile'. Their profile can be built up using many methods as was done in . Each of the main characters have a meaning to their name. For example, Willy Loman has connotations of a man who has lost hope in life due to his mundane occupation and pursuit of the American Dream. He maintains a low, depressed mood throughout the play. Characters can also represent stereotypes of society from their attitudes and behavior. In the play, The Glass Managerie the author presented the characters as stereotypical of society with the female role of doing all the cooking and cleaning and the male role of relaxing and having a good time while telling his wife what and not to do. Arthur Miller deliberately makes him out to be a fool for the pure reason to emphasizes his purpose - mock American society. Willy is wound up in his idea of being 'well liked' success, the materialistic version of the dream. By doing this, miller creates a character that appears to be a pathetic character whom the audience pity and feel for. Miller holds compassion for Willy. Willy has dreams that are self deluding Willy clings to the idea of making... Free Essays on Drama Free Essays on Drama Drama, a five letter word that is used worldwide, everyday. It is a way of communicating a point, a thought, an opinion, an idea, an eventÃ¢â¬ ¦through acting and taking on a different role. Drama can be molded and shaped to transform the mind. It causes awareness and in doing that, it brings forth controversy, as a result of allowing people to see more than one side to the story. Look at drama as a tool, a way to make learning exciting and entertaining, allowing students to become participants rather than passive listeners. Augusto Boal, author of Theatre of the Oppressed, references theatre as a weapon, a way of opening the doors to its spectators, and increasing their awareness of a situation, seeing it at an angle in which they may have never acknowledged before. Drama and its history show the steps different cultures took in modifying its meaning and purpose and further explaining the foundation that these cultures laid down to make drama what it is today. Drama as seen in todayÃ¢â¬â¢s society, highlights some specific events that demonstrate the variety of ways theatrical shows are performed throughout the world and how these performances impact the audience. Augusta Boal once said, Ã¢â¬Å"Theatre is a weapon, and it is the people who should wield it.Ã¢â¬ There is little evidence that can concretely show how drama evolved in the first place. Researchers strongly consider that the basic concept travels as far back as the cavemen. It is a strong possibility that cavemen would center themselves around a campfire, each taking turns reenacting the events of a hunt from that day. Researchers believe this gradually took on a more ritualistic meaning and incorporated chanting, dancing and some early forms of music. These enactments were assumed to bring good luck for the hunt of the following day. Although these conclusions are not factually based, historians pungently feel that due to limited means of communication through languag... Free Essays on Drama The following paper will present aspects of two fictional plays compared to a non-fictional play, The Laramie Project. The Glass Managerie and Death of a Salesman are both fictional works, but are reflections on the difficulties of life. An author of a fictional play text uses plot, setting and characters to create imagery and influence the reader's response on how the author wishes the reader to perceive a situation. An author can present his or her work to a reader or audience by descriptions of any settings, detail of weather, characters stereotypical of society and color association. The author has an opportunity to be creative in his descriptions of characters. Characters have certain features that all contribute to the 'characters profile'. Their profile can be built up using many methods as was done in . Each of the main characters have a meaning to their name. For example, Willy Loman has connotations of a man who has lost hope in life due to his mundane occupation and pursuit of the American Dream. He maintains a low, depressed mood throughout the play. Characters can also represent stereotypes of society from their attitudes and behavior. In the play, The Glass Managerie the author presented the characters as stereotypical of society with the female role of doing all the cooking and cleaning and the male role of relaxing and having a good time while telling his wife what and not to do. Arthur Miller deliberately makes him out to be a fool for the pure reason to emphasizes his purpose - mock American society. Willy is wound up in his idea of being 'well liked' success, the materialistic version of the dream. By doing this, miller creates a character that appears to be a pathetic character whom the audience pity and feel for. Miller holds compassion for Willy. Willy has dreams that are self deluding Willy clings to the idea of making...
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Strategic Marketing - Essay Example This paper will look at CostcoÃ¢â¬â¢s foray into the bridal market and its attempt to cater to the readymade wedding gowns segment for brides to be, albeit using the services of Los Angeles designer Kirstie Kelley. Discussion It seems that Costco has been deliberating its move into the market for bridal gowns for some time now. It had already been offering engagement rings, invitation cards and even honeymoon packages for the bride and groom- but the move into designer inspired wedding dresses leaves no doubt that Costco sees a future in this segment of the population that visits its store. Marriages and divorces are increasingly a part of our lives, whether in the media, on film or in real life. The marriage rate has declined since the 1970s, with the median age for first marriage increasing to as much as 28 years for males and 26 years for females- since couples either now wait till they can afford it, or live together and marry later in life. The highest rate for marriages and d ivorces was recorded in Virginia, being 21 per 1000 and 19 per 1000 male residents respectively in 2011 (Morello, 2011). The store will unveil its offerings via in-store trunk shows, which will allow the prospective customers not only to inspect the dresses but also try them on for size and look. The first state to have a show will be California, with arrangements for Oregon, Arizona, Colorado and Washington to follow. Costco has been giving tough competition to target and Wal-mart in the USA and both its sales and profits registered an increase over the last quarter, revenues rising from $312 billion to $320 billion over the period ending November 20 (Daniel, 2011). With the cost of the brideÃ¢â¬â¢s dress being a big part of the wedding expenses, CostcoÃ¢â¬â¢s move will help many to tie the knot in style without being an added burden on their pocket. The average wedding costs $27,000. The business has been growing over the website, where couples can also select invitations and flowers. The initiative has also been highlighted in CostcoÃ¢â¬â¢s local membership magazine. The six designs being offered range in price from $699 to $1399, compared to the $2000 to $7000 Kelley usually charges for a designer creation. Typically a bride will spend $1099 on a wedding dress, as noted by media company the Knot. The same research also found that there is a wide difference between wedding expenses across the USA, with the high average being around $70,000 in New York and the low being around $12,000 in Utah. All the same, 12 percent of brides surveyed spent over $40,000 on their wedding day. Taking all this into account, we can see how Costco is really making a change in the social phenomena by reducing the cost of wedding gown, ring, invitation and honeymoon package- which is almost everything connected with the event from the brideÃ¢â¬â¢s perspective at least- to a manageable level. Its coverage of the entire deal will help many tie the knot earlier and with much less of a financial burden. It is a good way to help local communities as well (Anonymous, Ã¢â¬ËPricingÃ¢â¬â¢, 2011). Being the work of a designer, Costco can afford to position its line against other designers of repute- showing how to save and yet look like a million bucks on your wedding day. As the tours go on and the trend gets popular, it can become a major
Friday, November 1, 2019
Social Enterprises - Assignment Example The report notes some of the most distinguishing features of a social enterprise that differentiate them from types of business, nonprofits and government agencies. First, they directly address special needs through their products and services by alleviating human sufferings from the disadvantaged society. As reports notes, it is different from the socially responsible business that strives for a positive change through indirect means such as funding education, building roads, using environmental -friendly raw materials and providing volunteers to aid the society. Furthermore, they are solid vehicles for job creation, economic growth and development in a community. Second, social enterprise use earned revenue strategies such as charitable contributions and public sector subsidies to pursue their aims and visions. The report further points out that social enterprises comprises of both non-profits who use business models to pursue their missions and for-profit who primary purpose is social in nature. The report however, refutes that social enterprise addresses the needs of the society directly, unlike social entrepreneurs. Some of the basic business models that social enterprise employ in their pursuit of their vision include retail, service and manufacturing that aid people alleviate and overcome employment barriers. They provide human and social services; fee-based consulting services; community development and financing
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Web Accessibility Standards - Essay Example These standards provide the parameter, to make a place, website etc more easily accessible to people with disabilities. However, the standards are not same for every aspect of life that is to be made more accessible. The accessibility standards are different for physical structure and for the electronic structure like websites because the accessibility need for both is different. The focus of web accessibility is primarily on two issues first being the means of assessing electronic information by disabled users and the second being the good collaborative function of assistive devices on the web pages (Moss, pp. 23-25). In this regard, Ã¢â¬Å"Web Accessibility InitiativeÃ¢â¬ provides guidelines known as Ã¢â¬Å"Web Content Accessibility GuidelinesÃ¢â¬ (Moss, pp. 22-23). To date, two guidelines have been published known as Ã¢â¬Å"WCAG 1.0Ã¢â¬ in 1999 and Ã¢â¬Å"WCAG 2.0Ã¢â¬ in 2008 (Moss, pp. 24-26). The latest set of guidelines i.e. Ã¢â¬Å"WCAG 2.0Ã¢â¬ is an improved version, which unlike the previous version uses simple language and real-world examples so that the guidelines are simple to understand. This document has eliminated some previous out of date version guidelines like: Although no development has been made in term of accessibility, considerations and they represent old issues. However, the five most important accessibility considerations, which the web developer is to keep in his mind while designing and modifying any website are: Rich media content accessibility: Rich media like audio and video content is to be made accessible to all. Addition of transcripts and separate narrative track to the rich media help in it to be more accessible. Navigation: As mostly navigation system is based on graphics, making the image accessible will make navigation assessable right away. Use of access key and table index helps improve keyboard navigation.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Water Conservation Essay Water is an integral part of land/soil productivity. Its misuse can cause both degradation and erosion of soils. Management of water resource is considered to necessary for well being of human life as well as crop yields. There is a gap between the seasonal availability of water and its equitable supply throughout the year. Accordingly the storage of water and passage through soils is very important. It is well known that about 70% area in this country is subject to varying degree of water stress. There are areas with heavy rainfall but water problems become predominant during non-monsoon periods. It is thus a matter of concern to create a redistribution system and requirements as and when it is needed. Although there are many methods for water management, the two important methods are mentioned as follows. (I) Watershed management (II) Rainwater harvesting (I) Watershed Management : A watershed is an area bounded by the divide line of water flow so that a distinct drainage basin of any small or big water course or stream can be identified. The rain falling over this area will flow through only one point of the whole watershed. In other words, the entire area will be drained only by one stream or water course. In this way we will have definitive water resource which can be assessed and analyzed for planning for the optimum utilization through ground water, wells, tube wells, small ponds, bigger tanks or reservoirs. Watershed management is very important for rainfall and resultant run-off. More than 900 watersheds of the flood prone rivers have been identified and are at present in operation. The development of delayed through propagation of water harvesting technology is also based on the concept of micro watershed. Himalayas are one of the most critical watersheds in the world. The damage to reservoirs and irrigation systems and misused Himalayan slopes is mounting as are the costs for the control measures during the flood season every year. The vast hydroelectric power potential can be harnessed from the Himalayas watersheds on a sustainable basis. (II) Rain water Harvesting : Water harvesting technologies have established the economic and practical feasibility for inclusion in integrated watershed management plans. A numberÃ of such structures in the Hirakud catchment have revealed that these are desirable for protection of land, restoration of degraded land for creation of micro irrigation potential of reuse of water. This would also help in increased production based productivity for generation of employment of opportunities. The concept of watershed management has been extended to agro-industrial watersheds which take care of agro-industrial development.