Chapter 1: Introduction
Warning! If you’re some snot-nosed kid who picked up this book ’cause it’s got a pretty picture of a fox on the cover, get your grubby little mitts off it immediately; it ain’t fit for the eyes of the innocent. If like me, however, you’re doing 105 on the scenic bi-way to Hell, then welcome, my friend; you’re in good company, and there ain’t no judgement here. Unless of course you’re one’a those monsters who takes their shoes off on an airplane, in which case you can go hang your head low with the bacteria-ridden children, ya sicko-bastard.
For everyone else, you may remember me from my golden years, back when I was still kind of a big deal. When I still pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible. Before the superheroes and the talking rabbit and that week when nobody could die. Basically, before the whole world boarded the crazy train, I was there to grease the wheels.
Back then, my adorable mug plastered every TV screen in America, and not just because of the time I accidentally used the president’s emergency broadcast system. No, like any up-and-coming celebrity, I strived to get as much exposure to the great unwashed masses as possible. I sat in on interviews, hosted SNL, and even featured in one of those reality shows on Animal Planet. You know, the one where the Australian wingnut goes around poking dangerous animals in the ass with a stick and saying, “Crikey! Aw think he’s rilly pissed now!”
Yeah, no shiitake, Crocodile Dumbdee; I’d be pissed too. Which is why, when he tried the stick on me, I nearly bit his Down-Under-berries clean off. Had to stab me with a machete just to get me to let go. And yet that Aussie prick had the gall to sue me for assault. Yeah, good luck with that. If the military can’t even make me appear for that court martial (I’ll tell ya about it later), I’d just like to see him try and get me before a judge. The day I start paying my dues is the day that I die, and since that ain’t never gonna happen, I think he’ll be waitin’ on that court summons for a long time.
But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes: the glory days.
At first—when I first changed—it was confusing and a little scary, but I quickly warmed up to the idea of doing whatever I dam-well pleased. (Good thing I’m the good guy, right? And no, that “dam” is not a typo. Again, I’ll explain later.)
Before I even started to get comfortable with my new self, though, the feds caught wind of me; showed up right at my doorstep, trying to stop me from causing a panic. They were exactly as you’d expect: a couple’a stiffs in black suits with straight hair and government-issued personalities. They threw me in a cage and hauled me off to the Pentagon, to decide whether the military had any use for me. If not, I’d spend the rest of my life in a lab, isolated from the world in order to maintain American peace and prosperity and blahdy, blah, blah.
I went along out of in-ter-est alone, and two weeks later—after showin’ the spooks some of the incredible things I can do—found myself as part of a special bomb squad unit in Afghanistan. I figured what the Hell, right? I’d always wanted to see the world, and you gotta start somewhere.
Well, my tour with the armed forces lasted no more than a month. After that, I got sick of being the resident IED dog and became quote unquote, “disorderly.” Forgetting the countless lives of bomb-disposal robots I’d saved, they shipped me back to the states to have a serious talk with top brass. Unfortunately, they were dumb enough to land me at a top-secret Air Force base…one in the middle of the Nevada desert. Seeing as how I’d always wanted to investigate this par-tic-u-lar “area” of the Nevada desert, I took the liberty of showing myself around, something which top brass found most unsatisfactory. That’s where the court martial came from, as well as the threat of execution if I ever told anyone what I saw.
But I was fed-up with their threats, sick of them always telling me what to do. So I just walked right off into the sunset, daring anyone to try and stop me. ’Course, they took that dare, and hit me with the giant space-laser that I’m not supposed to talk about, but I was the bigger man and kept right on walking. After that, they didn’t screw with me no more.
Once the government realized they couldn’t control me, I was free to open up to the world, and boy did the world want a piece of me. Movie big-wigs pursued me with million-dollar contract offers, and agents encircled me like vultures, sayin’ I could be Tinsel-Town’s next big “thing.” Environmentalists wanted me for my powers, and Japanese gameshows wanted me for my…I don’t know, sex appeal or somethin’. They’re weirdly into me in Japan. Like weirdly into me. Accordin’ to a national poll, my picture appears on more pairs of Japanese underwear than any other figure in history. One in ten! A significant number of them men, too. Not sure how I feel about that, but hey, the royalties are stellar.
Not all the attention was good, though, because after the movie deals and screamin’ fans came the legions of religious nuts. Half thought I was proof of divine intervention; half thought I was the Devil’s ambassador. Now, I’m not a very modest guy—probably the most not modest, actually—but when people threw around words like “messiah” and “antichrist,” I figured it was time to start toning things down.
After that, I just wanted to take it easy: settle down, lie low, and stay out of the spotlight for a while. But my buddy, Rico, he got another bright idea. He said, “Nah mano, what yous got to do is write a book. An autobiographical novelization of your most fantastic life. Trust me, your fans’ll love it; you’ll be rolling in the dinero.”
Yeah, like I need more dinero. But whatever. Like the fool I am I listened to him, and so here it is, my book: The So and Such Memoirs of a Big-City Nobody (working title), narrated by yours unruly, me: Walter L. Conley. That’s my real name by the way, in case you weren’t aware. Most people just call me Red, though, and no, it’s not because of my fur; that would be racist. It’s really on account of my Bostonial upbringings, and the subsequent assumption that I must love the Sox, which is annoying, ‘cause I friggin’ hate baseball.
But I’m gettin’ off track again, aren’t I? Or am I? ’Cause this is a book about me, so can I really say anything about myself that ain’t relevant in some way? Well, if I do, feel free to keep it to yourself, ‘cause I dam sure ain’t doin’ this thing all over again. And don’t expect no literary masterpiece neither, ’cause I ain’t the most ar-tic-u-late type in the world; it will hardly be comparable to the works of Hemingway or Melville or whoever wrote Moby Dick.
I also have an annoying tendency to over e-nun-ci-ate some words, and since I’m the one writin’ this (never mind the name on the cover), it’s goin’ down exactly as I speak it, just so you get the full experience. Even so, I promise to be as alliterate as possible, for despite the many flaws this book will undoubtedly contain, I swear to put all of my heart into every single one of them. It may not be genius, but it’s definitely genuine.
Now, where should I begin? I mean really begin, because all that back there? That was just a bunch of backstory gibberish that’s not really central to the story. I suppose like any sensical author, writing any sensical book, I should start at the beginning. But what beginning, exactly? “When I was a young man seeking life anew in the harsh streets of Chicago…” Nah, too dramatic.” Nah, too folksy. Hows about, “In my ad-o-les-cence, I was overburdened by the weight of the entire world crashing down on me at once…” Nah, too cliché. Maybe, “Back in my college years, I met this girl. At least I thought she was a girl…” Nah, too emotionally scarring.
Hm. You know what? Screw it, let’s just gonna start at the very beginning. The first beginning. The only beginning, really. And it goes a little somethin’ like this: in the beginning there was nothing. Yadda-yadda-yadda—let there be light—you know the rest. So then there was the Earth: a festering swamp of lava and sulfuric acid. Nothin’ could live, and nothin’ could survive. But after a few billion years, the Earth stopped being such a total, stinkin’ shih-tzu; a whole lotta water came from… somewhere, and life found a way to exist in the form of some tiny germ or somethin’.
A few more billion years pass, and those germs turn into algae, and the algae turns into New England clams, and the clams turn into fish. And one day, some brave fish decides to take that first step onto dry land, and it is good. Millions more years go by and that single brave fish has turned into a sprawling ecosystem, and next thing you know, we’ve got the dinosaurs roamin’ around all la-dee-da…till they’re smashed to bits by a ginormous space rock (or aliens, as my father always maintained). Life, though, it finds a way to desperately cling on to whatever is left behind.
Another few dozen million years whiz by, followed closely by another, and now we’ve got somethin’ that resembles a human, ’cept they’re all hairy and rude and they smell and can’t talk too good. Kinda like those hicks--e fine folk from Jersey.
A hundred-thousand years go by, and human beings: we start to form what’s known as civilization. We come together, we build houses, we trade, we invent, we form cultures, cultures separate, cultures clash, we fight, we die, we build again, and all this time civilization evolves. We crawl outta the Stone Age and into the Iron age, where warfare and exploration are the global export, then sail outta the Iron Age and into Medieval Times. Religion now reigns supreme, but science starts to take a hold and we find ourselves enlightened. We create art, we create music, we invent, we discover, we cure, we advance, and we always keep evolving.
Next comes the Age of Industry. No longer are we at the mercy of the world, but the world is at our mercy. We build blimps, we build trains, we build cars, we build planes, we build subs, we build jets, we build rockets and we evolve. Finally, we find ourselves in the Age of Technology, where the boundary of what’s possible gets pushed further every day, and the speed of evolution seems to have increased exponentially.
The point? We’ve evolved all this way, starting from literally nothing and building up to something truly incredible: into the irrational, illogical, perfectly imperfect human beings that we are today. Or that you are today, at least. And across all that time—over the billions and billions of years that it’s taken us to get this far—the world has never stopped makin’ sense. One thing led to another led to another led to another, and nothin’ ever happened that was truly unexplainable…
That is until I came along. For on that fateful day, somethin’ happened which even Darwin himself could see as nothing less than the act of a comedian God: something which made Voltaire rise from his grave just to tell the world he told us so. Because on that day a miracle happened, one man died, and a fox was born.