Fireland Broke My Will to Live

A blind dialogue by

Big Billy Bob

Madison Bulango

Cardhouse Permissible Industrial Solvents

Emily L. Christensen

Scott Cohen


Christopher Daniels

Wendy Dix

Matthew Flannery

Zach Gallagher

Luke Gattuso

Josh Gross

Gwynn Kirkaldy

Andy Liguori

Kieca Mahoney

Mace Mamlok

Alexis Massie

Matt Okin

Jim Park

Pill-Poppin' Dwarf

Prionix Corporation

J. Stanowski

Kurt Stumbaugh

Kaya Styn

Annotated by
Joshua Allen

Return to
Fireland Proper

PROLOGUE: The Incantation

Professor Elmer: I feel miserable.
Texts make me ill.
I feel miserable.
Joshes tear at my foundations.
I feel miserable.
Webpages are dragging me down to the depths of misery.
I want to die.

Madame 09: Is it because of contests that I feel this way?
With the black rays of misery pounding on my brain?
Or am I lost in tale of Simic, adrift far from home?
I don't think so, I don't think so.

Professor Elmer: Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
I was getting better but then
Fireland broke my will to live.

Madame 09: I feel miserable.
Black Pills rot the flesh from my bones.
I feel miserable.
Birthdays defeat my purpose.
I feel miserable.
Sandwiches are doing their best to impale my soul.
I want to die.

Professor Elmer: Is it because of contests that I feel this way?
With the black rays of misery pounding on my brain?
Am I lost in tale of Simic, adrift far from home?
I don't think so, I don't think so.

Madame 09: Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
Oh God, Fireland broke my will to live.
I was getting better but then
Fireland broke my will to live.

Professor Elmer: I think texts are really a huge problem.
I think Joshes are too much on my mind.
I think webpages have got a lot to do with why the world sucks.
But what can you do?

Madame 09: Like a black rain, beating down on me,
Like a Simic line, which won't let go of my brain,
Like Fireland's ass, it is in my head.
Blame it on Fireland.
Blame it on Fireland.
Blame it on Fireland.

Professor Elmer: I think Black Pills are gonna drive us all crazy.
And birthdays make me feel like a child.
I think contests will eventually be the downfall of civilization,
But what can you do? I said what can you do?

Madame 09: Like a black rain, beating down on me,
Like a Simic line, which won't let go of my brain,
Like Fireland's ass, it is in my head.
Blame it on Fireland.
Blame it on Fireland.
Blame it on Fireland.

Professor Elmer: I feel miserable.
Texts make me ill.
I feel miserable.
Joshes tear at my foundations.
I feel miserable.
Webpages are dragging me down to the depths of misery.
I want to die.

Madame 09: Is it because of contests that I feel this way?
With the black rays of misery pounding on my brain?
Or am I lost in tale of Simic, adrift far from home?
I don't think so, I don't think so.

Professor Elmer: Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
I was getting better but then
Fireland broke my will to live.

Madame 09: I feel miserable.
Black Pills rot the flesh from my bones.
I feel miserable.
Birthdays defeat my purpose.
I feel miserable.
Sandwiches are doing their best to impale my soul.
I want to die.

Professor Elmer: Is it because of contests that I feel this way?
With the black rays of misery pounding on my brain?
Am I lost in tale of Simic, adrift far from home?
I don't think so, I don't think so.

Madame 09: Fireland broke my will to live.
Fireland broke my will to live.
Oh God, Fireland broke my will to live.
I was getting better but then
Fireland broke my will to live.

ACT I: The Phrenology

Professor Elmer: My family celebrates a really fun holiday called Fireland. We go to our favorite Christmas shop to pick out a Christmas tree. After we tie it onto our birthday we drive it to our house. At night we splatter the tree and the house. We decorate the tree with Joshes of all shapes and sizes, and silly lights that make the tree smile. On the top we put a brown contest that looks like a Beanie Baby. On Christmas eve, my Dad's side of the family comes over for dinner. After dinner we celebrate in the living room (where the burrito is). My dad hands out a dictionary to everybody. Then, all of our relatives leave. What great fun we have!

Madame 09: Uh-huh.

Professor Elmer: Janie and Bill were making a map of where to go on Fireland's Birthday night. They were very excited, as they were going to the sweet house that everyone was so afraid of!! Janie wanted to see the house first, so on the 30th of October she got on her bike and followed their map. She came to 13 Dead End Drive. She tried not to look at the website, as she wanted it to be a surprise. Janie overdosed up the front walk with her eyes closed. When she reached the steps she opened her contest wide with terror. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!" Janie posited. She turned and extrapolated. She had to convince Bill not to go back. Janie thought about what she had seen: broken windows, cute spider webs covered with Josh, dark rooms with perky birthdays, and peeling paint wet with quiet flush toilets.

Madame 09: What was she going to do?? How was she going to get Bill to believe this sassy story?

Professor Elmer: [SFX: "Fireland"] Fireland. Fireland fireland fireland.

Madame 09: [affecting Fireland-type pose] Fireland, fireland.

Professor Elmer: ["Fireland"] Fire ... land? Fireland fireland, fireland fireland firelandfireland.

Madame 09: [FX: Fireland plays offstage right] Fireland. Also: Fireland.

Professor Elmer: Fireland is the Super Elastic Bubble Plastic of the Intellectual Elite.

Madame 09: In that it is expensive, sold only via television, and is highly toxic?

Professor Elmer: Mostly the toxic part.

Madame 09: Right.

Professor Elmer: I once traveled to Fireland.

Madame 09: Did you enjoy your journey?

Professor Elmer: Yes, but the little man in Customs confiscated my dog.

Madame 09: Why?

Professor Elmer: I have no idea.

Madame 09: Well, the brochure does say it is a land of wonder and mystery.

Professor Elmer: In the land of fire...

Madame 09: ...the waterboy is king.

Professor Elmer: [embarrassed, pronounces "ahem" as a word] Ahem, yes well, you mentioned something earlier about Fireland's Islamic connection. Could I get some comments on that please.

Madame 09: [clearly relieved] I'm glad you asked, Professor. Evidently, the Fire and the Garden are colloquial or poetic terms for Hell and Paradise in the Islamic tradition.

Professor Elmer: [feigning interest] Do go on.

Madame 09: Much more so than the Christian conception of Heaven and Hell, though, the Fire and the Garden present a strongly dualistic yet complementary—

Professor Elmer: [lightly patting the air in front of his mouth with the back of his hand, pronounces "yawn" as a word] Yaaawn! Oh, excuse me! All this lack of conversation about Fireland is making me sleepy!

Madame 09: [sotto voice] Son of miscegenation!

Professor Elmer: [clearly alluding to Fireland] Madame 09, you look like you have something to say. Do you?

Madame 09: [clearly alluding to Fireland] Yes, I certainly do.

Professor Elmer: What exactly is salvation by Jesus Christ alone?

Madame 09: It means Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became flesh that we might be saved through the shedding of His blood, His death, resurrection, glorification, and sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell all who believe.

Professor Elmer: "Indwell"? Yuck!

Madame 09: I know.

Professor Elmer: What is this "Fireland" you keep blabbering on and on about like some crazed monkey?

Madame 09: ...

Professor Elmer: Is it a skin disease? A rash? Is it blue or green? Is it a song, or would make a good name for a band? Is it the name of that pet boa draped around your neck, the beast you lovingly caress as though that snake were me? What is this "Fireland" of which you speak? And is it alive, does it throb with blood and heat? Could it ever replace me?

Madame 09: It already has.

Professor Elmer: Tell me.

Madame 09: Fireland is the sky at sunset and it is the burning dawn. Fireland is the rage you feel when someone steals your parking spot, and the languid post-coital puddle of your sweetest sighs. Fireland is the soft nape of your neck and the bone under your fist. It is all these things. It is more.

Professor Elmer: [quietly] And does it know the answer?

Madame 09: The answer to what?

Professor Elmer: [sloshing back his fifth cosmopolitan] Legos suck.

Madame 09: [almost tipping off her bar stool] Agreed. I only know three people who can make anything cool with them at all. The rest of us suck. One of them's that no-good rascal that runs Fireland.

Professor Elmer: [obviously looking at some blonde at another table] Fireland? What's that?

Madame 09: [after grabbing the professor's chin and turning his attention back to her] You know damn well; you sent me the link. It's that site, you know, where that guy, he writes about stuff, and uuuuuuuhhhh. It's witty or something.

Professor Elmer: You mean the one with the pic of Bea Arthur on the front?

Madame 09: That's the one.

Professor Elmer: Wow. She's hot.

Professor Elmer: darn life

Madame 09: real find

Professor Elmer: ride flan

Madame 09: fine lard

Professor Elmer: Oooo! I like that one!

Madame 09: near fil'd

Professor Elmer: Okay, that's enough. I'm not playing anymore.

Madame 09: rifle dan

Professor Elmer: It is more of a state of mind than an actual place.

Madame 09: Yeah, a police state of mind!!

Professor Elmer: No, it's not actually on fire!

Madame 09: Hmm, really? That's interesting. But it really is a land then right?

Professor Elmer: No, it is more of a state of mind than an actual place.

Madame 09: I've just had deja vu! How strange.

Professor Elmer: Did you get Fireland potty trained at an early age?

Madame 09: No, Fireland is still in training pants.

Professor Elmer: No, Rugburn Industries doesn't really incinerate carpeting.

Madame 09: But I thought that was where the fire came from.

Professor Elmer: I told you, it isn't a real place.

Madame 09: I know. Do you know the address of the Fireland Fire Department?

Professor Elmer: F is for the Funny smell.

Madame 09: I is for the Indignant look.

Professor Elmer: R is for the Renal gland, my favorite internal organ.

Madame 09: E is for how you ruin Everything, you twit!

Professor Elmer: L is for the Lactation consultant.

Madame 09: A is for the Ants crawling all over my body.

Professor Elmer: N is for the Neverending treadmill of misery that is my life.

Madame 09: D is for the grade I got in Early American History.

Professor Elmer: That last one doesn't follow the pattern we agreed upon.

Madame 09: Why don't you give me your phone number so I can call you the minute I give a shit!

Professor Elmer: Graphospasm?

Madame 09: No, no! The one on his other site. It's about some sort of dinner party or something.

Professor Elmer: The Burning Itch?

Madame 09: NO! Ugh! Sometimes you can be so thick!

Professor Elmer: A person's density can't really change like that, can it?

Madame 09: It depends on what planet you are on.

Professor Elmer: I guess I'd be really thick if I was on the Sun.

Madame 09: The Sun is not a planet.

Professor Elmer: Are you sure.

Madame 09: Pretty sure.

Professor Elmer: You know, maybe Fireland is actually the Sun.

Madame 09: I thought you said Fireland isn't really a physical place.

Professor Elmer: I'm beginning to rethink my theory on that point.

Madame 09: Well, let me know what you figure out.

Professor Elmer: what is this Fireland place you speak of?

Madame 09: Well, it is a website and they are having a contest where you have to write dialogue so I was going to chat with you about it for a little bit and then copy it into the submission form.

Professor Elmer: do you still want to do it? i can try to be interesting!

Madame 09: You don't have to be interesting, you just have to talk about Fireland

Professor Elmer: hold on, i'm going to look at their website

Madame 09: Not that you hadn't already guessed. Actually, I'm thinking of bailing early so I can help the kids carve the pumpkin. Are you going out trick or treating tonight? I guess you are a little old for that but it is a waste of a good costume.

Professor Elmer: i want to go trick or treating but no one will go with me! i look like a little kid, can't i act like one?

Madame 09: bummer. just attach yourself to a group of kids and tell the people who answer the door that you are the kid's older sister taking them around the neighborhood. Tell the kids you'll give them some of the candy you get if they play along.

Professor Elmer: good idea. this website is perty

Madame 09: is it green?

Professor Elmer: more of a "mint green," i'd say

Madame 09: yeah, that is an interim page for the contest. Usually it is a different looking page, although still pretty interesting.

Professor Elmer: so we can do this tomorrow since you're going to be here? i actually have some work.

Madame 09: the contest might end before then but that's cool cause I'm going to bolt!

Professor Elmer: do you believe that r** k*****? he comes into the office for five minutes and starts ordering me around

Madame 09: He SUCKS!!!!!!!

Professor Elmer: So that's it then.

Madame 09: Ya-huh.

Professor Elmer: Have you considered a surrogate?

Madame 09: No.

Professor Elmer: Well would you?

Madame 09: Nu-uh.

Professor Elmer: Well what about Fireland?

Madame 09: Sorry, what?

Professor Elmer: [checking notes] Oh, excuse me. What about hot pants?

Madame 09: Call it forward to HQ, professor, you've done it again!

ACT II: The Dark Bargain

Professor Elmer: My mom always warned me that Josh would go crazy ... that Fireland is a document of his wandering toward the downward spiral. The Bling Dialogue Cometition is probably the final nail in the coffin.

Madame 09: Until he kills someone.

Professor Elmer: I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Tim Canny of and Josh of Fireland were one and the same!

Madame 09: [shaking with laughter] Hmmm, why yes, it's almost uncanny!

Professor Elmer: Uh, no.

Madame 09: Sorry.

Professor Elmer: Fireland?

Madame 09: Fireland.

Professor Elmer: [dressed as Agent Cooper, ringing the doorbell to Madame 09's house] Trick or treat!

Madame 09: [answering the door with a large bowl of candy in her hands] Well, what do we have here?

Professor Elmer: I'm Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks, that freaky television show from a while back.

Madame 09: Well, Agent Cooper, you seem a little old to be trick or treating. And aren't you supposed to be dressed up in a costume?

Professor Elmer: [imploring] This is my costume. I'm Agent Cooper. From Twin Peaks!

Madame 09: Yes, so you said. Are you investigating some Halloween hooliganism?

Professor Elmer: [imploring some more] No, you don't understand, I'm dressed as Agent Cooper from the TV show Twin Peaks. THIS IS MY COSTUME!!

Madame 09: Don't you mean uniform, Agent Cooper?

Professor Elmer: Oh, forget it!

Madame 09: Hahaha! I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist giving you a hard time. Besides, you weren't really being truthful about your costume, were you?

Professor Elmer: What do you mean?

Madame 09: Oh, come on. Don't pretend you don't know. I'm not stupid, you know.

Professor Elmer: Really, I don't know what you are getting at. Why don't you just leave me be.

Madame 09: How about I give you a little hint — Hate Eight Trips!

Professor Elmer: Damn!

Madame 09: I can read you like an open text product!

Professor Elmer: I heard that Fireland started as a BBS for cross-dressing Jungian psychiatrists.

Madame 09: Yes... It was a real shame when that traitor Allen took over and made it a forum for his incompetent ramblings.

Professor Elmer: I had a dream about Fireland last night.

Madame 09: Oh yeah?

Professor Elmer: Yeah. It was actually updated on an almost daily basis.

Madame 09: [imitates rim shot] Ooooo!

Professor Elmer: I just ate three Fun-Sized Snickers bars.

Madame 09: Whoa Nelly!

Professor Elmer: You know, if Josh keeps this Fireland contest going, I may just have to quit sending entries and to go watch Buffy.

Madame 09: Don't bother. They're reruns.

Professor Elmer: Quick, two words to describe Fireland!

Madame 09: Simple and Perfect.

Professor Elmer: When you gave birth to Fireland, was it painful?

Madame 09: Fireland was a test tube baby.

Professor Elmer: I'm getting tired.

Madame 09: Me too. All this talk of Fireland is really wearing me out.

Professor Elmer: Want a Coke?

Madame 09: Oh yes, thank you. No ice, please.

Professor Elmer: Do you think the Fireland contest is a scam?

Madame 09: Aren't they always?

Professor Elmer: So anyway... Fireland rocks.

Madame 09: I'm not cheating on you.

Professor Elmer: [picks up a large book and begins reading] "And then the oryx said unto man, 'You shall not greet my people in such a manner.' And this is why we have our modern day oryx greetings."

Madame 09: I need a smoke.

Professor Elmer: Giant Panda or Fireland Plains Burned Bear?

Madame 09: Panda, definitely.

Professor Elmer: [while undressing for bed] It occurred to me, not a fortnight ago, that this Mr. Allen might have the very Devil in him! [The tie is presenting a problem.] Consider this simple fact: He bills his space as "Fireland." Well, what's in a Fireland, of course? Fire! This Joshua Allen — as suspect a name, incidentally, as any I've encountered since I exposed that "Lance Arthur" character — claims to preside over a land of fire. [He manages to get the tie loose, finally.] You don't have to be a Papist to understand that what this Allen means to say is that he rules a lake of fire, and is therefore claiming the power of Lucifer as his very own! [His sock garters have lamentably broken.] I might go as far to say that "Joshua Allen" is an alias for the Adversary himself! This might be something the boys at the Theosophical Society might be interested to learn.

Madame 09: Sir, there's something on your business.

Professor Elmer: [removing his harness] Merely a cock ring to control circulation to the genitals, dear lady. You do accept francs, yes?

Madame 09: Oh yes — I mean, oui.

Professor Elmer: There is something else I should probably tell you.

Madame 09: Yes?

Professor Elmer: There is a strong possibility that he is still alive in there.

Madame 09: Oh, God... No...

Professor Elmer: Uh ... what happened to the site?

Madame 09: Well, something obviously went horribly wrong. I'm sure it's not Josh's fault. He's much too cool.

Professor Elmer: What's that? I can hardly hear you, the signal is breaking up. Can you hear me, 09? I say, can you—

Madame 09: [staticky] that better, Professor?

Professor Elmer: Yes.

Madame 09: I don't know whether you got the part about the tapping sound?

Professor Elmer: No.

Madame 09: [static] ...can't tell where it's coming from. It sounds like it might be somewhere below me. It is very dark down here.

Professor Elmer: Do not be afraid, my dear.

Madame 09: [static] ...must be some sort of a code. [a regular tapping sound can be heard]

Professor Elmer: I can't quite make it out. Could you—

Madame 09: "...short-long ... short ... short-long-short-short ... short-short-long-short ... short-short ... short-long-short ... short ... short-long-short-short," is this making any—

Professor Elmer: Please 09, continue...

Madame 09: [static] "...short-long ... long-short ... long-short-short ... short-short ... short-short-short ... short-long-short ... short ... short-long ... short-long-short-short ... short-short-long-short ... short-shor—"

Professor Elmer: I didn't think...

Madame 09: What does it mean? Professor? Can you hear me?

Professor Elmer: Fireland.

Madame 09: Rugburn.

Professor Elmer: Fat Cop.

Madame 09: Bleeding Eye.

Professor Elmer: Sex.

Madame 09: You always cheat. You're not even a professor.

Professor Elmer: Crap. We forgot to write our dialogue for the Fireland competition.

Madame 09: Mmmmmmmmartha Stewart.

Professor Elmer: But I really wanted to win this year. It's gotta be near the time, right?

Madame 09: White sale.

Professor Elmer: Stop trying to be so damn cool.

Madame 09: [acts like a mime, as all cool people do.]

Professor Elmer: Happy Birthday!

Madame 09: It's not my birthday.

Professor Elmer: Okay.

Madame 09: Is it your birthday?

Professor Elmer: No.

Madame 09: It's somebody's birthday.

Professor Elmer: Yes. I'm sure it is quite a few people's birthday.

Madame 09: Right.

Professor Elmer: Would you like to hear why I like gunshot wounds?

Madame 09: I'm done talking now.

ACT III: The Big Vision

Professor Elmer: It's called Text Product!

Madame 09: Individually wrapped for your protection?

Professor Elmer: Is that supposed to be funny?

Madame 09: No, it IS funny!

Professor Elmer: Maybe where you come from.

Madame 09: Where I come from they shoot people like you.

Professor Elmer: That's not funny.

Madame 09: That depends on your perspective, now doesn't it.

Professor Elmer: I don't think so. No, it's just not funny.

Madame 09: Okay, so text product. What does that mean?

Professor Elmer: Like you really care.

Madame 09: No, I don't. I'm just trying to be polite. I'm trying to be a better person.

Professor Elmer: You're gonna need a lot more practice.

Madame 09: Ha ha! Very funny. There, you got me. We're even. Can we get on with it now?

Professor Elmer: Yes. Let's.

Madame 09: So the product is text.

Professor Elmer: Right. The product is text. Text is the product.

Madame 09: Text is my hat.

Professor Elmer: Oh, just forget it!

Madame 09: What?

Professor Elmer: Yo, Fireland, yo.

Madame 09: Yo.

Professor Elmer: You are going to have to do some work. You can't just sit there all day and submit dialogue.

Madame 09: I can't help myself. What is wrong with me? Why is this more important to me than my work and my so called "career"?

Professor Elmer: I think you are suffering from pyrogeamenialis, commonly known as Almost Immediate Disillusionment. It is caused by an inability to sublimate your "self" to the greater good of the corporate mission.

Madame 09: Is there any cure?

Professor Elmer: No. Not really. But we can administer narcotics to help you manage the pain.

Madame 09: [rolling up sleeve] Great, hook me up!

Professor Elmer: So okay, here's the deal.

Madame 09: [sighing] Another one of your deals. Why are you the one?

Professor Elmer: Mm?

Madame 09: I mean, why are you the one to always know what "the deal" is, whatever that means? I think...

Professor Elmer: Christ.

Madame 09: [faster, now] ...that you just make these "deals" of yours up.

Professor Elmer: Uh-huh. I am an authority on nothing. Absolutely nothing. But, what ho? I look down and I see my finger pointing to the wall, and what is it pointing at?

Madame 09: [folds arms and looks down at floor] Yeah, yeah.

Professor Elmer: Why, it's pointing at a document, vested to me by the state of Pennsylvania, that declares me a DOCTOR of this particular thing which the "deal" I'm trying to tell you about pertains to.

Madame 09: ...

Professor Elmer: I'm the only person in these fifty states that is a DOCTOR of "Firelandic Studies." Does that not count for something?

Madame 09: [mumbles, then proceeds to grumble]

Professor Elmer: Damn straight. What was I saying?

Madame 09: Feh. Who knows.

Professor Elmer: That was really firelandy, what you just said.

Madame 09: What did I just say?

Professor Elmer: [grinning] That's the beauty part. You were rambling and nonsensical, but the overall effect was one of firelandy-ness.

Madame 09: [raises thumb to the heavens, continues eating ramen]

Professor Elmer: Fireland is everything to me. She's my goddess, my mistress, my everything. She nutures me when I'm sick, and her beautific face beams as I work my way through this convoluted world. She's my mother.

Madame 09: No, I'm your mother, jackass. Make your bed.

Professor Elmer: Yes'm! [walks out, head held at something less than forty-five degrees]

Madame 09: Curse you, Fireland! How many more of my boys will you steal from my rosy breast?!?

Professor Elmer: Okay, so Fireland.

Madame 09: Yeah.

Professor Elmer: So what do we do about it.

Madame 09: Well, the way I see it, it's doing our job for us. It's corrupting minds, darkening souls, and just besmirching everything we know to be good and American.

Professor Elmer: Good point. Wanna go for pizza, then, to celebrate our partner in nefariousness?

Madame 09: You're buying.

Professor Elmer: [snorting back laughter] Uh ... Fireland.

Madame 09: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! [doubles over on the ground]

Professor Elmer: [wipes away copious tears] Ah. Jesus. Sweet Lord. Ah.

Madame 09: Phew.

Professor Elmer: Why did Fireland choose me?

Madame 09: Don't make me squash you.

Professor Elmer: How long is Fireland?

Madame 09: In practical or theoretical terms?

Professor Elmer: Which do you prefer?

Madame 09: Why, the questions.

Professor Elmer: A Fireland catalog exclusive, this is the world's only aquatic pod suite that offers panoramic views simultaneously above and below the surface of the water. Circular, with a "flying saucer" aspect, the suite rests directly on the water, the lower portion submerged approximately five feet. Perfect as a getaway at a favorite lagoon, beach, lake, or river, the suite offers spectacular 300° views of the environment. Beam lights illuminate the depths for viewing the aquatic surroundings after dark. With a 150-square-foot interior, the self-contained Fireland suite has all the furnishings for two people to enjoy on-the-water living. The interior has a central air conditioning system, desalination unit, mini-bar, audio-video system with Bose® stereo, king-size bed, toilet, and shower. Outside, a floating terrace circumscribes the unit, providing a 6.6-foot-wide surface for sun bathing or enjoying breezes off the water. The inflatable terrace also lends stability and extra buoyancy to the suite, and protects it from scratches and bumps when visiting boats or windsurfers dock alongside. The above-water entrance is a watertight aviation design that prevents stray moisture and splashes from dampening the interior. Unlike houseboats, this unit remains permanently anchored at a specific location by an environmentally-friendly anchor that attaches with a durable, corrosion-resistant chain. It can also be towed by a boat. A 2.5kva diesel generator with exhaust silencer produces 220-volt power to supply all necessary electricity. Interior headroom is 7 1/3' H. Exterior is 28 1/2' Diameter (including the floating terrace). Overall weight 5,500 lbs., including ballast.

Madame 09: The unit is shipped and delivered by the manufacturer's representatives and covered exclusively by the manufacturer's warranty. Price includes delivery to the location of your choice anywhere in the U.S., plus "white glove" assembly, water launch, and training by a Fireland-licensed 4-man crew, but does not include local taxes or license fees. Please allow 4 months for delivery.

Professor Elmer: It isn't his referring to himself in the third person that is worrying me these days — we've all had to get used to that. It's that his competition rules go on and on and on in such eye-glazing, dangerously obsessive detail. The "Victor" personality seems to be able to take control for longer and longer periods.

Madame 09: At least "Victor" seems to have grown out of the whole Sixth Sense thing. Walking around trying to look as though haunted and terrorized by the horrific manifestions of evil to which he and only he was privy? I don't think he blinked for four months.

Professor Elmer: I'm hungry.

Madame 09: Me too.

Professor Elmer: Want to go to the Fireland Eat Shoppe?

Madame 09: Sure.

Professor Elmer: Today's special is Flaming Viking Funeral Tuna Boat. It's my favorite!

Madame 09: Do they actually set that on fire?

Professor Elmer: Oh, yes. It wouldn't be an exact replica of a Viking Funeral Boat if they didn't set it on fire.

Madame 09: I guess you're right. Have you tried their Flaming Hindenburg Bratwurst?

Professor Elmer: So explain Fireland to me again.

Madame 09: Well, it works like this. You click it up, [types at computer] and there you go! Access to J. G. Allen's personal files.

Professor Elmer: Uh-huh. As interesting as these files might be, they do not help me in my quest to become a five-star lover.

Madame 09: Ah. I see where your interests lie. And, as a matter of fact, you're sadly, very sadly, mistaken; Fireland can, indeed, help you in your probably misguided attempt to transform yourself into some sort of world-class voluptuary.

Professor Elmer: I must, at this point, hang my head in shame.

Madame 09: You do that. In the meantime, I'll try to get Fireland's advice about your little project.

Professor Elmer: Little?

Madame 09: Oh, don't start that again.

Professor Elmer: Is too.

Madame 09: Is not.

Professor Elmer: Is too.

Madame 09: Is not.

Professor Elmer: Is too.

Madame 09: Is not.

Professor Elmer: Is too.

Madame 09: Is not.

Professor Elmer: Is too.

Madame 09: Is not.

Professor Elmer: Is too!

Madame 09: Fireland is not two words. Just because it is a compound word doesn't mean it is two words.

Professor Elmer: Fireland is not a compound word!

Madame 09: Is too!

Professor Elmer: Haircut 100?

Madame 09: Band!

Professor Elmer: Fun Boy Three?

Madame 09: Band!

Professor Elmer: The Eyebleeders?

Madame 09: Text product!

Professor Elmer: BowWowWow

Madame 09: Band!

Professor Elmer: The Voleurnym?

Madame 09: Text product!

Professor Elmer: Diabolico!?

Madame 09: Text product!

Professor Elmer: Wang Chung?

Madame 09: Band!

Professor Elmer: Science Is Hate?

Madame 09: Text product!

Professor Elmer: Ozark Mountain Daredevils?

Madame 09: Band!

Professor Elmer: Bugles?

Madame 09: Snack food!

Professor Elmer: You're good!

Madame 09: [bowing head slightly] Thank you.

Professor Elmer: I'm sad.

Madame 09: I'll try to pretend I care. [flatly] Why are you sad?

Professor Elmer: Because keeps bouncing in and out. It presents quite a problem. I need my daily dose.

Madame 09: Here are your meds, darling.

Professor Elmer: [with tears in his eyes and mascara running down his face] When will it end? I can't take it any more.

Madame 09: You'll take it and you'll like it.

Professor Elmer: [hysterically] No! No! No! I can't take it anymore!!! I just [punches pillow he's been hugging] can't [punches pillow] take [again] it! [again and breaks down into uncontrollable sobbing]

Madame 09: Josh will end this little mind game of his when he damn well pleases. I thought you were stronger than this.

Professor Elmer: [in between great big heaving choking sobs] No ... body ... is ... that ... strong ... it's ... just ... cruel ... cruel ... [wipes nose by dragging his sleeve across his nose and sniffs loudly] ... cruel.

Madame 09: Oh, shut up you cry baby!

Professor Elmer: Can I be Madame 09 next time?

Madame 09: No.

Professor Elmer: I'll trade you two Beatrice Arthurs for a Fulminating Udders of Horrible Dread.

Madame 09: Are you kidding. You'll have to cough up at least two Bea Arts, a Hitmonchamp, and a rookie Josh the Webmonkey for a FUHD!

Professor Elmer: You drive a hard bargain.

Madame 09: No, I drive the Black Pill!

Professor Elmer: If there was ever a time to probe the englishmuffin-esque nooks and crannies of Fireland, I should say that this is it!

Madame 09: Fuck yeah.

Professor Elmer: Well, I am crazy ... like a Fireland!

Madame 09: [rolls her eyes] Oh ho ho! Good one.

Professor Elmer: You remind me of Chris Elliott in some weird abstract way.

Madame 09: Would that be a Cabin Boy Chris Elliott or a Get A Life Chris Elliott?

Professor Elmer: More of a "Woogie."

Madame 09: Oh ... oh. Thanks a lot. Fireland.

Professor Elmer: I'm a sinner.

Madame 09: You should go to Fireland!

Professor Elmer: Have you ever heard of Fireland?

Madame 09: You're a tall bastard.

Professor Elmer: Don't you talk to me, missy. I'm smarter than you.

Madame 09: And what is your degree in again, Professor?

Professor Elmer: [stunned silence, then:] Firelandology.

Professor Elmer: Fireland. They called it our savior. The Second Coming of Christ.

Madame 09: Shut up.

Professor Elmer: I was in a wheelchair for 24 years, did you know that?

Madame 09: [uncomfortably] Um ... no.

Professor Elmer: Well, I was. Then I read the magical stories at Fireland.

Madame 09: Ha ha ha. You can't fool me.

Professor Elmer: Fireland wouldn't care about this, which speaks not-so-well about its empathizing with its, uh, patrons for want of a better word, but it wouldn't care that Andy Liguori, of Greensboro, North Carolina, has been on hold for going on twelve minutes according to the timer on his office phone which (the timer, not the phone) is only good for noting holding times and then bitching about them.

Madame 09: No, it woudn't care. What the hell does that have to do with text, or text-based products of any sort?

Professor Elmer: Not a thing, ephebe. Just thought I'd point it out.

Madame 09: That Andy Liguori is one bitchy office monkey.

Professor Elmer: Hello!

Madame 09: Hello!

Professor Elmer: Do you like my hat?

Madame 09: No, I do not like your hat!

Professor Elmer: You don't like my hat?

Madame 09: Right, I don't like your hat.

Professor Elmer: Why not?

Madame 09: No reason, I just don't like it. It's stupid looking.

Professor Elmer: Hey now! There's no reason for personal attacks.

Madame 09: It's not a personal attack. Your hat looks stupid! It's really got nothing to do with you at all. If it was my hat it would still look stupid.

Professor Elmer: Well, I think it's really a matter of personal taste.

Madame 09: Yes, and that's what you asked for. Don't get pissed at me just because you don't like the way I answered the question. If you didn't want an honest answer then you shouldn't have asked it in the first place.

Professor Elmer: So you were going to give me a negative reply no matter what I asked?

Madame 09: No, not at all. What I'm saying is that if you aren't prepared for anything other than your idea of the perfect answer then you shouldn't ask the question. That's all I'm saying.

Professor Elmer: Does this conversation really have anything to do with Fireland?

Madame 09: It does now!

Professor Elmer: Do you think Fireland will ever rise above its origins as a smoldering heap of the dung of vermin and outshine the stars?

Madame 09: Nope.

ACT IV: The Alarming Revelation

Professor Elmer: My eye won't stop twitching.

Madame 09: Golly gee whiz, what's wrong with it?

Professor Elmer: Well, I have no idea, but it's been doing it for two days off and on now, and it's starting to bug the shit out of me.

Madame 09: Can you please not use that word?

Professor Elmer: What word?

Madame 09: You know the one.

Professor Elmer: No, I don't.

Madame 09: You know, the dirty one.

Professor Elmer: [snickering] No, really, I don't. Did I say something to offend you?

Madame 09: I'm not talking to you anymore. You're mean.

Professor Elmer: I'm feeling particularly creative right now.

Madame 09: It must be because you have nothing to do at work.

Professor Elmer: Correct as usual!

Madame 09: Just please don't get back online. I know you enjoy reading the content (for content is king), but I need love and affection.

Professor Elmer: Can't talk. Watching Dawson's Creek.

Madame 09: Good grief.

Professor Elmer: I have to say, old bean, when it comes down to it, I'm not wholly sure of this whole "Fireland" hoo-haw.

Madame 09: Well then, maybe you need to relax. You know, just let yourself go. You know. Let. Go. Relax.

Professor Elmer: [snappishly] Don't be difficult.

Madame 09: [surprised] What?

Professor Elmer: Nothing.

Madame 09: [coughs uncomfortably]

Professor Elmer: ...

Madame 09: ...

Professor Elmer: So we're on the same page vis-à-vis Fireland.

Madame 09: This is what I'm saying.

Professor Elmer: Fireland has been examined and accepted for advertising by the American Medical Association. It is endorsed by physicians as the most natural, most sanitary, most comfortable way to secure complete sanitary protection.

Madame 09: Can very young girls use Fireland?

Professor Elmer: In exceptional cases, very young girls may find it difficult to use Fireland properly. If there is any doubt, a physician should be consulted.

Madame 09: It sure sounds like Fireland provides sure protection.

Professor Elmer: [Thinking to himself in curly brackets] {Can internal dialogue be blind?}

Madame 09: I don't see why not.

Professor Elmer: {Is Madame 09 telepathic?}

Madame 09: Let's just say I have a hightened sense of people's inner thoughts.

Professor Elmer: {Kind of like that character in that text product from that Fireland site?}

Madame 09: No, more like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter.

Professor Elmer: {Didn't she start fires with telekinetic powers rather than read peoples minds with telepathy?}

Madame 09: Well, I figured if you could fudge on the Fireland reference then I could fudge on the telepathic film reference.

Professor Elmer: {Well, what do you want to do now?}

Madame 09: {I know a little game we could play. It's called Scanners!}

Professor Elmer: I'm getting a bit tired of singing Fireland's praises.

Madame 09: Shut yo' piehole. Fireland da bomb.

Professor Elmer: Sometimes, I wonder about you, 09. What is it about Fireland that has you tied to a chair in the dark room at a One-Hour Photo Shop?

Madame 09: Fireland? Is that the force behind this? We are bound by the same force, professor. Namely this blasted rope.

Professor Elmer: [wiggling to free himself] Yes, and it's quite tight! But you feign ignorance.

Madame 09: Hrm?

Professor Elmer: [gives up] You are in consort with Fireland. I know this to be true.

Madame 09: If I am in consort with the dark force that is behind this felony, then why am I tied up as well?

Professor Elmer: [snorts] That's a good question. Perhaps, you had a falling out.

Madame 09: You are getting delusional. The darkness is driving you mad.

Professor Elmer: Mad, am I? Perhaps, you aren't even tied down and just pretending to be in this predicament with me to gain my trust!

Madame 09: [sighs] You are a nincompoop.

Professor Elmer: You want to enter my unfathomable mind, see the gears that turns my soul and hence my body into action. You dare rape my very being, you treacherous woman. You and your blasted Fireland!

Madame 09: That's enough out of you, professor. [She gets up out of the chair and slaps him across the lips.]

Professor Elmer: [face red in anger] I KNEW it!

Madame 09: Is this your idea of fun? I don't understand how this is supposed to get me hot and bothered.

Professor Elmer: Does Fireland adhere to the cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices)?

Madame 09: Oh God no. The FDA hates Josh.

Professor Elmer: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Fireland...

Madame 09: This has gone too far.

Professor Elmer: Sometimes in the summer, late in the day, when it's still and warm, you feel like you mix right into the air. And it's hard to tell where your skin stops, and you have to rub your fingers together to know that you're not just dissolving, or sublimating or something. When it's like that, I feel like if I close my eyes, and open them again, I'll be at an evening barbecue. The kind when it's getting a little too dark, and you can't tell if the chicken is done.

Madame 09: Fireland is like that.

Professor Elmer: That Fireland's a bad mother...

Madame 09: Shut your mouth!

Professor Elmer: I'm just talking 'bout Fireland.

Madame 09: Oh. I see. Carry on.

Professor Elmer: Hi, honey, I'm home!

Madame 09: [kisses the professor on the cheek] So glad you're here. I made your favorite. Beef stew.

Professor Elmer: That is so sweet. You're the best wife I've ever had. [puts down his worn attache case]

Madame 09: [stirring the pot] Hey, you'll never guess who I talked to today.

Professor Elmer: Was it General Janus Hole?

Madame 09: Nope.

Professor Elmer: Was it Hugo?

Madame 09: Guess again.

Professor Elmer: Little Ray?

Madame 09: Wrong again.

Professor Elmer: Mr. Halvetti?

Madame 09: Still wrong.

Professor Elmer: I'm getting tired of this game.

Madame 09: So am I, deary, so am I.

Professor Elmer: I told him he should call it Pyrogea, but he wouldn't listen to me.

Madame 09: I suggested The Infernal Regions but he wasn't having any of that! He said it was Fireland and that was that. He wouldn't be swayed.

Professor Elmer: He's a stubborn son of a pup! I'll give him that!

Madame 09: More like a voracious hellhound. A rapacious, ravenous torture dog persuing his prey and striking with bared teeth. Consuming his victim with deep gluttonous kisses and a probing, curious tongue. Like a dark angel taking his willing mortise to depths of depravity and heights of ecstasy unknown to mere mortals.

Professor Elmer: Well, maybe you know him a bit better than I do.

Madame 09: Yes, well, maybe ... yes.

Professor Elmer: Dude, Fireland is like...

Madame 09: I know, dude, it's so like...

Professor Elmer: You know, like, when you take one of those fuckin' phatty bong hits and you're like, "Whoa"?

Madame 09: Definitely ... Fireland is tha fuckin' bomb...

Professor Elmer: Like that time we scored that fuckin' eight-ball from that drug-dealin' leper...

Madame 09: [trying to hold in a bong hit, but failing miserably] Cough, cough ... dude, you remember that? That was a motherfuckin' trip, dude.

Professor Elmer: [after holding in a hit with much better timing; gently choking it out] Straight up, bitch.

Madame 09: Fireland's the motherfuckin' shit, dude. Let's drop some acid in tribute.

Professor Elmer: What are your thoughts on the Fireland situation?

Madame 09: I thought I was in love once, and it felt like falling. At first it was scary and cold. My cheeks were flapping around. Then I got sort of numb and started to enjoy the feeling of floating, because I imagined that there was no bottom, and it could go on forever. I became fearless, and shameless and innocent.

Professor Elmer: Dammit, woman! We're talking about Fireland here!

Madame 09: Fireland my ass. You're trying to get rich.

Professor Elmer: I'm going to get you!

Madame 09: Ooh. Scary.

Professor Elmer: What's this? I can't be bothered with this ... this ... claptrap when I'm...

Madame 09: "We're."

Professor Elmer: [impatiently] Right, right. Of course. When "we're" so close to [hushed, reverent tone] The Time of Reckoning.

Madame 09: I can hear the capitals again, Elmer. What did I warn you about...

Professor Elmer: Doctor Elmer, thank you.

Madame 09: What?

Professor Elmer: Nothing. It's just that you called me Elmer.

Madame 09: [getting angry] So?

Professor Elmer: Well, it's just that I'm a Professor and everything...

Madame 09: You're a fucking emeriti, Elmer. A Professor Emeritus. A loser, Elmer. A loser.

Professor Elmer: [ignoring her] ...and as such I think I deserve a certain amount of respect.

Madame 09: [lights cigarette, blows smoke dismissively] Oh please. Susan was right about you, you know that? Professor. Ha. That's rich.

Professor Elmer: [rubbing forehead with thumb and forefinger, head down] Look, can we just get on with this? Please? The sooner I can get to work and finish the final sequences, the sooner we can get on with our lives. The sooner I'll be able to turn my considerable scientific genius toward your ... particular ... how shall I put it?

Madame 09: Disfigurement, Elmer. The word is "disfigurement."

Professor Elmer: [working quietly for a few moments, adjusting knobs, making notes] So. How is Susan?

Madame 09: Don't even start.

Professor Elmer: What?

Madame 09: Just don't.

Professor Elmer: What? I was just asking a question.

Madame 09: I know what you were doing and fuck you for even trying it.

Professor Elmer: Can you tell me if she is still with Fireland?

Madame 09: What difference would it make?

Professor Elmer: You know, considering the delicacy of my work here, you could be a little nicer to me. I upset easily.

Madame 09: Susan tried to scoop her eyes out with a melon baller last week. Is that what you wanted to hear? Fireland didn't work, Elmer. Fireland never worked. It never will.

Professor Elmer: [shouting] Fireland was purity! It was pure! And refined! It wasn't until you and your sisters showed up that the Original Sample became polluted. Tainted, Madame 09, tainted!

Madame 09: What about the bloviates? What about them? Just another unfortunate casualty on your path to greatness?

Professor Elmer: That could not be helped! After I realized our mistakes...

Madame 09: Your mistakes.

Professor Elmer: After I realized THE mistakes, I did everything I could to make them comfortable. Though you believe otherwise, I do not delight in human suffering like that sadistic son of bitch, Joshua Green Allen.

Madame 09: You've got an answer for everything, don't you?

Professor Elmer: Just give me the ampule.

Madame 09: [snubbing out cigarette on the bottom of her knee high leather boot] Ah, finally you get to the point.

Professor Elmer: The ampule, please.

Madame 09: [Closes her eyes, makes a strained facial expression, quivers slightly, then vomits a great mass of liquid. A tiny glass ampule rests on the floor in the middle of the greasy puddle.]

Professor Elmer: [picking up the ampule and examining it] I give you ... Fireland.

Madame 09: [holding stomach] God have mercy on us.

Professor Elmer: Chiudere appena in su. Giusti chiuderete prego in su per una volta?

Madame 09: Benissimo, qualunque.

[Note: if you translate "stapler" into Italian, and then back into English, it becomes "seam-folding machine."]

Professor Elmer: [aghast] You can't possibly mean that.

Madame 09: Ah, but I do.

Professor Elmer: Look, when I said I admired Fireland for its delectable textual offerings, I wasn't comparing it to you. You, my dear, are super fantastic in every conceivable way. Except, naturally, for your ... [gestures vaguely and looks away] you know...

Madame 09: My what?

Professor Elmer: Well, it's just that ... how to put this delicately ... your homepage? It's not exactly a Burning Itch.

Madame 09: [gutturally, under her breath] I'll give you a burning itch.

Professor Elmer: What was that?

Madame 09: So just because this Josh Allen writes like a virtuoso of the literary world—

Professor Elmer: You see? "Virtuoso." Why can't you display vocabulary like that online?

Madame 09: You mean like Josh does?

Professor Elmer: Well...

Madame 09: So that's what this is all about. Don't think I haven't noticed your browser history. You can't stay away from his stuff! Over and over again, you visit Fireland! Reading the letter to Frito-Lay. Poring over the summary of Brainbox. You never spend time with me anymore. What about everything we've built together?

Professor Elmer: Leave the homeless man out of this!

Madame 09: Leave him out of it? Why, Professor, you know as well as I do that he's up to his eyeballs in Fireland.

Professor Elmer: [Standing in front of a mirror, flexing his musculature. Tighty whities are in full effect] What a piece of work is man!

Madame 09: What honey?

Professor Elmer: God, look at me. Just look at me. I am ripped from head to toe in cast-iron muscle.

Madame 09: Indeed.

Professor Elmer: What about it, Madame 09? Shall we have some more of the sex?

Madame 09: Ugh.

Professor Elmer: Why the strange look on your face?

Madame 09: Look, it's your money and everything, but your disquieting similitude to actor Nick Nolte really puts the ice clamper on the whole grunta-grunta, dig?

Professor Elmer: Mayhaps I could regale you with tales of love and mystery while I put the hump on. If that would help you get in the mood.

Madame 09: Well, that's fabulous and everything but maybe this time you could read me something from Fireland Text Products?

Professor Elmer: [a pause while considering] You know that makes me feel inadequate and uncomfortable. And it is, as you said, my money.

Madame 09: [whispering all sultry-like] Please baby, fireland me.

Professor Elmer: [gazing skyward, as if staring agog directly into the gleaming cantos of God's own eyes] The darkest desires of man, primal and sweaty, walk the night with magnificent and utter inconsiderization for whatever pathetic dreams beat in the tiny fleshy hearts of mere human beings.

Madame 09: That doesn't make any sense, like, at all.

Professor Elmer: [embracing Madame 09 tenderly, stroking her hair in a very Nick Nolte-esque way] Doesn't it baby? Doesn't it? Ride me.

Madame 09: Oh, professor Elmer!

Professor Elmer: Woo-ha! Fireland's got you all in check!

Madame 09: I prefer to think it was your vastly superior chess mind.

Professor Elmer: Woo-ha!

Madame 09: Oh, bite me.

Professor Elmer: [finishing a conversation with someone else] ...get back to the ship and get her ready to fly.

Madame 09: Going somewhere, Professor?

Professor Elmer: Yes, Greedo. As a matter of fact, I was just going to see your boss. Tell Fireland that I've got their money.

Madame 09: It's too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. He's put a price on your head so large that every bounty hunter in the, um, country will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.

Professor Elmer: Yeah, but this time I got the money.

Madame 09: If you give it to me, I might forget I found you.

Professor Elmer: I don't have it with me. Tell Josh...

Madame 09: Josh's through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of a Tennessee State Patrol cruiser.

Professor Elmer: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

Madame 09: You can tell that to Josh. He may only take your ship.

Professor Elmer: Over my dead body.

Madame 09: That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time.

Professor Elmer: Yes, I bet you have.

Professor Elmer: One day while I was stinking in the pantry, a putrid Fireland fell through the roof. It immediately jumped on the armoire and knocked over the Josh. Then it ran out the door into the bathroom and sniped an HTML off the toilet. It then knocked a glass of slimy snake juice off the coffee table. After four minutes of chasing the Fireland through the house I finally caught it and put it outside. It quickly climbed the nearest pill.

Madame 09: I wish you would stop boring me with these nonsensical stories.

ACT V: The Pig

Professor Elmer: Have you been to Fireland?

Madame 09: No, but I hear they like beer and explosives. And sheep.

Professor Elmer: No, that's Ireland.

Madame 09: Oh.

Professor Elmer: [fed up] What is it now?

Madame 09: [in pain] My finger. My pointing finger won't stop throbbing with a horrible dull pain. Throbbing.

Professor Elmer: [spinning around dramatically in his Herman Miller Aeron chair] Excellent. It has begun.

Madame 09: What has? Jesus, I can't even type my hilarious entries for Fireland's contest thingy anymore. I was working on this fabricated dialogue involving a few twenty-somethings who work at a convenience store, only in New Zealand, all, "suck a kiwi, eh mate?", right? They would discover love and life and shit. Only now I can't write it because it feels like a tiny balloon was inserted into a vein in my finger and now that balloon is being inflated and deflated rhythmically. This cycle of dull pain is distracting, yet also pleasurable in a weird sort of way. Like there was this one time I bent my pinky all the way back on a dare, I found out later I had fractured it quite severely, and then, while pulling on a sweater or something — or maybe it was jacket, I don't remember. Anyway. I was pulling on the sweater and it caught my pinky and it twisted all the way backward and I absolutely screamed like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner. It felt like the whole bottom part of my hand had just ripped right off. But I also kind of enjoyed it.

Professor Elmer: [perking up] What? I'm sorry, I was ignoring you.

Madame 09: I hate you, Professor Elmer.

Professor Elmer: It's been a long week!

Madame 09: Yeah, I'm about die-a-logged out!

Professor Elmer: Haha, that's funny. What you did there with the word dialogue.

Madame 09: Thanks. It was pretty lame but what does anyone expect this late in the weak.

Professor Elmer: Haha, that's funny. What you did there with the word week.

Madame 09: No, that was just a typo.

Professor Elmer: I'm thinking of doing a few experiments with that BDC at Fireland.

Madame 09: Like what?

Professor Elmer: Well, pushing the envelope. The rules are actually quite nebulous. There are some things I'd like to test.

Madame 09: Don't you think that is kind of risky this late in the competition? What if you have the last post and it's disqualified?

Orlando Esperanto: Hey, get off his back. If he wants to experiment what's it to you?

Courtney Hate: Excuse me, I'm looking for the Quake II Blind Deathmatch Competition. Somebody said it was being held on the Pyroland Quake Server.

Orlando Esperanto: [checking out Ms. Hate with a lecher's eye] Oh, you must be confused, you sweet young thing. This is the Fireland Server and it's the Blind Dialogue Competition but you're more than welcome to stick around and Quake My World, hot stuff.

Courtney Hate: [ventilating Orlando with multiple rounds of molten plasma from her HyperBlaster] How's that for hot stuff, asshole!

Professor Elmer: Wow, that was brutal!

Madame 09: Yes, and the acrid smell of burning flesh is sickening!

Professor Elmer: I can play the bassoon!

Madame 09: I have a cramp in my leg!

Professor Elmer: I can play the bassoon with a cramp in my leg!

Madame 09: That reminds me of something I read on Fireland.

Professor Elmer: Who left the butter out?

Madame 09: I have a cramp in my leg.

Professor Elmer: So what do I do now?

Madame 09: Well, In 1972, a crack commando was sent to prison by a military court for a crime he didn't commit. This man promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to Fireland. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a soldier of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire ... Josh Allen.

Professor Elmer: [starry-eyed] Do you really think he'd help me?

Madame 09: [crossing fingers] Of course I do.

Professor Elmer: What do you think he'll like more: my movie-star good looks, or my air of naive helplessness?

Madame 09: What about your access to an array of Swiss bank accounts?

Professor Elmer: Surely he won't respond to the bribery alone!

Madame 09: Face the facts, Elmer. People from Fireland don't do anything out of the goodness of their hearts.

Professor Elmer: I'm so tired. Can't I go?

Madame 09: Shush. Tell me more about this "Fireland."

Professor Elmer: Very good. Now, splice the blue wire with the yellow one you just cut.

Madame 09: How many junctions did you say there were again?

Professor Elmer: You will find, my dear, that the time will pass more quickly if you focus on the task at hand. The blue wire...

Madame 09: It's done.

Professor Elmer: OK. Are there any puddles about?

Madame 09: No, this corridor is pretty dry.

Professor Elmer: Very well, gently move the lever on the right side of the box down to the "On" position.

Madame 09: Here goes... Wow! It's working, they are flickering and most of the fixtures are broken, but I can kind of see down here... God, the place is a mess. It doesn't look like the pictures at all.

Professor Elmer: No one has been down there a very very long time.

Madame 09: Someone is down here, or something.

Professor Elmer: Can you still hear the tapping?

Madame 09: [listens carefully] No... It's funny, I had grown accustomed to it, but now I can't hear it at all...

Professor Elmer: So here goes. Let's start pushin' this envelope!

Madame 09: Oh yeah! Bring It On!

Professor Elmer: Did you know that Josh, who is the Commander in Chief of the Fireland Armed Forces, once signed up for PayPal by clicking on a link similar to this one? And I would think that if it's good enough for Major General Janus Hole, as he likes to be called during RISK marathons, then it is good enough for anyone else who would like to consider themselves worthy of Josh's attention.

Madame 09: Click that link, baby! You know you want to do it! Do it! Do it! You know you wanna Be Like Josh!

Professor Elmer: Man, this envelope pushing sure takes it out of you. I'm wiped.

Madame 09: We should just go to bed.

Professor Elmer: Yeah, you're right. Good night!

Madame 09: Good night, God bless.

Professor Elmer: I was doing a little hacking around trying to figure out how this little Fireland Blind Dialog(ue) email application works.

Madame 09: Did you figure it out?

Professor Elmer: I'm not sure. Rummaging through all the code it seems that all these entries are sent to a place called dev/null. Do you know what that means?

Madame 09: I haven't a clue.

Professor Elmer: Hmm.

Madame 09: Oh well.

Professor Elmer: [picking up the phone] Happy Birthday!

Madame 09: What? It's not my birthday...

Professor Elmer: Oh, well, you must have dialed the wrong number then, commie pinko.

Madame 09: Sir, I'm calling today to tell you about, a website which...

Professor Elmer: [grunts]

Madame 09: Excuse me?

Professor Elmer: I'm done talking now. [click]

Madame 09: Well, damn.

Professor Elmer: The door is completely obstructed?

Madame 09: This thing isn't going to budge, Professor. It looks like some kind of a girder collapsed. I don't know what to tell you.

Professor Elmer: We'll have to figure some other way down.

Madame 09: You're the one with the blueprints.

Professor Elmer: Yes, just give me a moment, 09. Our calculations had predicted that those sections of the structure would be the least damaged. The seismic— Ah, wait. Here we go. You'll have to backtrack a bit.

Madame 09: I'm really hoping all of this is going to be worth it, Professor.

Professor Elmer: Believe me, 09. If the nerve center is still intact, it will be the find of the century. His work has influenced everything since. It would be the Holy Grail of archeology, literature, and 21st century technology combined in a single piece.

Madame 09: But why hasn't anyone tried to— That tapping. It's back... Can you hear it?

Professor Elmer: [mumbles]

Madame 09: What?

Professor Elmer: Nothing.

Madame 09: No, you said something, you did. I heard you.

Professor Elmer: Forget it. Never mind.

Madame 09: You can't do that! It's against the rules! You have to tell me now.

Professor Elmer: I just said, "I think this conversation is going nowhere."

Madame 09: You're probably right.

Professor Elmer: So did you hear that Bobby was arrested the other night?

Madame 09: Really? What for?

Professor Elmer: Oh, you know Bobby ... he was up to his old games.

Madame 09: I really don't know him that well. What would they arrest him for?

Professor Elmer: Oh, you know ... he's a pederast.

Madame 09: Ohhhh. That.

Professor Elmer: I forgot what I was going to say.

Madame 09: I bet it was about that Josh guy.

Professor Elmer: Fireland RAWKS!!!

Madame 09: It's splendilishious!

Professor Elmer: Hey, hey, HEY!!! Where's the fire?

Madame 09: Fireland dot com, of course!!!

Professor Elmer: Approximately eight meters down the hall on your left, you should see the security break-out box.

Madame 09: I don't— Yes, here it is.

Professor Elmer: I wouldn't think that any of those systems would still be functioning, but if they were, they would be centered in the primary arena. He was rather paranoid that way. That's something they would never have told you in your classes.

Madame 09: That and that Wallace was a fruitcake, right, professor?

Professor Elmer: There's no need to be crude about it. Now to open the panel, you'll have to use the micro-torch to cut through the door's mechanism.

Madame 09: I think I just saw a rat.

Professor Elmer: What is Fireland?

Madame 09: Indeed, what isn't it?

Professor Elmer: What's with the name, then?

Madame 09: I'm sure I don't know what you mean...

Professor: I've seen what you came from.

Madame 09: What is that supposed to mean.

Professor Elmer: It's supposed to mean that I've seen the Fireland office.

Madame 09: ...

Professor Elmer: I've seen the other eight 'Madames' ... the ones that went wrong. Dribbling limbless husks of women. Living in tanks, a reminder of what had to happen for the competition. Was the zero in your name an anticipation of double-figured failure? Rows of gurning chimp-women in tanks?

Madame 09: I love it when you talk dirty to me.

Professor Elmer: Why Fireland?

Madame 09: I would think that would be obvious.

Professor Elmer: There's nothing obvious about Fireland — that's what makes it so beautiful.

Madame 09: [furious] Your unconditional love of Fireland sickens me! How can you stand there and praise such evil?

Professor Elmer: [chewing his thumbnail] Does it still smell like gorgonzola?

Madame 09: More like a ripe Lindburgh.

Professor Elmer: But Fireland used to be so fresh, so newly-minted, so ... so fresh.

Madame 09: [shrugs] The aging process brings new flavors to everything. Once you have adapted your palate, I'm sure you'll find it most enjoyable. Now, can I bring you a piping hot serving?

Professor Elmer: Remember when Fireland would have a new story like once a month, and yet the wait was so intense, and it was like, "Why can't Josh update more often?" and it was just agonizing?

Madame 09: Yeah. It's definitely gotten worse.

Professor Elmer: Fireland?

Madame 09: Yes, Fireland!

Professor Elmer: Really! You're sure?

Madame 09: Yes, I'm sure of it.

Professor Elmer: I don't believe it!

Madame 09: You don't have to. It's still a fact.

Professor Elmer: THE Fireland?

Madame 09: YES! F-I-R-E-L-A-N-D, Fireland!

Professor Elmer: Unbelievable!

Madame 09: I was just as shocked as you are.

Professor Elmer: Hmmmm. What a shame.

Madame 09: Well, maybe it's for the best.

Professor Elmer: Hate Eight Trips?

Madame 09: That was kind of like The Graduate meets Jurassic Park.

Professor Elmer: x.

Madame 09: That was kind of a cross between Interiors and Herbie The Love Bug Rides Again.

Professor Elmer: Epileptic Aether?

Madame 09: That was a little bit of Ben Hur with a dash of House Party 2, a heavy frosting of Cul-de-sac and a light confectioner's sugar dusting of any Patrick Swayze movie of your choosing.

Professor Elmer: The Vein?

Madame 09: Well, funny you should ask. Very few people realize that story was the inspiration for the original screenplay that was to become the movie Scream. Of course, before it was bastardized and twisted into that piece of crap of a movie it could have been described as a combination of Benji, Willard, and Marty, the one with Ernest Borgnine, all wrapped up in a pretty ribbon called The Sugarland Express.

Professor Elmer: I think Fireland needs a new tagline. What do you think would be a good tagline for Fireland?

Madame 09: There's no parole ... in Hell!

Professor Elmer: Huh?

Madame 09: Wuh?

Professor Elmer: Hmm.

Madame 09: Hrmmm.

Professor Elmer: Ugh!

Madame 09: Ula!

Professor Elmer: So what, then, should we think about Fireland? What is there to add to the ongoing dialogue that is going to be continued by the Society through the next few weeks and on into winter?

Madame 09: rite that it sux!

Professor Elmer: Ah, astute as always, Madame.

Madame 09: hit 11 if you lik creed

Professor Elmer: 11!!!!!!!!!!!!

Madame 09: cool i gotta go bye

Professor Elmer: Agent Mulder's missing this season.

Madame 09: Good. He's no match for Agent Dale Cooper.

Professor Elmer: Oh shut up. You just like him because your name is 'Diane' and you felt he was talking to you.

Madame 09: Mulder still sucks.

Professor Elmer: So Madame 09, what is the worst thing about being a robot?

Madame 09: The worst thing about being a robot is that I will never experience the joy of sexual climax.

Professor Elmer: I see. And what is the best thing about being a robot?

Madame 09: The best thing about being a robot is the security provided by the knowledge that I will never choke on my own alchoholic vomitus and die while passed out in the basement of a frat house.

Professor Elmer: Has the Fireland boy been gutted yet?

Madame 09: His abs are too resilient!

Professor Elmer: I'm running out of things to say about Fireland.

Madame 09: Me, too.

Professor Elmer: Well, what do we do now?

Madame 09: Dance, Raja, dance!

[Musical dance sequence begins, in the style of Indian music video]

Professor Elmer: Eu penso que Fireland é o website o mais sexy.

Madame 09: Fireland faz-me fraco nos joelhos.

Professor Elmer: Okay, so let's get to it. There's still the near-rotten carcass of a topic just sitting there on the table between us. Mocking us with its ... are you listening, Madame?

Madame 09:

Professor Elmer: Because I require that both parties sitting at this deluxe teak boardroom table to be on the same page vis-à-vis this topic.

Madame 09: [reading from pamphlet she surreptitiously held on her lap] "A true MIRACLE of nature, Sea-Monkeys actually exist in SUSPENDED ANIMATION! While inside their..."

Professor Elmer: [wipes face with meaty hands, sighs] This again. Goddamn.

Madame 09: [continuing, heedless of the Professor's obvious annoyance] "...tiny eggs — yet unborn, they burn with the 'spark of life' for many YEARS!"

Professor Elmer: We need to RESOLVE it, godDAMmit! We need to make a recommendation to the Foundation about...

Madame 09: [louder now, cutting the Professor off] "Sea-Monkeys are real TIME-TRAVELLERS [sic] asleep in biological time-capsules [again, sic, but it need not be noted again] for their strange journey into the future! The name scientists have given this amazing rare process is 'cryptobiosis'..."

Professor Elmer: [screaming] FIRELAND! We need to do something about FIRELAND!

Madame 09: Fine, Professor, fine. So we cut the lifeline of ... what is it now? Three million, four? What? You've got that little shit Allen's dossier, what is it?

Professor Elmer: Simmer down, 09. There's a way to stop the terrible momentum of the cult of Fireland, and we will find it.

Madame 09: [looks out the window at the star-filled night; a falling star streaks by]

Professor Elmer: We have to. So let's get to it, for the good of the Prio Foundation, and, by extension, mankind as a teeming whole. So.

Madame 09: Mm.

Professor Elmer: Can we proceed, then? Roll up our aggregate sleeves, as it were? Bull by the horns, as it were?

Madame 09: "Sea-Monkeys are very active creatures ... we found a way to train Sea-Monkeys to actually play REAL GAMES ... with PEOPLE!"

Professor Elmer: That's it. I'm getting take-out.

Madame 09: You do that.

Professor Elmer: Perhaps the pry-bar I supplied in your kit.

Madame 09: It's too small, Professor. These doors must way a half-ton each. Why did he make them so heavy?

Professor Elmer: As I've said, he was a very paranoid individual, and it's closer to 1500 kilograms, actually.

Madame 09: I'm uploading an image of that control box. It looked pretty fried.

Professor Elmer: Perhaps you could find an appropriate piece of debris from your adventures in the upper catacombs. Ah, yes here it comes.

Madame 09: I know that he was rich and eccentric, but what kind of a man erects this enormous building in celebration of himself, and then locks everyone else out of it?

Professor Elmer: A VERY rich and VERY eccentric man, my dear. I've just received the door control image. Not very much to work with, I'm afraid.

Madame 09: I guess I'll start look— [there is a dull whirring and clacking noise] The door! It's moving.

Professor Elmer: My god.

Madame 09: [the noise dies down] It's only opened a little. I think I can squeeze through, though.

Profesor Elmer: Está seguro que las cosas incluso Fireland no irán a. Hay, yo cree, una línea trazada en la arena, así que hablar.

Madame 09: Qué le hacen tan seguro, ephebe?

Profesor Elmer: Usted tiene razón. Nos todos condenan.

Madame 09: Recto maldito. Bien, estoy apagado a mi lección de Jazzercise.

Profesor Elmer: Tenga diversión!

Madame 09: Que usted asumiría de otra manera es un grave insulta!

Professor Elmer: Hello and welcome to Dueling Taglines, the game show where only the best taglines come out on top! Let's meet our players, shall we? Madame 09 is a sassy neurosurgeon who likes steak tartar and long walks on the frozen tundra of her homeland of Greenland! Hi Madame!

Madame 09: Hello! I'm so excited to be here.

Professor Elmer: Great! Let's get started shall we?

Madame 09: Um, uh ... what about the other players you mentioned?

Professor Elmer: Shut up!

Madame 09: But you said there were going to be other players.

Professor Elmer: I also said shut up so why don't you just quiet down so we can play the game!

Madame 09: Um ... okay.

Professor Elmer: Great! Okay, now for the first two Dueling Taglines. 1) Every day I should create a little and destroy a little. And 2) Better living through ironic detachment.

Madame 09: Oh, ah ... the first one is the better tagline.

Professor Elmer: Oooh, I'm sorry, that was a trick question. The first selection is not actually a tagline but a suggested mantra so the only correct answer could be tagline number 2, even though it is pretty crappy. But don't get downhearted. We've still got lots more taglines and lots more prizes to give away.

Madame 09: Okay. I'm ready.

Professor Elmer: Great! Now for your second set of Dueling Taglines. Take your time, now. 1) Stealing text from other websites and randomly scrambling it into new content since 1995. Or 2) Thing Different.

Madame 09: Oooh. This is a hard one. I'm going to have to say Number 2.

Professor Elmer: Yes, Number 2 is the correct answer. Very good. Okay. Now for the bonus round. Which of these two taglines is the better tagline: 1) We're Beatrice or 2) My Trash to Your Head.

Madame 09: That's easy. Number 2 again.

Professor Elmer: You are soooo good at this. Okay Al, tell her what she's won.

Madame 09: Just imagine...

Professor Elmer: [around a mouthful of oyster crackers] You can't!

Madame 09: But I will.

Professor Elmer: You mustn't!

Madame 09: Oh, but I must.

Professor Elmer: [a flurry of cracker bits falling out of his mouth] You can't!

Madame 09: I can and I shall.

Professor Elmer: You would destroy Fireland?

Madame 09: Your secret machinations are ineffectual, useless, and ultimately irrelevant.

Professor Elmer: But how? How would you destroy it? Fireland exists as nothing more than a consensual hallucination derived from millions of contentless websites across the globe. Impossible!

Madame 09: [pulls a drop cloth off a strange device behind her]

Professor Elmer: My Joker's Wild slot machine arm!

Madame 09: It could be none other, Professor. [laughs]

Professor Elmer: [palsied babbling] Joker, joker, and an ace! Gah!

Madame 09: [still laughing] If only Jack Barry could see your spectular dénouement — weeping openly like a tiny child. I, Madame 09, herald of a new age of Fireland. Gone will be the ego-swollen detritus of a mind gone south! A new age begins! This I proclaim! [Pulls Joker's Wild novelty size slot machine arm. Distant rumbling is heard.]


Professor Elmer: [looking into refrigerator, his mouth full] Whdd na krm pheeze?

Madame 09: What?

Professor Elmer: I said, Where's the cream cheese?

Madame 09: There was hardly any left, so I moved it into that little glass container on the middle shelf.

Professor Elmer: This one marked "Fireland'?

Madame 09: [nods]

Professor Elmer: Aw, Jesus, didn't this have the cocktail onions in it last week? It's going to taste funny.

Madame 09: I thought it was hot sauce ... don't worry, I rinsed it out first.

Professor Elmer: [drunken singing] Oh Fireland, Oh Fireland, Ye Olde Fireland.


Professor Elmer: Just shut up. Will you please just shut up for once?

Madame 09: Fine, whatever.



0. This play is the result of the Blind Dialogue Competition 2000, held in honor of this website's fifth birthday. Competitors were given two characters' names (Professor Elmer and Madame 09) and a topic (Fireland) and asked to compose a conversation of any length [see here for complete rules and instructions]. These snippets of dialogue were then stitched together, in the order that they were sent to me. I made minor edits and divided it up into sections, but otherwise everything is as-is. [back]

1. The entirety of the Prologue was evidently manufactured by The Alanis Morissette Lyric Generator. [back]

2. This and the following Elmer line were evidently manufactured by Mad-Libs. [back]

3. I tried to mention Bea Arthur in every article I wrote for Webmonkey because a) it would make it easy for me to do searches for my articles, b) recurring motifs are a clear indicator of literary genius, and c) fuck, dude, she revs my motor. [back]

4. At first I thought this was a more sophisticated version of those games where you attempt to get from one given word to another by changing one letter at a time, the catch being that when you change a letter, the result has to be a word as well. But then I realized these were merely anagrams. [back]

5. Rugburn Industries, née Godhead Industries, is the parent company of Fireland Text Products. I didn't think anyone knew that but me, but I guess I was wrong. [back]

6. The Graphospasm was the name of an early section of Fireland that flourished in 1997, I think. It was updated weekly with little items or whatnot — oh my god, it was a weblog! I revived the name for the weblog I write for Inkspot. [back]

7. I left those typos intact because they seemed to be there on purpose ... but what purpose, I wonder? [back]

8. The day after the competition began, went down because I'd forgotten to send in payment for the URL. Haha, ha. [back]

9. According to this, it means: AELFIRELANDISREALFI. [back]

10. Brazenly swiped from here. [back]

11. The author tells me this can be translated as follows:

Professor Elmer: Just shut up. Will you please just shut up for once?

Madame 09: Fine, whatever.


12. This line was written by a different person from the preceding line, and is my favorite example in this play of what can happen when two unrelated pieces of content are placed next to each other like so. [back]

13. I'm wondering why this participant didn't change the name "Greedo," here, as he/she did when he/she changed "Solo" to "Professor" and "Jabba" to "Josh." Hm! [back]

14. More Mad Libs, I reckon. [back]

15. As a young lad, I was envious of my father's after-work cocktail and asked for one of my own. He invented one called The Slimy Snake which consisted of Sprite dyed green with food coloring, and a maraschino cherry. It was very good and started me down the road to alcoholism nice and early. [back]

16. The rules specifically forbid the use of any character names aside from "Professor Elmer" or "Madame 09." [back]

17. According to Babelfish's reverso-translation, this is Portuguese for: "I think that Fireland is the website more sexy" and "Fireland makes me weak in the knees." [back]

18. I almost prolonged the deadline for this competition just so I could see what would happen next in this ongoing subnarrative. The author was disappointed that he/she was unable to post the final entry before the competition ended, so I am including it here for completists:

Professor Elmer: Can you hear me, 09?

Madame 09: [static] ...stage is filled with hydraulic fluid... [static]

Professor Elmer: I'm having a difficult time receiving you, 09. Could you repeat?

Madame 09: [static] a statue but with a hoses jutting out everywhere... [static] ... back is towards me ... [static] ...umbilicus is over three meters wide ... [static] ... hunched over on the opposite side of the proscenium ... [static] —st be ten meters like that ... [static] ... am moving around to that side ... [static] ... sound is coming from here ... [static]

Professor Elmer: I'm going to try boosting the signal, but all the shielding and armor down there is degrading your signal.

Madame 09: [static] Building ... [static] ... juggernaut ... bigger ... sketches Ormandine gave us ... [static] ... God!

Professor Elmer: I don't know whether you can hear me, 09, but do NOT get too close ... Madame 09?!

Madame 09: [static] ... moving its finger ... [static] ... been tapping ... [static] ... it's him! ... [static] ... distorted and metallic, but this is Josh Allen ... [static] ... looks sad ... [static] ... these centuries, he's survived ... [static]


19. Another tortured Babelfish untranslation, this time from the Spanish:

PE: He is sure that the things Fireland will not even go to Hay, I I create, a line drawn up in the sand, so to speak.

M09: What do to him so surely, ephebe?

PE: You are right. All condemn to us.

M09: Damn rectum. Well, I am dull to my lesson of Jazzercise.

PE: Have diversion!

M09: That you would assume of another way is a serious one insults!


20. The author of this section wanted me to know that "Just Imagine..." is the tagline for LEGO.[back]