Ha-ha, I kid! It was never safe. I should have taken Drillpress up on that extra Roll Call, because I could have used the help last week. NEXT TIME, Drillpress. Next time.*

Meanwhile, this time, there's a nice little roundup of stories from the talented writing Niners we know and love. This crop of tales is ripe with fantastic prose and fairly dripping with feelings. There's no reason not to sink your teeth into them and savor the flavor of delicious, delicious fiction.

First out of the gate, casyjonescaseyjones ponied up "The Immortal Michael Malloy" for which he used the tagline, "Based on a true story about insurance fraud, the irish mob, and a blessed son of a bitch who didn't know when to quit." So many things these days are "based on a true story" so I wasn't expecting it to actually be a true story, but it is. And told in a way that made me want to have a drink whilst reading it. Not a drink of turpentine, mind you. Unlike Mr. Malloy, I am in no way immortal. I mean, I might be, but there's no reason to tempt the fates on this one. I recommend giving it a nice read, and then check out that Wikipedia link near the end. Mr.jonesMr.jones did a great job taking me into the fictitious world representing these true events. The language he uses is fantastic, and I am totes digging the style in which he wrote it. I love stories written in that way: the kind where the narrator's voice makes itself readily apparent in one's mind. My inner narrator was crowing with glee.

I remember the days when "Hollow World" first started, and back then, I thought periodically, "I wonder if this will be like 'The Stand'." In my humble opinion, "Myseri's story stands pretty shoulder to shoulder with Mr. King's. In terms of characters, Myseri is a champion. I always find a favorite in his stories. In this one, it's Charon, garbed in his much awesomer nickname, the Pennyman.** For quite a while now, he's been placing his obols into the mouths of the dead, and soon he will run out of mouths for his coins. That leads to the part about the story. Like "The Stand", "HW" is an apocalyptic tale, and there is a particular sort of gut-twisting feeling I get while reading about the world slowly running down, as if it's stopped being wound. I felt the same way with "The Stand", but the knife twisting in my gut this time is made out of salt and lemons, with a hint of onion. The end is coming and I don't know what the end is, but I feel pretty damn sad about it. Both for the sake of the story and for the people that Myseri has introduced us to along its way. Share my sadness and read chapters five and six of Book Four. Let us mourn together for the soon-to-be unemployed Pennyman.

Oh Pitchblende. I don't even know where to begin. Pitchblende, the master of the Story Nobody Expects(tm), king of the Thing That Throws You(c), and lord of The Kind Of Big Ideas I Wish I Had Thought Of(r), has come to us again with a story I didn't expect, full of big ideas I wish I had thought of, with a twist that threw me. In "I was a teen-aged cyborg" (best throwback title!), the narrator leads us on a journey through a longtime friendship, taking us from one amazing, fantastical touchstone to another. What's really great about this story is that the surrounding world is barely a blip in the narrative, because it leaves room to imagine just what kind of wonders and leaps of technology have taken place during the time in the story. The opening lines throw us directly into the supa-technological-future, and what follows is an incredible and bittersweet story about the places friendship can take us, and the places it cannot. Pitchblende, never stop writing these awesome stories.

*Not to be confused with "next week"

**Seriously. For more information, please consult my associate, Freak Beans