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This is where we begin exploring the Collaborative Mind. I’ll write the first chapter of this novel. Then, I’m throwing it open to every reader to contribute subsequent chapters. I’ll stay on as the editor for the duration of the project.

Everyone is invited to participate and there are very few “rules.”

Send submissions via email to

Your submissions for consideration can be of any length. A few words, if they’re just the right words, will be valued as equal to an entire chapter. Submit a poem, song, conversation or any other category of creatively arranged words. I’ll choose what I think might fit. I may also add bits and pieces myself as the story progresses for added cohesion.

All submissions are subject to editing. I will always seek the approval via email from the author of each submission before including it and posting it to the blog. I want you to be okay with the editing of your work. I’m not out to steal your ideas, just to incorporate them in a coherent fashion. We are all sharing authorship, but for now I will be the sole editor.

For early submissions, the subject matter is pretty wide open. There is no need to follow right from where I leave off at the first chapter. Take us in new directions to begin. Then , as we move deeper into our collaboration, it will become increasingly more challenging to tie our various threads together.

Do not try to imitate styles of writing. Use and develop your own style. My challenge as editor is to make our diversity show its ultimate strength.

The theme for this project is All Life is One…
Together, let’s say nothing, and thereby insinuate everything…

Chapter One
Ference and the Hippie

Ference valued his life with the Hippie. It was easy. And interesting… in a WTF! kind of way. Food was the easy part for sure. Ference couldn’t take more than three steps in any direction on any given Sunday without stumbling across yet another veritable buffet. Food— heaps and heaps of it— lay about pretty much everywhere.

Perhaps it should be noted that Ference is a mouse.

Food was no problem. Er… rather… food was the problem. Oh sure, it was all splendidly delicious, a tad too sweet at times, but there was sometimes that other something… that thing that the food could do… Do?… Do to Ference?… To the world? It was an effect to be sure. What sort of effect, Ference couldn’t be sure. He only knew that he liked it.

So what’s the problem?

And I suppose that’s where this story properly begins.

On this given Sunday, Ference awoke to the evening’s first shiftings and leanings toward twilight. He was freakin’ starving! He listened a moment for the whereabouts of the Hippie, failed to locate him, but proceeded toward the kitchen anyway. “Must be near impossible to be this hungry,” he muttered to himself as he marched straight to the “Verdant Fields.”

This was the area directly in front of the kitchen sink. The Hippie loved to eat over the sink. Okay, not so much over the sink, but more so in its general vicinity. Consequently, the mouse-acres of floor which Ference had dubbed the “Verdant Fields” was more often than not strewn with big horkin’ chunks of this, that and stupefying amounts of the other.

Ference was looking for one of the greenish bits of “the other.” Not that there was anything wrong with “this” or “that.” It was just that the greenish bits of other seemed to summon the… er… effect. At least that had been his experience the night before.

The Hippie had been eating green cookies.

Sometime later, Ference had stumbled upon the goodly remains of the green cookies amongst the Verdant Fields’ generous offerings. They had been sampled, re-sampled, extra-sampled and perhaps even over-sampled in relation to the non-green-cookie foods nearby. Ference had been deeply affected.

He was still feeling the effect now, but it merely sat like a contented child quietly playing alone behind the raving monster that was his hunger. He stormed upon the Verdant Fields, checked a morsel of this or that, and rejected it; checked another, and rejected it; again and again he rejected them. This was a strange hunger indeed!

And then, splendid green! “Oh other, how I love thee! Let me scarf thee down!” And there! Another small piece! And another! Fragments of reality’s unglue… the loosener… magic flow agent… the anti-caking cookie… It was enough, more than enough.

The Hippie, for his part, was quite familiar with the effect too. On this given Sunday though, he might’ve complained that the effect was being a tad over-familiar with him. It was prodding and groping him in the most sensitive of places, taking him to sequestered islands of paranoia and self-molesting fear. In a nutshell, he was fucked! It had been a long time since he’d been this fucked. “Good cookies!” He’d said it out loud. He was pretty sure. He didn’t know why he’d said it— not why he’d said it out loud— but why he’d say such an absurd thing at all when clearly he was fucked. Aloud or not, that wasn’t the point. Rather it was the meaning; that’s what perplexed him so. And really, it was just the meaning of the first word. Obviously they had been “cookies,” but what in the world of paradigm-shattering pastries had indicated that they— that this… fuckedness— was at all “good”?

The Hippie stood in front of the mirror, in the bathroom, for what must have been like seven hours. To him it had seemed like about eight and a half. (Mild time distortion was not really an issue.) The way, however, that his body faded and blurred into the background mosaic of the framed mirror, and then reappeared in foreground heroics, only to fade quickly again like a chameleon who’d swallowed a strobe light— on… off…. here… not here— that was a bit disconcerting.

Now, there’s a word you could really hang something on— disconcerting. If reality was truly the performance of some divine symphony orchestra, then these hours spent in front of the bathroom mirror were like the first day of band before the kids have even learned how to tune their respective instruments. The Hippie was losing himself in dissonance. Another glorious word for those who don’t believe in entropy! (The Hippie had been known to remark on more than one occasion that “Entropy is for suckers!”) Dissonance prevails when there’s way too much resin in the resonance.

“Way too much resin!” That might’ve been out loud too, but he couldn’t really be sure. Too much was in limbo now. Limbo was that netherland where reality appeared to be about nine tenths of the way to crashing helplessly to the floor when, in fact, it was merely prudently ducking beneath the stick-wielding forces that tended to dominate universes and other such complexities. And seven hours spent in limbo… well, something’s gonna cramp up.

“Holy crap! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” As far as mantras go it was nearly as good as any other, serving roughly the same purpose as its Sanskrit cousins’. The Hippie couldn’t move his shoulders. At least, that’s what his eyes were telling him as he stared into the mirror. His kinesthetic sense— that internal body awareness— however, contradicted his sight. He felt clearly and distinctly the feeling awareness of his shoulders rolling endlessly forward like an ocean incessantly clamoring ashore. But the blinking chameleon that was his own reflection insisted that he was as immobile and helpless as a lighthouse with a blown fuse.

Perhaps it was precisely those moments when the sensation of movement was nearly undeniable when his body shifted to its invisible state. And then when his disappearance became disconcerting enough to force him to stop all motion, he would sidle back into reality without fanfare or even so much as a “How do you do?” Move a muscle; fade away. Stay stock still; the statue returns. It is a strange form of impotence to exist only roughly half the time— motionless, and only during the subsequent bouts of non-existence can you get anything accomplished. How do you document or measure that?


Ference determined that the Hippie was in the bathroom. He could hear him chanting at his own reflection. Good. Ference too was beginning to trip hard.

Not everything that can be done can be undone.

Mice are at their best on the level ground. Creators were at their most ironic when they endowed mouse with astounding climbing abilities. Ference was high now… and getting much higher.

Mice are not normally visionaries. Even when they take the high ground they’re unlikely to even notice the view… at all. They’re all about the details… big picture be damned! So the heroic vertical bit of the adventure that Ference had just completed was promptly forgotten when the tabletop presented many more mouse-acres of fine level ground. Ference was a Flat-Earther, and sometimes there was a very real danger of falling over the Edge. Even in his affected state, he was always wary of the Edge.

On this given Sunday, the Edge presented an anomaly. Oh, the Edge, sure… it was fine— same as always: a straight line in space demarcating “Here” from… well… “Over the Edge.” “There” was just too speculative for Ference’s liking. “Over the Edge” was much more immediate and couldn’t be bothered to even guess where it might lead. “There” was often a concept just beyond the thrust of a mouse’s thoughts… and that’s precisely why Ference had such a tough time wrapping his mind around what he was seeing.

Out… beyond… over the edge, there was… um, a hole. Out in the Nothingness… yes, in the Nothingness there was a hole— definitely a hole. And the hole in the Nothingness was good and solid, a strong hole, with sturdy sides… in the middle of nothing. “Gah,” said Ference. (That’s sort of Mouse for “Holy crap! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” However, in Ference’s case the mantra would be uttered with glee and enthusiastic anticipation… Let’s face it. Mice love holes.)

It wasn’t too far out. Maybe a little less than a body length? Perhaps? And down a little bit. Yeah, the hole in the Nothingness was definitely a wee bit in the direction of down. Down and out, over the edge… “It’s a dawdle,” Ference said mostly to himself— but definitely within earshot of the hole in the Nothingness, if indeed, such a hole could have ears. Maybe it is a big ear, thought Ference. “Creepy,” he muttered aloud. “I’m going in.”

If Ference had asked the Hippie what the hole in the Nothingness was, the Hippie might’ve replied “The Tree of Life.” (For indeed, that’s what it was.) Tree of Life! Tree of Life? But why should there be a hole at the top of the Tree of Life… in a context of sheer Nothingness… possibly pretending to be a giant ear, hm? Ference might’ve thought. (But then, this last bit of the narrative has all been a bit hypothetical anyway, so feel free to disregard it in its entirety.)

The Hippie was still busy disregarding himself in the mirror when his ears suddenly remembered their proper function. Listen. Yes! Listen! “I can hear my breath!” Was that out loud? He wasn’t sure. Shh… just listen. Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Exhale. The Hippie could hear his own breath. This was a tremendous revelation! “Fuck man; I exist!” That was out loud— definitely, out loud.

The Hippie began to… move. I wanna say “dance,” but it seems a might generous under the circumstances. He moved like he was tearing through curtains of soggy paper, reams and reams encircling him on all sides but yielding easily to the Hippie’s antics. There was something uniquely concentrated about the Hippie’s efforts, deliberate… intentional. On some level, perhaps, the Hippie actually knew what he was doing— because quite frankly— and despite his unabashed awkwardness— he was doing it superbly.

Intending is powerful stuff. Intent makes real selected hypothetical reflections. So, the Hippie, as a wielder of intent, was suddenly at the mercy of his ability to choose… to decide… to select a kickass hypothetical reflection to make real.

Funny that even when you’re really really stoned you can always still feel that undeniable surge of power that comes so infrequently, assuring you that indeed, you are invincible… that in this moment you may do whatever you wish, whatever you can imagine… and it will come to pass. (What? You’ve never felt that? Never? Really? Best go have some adventures! Quick!)

Ference stepped over the edge… and ducked headfirst into the hole in the Nothingness (which was really the Tree of Life)… and promptly noticed— the smell. Oh, it was familiar, all too familiar. It was like… like the Hippie… times six (keeping in mind that six is a really big number to some mice)… the Hippie times six… and on fire— no, on six fires! Like six hippies on six fires— well, it could just be one big fire… but like six times bigger than a one-hippie fire… (Ference hated math.) Yeah, six hippies on fire… and then… and then… someone puts out the fire by pooping on it. Perhaps a seventh hippie, hm? Yeah, one that’s really full of shit! And that, my friends, it what it smelled like to Ference.

It can now be pointed out that the Tree of Life is the name given to the Hippie’s favorite bong.

The stench, of course, was the bong water at its bottom. The Hippie, sadly, was not particularly conscientious at changing the bong water with any sort of frequency or regularity. In fact, it may have been the original bong water. The Tree of Life, you see, was rather larger than most bongs for home or office, being quite definitely the industrial size. It held a great deal of water— or rather, something that long, long ago had been water and now was nothing less than a version of the tar sands captured in some gaudy aquarium with a very tall hat. There had been no need to ever change the water or clean out the resin when a cornerstone of the Hippie’s philosophy was that “You can always suck harder, man.”

Ference was all out of choices. Usually, cruising around in four-wheel-drive— as is what all non-amputee mice do— is enough to usually preserve at least the choice to back up. But alas, Ference’s back legs were already just beyond the lip of the hole in the Nothingness which apparently led to Stinksville. The glass walls were just slippery enough, despite the tar and resin stains, to make back-pedaling impossible. Ference was going to hell. Yup, sure enough, that’s usually what happens when you run out of choices; you go straight to hell.

The Hippie’s aspirations were decidedly in the other direction. He was striving upwards. Not heavenward— heavens no! Even hippies know that you can’t crash heaven’s party and not wind up in hell. So, just upwards— the sixth cardinal direction. The Hippie intended to fly out the top of his head. At least, that was the idea. But ideas, you see, have a distinct advantage in this regard. Ideas are able to fly in and out of heads seemingly at will. Really, when you look at it, that’s all ideas do. They fly in and out of people’s heads. The tricky bit, this given Sunday, was to get all the other myriad bits of mind stuff to follow this particular idea straight out the top of the Hippie’s head.

Still choiceless, Ference dove headfirst into the bong water at the bottom of the Tree of Life. The stench, I believe, has been adequately covered, so let’s now consider the taste. Complex… and horrible. Smokey… and horrible. Multi-layered… and horrible. Decidedly harsh on the palate… and horrible. A biting finish of half-burnt shoe belonging to a gangrenous leper… that was, simply, horrible. And the feel of it! Outstanding filthiness… enveloping tar monkey embrace… pools of resin in the dissonance like chewing gum in fur coats. Ference gagged. And then, for the first time, he began to feel sorry for himself.

Terence is it?
No. Ference.
What? You mean like as in… ferret?
Well I am long in the body… For a mouse, I mean!
Oh, thinks he’s a ferret!
No! No, there’s just one r.
Just one r! Just one r! Eh? Now he thinks he can spell!

It was true. Ference couldn’t really spell. What mouse spells? Really. But he’d had that very conversation several times. He believed that he was long in the body— maybe not quite ferret-like— but definitely above average length for a full grown mouse. And as luck would have it, Ference was just tall enough to keep his nose above the surface of the bong water as he leaned on the side of the globe at the base of the Tree of Life. And as unluck will always have its way too, it was also quite apparent that even a true ferret would have had great difficulty escaping this enchanting place. “What’s a mouse gotta do to find a choice around here?”

The Hippie made a choice. Visualization. He visualized himself flying out through the top of his head. And it worked… It fucking worked!

Problem was… that visualizations performed in front of mirrors have a blatantly trustworthy tendency to go awry. It’s all a trick of intent, really. The Hippie’s original intent was to simply fly out through the top of his own head. But check it… When the Hippie visualized himself flying out through the top of his own head, he was staring into the mirror. What he was actually visualizing was himself flying out through the top of his reflection’s head. And that’s exactly what happened.

The Hippie was trapped in the mirror— right up near the top. He watched in full consciousness and exquisite awareness as his body promptly slumped to the floor. Disembodied… and trapped in a bathroom mirror— that doesn’t usually happen on any given Sunday. Holy crap! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! The Hippie knew that that wasn’t out loud… there no longer was an out loud. Holy crap! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!

Ference waited… and reflected…

… and eventually there was a strange sort of interference…


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