Surprise, bitch.

I bet there was a moment just now when you thought to yourself, oh thank god. Thank the maker. Thank literally what-the-hell-ever recalcitrant entity was, is now, or perhaps always has been responsible for piloting this story. Whoever it is whose cataclysmic fingers hang suspended and quivering with anticipation somewhere beyond the curtain of the world; whose hunched form lurks forever in the shadows, its work seemingly unimpeded by the very real threat of a chronic lumbago; making no sound, giving no speech to thought, save for that fateful moment where first one elongated phalanx, and then another, crosses the threshold between thought and reality; when ten declamatory digits, possessed for the moment of a zealous frenzy, reach down and set the air astir with the heart-rending creative cacophony of an overly rambunctious mechanical keyboard.

Whichever accursed species of demiurgic figure that is, you thought, let's just thank the ever living fuck that this time they decided to call it a night and get out the drawing tablet instead.

Finally, this story is back on the rails. Maybe we can get back to what things were like in the good old days, where boys were brave, girls were guileful, authors were alliterative and in various dubious states of non-/un/double-death, and this comic made at least a little bit of sense to more or less everybody. No more dealing with narrators, unreliable and not. No more embittered scrimmages over the bounding metafictional reality within which everything transpires. No more stupid tang-tinted text. Your collective sigh of relief is deafening.

Well tough shit. This stor—


ROSEBOT: What are you doing in there?

Ah, fuck, hang on a second. Gotta take care of this.

Rose's voice echoes tinnily out of my newly alchemized, computer-integrated shades. The infidelity of the transmission is due to her voice being slightly too high-definition for the speakers to reproduce it faithfully. There's an audio format even better than analog, it turns out, and that's what replaced Rose's vocal chords when I scooped up her rapidly dissipating soul and installed it in a robot body. I have it on authority that decanting is sometimes necessary to ensure a wine is at its best. I like to think that the same was ultimately true of her.

DIRK: Oh, nothing important.

DIRK: To the extent that anything that you or I do is even capable of being unimportant anymore.

DIRK: Which extent is admittedly teetering a few microns shy of jack dick right about now.

DIRK: The point is,

DIRK: Don't worry about it. I'm just doing a bit of housekeeping.

ROSEBOT: Well pardon me for interrupting a prior engagement. Don't let me get in the way of all the dusting you must be doing.

ROSEBOT: I just imagined you wearing an apron over your god tier outfit and almost felt my facial fuselage buckle in such a way as to approximate a fleeting smile.

DIRK: Fuck, you got me.

DIRK: Your uncanny Seer powers are at work once again.

DIRK: I'm just waiting here for an errant gust of wind to jostle my petticoats, unfortuitously exposing my undergarments to the lurid gaze of whatever prurient peeper might be watching.

DIRK: Don't look!! I cry in futile embarrassment. But the damage is done. My fragile anime purity has been shamelessly violated.

ROSEBOT: Ah yes, the animes. A bottomless resource of good-natured humor.

ROSEBOT: That ungodly noise of screeching metal you just heard was my titanium-reinforced thorax crumpling into a cartoonish posture of helpless mirth.

DIRK: Alright we get it you are literally a robot.

DIRK: No need to keep pointing it out every chance you can get. I used to get enough of this with the Auto-Responder.

ROSEBOT: I'm just playing along.

ROSEBOT: One of the fundamentals of bad science fiction is that any artificial beings must make their inorganic nature known at every juncture they can.

DIRK: Do overly precise and completely meaningless statistics that you pull out of your ass on the fly also count?

ROSEBOT: Oh absolutely.

ROSEBOT: That's one of the first things you just sort of spontaneously learn when being booted up.

ROSEBOT: For example, I've calculated that by making these remarks I have raised the base level of amusement in all my conversations by 36%.

DIRK: Well I don't personally find them very funny.

ROSEBOT: No, but I do.

ROSEBOT: It averages out, you see.