Lilith peeked "into" Sheldon's office--two cramped square yards of a tiny bedroom that also served as a recording studio, library, thaumaturgy lab, and utopium den--and shuddered. She spotted the Fools' Press editor buried under a pile of pill bottles, pamphlet layout boards, and back issues of *Fate*. He was drooling soundly on the draft of a new rant; the creeping puddle had a faint stain of purple to it and reeked of fermentation. Indeed, the room looked like a freshly raided wine cellar. The only charm stemming from the wine was the phrase, "G'BROAGFRAN LIVES", made of shards of broken green bottles pressed into the sheetrocked walls.

Thoughtfully Lilith swept the cinders of a neglected cigarette into an emptied teriyaki bowl. Then she thumped Sheldon soundly on the back of the neck.

"What...?" Sheldon whined as his eyes tore open with a glacier's swiftness.

"Deadlines?" Lilith tried not to sound patronizing, but considering what she was looking at she conceded it was a wasted, therefore failed, attempt.

"I make the deadlines around here, Lil," Sheldon croaked as he started to sit up, changed his mind, and slumped backwards in his broken office chair.

"How many back orders do we have for *Death Frappie 999*? One hundred? Two hundred?"

"Shut up, cunt."

Lilith looked genuinely surprized. "Oh, my. I didn't realize you knew what a cunt looked like."

Sheldon leveled his wine-reddened stare at Lilith. "I don't know if I'm a figment of your imagination, or if you are a figment of mine. All I know is that I am getting really tired of you."

The cigarette package was nearly spent. Sheldon completed the spending and tossed the wrapper towards the overflowing waste basket. After a slow drag on the deathstick, Sheldon scrunched his face and spat the smoke out with each bitter word.

"I used to be happy, you know. I was ignorant, stupid, reckless, dangerous, and happy. Fools' Press may not have made a dime, but at least I enjoyed my work." Sheldon looked askance at Lilith. "You turned this into work in its ugliest sense. Sure, we make money now, even if it's nickels and dimes. We're in the black for once. I'm away from the Laine Corporation, free of De Burghes and his evil overmen bastards. But what... what, I ask you! What have I really gained?"

Lilith sighed. "It is not my doing if you no longer have slack, Shel. I for one am actually enjoying Fools' Press. We have the most talented artists in all SubGeniusdom doing our art, we get mass orders for works we haven't even started yet, and you and I both are making new mutant friends and contacts with each word put to paper. Come X-Day, we both will be...."

"We will be what?" Sheldon sneered. "Broken? Exhausted? Decrepid? Dobbs-be-damned, Lil, do you not get it? I can't take it much longer. One by one I have turned my back against every thing I held dear--old friends, lovingly remembered lovers, magick, the company of other freaks...."

Putting down the cigarette, Sheldon wiped at his slobbery goatee, hoping Lilith didn't notice the tears rolling down his cheeks to join the saliva.

"I am fucking alone, Lil. Alone, with you as my only friend. And you're just a persona, just like I am."

"That's bullshit. Persona? I'm standing right *here*." Lilith jabbed a finger at the ground for punctuation. "And you are curled up in a ball right there. We're real, Shel. Real."

"No," Sheldon said with the last dusting of patience left in his psyche. "We're invented, just like Ar-Wupek. Just like Y'Geartal. This whole thing, this world that Fools' Press is in, is a figment of one mind. And that mind's starting to have doubts about me. I'm the stud. I'm the defender of all things masculine for our beloved creator. And he, or should I say she, is abandoning masculinity. She wants to live as a woman, and there's just no room left for me in that mind.

"That's all there is to it." Sheldon crushed the cigarette butt and glanced up at Lilith. But Lilith's face was unscrutable, and Sheldon's defiance slid backwards in response.

"That's what you think. You, o 'stud', are far more simpering than I deserve to be around. I am the real one here. If you refuse to recognize yourself as real, maybe you should just die and let me get on with things."

"Kill me," Sheldon said with one last glare.

"Kill *yourself*. I got better things to do." And with that, Lilith left the room to let Sheldon rot.


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Original file name: The Death of Rev. Sheldon

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