Many thanks to all of the writers who contributed to this effort, and thanks
to readers for their donations!
Shared Worlds is a
unique SF/Fantasy teen writing camp at Wofford College.
Critter concept by Jeff VanderMeer.
Artwork by Jeremy Zerfoss.
Stories compiled and edited by Therese Goulding.
Website by Gregory Bossert.
Shared Worlds was founded by Jeremy L.C. Jones.
Thanks for major sponsorship to Amazon.
Shared Worlds Teachers & Staff
Alone on this bizarre new planet, the
Coelcanzetl swims on rows of paddle feet through the stratosphere, her
golden body lighter in density than the water vapor of clouds. On her
home world, a gas giant a hundred times the size of Jupiter, she bears
the name Papin. She was one of hundreds budded from the same
egg-shaped storm of molten life energy. As her cleverness and size
designate her a ruler-to-be among her kind, she volunteered for the
ultimate trial, a plunge into the deadly ellipse-shaped wind anomaly
called the Taub where sentient cyclones guard the mysterious disk
known as the Pflug. Had Papin captured the Pflug and replaced it in
the wormhole it once covered, she'd have ended the greatest single
threat to her species. Yet a rival whom she'd thought a friend
betrayed her, and using a stolen weapon of the ancient Coelcanzetli to
open a second wormhole, she lured Papin near and flushed her
through. Even now the traitor wars for power with Papin's sisters,
unaware the Queen-in-training survives, silently gliding through our
heavens seeking the telltale shimmer of the portal back.
Malkoha, the Faktory, is a lab. An art gallery
under a dome. And a mad scientist, a disturbed artist, an engineer, a
poet. The mind of a princess in a tower of concrete and glass, bird's
nests, beeswax. She eats the dead cells of wild Critters, floating in
the air like dust motes. Dream krill, Malkoha calls them. In her guts,
she uses dream krill protein to sculpt a multitude of beasts and
scenes, fantasy stories and science facts, other towers, other
minds. But no souls. A complex experiment, a mobile installation,
Malkoha shares her work with no one. But she does keep a fully
functional, and quite attractive ticket booth in her entrance, along
with a neon placard that reads: "Society: an aeon of weird
behavior. Now open. 1¢."
When you came ashore and around the long limb
of the mountain and saw the city spread before you at last, you felt
as if your grin was going to split your head in two. A group of
bird-like things felt that your grin was going to split them in
two; they chittered and scattered and squawked a mocking song back up
at you from the safety of an arcade.
A customs official approached you, resplendent
in a taupe hat and teals. It carried a box under one arm which
contained a selection of mouths. It rummaged through that box and
chose one stretched into an oval of gleeful surprise and held it under
the stub of its nose. "My dear! My dear!" it cried. "Just a brief
moment, just a few words, and you shall have your liberty of the
You had no passport or visa, not even a ticket;
you walked here across the ocean floor, long bobbing steps on
tippy-claws to avoid flattening the fishes. You shuffled and dripped
and admitted as much.
It pulled a concerned grimace from the box.
"No paper!" the official said. "A problem! A setback!" It shuffled
through the collection of mouths and found a thoughtful frown. "The
backs of envelopes will do, my dear, and margins and napkins are
readily available, and Malkoha can surely spare a roll of tickets.
Excellent for confessional journals, you know: 'admit one'!" It
pulled out a wide grin through which to chuckle, but struggled to get
it in place; the laugh popped out all at once like a cork from a
You politely inquired, then, what exactly it
was that was required to stay on the island.
"It's just a matter," the official chortled,
then raised an apologetic hand. It recovered the thoughtful frown
from the box and continued, "Just a matter of being just a bit, you
And you flushed and grimaced, sending the
bird-things back under cover of the arcade, and admitted that you had
come in search of the imaginary but you weren't sure you—
The official had produced a pair of mouths, one
triumphantly round and the other small and conspiratorial, and slapped
them both on at once. "Of course you are, my dear!" it cried from the
one, and from the other whispered, "Aren't we all?"
Everyone looks up at clouds. Sees their
shapes. Loves the gentle mists. Hides from the storms. They say clouds
are made when moisture is sucked up into the air. But that's not
true. Clouds are made by the Iolex, a pale blue ghost-like creature
that blends into the skies. It feeds on the misery and pain of
creatures below: hunted animals, hungry people. But when it eats too
much of the anguish below it vomits dissatisfied vapors into the air
that waft around and release their tears to those waiting
The Purple Wallflower
The Purple Wallflower is known to inhabit the
corners and interstices of urban alleyways, usually near
nightclubs. (There are scattered reports of Purple Wallflowers in
quiet rural areas, but no such report has ever been confirmed by a
second sighting.) For many years, the general assumption has been that
the Purple Wallflower is attracted to the particular effect of loud
music sensed through thick walls, and that this in some way provides
it with sustenance. Recent observational studies, however, suggest
that the Purple Wallflower is strongly attracted to crowds, but also
terrified of them, and thus must stay at a distance from what it most
While no cults have been identified as
worshipping the Purple Wallflower, the few individuals who have come
close enough to touch one have often shown marked personality changes,
the most common of which are introversion and a tendency to wander
alone across vast, open spaces.
Attempts to confirm the authenticity of
crystallized Purple Wallflower tears sold online have not been
successful, but researchers confirm collecting such tears at sites
where office buildings and condominiums have replaced nightclubs and
Christine Sorrell Dinkins, Shared Worlds/Wofford College faculty
The Eep! is a medium-sized, pale blue monster
whose mouth is always wide open. Monsterologists speculate that both
the pallor and the persistently-open mouth are evolutionary
by-products of the Eep!'s tendency to be surprised by everything. When
Eep!s mate, the male Eep! is so shocked to have found a mate that he
wanders off soon after the event in a daze. Later, when a litter of
Eep!s is born, the mother is so astonished to have given birth that
she runs away in confusion. Thus, the cycle of surprise continues for
the young Eep!s that have no parents to introduce them to the wide,
frightening world and are thus taken off guard by everything they
encounter. As a result of their perpetual amazement, wonder, and
disbelief, Eep!s tend to be gentle and timid, and they often hide atop
the heads of other monsters, hoping not to be noticed.
The Bat-Billed Beakie is seldom encountered in
peaceful meadows, quiet wetlands, or calm waters; while there is some
debate as to whether the Beakie is the cause or consequence of the
violence around which it is found, it is nevertheless certain that
this critter eschews wading into rushy ponds in favour of a good
The Beakie is sly, shrewd, and good with words
and numbers; having barbed its environment (or spotted a potential
ruckus), it will draw a crowd around the combatants and take bets as
to the outcome; then it will stand by and shout encouragement to
whomever has the lowest odds, before leaping into the business, bat in
wing, to sort things out itself if necessary.
The Beakie is best avoided by cultivating a
stoic demeanour and avoiding the need for loans at exorbitant interest
"Frankly, I weren't expecting you back in these
parts after that business with the huntsman, Miss. Figured you and
your ma were done with the forest. Beggin' your pardon, not that I
ain't tickled, a'course."
"Hey, look out, that's a Bone Bun-Bun
hole. Never be able to face your Gran if you got mauled by a Bone
Bun-Bun on my watch."
"You never heard of a bone bun-bun? What they
teaching you in that fancy city school? Bone bun-buns are terrible
fast, lethal predators, can flay a big bad wolf to the bone in nine
"'Course I'm not making this up! Stick your
hand in there and say 'hasenpfeffer stew' three times and see for
"Hsst, don't move. There she is, a' watching us
"It's all right. She's goin' back
inside. Lookin' all puny and helpless is the best way to keep from
getting tored up by a bone bun-bun, seein' how that's pretty much the
opposite of their natural prey."
"Well a'course she looks just like a
rabbit. They're cunning, see? Bone Bun-Buns plop themselves in with a
flock of bunnies, wait for some dumb wolf to come along and think,
lookie here, a whole hillside full of dinner.' And snap, them rabbits
are having themselves a no-more-wolf party while the bone bun-bun's
pickin' flecks of wolf outta her teeth."
"Whazzat? Yeah, I suppose bone bun-buns could
be useful for goin' after a big bad wolf."
"Really? You sure, Miss? Well, I reckon if
that's your aim, I'll just lick on outta here. Never had much of a
stomach for violence. Last spot of advice 'for I go, might wanna put
up your hood there. Bone Bun-Buns are partial to the color red on
account a' how it attracts wolves."
Some creatures hunt. Some creatures forage. The
Shadder lurks. Sometimes, admittedly, it skulks. But mostly, it just
The Shadder do not make webs. The world is
their web. The Shadder do not dig pits. If you are here
you have already fallen.
There are animals that chase you down, run fast
as the wind, tirelessly, to sink their fangs into you, to drag you
down. Shadder do not chase. They simply go to the place where you will
be, when the chase is over, and they wait for you there, somewhere
dark and indeterminate. They find the last place you would look, and
wait there, as long as they need to wait, until it becomes the last
place that you look and you see them.
You cannot hide from the Shadder. They were
there first. You cannot outrun the Shadder. They are waiting at your
journey's end. You cannot fight the Shadder, because they are patient,
and they will wait until the last day of all, the day that the fight
has gone out of you, the day that you are done with fighting, the day
the last blow has been thrown, the last knife-blow struck, the last
cruel word spoken; and then, and only then, will the Shadder come
They eat nothing that is not ready to be eaten. Look behind you.
The Adombrare, or "Umbra" or even more commonly
"4Shadows", is a creature known to inhabit only the most crowded of
cities. Difficult to identify, the younger Adombrare will often
masquerade as skyscrapers, while the elder cloak themselves in the
dirt and grime of neglected high-rise parking garages. Although an
Adombrare can appear friendly of face and their demeanor can be
absolutely charming, beware, for snagged within the teeth of their
luminescent smiles are the twisted beams and shattered windowpanes of
numerous airships that were once so commonplace in our skies.
Not unlike certain frogs, an Adombrare will
change the color of its skin with the passing of the day and at night,
when it has become at least 4 different shades of black (pure shadow),
a fully-grown Adombrare will ascend effortlessly above the asphalt
streets of the city. Then, while floating perpendicular to the terrain
below, its enormous eyes emit the most comforting beam of light you
should ever want to see, beckoning the stray and weary. Its shiny
white teeth transform into blazing emergency flares like those of some
uncharted airstrip, causing many misguided aircraft to fly directly
into its gaping, cavernous maw.
The Solar Medusa
This appears to be a happy sun, the kind that
an innocent child might draw amid fluffy white clouds in a bright blue
sky. Do not be fooled. This is not a happy sun, and it does not wish
you well. The Solar Medusa is a floating, translucent gasbag that
cleverly interposes itself between you and the real sun, lining up its
outline so that when it is in position its presence is nearly
undetectable to the naked eye. Once the medusa's prey—that's
you—is blinded by the glare, it lowers its long, golden
tentacles—what might be termed its 'rays'—and draws you up
into its warm, sunny embrace. The process of digestion takes
weeks. You won't enjoy it.
The Bundlywuggle only stops growing to shrink
and only stops shrinking to grow.
Bundlywuggles dwell in warm or cold caverns
beneath the earth, which perhaps they learned to love eons before as
hibernating quasi-bears who wandered far below ground. As members of
the Ursidae family, they are related to surface bears and, more
distantly, to dogs. They survive on deep-salmon, mushrooms, cave
lizards, more mushrooms, and the honey of sub-bees made in hives built
in upside-down-growing oak trees, all of which they hunt using a
fantastic sense of smell and a strong capacity for low-light
vision. Their fine, white fur is not actually white but clear,
channeling heat and light to their bodies like fiber optics.
Quite buoyant, Bundlywuggles enjoy long swims
in underground lakes and grottos, where they often bob about like fat,
happy corks. When not swimming, eating, or sleeping, they laze about
in rare sunbeams through cracks in cavern ceilings—or even enjoy the
soft light of phosphorescent fungi and neighboring animals.
Bundlywuggles change size in the
light. Whenever exposed to photons through the Bundlywuggle's
fiber-optic fur, the Bundlywuggle grows larger and larger. In the
dark, it shrinks gradually back down to a more reasonable size for a
bear. If a Bundlywuggle were ever to make it to the surface on a sunny
day, it might not stop growing until dark!
Normally docile, Bundlywuggles defend their
young and their good friends with frightening yawlps and displays of
sharp teeth—all of which grow along with the creature's adorable
snoot. No matter how big a Bundlywuggle's snoot gets, though, its nose
stays the same size.
The Toppington is a pompous
creature. Recognizable by his eponymous hat, naturalists note that the
creature's interspecies social hierarchy is determined by the size of
its headwear—the taller the top hat, the more egotistical the
wearer. However, the creatures have very little of such interspecies
contact, preferring instead to collect a group of supposedly lesser
creatures over which the Toppington may demonstrate his urbanity. For
this reason, some experts believe the Toppington to be a parasite of
sorts, occasionally even living within other creatures if the creature
in question has a climate-controlled and suitably luxurious
interior. A Toppington takes inordinate pride in his full and
well-waxed mustache and it is believed that females of the species
also sport such well-furnished facial hair. Toppingtons take great
pleasure in collecting dust bunnies, storing large collections
alphabetically, by particulate type, in cookie jars.
The Uncommon Sniffler (Myotis inflatus, in
Finnish Niiskusiippa), portrayed here on the brink of a particularly
violent sneeze, is a rare bat found in remote regions of Finland and
the only known mammal with allergy as an adaptive trait. Note in the
illustration its distinctive physical characteristic, the rudimentary
wings useless for true flight. Unique in its method of propulsion, the
Sniffler travels by repetitive sneezing that results in subsequent
backward jerks, rendering both its flight pattern and its echolocation
somewhat erratic. (Some scholars believe it to catch small insects
with the intervening inhalations, but this is a matter of debate.)
Allergic swelling of the head, also apparent in the illustration, is
presumed to protect the animal in the inevitable collisions. The
Sniffler prefers to roost in abandoned cellars and attics it carefully
pads for its young to practice their sneezing technique in relative
Marcia Melita Anita Hundredfeeta
"Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you
are crunchy and good with ketchup," they say. Yet no one speaks of the
frustration of the dragon. Edibly stupid dragonslayers come along only
ever so often, you see—and what is a poor dragon supposed to live on
in the interim? Which is why Marcia Melita Anita Hundredfeeta has
opted for a more stable existence. All she has to do is what dragons
do naturally: stand still and look fearsome. People, brave ones, move
into the little hollows under her scales. Marcia found this
uncomfortable at first—people tickle—but gradually grew to like
it. They keep her scales so very clean. And they feed her their
leftovers, which are much tastier than boring old
dragonslayers. Except sometimes the leftovers give her gas. The people
who live on her are very impressed whenever she burps.
The Rudisaurus (AKA Smashosaurus or
Blunderbeast) is a gentle plague upon the land. Adults average
a height of 50 feet and weigh 1-3 tons, due to an ethereal physical
structure and large air pockets cushioning their internal organs.
They subsist on a diet of the fluff of
dandelions, cottonwood, poplar and willow trees, snowflakes, shaved
ice, ice cream and marshmallows. Hoping to acquire their favorite
foodstuffs, Rudisauri often linger near campgrounds, playgrounds,
carnivals and circuses. Especially attracted to the sing-songy dialect
of children at play, Rudisauri can perfectly mimic the intonation and
cadence of children's speech, though the words are never clear due to
underdeveloped larynges or toddlers' lingual manglings.
Rudisauri lack stereoptic vision. Neurological
macropsia (a hereditary "macular pucker") causes objects to appear
larger and Rudisauri to feel smaller than normal. Notoriously clumsy
"Blunderbeasts" cause significant damage in densely populated areas,
but their sweet nature has earned them the ardent protection of
Vanessa Lauber, Shared Worlds teaching assistant
The tiny Mondegreen lives a quiet life among
his books in an underground cavern. The son of Mr. Peanut, the
Mondegreen has taken a saltier attitude toward socialization. A bit
shy of the sun (and the creatures who live beyond), he has burrowed in
and spends his time perusing volumes at his leisure. But don't take
him for a careful reader. He flagrantly misapprehends words and
phrases, and takes great pleasure in doing so. Feeding on the
offshoots of misunderstanding, he meets the few wanderers who brave a
visit with candlelit limericks. For the Mondegreen, new meanings,
however misconstrued, are always better than the original.
If you ever visit a really old university, you
might encounter a rare species. Though little spoken of, for
physicists, mathematicians, and chemists the Lightbulbingale is the
symbol of their art. Indeed the creature has provided as much
inspiration for them as its cousin that resembles a bird has done so
for musicians and poets.
The Lightbulbingale often forms a symbiotic
relationship with its chosen scientist for life. Scientists welcome
the little plump creature's company, for the Lightbulbingales are
known to attract ideas. With its translucent skin and round shape, the
Lightbulbingale loves to camouflage itself amongst lamps as it munches
on the stray thoughts preceding inspiration.
So, if you happen to see the lights brighten on
a lecture, your professor might be actually conferring with his
Lightbulbingale. If he abandons the class waving his hand, it's not
you—he might have just made a scientific breakthrough.
Mating Habits of the King Pra (also known as the Uk-uk Pra).
There is a reason why the King Pra mates only once in a lifetime. A
creature indigenous to the Paraiso jungles, the King Pra distinguishes
itself from other pra by its ability for short flights. Where the
common pra will crawl about on the jungle floor, the King Pra has its
nest in the tall branches of the Agu-uy tree. Before it reaches
maturity, the King Pra maintains the same brown-black coloration as
the common pra. However, once maturity is attained, its colors change
to a vibrant green and violet, its snout turns bright red, and its
claws lengthen in preparation for the hunt for a female.
Some experts claim that the King Pra's mating
is counted among the most vicious of all matings. Once a female has
presented herself, a battle for dominance ensues. The female must
prove herself capable of not only surviving the King Pra's onslaughts,
but she must also be capable of subduing him.
King Of The Mouse Vikings
Recent research has uncovered a fascinating
colony of rodents. While they normally exhibit behaviour typical to
their species, periodically there arises a King who takes up the Sword
of Summoning and calls into being the Ephemeral Nonvenomous
Glowserpent. This simple act causes a bizarre transformation
throughout the mouse community. Wielding tiny weapons and attired in
the horned helmets that inspired their name, the Mouse Vikings mount
the ENG and terrorise their neighbours for as long as their King is
able to hold aloft the Sword and direct its arcane magics. Whatever
the cause of this periodic shift in cultural personality, it appears
to grant the Mouse Vikings a period of security and stability by
clearing their usual haunts of traditional predators.
Xie Xie the Sky Panda
Unlike regular Earth-bound pandas, Xie Xie has
the ability to float through the ether, collecting raindrops and storm
thunder in his paws. Once in awhile, if he is truly lucky, he will
grab onto a rainbow and wrap it around his neck like a scarf. It is
very difficult for Xie Xie to resist chewing on the ends of the
rainbows, which creates his blue and purple color. Rainbows are the
most delicious parts of the sky, followed by marshmallow clouds and
lemon lightning bolts. Growing up, his mother always told him to
gather the sky. Xie Xie loves the sky at dawn and dusk the most, for
their many berry hues. As dawn and dusk spread over the world, from
one hemisphere to another, Xie Xie floats after them, tasting the
sun-ripened flavors that trail along the horizon.
Everything was candy. Past the outskirts of
Diego Bunny's territory, it was nothing but candy for over two hundred
square miles, and the infamous Diego Bunny at the center like a
grinning mountain. The trees were marzipan and grew green gummi leaves
with ripe berries made of cherry-covered chocolates. The grass was a
field of green licorice spotted with peppermint stones beside river of
chocolate with ladyfinger cattails and lollipop water lilies.
The hover car driver touched my arm. "Lord
Diego has some interesting tastes. Don't eat anything. The whole place
is sprayed with meth and peyote. It's a bad trip."
"Think he'll accept my company's sacrifice?" I
"No," he replied.
"This one is particularly adorable."
"They all are."
A baby rabbit was in the back seat, his
favorite snack. We did not expect Diego Bunny, formerly the CEO and
Living Mecha-Condominium Complex of Happy Farm Haven, before he ate
the residents, to make rational decisions about his lunch.
"I hope we catch him on a good day," said the
driver. "I've seen enough death."
We cleared a
field of wild caribou, these real and alive. They lived on drugs and
sugar. They were thin and fat in the wrong places, with mouths that
seeped rot. They milled about in various states of drug tripping while
licking the landscape with infected tongues, not quite a herd but all
"His pets," said the driver. "Always
complement the pets."
"Got it," I said. "They're…Lovely?"
The eternal smile of Diego Bunny watched us,
licking its lips for the tiny rabbit that would soon be fed to the
mountainous living condominium complex. I could only hope Diego Bunny
wasn't licking his lips for me.
We are the Eee.
We look from windows.
We look and wait, but we do not wave.
If we waved, you might notice us, and that would be bad, for we are the Eee.
If you noticed us, you might come to our door, and we would let you in, and then wish we hadn't, for we are the Eee.
Eee is the sound you make when you say "eek", or "reek", or "sneak", or "creak", or "shriek", or when you peek at something and wish you had not peeked.
We are the Eee.
We look from windows, but we do not wave.
Please stay away.
For we are the Eee.
Ikajee The Non-Rsance
Although bearing a startling resemblance to
Samashed's Rsance and the Muckerhee Pseudo-Rsance, Ikapee the
non-Rsance is one of several creatures so resembling their namesake in
almost every way; they can only be classified according to what they
are not. Thus in the great Sky Bestiary of Polomichdt Schmeek (1780-9)
we already find Eroakll the Un-Frog, Chtttrrr the Un-Rabbit, Oouff the
Un-Dog, Funny Bit the Un-Raccoon and so on. This night to the 10th or
so, Jjimmyy Bbooyy, the Echo-Scout, raced into his usual position
about midway between Ketchup Cove overlapping something like the
Horsehead and Burgundy Bridge, in turn overlapping the nearby
Un-Horsehead. All the Second Aether waited. The result would have been
terrible had not Ikapee used the only characteristic not shared with
real Rsances and wound itself into its disguise counter-clockwise –
thus confusing our many enemies, as well as most of us. Pollender's
Shorter Guide to the Un-Animal Kingdom Vol. IV.
Monica Ploetzke, Shared Worlds teaching assistant
The Bezelpe (commonly known as "Pea Shooters")
are the children of aliens that lay their eggs in legumes. Growing to
a hundred times the size of a common pea, the Pea Shooters have three
eyes and a penchant for lasers. No one knows how the Pea Shooters came
across guns and lasers in the first place, but someone's working on
All his short life little Foofy imagined he
would grow up to look like the great big Ambarini he so admired. He'd
buddy up to the big guy and they'd let him play with ginormous,
colorful critters from other worlds. In fact, Foofy's mom, who hung
from a different family tree entirely, taught Foof that from his
cradle days on, the problem being that Foofy's Ambarini dad had
galumphed off into the ether before poor Foof was born. Secretly, his
mom, Ms. Scarlett, believed her darling would galumph into the palace
one day, win his great big half-cousin's love and be accepted as a
genuine Amberini, with all the ruffles and flourishes that come to
creatures of Royal Blood. Indeed, Foofy tried. From the moment he
spotted the big green guy kind-of-looked-like-him, he tried. He
capered. He sang. He warbled "Dance to the Music of the Ambarini,"
just not loud enough for his cousin to hear for there were many
creatures romping on the hillside and he couldn't make himself heard
above the din. What to do? Foof thought: They would listen if I only
had a tambourine. Right now he's saving up for one, but there's not
much money to be found on this or any other hillside. Can you
Despite the fact that we are living in the
midst of an Age of Reason, the Antharian Bloob remains something of a
mystery to those who study natural philosophy.
Rare and reclusive by
nature, no Bloob has ever been taken captive for scientific
study. Thus, the scant information we possess is anecdotal at best. At
worst, it is nothing more than the wild speculation of armchair
Indeed, was it not for noted explorer Ataraxius
Throppe's monograph on the creature, the Bloob would likely be
considered little more than a myth. Even so, the facts we possess are
so odd that despite Throppe's standing in the community, his monograph
"Observations Concerning The Melancholic Bloob" was considered by many
to be an odd joke, if not an outright hoax or symptom of syphilitic
Outraged at these slanders, Throppe presented a
carefully preserved tissue sample to the Royal Society as evidence of
his discovery. Testing by gas chromatograph instantly cleared
Throppe's name, as the tissue showed unique characteristics.
Despite the sample and Throppe's disturbing
detailed monograph, we are left with few facts regarding the
Bloob. Testing shows that Throppe was quite correct in his theory that
the Bloob has a symbiotic relationship with certain dinoflagellate
algae. But if the Bloob is, as Throppe describes, both nocturnal and
subterranean, what possible photosynthetic benefit could the Bloob
gain from this relationship?
Throppe admits that he discovered the Bloob
after falling down a disused mineshaft and striking his head. What's
more, he confesses that he survived the following two weeks by
consuming "various unclassified fungi" and a large quantity of
medicinal alcohol he travels with "for reasons of safety and hygiene."
These circumstances might account for of Throppe's more outlandish
claims. Specifically, that the Bloob's diet consists primarily of
granola, that it is prone to fits of depression, and that it is
greatly cheered by gifts of gin, raisins, and box tops.
Most improbable of is Throppe's claim that
"…the Bloob produces vomitous effluvium in excess to three
times its own body weight every day." Given that Pliny describes the
Bloob as weighing at least several tonnes, this must be considered
hyperbolic exaggeration until further study provides evidence on the
Hard to believe, but the Edifileon belongs to
the family Chamaeleonidae, which makes it a relative of the
chameleon. Unable to change shape and terrible at blending in, the
Edifileon can only change color—so long as the color is light or
pastel. No deep dark blues, no browns, no stone grays. (Well,
occasionally a particularly talented Edifileon can manage stone
gray—but only if it is pale stone gray).
The Edifileon's most notable trait, in fact, is
that it absorbs energy from buildings. Not quickly, mind you, but
slowly and with great deliberation. Inhabitants of the buildings will
often look out and see a pastel scaly creature, feel threatened, and
remove it before the Edifileon gets any serious nutrition. However,
Edifileons incarcerated in old-fashioned zoos—the kind with
walls—often thrive, so many Edifileons try to get caught,
attacking buildings whose colors do not match theirs at all.
As for a monstrous personality, the Edifileons
have none. They do, however, seem to hang around much longer than
desired, and often have to be asked to leave, which they will
The Smiling Blue Balloonga
The Blue Balloonga (Baloonosaurus Caeruleus
Rictus) appears to be grinning. He is not. He has no mouth. He just
pretends. He is incapable of mirth. He is just made that way. The
mouth you think you see, the nose holes on his cheeks, they are not
mouth, teeth or nostrils. He is just pretending. Mostly, the
Baloonosaurus lives in airless space where breathing is not only
impossible, it would be dangerous! In further fact, the Balloonosaurus
is generally unable to be joyous, or even pleasantly disposed, poor
Balloonga. In addition to no mouth, nose, ears, teeth or hair, he also
has no feet. You might not know that. He is shy and pretends to have
mouths and (and feet) because he is just trying to please. He tends to
hide behind large objects, mountains and such. Full-grown Balloongum
(plural) frequently take refuge behind minor satellites and larger
asteroids. Mars's moon, Deimos, is said to have a small colony of
lesser (and redder) Balloongum in permanent residence. Poor things,
they must continue to migrate around the moonlet to avoid being seen
by telescopes and visiting NASA probes. This group is all but unique
among the creatures; most of the larger, and bluer Balloonga are sad
and lonely wanderers and sometimes visitors here and there.
The Blue Balloonga is a deep-space born critter
with no animosity in his, her, or hus heart. Yes, there are three
kinds, boy, girl and not-boy-or-girl. The fact is, they have no heart,
just a little windbag at their centers that keep them inflated. Which
is, of course, not difficult in the vacuum of space. How
three-gendered beasties become born at all remains a mystery to
science as they are shy and always alert—note the large and always
open eyes (which are real)—and are always ready to duck behind
whatever mountain, or satellite from behind which they peer.
Who says I look like a fig? As far as I know,
fig’s skins are not yellow. Well, I might be shaped like one, just a
But you know how easily people get
started. Like saying that, perhaps, I was originally meant to be a
fig. Chanting: "Meant to be a fig, ha!" And once someone yelled
That sounded actually nice. I spell it
"Figment". That’s because "-ment", as a suffix (You know what a suffix
is, don’t you?) denotes, among other things, resulting state. If
someone wants to be refreshed, they need refreshments. That's a handy
suffix, that one.
This lady here (the one writing about me) keeps
telling me that as a Figment, I am something that has no objective
reality and therefore, something that does not really exist. I’m just
a Figment of her imagination.
Pooh, I say. What does she know?
Since the dawn of time, these deceptively cute
pink bubbly creatures have hidden behind clouds until children come
out to play, then they swoop down and gobble up said children. Of
course, there was that period of waiting before man crawled out of the
primeval swamp and children developed—during this time the
Cloud-Bibbles kept themselves amused by playing an early form of
Pinochle. Notoriously greedy, Cloud-Bibbles have been known to gorge
themselves on so many children that they become too heavy to fly and
meet their demise by crashing to the ground and bursting or drifting
into the clutches of bands of angry villagers armed with torches and
pitchforks. Cloud-Bibbles, funnily enough, taste of cotton candy.
The Devotees of Froof and Furble
Every morning, the Devotees build their three
gods and parade them around in ecstasy. Froof, the flaming twins,
dance atop their sacred poles; the gelatinous Furble presides in its
hallowed wheelbarrow. Basking in the adoration of their worshipers,
Froof grow incandescent and Furble distended until, at sunset, Froof
are burnt to cinders and Furble simply implodes. The Devotees collect
the remains in little ceramic urns, which they carry back to their
shrine under much wailing and weeping. The noisy wake lasts until
dawn. At sunrise, construction begins anew. Meanwhile, the growing
number of urns that spill out of the shrine and litter the surrounding
landscape are becoming an issue.
ZOLTAR. Not to be confused with either ZOLTAR
[Fortune Telling Machine] or ZOLTAR [masked villain]. Not to be
confused, either, with ZOLTAN [alien messiah], ZARTAN [mercenary] or
This Zoltar is the son of Scattershot, a
TECHNOBOT, and Betty, a FACE HUGGER. He is related to the Millennium
Falcon on his father’s side, and to the Ripley clone on his mother’s
Hobbies: fishing, collecting stamps, visiting
famous black holes.
It’s hard to be a flying saucer when you’re
just looking for love. It is a truth seldom articulated, yet often
felt, that love is a commodity hard to come by in this, or any other,
universe. Whether you are visiting the remains of ALDERAAN, the prison
planet of FURY, or your dad and his new wife back on CYBERTRON, life
can be lonely without a meaningful companion ship. Zoltar is still
looking. Contact him on email@example.com.
The name "Knoyr" has two pronunciations, both
of which are culturally accepted: \'näwr\ or \'nä-yer\.
Known only to dwell within the Carroll's End
underground system of caves, the Knoyr remain a biological
mystery. Estimated heights of the bipedal creatures range from two to
four feet tall. They squat on the cave floor and observers report they
seemingly don't do much more than scan the practically impenetrable
darkness with their red, bioluminescent eyes. University scientists
have been unable to prove one way or the other whether or not the
Knoyr predate insects, bats, or any other animals (including their own
sick and injured). The low level of biodiversity within Carroll's End
is used to argue both sides of the pernicious food debate. At
University, one of the newest and most popular theories surmise that
the large, distinctive isosceles triangle shaped teeth are only for
show; to scare off predators, or perhaps to attract mates with their
toothy plumage. The superstitious among Local Spelunking Union 142
believe the Knoyr feed on psychic energy. Or more specifically; the
Knoyr feed on doubt and fear. University scientists are understandably
skeptical, while they do of course admit, there's no shortage of such
doubt when standing in a dark cave, in the presence of a silently
waiting and watching Knoyr.
Seven Songs of Sirius
Ok, it might look all peaches and light from
where you stand, but trust me, these smiles are just for show. We've
gotta smile all the time because you know what they say; when you're
smiling, the whole world smiles with you. And if you cry, well, best
not to even imagine it.
We call ourselves the Seven Songs of Sirius
because singing keeps the boogieman away. Plus it keeps us out of
trouble, and although we look sweet, we are highly mischievous. We've
been known to cause an International (Or should we say Galactical?)
situation once or twice… but not on purpose! Floating around in some
dark swirly blackness can be exciting and thrilling to some, but not
us. We'd just be happy to all have our own separate names.
The Watch-it is the shyest creature in the
world. It hides not just inside books and other forests of text, but
especially in the nooks and crannies around letters. The Watch-it
particularly enjoys the dark grottos to be found in the middle of
“D’s” or “O’s”, and on rare occasions has been seen delightedly
sliding down these cool, smooth surfaces for hours. From these hiding
places, the Watch-it will observe the reader with an enigmatic
expression that some scientists believe to be awe and others to be
contempt. (Still others believe its expression is dependent on the
reaction of the reader to the text.)
The Watch-it is highly adaptable and has in
recent years begun to inhabit websites and e-books with relative
ease. A Watch-it feeds off of the reading experience, which can create
a feeling of laziness or fatigue in the reader. In cases of major
infestations, Watch-its may imbue the reader with a temporary sense of
unease and paranoia. The Watch-it can no sooner survive without its
surrounding text as a hermit crab may survive with its shell, but is
otherwise surprisingly durable. The creature cannot be squashed by the
weight of pages, nor killed by power surges or power outages.
If a book or website isn’t read, the Watch-it
may lie dormant for many months or years without dying. In this
dormant state, the Watch-it enters a state of hibernation unique in
the animal kingdom. It will assume the shape of a letter and mimic the
letter so perfectly as to be unnoticeable. However, if a Watch-it is
forced to hibernate for more than a century, it will die. More than
one monk in the Middle Ages would open a book at an angle only to find
all the letters of a page sliding brittle and still to the floor.
The Rook is a large, slow-moving beast whose
diet consists entirely of questing knights. Unable to pursue its
mounted, agile prey, the Rook takes as its natural camouflage the form
of a warm and welcoming castle. When particularly hungry, the Rook
extrudes a lure from among its crenellations, which appears to be a
damsel in distress, passing fair. Luckily, the Rook has no capacity
for speech, so knights are advised to engage maidens in conversation
before attempting rescue. And imperiled damsels, likewise, are advised
to articulate their distress clearly, thus reassuring their champions
that they are storming a portcullis, and not a gullet.
The Lithosphere Whale
The lithosphere whale (Physeter macrocephalus
borboros) is more commonly known as the earth whale or the wrong
whale. During the great days of whaling in the 19th Century it was
called the cachalittle or mobydirt.
Lithosphere whales may be divided as follows:
blubber, whale leather, baleen, spermaceti, petroleum, and fossil
amber. These are the only cetaceans known to yield the final valuable
commodity. Individuals are commonly solitary, wandering the
terrestrial crust in search of food, although pods are occasionally
reported as causing earthquakes. Large bulls may dive to a depth of
three (or even four) diamond mines. They are air breathers and must
surface to breathe once or twice a fortnight. By day, their exhaled
breath is often visible for a considerable distance; when seen, the
exhalations of these whales are commonly termed "dirt devils." In the
stillness of night they are heard as long whailings. The superstitious
belief that they seek to attract railroad trains for reproductive
purposes has little basis in fact.
Diet consists principally of soil squids
(q.v.), although coal miners and bomb-shelter residents are taken as
well. Calves are said to dine on earthworms, this by filling their
mouths with rich soil and forcing it out between their teeth, the
worms being retained.
Kemper Wray, Shared Worlds teaching assistant
The green Ambarini is a breed of large silo-shaped creatures
that wander and visit national monuments by night and settle into the
ground by day to sleep. Due to their large stature—sometimes
reaching heights comparable to skyscrapers—the Ambarini are often
thought to be dangerous but only lash out when suddenly woken. Do not
let their pink horns and magenta eyes fool you: the Ambarini delight
in nothing more than sightseeing. Should you happen upon a green grain
silo situated near Stonehenge or Mount Rushmore, do not bother it; the
Ambarini prefer to be ignored, left to wander and snooze in peace.
The Dinder is a creature of fearsome size,
purple horns and buggy eyes,
with which she uses to spy your pool—
gleaming bright and surely cool!
And so she sneaks, and spies and
until assured that no one is about…
And once she's in she won't get out!
"Too big!" you'll cry.
"Too big by far!" you'll shriek, far and wide.
But the Dinder'll just give you a whimsical glare—
She's too big for the pool and she doesn't care.