Bobby Langdor awoke slowly.

Where the hell am I? he thought in italics.

Dazed, he looked around the room. The walls were paneled in brushed aluminum, and myriad colored buttons blinked randomly.

Ah, he thought, again in italics. But there is no such thing as randomness, Langdor, you handsome devil. They don’t call you “Harrison Ford in Harris tweed” because of your good looks, after all. Chaos theory says, “Where there is randomness, there are patterns.”

The terry cloth robe hanging from the brushed aluminum bedpost nearby bore the insignia: HOTEL RITZ, LUNA.

Slowly, the fog began to lift.

Just then, his solar-operated alarm clock began to play “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.”

My God! he thought emphatically. It’s time to get out of bed!

Langdor jumped out of bed and quickly realized he was already dressed in a perfectly pressed Harris tweed resplendent with patches on the elbows.

I’m one handsome, intelligent bitch, he thought to himself.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang. Langdor answered carefully.

“Bobby Langdor, I presume?” said the caller.

Langdor sighed. His discovery of the Holy Grail some two hundred years ago had changed his life, particularly when it was discovered the grail was not divine at all, but rather a chalice full of Red Bull mixed with midichlorians. Langdor drank this solution and had now been alive for nearly two hundred and fifty years. Since his extraordinarily long life had been made public, his phone had not stopped ringing.

“This is Langdor,” he said, and then put on the Bluetooth earpiece so he could do pushups while talking. “What up?”

“My name is Admiral Qui-ron Da’ackbar Smith. I’m–” A burst of static interrupted the caller’s voice. “…in the name of 55 Cancri. Hello? Can you hear me? Hello?”

“I can hear you now,” Langdor cried.

“Goddamn cell phones,” Smith said. “It’s fucking 2212 and this is the kind of cell phone service we have? But I do love being able to watch high-definition UFL games on my 5-inch TFT.”

“Where is 55 Cancri?” Langdor asked expressively.

“In the constellation Cancer. And man, let me tell you, this is one nice constellation. We have security gates and automatic sprinklers and everything.”

Langdor had done one hundred pushups so far during this conversation, and now he began clapping his hands each time he pushed himself off the floor. “What can I do for you, Mr. Smith?”

“Well, Mr. Lang…burst of static…declaring war…burst of static…in the next twenty-four hours.”

Jumping up from the ground, Langdor pulled on a pair of plaid wool slacks. Walking across the room, he decided to open a window. The low temperature this morning was forecast at -233 degrees Celsius, and he could use a little of that cool, space air in his room right now.

“Sorry, Mr. Smith. You’re breaking up. I can’t hear you.”

“I said, Mr. Langdor, that we here on 55 Cancri E  have declared war on the Moon. More than forty-three years ago our entire arsenal of ICBMs left this planet at the speed of light. Since the constellation Cancer is 43.7 light years away from the Moon, those missiles should reach you sometime in the next twenty-four hours. I thought I would call and give you a chance to surrender, Langdor.”

Never!” Langdor said casually. “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the sons of Worvan, we shall fight to the end!”

I should have used italics in that last sentence, Bobby Langdor thought in italics.

“Then it is too late for you,” Smith said. “I will use the Sun as a gravitational slingshot to accelerate the missiles. Long live Einstein!”

Looking outside, Langdor realized belatedly that Smith was correct. The approaching missiles screamed at him through the black lunar atmosphere, and Langdor cringed for the fireball that was sure to come.

Crying, Langdor suddenly, painfully, and catastrophically felt an upwelling of emotion, realizing belatedly he had forgotten to FTP the latest version of his brain to the server on Alpha Centauri. Now, when his replacement body was commissioned, his memories would be missing the last few days of his life.

My God! he thought finally. Also, I can’t believe this Harris tweed sport coat is going to be ruined. And my Burberry turtleneck. What’s a pretentious writer of melodramatic, pseudo-intellectual novels to do?

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RICHARD COX is the author of The Boys of Summer, Thomas World, The God Particle, and Rift. He can be reached on Facebook or at his personal web site, www.richardcox.net.

46 responses to “Godspeed You! Terrible Writer (With the Extra-Douchey Author Photo)”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  2. pixy says:

    bah!! this is awesome.

  3. Gloria says:

    Holy randomness, Batman!

    …the grail was not divine at all, but rather a chalice full of Red Bull mixed with midichlorians. Is hilarious.

    Was that a Galaxy Quest reference?

    Are you huffing Whip-Its again, Cox?

    • Richard Cox says:

      Midichlorians is Star Wars. Grabthar’s hammer is Galaxy Quest.

      Whip Its? As in Devo?

      • Gloria says:

        Yes. I knew that there was both a Star Wars and a Galaxy Quest reference in there.

        Jesus, does Richard not understand how to read line breaks or something?

        Whip Its = nitrous-oxide.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I understand line breaks but, geezo, Gloria isn’t very specific with her references. Pronouns are so imprecise!

          You’re so in the know when it comes to nerd humor, Gloria! 2 kudos!

  4. Jeffro says:

    What are you trying to say — thinking in italics is bad or something? I thought everyone thought in italics.

  5. Funny, funny stuff! The thinking in italics cracks me up, Ricardo. What if Richard calls me a little tart again? What will my comeback be? I don’t know! My God, I got nothing! I better start thinking about it in italics right now so I’ll be prepared …

    • Richard Cox says:

      Looking at his computer, Richard felt an upswelling of gratitude at your finding this post funny. Reaching for the keyboard, he thought expressively, What a little tart Cynthia is!

      Then he looked back at his specially designed plot wheel and continued typing his next multimillion-copy bestselling printed book of fiction.

  6. I wish I was smart enough to know how to use italics on the comment board. Oh wait, I do. Did that work? Shit…

  7. Irene Zion says:

    If you kept writing and it were 700 pages, I would kiss you and buy this book. And yes, you did make me look up midichlorians because I can’t remember anything anymore. I’d like to know what exact plaid Langdor wore…I pictured glen plaid in bright green myself.
    If all you wrote was the part about thinking and speaking in italics, I would adore you forever.
    Just saying.

  8. Becky Palapala says:

    Those far-flung faux-spiritual morality tales give real biblical and religious historians a bad name.

    I hope he gets ass cancer.

    Shit. Did I think that out loud?

    • Richard Cox says:

      From which he liberally steals and misrepresents to achieve faux controversy.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Langdor does for History what Indiana Jones did for arcaeology, if Indiana Jones were an unbelievable douchebag.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Archaeology, that is.

        • Richard Cox says:

          It’s incredibly annoying how the author doesn’t even bother to disguise his belief that he’s Langdor, even though Langdor is not only a DB but also an idiot. A world-renowned symbologist who needs pages and pages to solve puzzles a kid could decipher.

          Every time you click on one of his books on Amazon, the site should redirect you to Umberto Eco.

          • Becky Palapala says:

            I wish I could “like” this comment..

            It’s like he wanted, at one point, to write a nonfiction book, but either didn’t really want to be beholden to research or did some research and just didn’t like the decidedly un-spectatcular, yawny, intrigue-free answers he was getting. So he wrote a bunch of books about what he wished the truth was, about a guy not entirely like himself doing something a lot like research but returning much more exciting and scandalous answers.

            I guess that’s just the way fiction works, but he’s a-okay with people thinking his fictional version is the correct one and does very little in the way of discouraging it.

            My previous comment, I should note, should not be taken as a shot at Indiana Jones.

            That never pretended to be real archaeology. And he is awesome.

  9. Rollergirl says:

    Langdor is so hot he needs space air to cool him down.

    My kids are watching Spiderman cartoons in the next room, so this reading was extra special.

    So awesome.

    I wonder if anyone would notice if I put whiskey Baileys in my coffee

  10. D.R. Haney says:

    Faulkner’s characters also think in italics, I would like to remind you!

    • Richard Cox says:

      So do Stephen King’s. It’s not any one idiosyncrasy. It’s all of them together, combined with a galling lack of internal story logic and complete contempt for the reading audience.

      And the extra-douchey author photo.

  11. I’m not familiar with the author you mock, as the targeted genre is really not my cup of tea. But this still made me smile a lot, Richard. Godspeed You! clever writer.

  12. I am so jealous that you wrote this.

    I am so jealous that it even occurred to you to write this.

    Fuck you, Cox, Simon thought. You magnificent son of a bitch.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I love you, too, Cox thought loudly. There must be something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but heterosexual men can’t verbally express their affection for each other.

      Then he faded off to sleep. And somewhere in the darkness, the Gambler, he broke even.

  13. he thought in italics! Forget Faulkner, so did Vonnegut. You’re way out in front of both of them.

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