The Gnoll Credo - by J. Stanton

I was used to long pauses when talking with her; she never said anything before she was ready. I admired this and still try to emulate it, with limited success; it's hard to break the habit of filling up every conversational silence with words, even if they're not important and mean nothing.

Each and every one of us sits, stands, walks, runs, eats, fucks, works, plays, and sleeps atop a giant pile of rotting corpses. What is dirt? Shit, rocks, and the dead. So many dead. Endless dead. Our ancestors form a colossal pyramid of dead people, with each of us at the apex, but those billions of macabre corpse-pyramids are themselves submerged within the endless screaming ocean of corpses that failed to become ancestors, all the way to the unfathomably distant horizon at the beginning of time. Soon enough, I would be joining them. But meanwhile, I had some things to do.

"Haouka, right? You know when you're getting old and dying, so you seek it out on your own, pushing harder and harder, doing bigger and better and crazier deeds until you take on something too big and it kills you. It's like you see Death coming for you, so you walk right up to him and say 'Hey, instead of playing that stupid game where I pretend I'm not dying and you won't ever catch me, how about we both go out tonight and fuck shit up!' And Death pulls a little flask out of his robe, uncaps it, takes a snort, and he hands it to you and you take a snort and it's hot and pungent and delicious, like fine whiskey mixed with fresh blood, and he nods, once -- and then he slowly breaks into a big shit-eating grin, throws his bony arm around your shoulders and says 'Now let's go get some things done!'"