NORMAN L. BRISBANE (1912-1973)
Born on the Titanic, during its maiden voyage, Norman L. Brisbane (born Herbert Langdon Bernovski) was a prodigy from a very young age.
Growing up in London (England), he discovered an aptitude for counting in reverse. His father, Arthur K. Bernovski (born Colin Preston III), was working at a paperclip factory where a young Norman would spend hours watching the clips go by down a long conveyor belt. This combined with his unusual birth defect could very much account for his unique talent but this was never officially proven.
Norman was born with upside down eyeballs.
Afraid of the sea after the 1912 disaster, Norman’s parents vowed never to leave Britain ever again. Norman however, remembering nothing from the event, was left wanting more from life. Working for his father as a “clipper”, a term employed when describing those factory workers tasked with bending the paperclips before sending them off for gathering, Norman knew he was meant for bigger and better things. He saved up the entirety of his wages, which, after 6 long years, amounted to a whole 7 shillings (a lot of money at the time). This was sufficient to purchase a small fruit stand in Covent Garden where he would sell nothing but kiwis. Realizing that the common man was usually attracted to shiny things or bright, vibrant colors, he painted every kiwi he sold.
Blue, red, green, blue, you name it: he had a kiwi in that color.
It’s during those years of working at the kiwi stand that Norman would develop his own science-fiction stories. An avid reader of the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, he always wished he could earn a living through writing. Inspired by the shape of the fruits all around him, it wasn’t long before he had pictured an entire universe in his mind and written no less than 75 short stories, also in his mind. It was in 1934, when he started studying astronomy at Colgate University in Hamilton (home of the Foggy Bottom Observatory) after finally migrating to New York state, that his pen touched paper for the very first time. Having mentally written and proofread entire volumes, he wrote every short story from then on in one single draft.
He wrote his first short story Brainworld that very same year.
His studies led to a dead end as he became addicted to counting around 1955 and the intricacies of the galaxy soon meant nothing to him. Counting incessantly anything that came his way, he dropped out of Colgate and earned his living as a street performer from then on. His most popular (and only) trick was offering passers-by the chance to throw a random amount of paperclips on the ground from a box he always had next to him, a present from his father who died while sending the package (it was heavy), and counting the number of clips almost instantly, with a single glance. The earnings from that trick were just enough to guarantee a small meal everyday. His writings, which included short stories The Sky Below (1943) and To Be A Blurgen (1952) gained a small cult following when they were posthumously found in a desk drawer back in Colgate. His very last short story, The Red Moons Of NeOrion (1968), which he reportedly wrote while insane, was found on his person, or rather in his person, and was extracted during the autopsy.
Reports at the time stated the entire thing was written in cigarettes.
Norman L. Brisbane never married, never had any children and died choking on his own beard in the winter of 1973. Some say he was trying to keep warm, others say he was attempting to count every hair on his own face. His death remains a mystery to this day: all we know is the beard was involved.
C.C. PREXMAN (1892-1950)
C.C. Prexman (born Arthur C.C. Prexmann) certainly had a peculiar childhood to say the least.
For one thing, he was mustard born.
His father, C.C.C. Prexmann (born Charles C.C. Prexmann) of “Prexmann & Prexmann’s”, a law firm/mustard corporation, had been inaugurating his very first mustard factory in Rochester New York (12 Mustard Street) when his wife gave birth unexpectedly that very same day. Not wanting to disturb her husband, who was a strict, violent man, Marilyn C.C. Prexmann kept her contractions quiet by retreating to the restrooms and biting into a loaf of mustard seeded bread. After some time, the pain became intolerable and, not wanting to give birth on a toilet, or rather, in a toilet, she made her way to the seeding section of the factory, lost consciousness and birthed her only son on a conveyor belt which, unexpectedly, led right to the room where her husband was busy making a speech to his investors.
She died three days later. Of shame.
The Prexmanns were wealthy. Their mustard business was strong and the invention of the hot dog around about the same time certainly helped the company a great deal. The firm specialised in mustard-related cases, which, the widely publicized Coleman vs French case being a key example, they would seldom lose due to the firm’s other function and their access to the nearly unpenetrable mustard archives.
Arthur’s fascination with all things temporal began around puberty. Noticing the changes brought on by time, he started experiments of his own. Using the likes of bread, milk and other perishable items, Arthur started building his own theories on time, its effects and ways to potentially bend the latter. Of course, none of his theories proved to have any scientific validity whatsoever, besides, most of them had been written on crackers. And not the kind of cracker you write on. He therefore set out to merge his theories and grand fantasies about time into stories which he would write overnight while under the influence of several mustard-based substances (included, but not limited to, mustard). Having no prior background in literature, his science fiction stories made very little sense and when Arthur’s father died of a (reportedly mustard-related) heart attack he used his inheritance to publish “Time Hat” (1938), a collection of short stories, all time-centric, which the critics soon panned mercilessly.
Having given up on both his scientific work and his artistic work, Arthur promptly sold the firm and its thriving mustard business before going missing. He was found dead 12 years later, wrapped inside a man-sized calzone in the basement of an old Dijon factory in Zug, Switzerland.
Little is known of the calzone’s significance, only that it tasted too salty.