On a morning walk along the tree-covered paths of UCSB, Jeremiah found a worn journal on the ground, with the name “Randall Burnet” printed on an aged brown leather cover in black ink.
“Randall Burnet is the name of a person who would have a journal like this,” spoke Jeremiah, getting ready to toss the journal in the dewy lawn. “I don’t know what it is about this guy’s name and journal that makes me want to bully him so much.”
However, before frisbeeing that shit aside, a strong gust of wind knocked the journal out of Jeremiah’s flimsy hands, landing the book on the sidewalk. The journal splayed open, exposing its blood-spattered last page. The entry, dated the night before, was titled, “Raccoon Theology.”
“Pretentious” was the only word that rang through Jeremiah’s head after reading the title...
X/XX/2020; 8:24 P.M. Raccoon Theology
Since my research projects have been cancelled because of COVID, I think I’ve formulated an independent project to fill the void that is my grad school application. For the last month of quarantine, the raccoons have come out in larger groups during the night. They walk in a line, circling their tree den. Some grip rudimentary wax candles in their little paws, while others hold tokens. A Cats Blu-ray, a Dungeons and Dragons player’s manual, a small fedora, the white beard of a gnome, a gold-colored necklace with the name “Tracy” written in flashy pink lettering, and a half-drunk mint Yerba, just to name a few. This procession occurs at least once a week, and seems religious in nature. What exactly they are worshipping though, I’m not sure. But tonight I am determined to find out.
X/XX/2020; 12:13 A.M.
As I am currently writing, I am also poised behind a tree-trunk near tonight’s ceremony. I can barely see the page I am writing on, and the stars, covered by tree branches, are equally obscured. The only guiding light in sight is the distant glow of the raccoons’ candles, flickering on this slow and breezy night.
Jeremiah tried to close the journal right there, as the blood on the page wasn’t enough enthusiasm to keep him going after an intro like that. He was paying less attention to the observations of racoon religion and was focused more on how Randall’s writing confirmed his assessment of Randall’s name. The journal wouldn’t close, though, and Jeremiah’s hands were now stuck to the cover. He looked at the page again, and the blood splatter began to slither about in an unholy movement, forming the words “Keep Reading.” In an instant, the phrase broke apart and sped to the edges of the pages, creating an intricate, deep-red border akin to a medieval manuscript. Jeremiah kept reading, still wanting so badly to bully someone named Randall Burnet. That would be a religious experience for the both of them.
X/XX/2020; 12:58 A.M.
The raccoons have introduced a new element into their procession: hung on the tree is a framed photo of a recently photographed Tom Cruise, situated next to a printout of a Waterboy-era Adam Sandler. It appears to me that the set of artifacts in racoon theology is a patchwork of idols sacred to other cults and religions. These items are acquired through trash-can rummages, although why someone would throw away a Waterboy Sandler I will never know.
X/XX/2020; 1:20 A.M.
I’ve managed to deduce the specificities of the Tom Cruise aspect of the religion. They’ve smudged mud around his eye areas, simulating the racoon black mask. I think they’ve accredited Tom for giving them the mask. They’ve also carved “CG” next to his picture, which at first had me stumped, but I theorize that the letters stand for chaotic good; they’ve added an alignment system in their worship from their Dungeons and Dragons readings. I don’t know if I agree with their Tom Cruise assessment.
X/XX/2020; 2:00 A.M.
The orgy began.
X/XX/2020; 4:50 A.M.
The orgy ended.
X/XX/2020; 5:00 A.M.
The raccoons have ended most of their festivities and are simply waiting, looking off to the sidewalk on their right. A blue light is slowly emerging from that direction, and the raccoons are snarling, lifting their paws to the air clasped above their heads. I can only imagine that this is the deity they worship the most. A humanoid figure appeared in the blue-light, walking in two dimensions… The sight is indescribable. The figure paid no attention to the raccoons, and didn’t pay attention to anything at all. Is it real? Is it not? Is this literally stemming from my imagination? I can hear cluck sounds all around me, but I don’t know if this is from the figure, the raccoons, or if I’m going mad. They’re getting louder
The journal fell from Jeremiah’s hands after reading the last unfinished entry, but the journal itself stayed open to the last page. The blood began to maneuver itself once again, moving towards a space at the end of the page. The blood formed the words, “Your Friend Is At FREEB!RDS.”
“Friend?” whispered Jeremiah, and he felt his blood boil, “How dare you?!”
Jeremiah kicked the journal into the grass and left the area, thinking nothing of what he read. All he thought of afterwards was the offense he felt from the blood’s assumption that he would be friends with someone named Randall Burnet. That, and the stupid micro-internship he needed to interview for after he returned to his dorm.