When this article was born, like all articles in Submerge, it was inspected. If it had been short or pun-ny or (sic)-ly or unjustified, it would have been kicked back for edits. From the time it could be read, its writer was baptized in the fires of critique; taught never to retreat, never to surrender; taught that making a deadline early in service to Submerge was the greatest glory that could be achieved in his or her life.

By Issue No. 7, it was customary at Submerge for young, talented writers to be taken from their mothers and plunged into a world of critics who dumped a 300-plus year supply of haterade on their word-filled heads to create the finest scribes the world has ever known. The bi-weekly cycle, as it’s called around the office, forces the writers to create, starves them for their art, forces them to steal (in the form of parody, say, of a famous “historical” movie that takes itself far too seriously for its own good), and if necessary, to kill, which is why all of the writers at Submerge keep razor blades under our tongues.

By rod and lash, the writers were punished … taught to show no pain, no mercy. They were constantly tested and tossed into the wild, left to pit their wits and will against the greater Sacramento area’s fury. It was their initiation, their time in the wild, before they would return staff writers for Submerge, or if unworthy of such a high honor executed.

When it was established, the wolves began to circle the pages of Submerge, their fingers of black ink and 5 o’clock shadows as dark as night; their pages … glowing red jewels from the pit of hell itself. The giant wolves sniffing … savoring the scent of the meal to come. It was not fear that gripped Submerge, only a heightened sense of things: the hot air coming out of their mouths and the windswept pages of their lesser publications moving against the coming night. Submerge’s pages were steady; its formatting … perfect. And so the magazine, given out for free, returned to the people, to Sacramento, a king and queen! Our king and queen, Jonathan and Melissa!

It’s been 300 issues since the wolves and the winter cold. And now, as then, a beast approaches, patient and confident, savoring the meal to come. But this beast is made of men and pens with axes to grind—an army of slaves to their pre-existing beliefs, vast beyond imagining, ready to devour Submerge, ready to snuff out the world’s one hope for reason, justice and a listing of good concerts in the greater Sacramento area this month. Our king and queen will not be diminished and so we fight for them—for Submerge!

These writers of Submerge may be few, but they are wicked and tenacious. Their alliterations spin webs that no man can escape and no army can penetrate. They may be few but they have pushed millions of keys on dozens of keyboards and thousands of thoughts into the heads of thousands of babes. These writers laugh in the faces of wolves and dress them in sheep’s clothing for their own amusement. The rest of the world may give up and give in, but Submerge will not. Its 300 issues stand strong in the face of danger. We do not know the meaning of the word defeat, and some of us don’t know how to spell it either!

Sometimes our helmets get too stifling. Sometimes our shields are too heavy, but if we drop them, let it be known that we are not giving up. This is not a sign of retreat. We are incapable of weakness. We drop our helmets and shields when they aren’t needed. We drop them to hold our spears more steadily, so that they may pierce the hearts and minds of those against us, to give them clarity in a confused world … to submerge them into ours.

It’s been 300 issues since the wolf in the winter cold. And now, as then, it’s not fear that grips Submerge, only restlessness—a heightened sense of things. We know who will play at Ace of Spades in October. We have advance notice of your favorite food and art events coming this fall. We can tell you if that new burger place is any good. We will deliver that information to you, no matter the odds stacked against us; no matter how many angry letters stand against us; no matter how many ads we must sell to keep this free. It will be done for the greater glory of Sacramento and the greater glory of Submerge. We will not fail.

**This piece first appeared in print on page 11 of issue #300 (Sept. 11 – 25, 2019)**