Monday, April 14, 2014

The Pets of the Missing Beast by S.T. Cartledge (Random Title 28)


Detective Snyder pulled his coat tight across his chest and cursed the bastard farmer who called him out to work so early in the morning. Actually, it was his boss who did the calling, passing on the farmer's message. The message was to be at this address within the hour or else he would be fucking fired. He had never been fucking fired before. He had come close a few times at this job. It sounded painful, and Snyder would rather not risk it. He trudged out into the frosted field, the grey snow crunching beneath his feet and forming a trail of slush puddles from his car. The farmer was waiting for him in the middle of the field, standing beside a fucking big hole.

“Wow,” Snyder said. “That's a fucking big hole.”

The dirt was scattered around the field and the hole disappeared, twisting and tunnelling into the earth. There was only a little snow inside the hole, like it had only been freshly dug.

“There's not a lot of snow down there,” he said. “It looks like a freshly dug hole. What are you doing, digging holes in your field at this hour of the morning?”

“That's the thing, man,” the farmer said. He spat tobacco on the ground. “I weren't the one what dug that hole.”

“Where does it go?” Snyder asked.

The farmer shrugged. “Don't think I know that much.” He blew his nose into a crumpled handkerchief. “What you reckon?”

“Beats me,” Snyder said. “I just thought I was going to have to check out some crop circles, or some shit.”

“Heh,” the farmer said. “Shiiiiit.”

Snyder pulled his torch out. He had one of those big heavy ones security guards carry so they can beat people with them. He jumped into the hole and sunk a few inches where he landed. There was more snow than he thought. Snow and mud, and blood and fur. Shining his torch through the hole, he saw it tunnelling down and around, the blood trailing like the beginnings of an underground river.

“There's blood down here,” Snyder called back up to the farmer.

The farmer responded with a daft “wha?”

“There's blood down here.”

“Wha?” the farmer repeated.

“Never mind,” Snyder replied.

“Oh, blood, yeah. There'll be a lot of that down there.”

Snyder froze in his steps. Not so much from the cold, but more from what the farmer said. There was most likely a monster down here killing things, and the farmer didn't seem fazed. He didn't seem remotely unsettled when Snyder arrived, now that he thought about it.

“See anything?” the farmer called out.

“Nothing yet,” Snyder said.

He followed the tunnel, the blood trail growing thicker the deeper he disappeared.

The splat-splat sound of his footsteps in the thin layer of blood coating the ground echoed through the tunnel. He paused. He could no longer hear the farmer. He could hear the deep-raspy breaths of some asthmatic creature further down.

He progressed slower, thinking of how he would need to soak his shoes in the sink when he got home. He could feel the blood seeping in and around the soles of his feet. In between his toes. The earth and blood had a pungent manure smell to them, or perhaps other smells were wafting from further down the tunnel.

The torch light strained his eyes, and he yawned wide, yearning for the coffee in his kitchen that had gone undrunk. That's when he saw the tie on the ground. And then a jacket. Shirt. Belt. Pants. Underpants. Two more ties and three shirts. Four pants and a belt. Seven shoes. A hat. A severed hand. An arm. Three feet and a full leg. Lying on the ground like a trail of breadcrumbs soaking in blood. A trail of breadcrumbs leading the opposite direction of safety.

Snyder wanted to turn back but he didn't want to return to the farmer empty-handed. He was a terrible liar, so it's not like he could make something up to keep the creep satisfied. If he turned back now he would make up some terrible story and he would tell his boss and his boss would see through his shit and Snyder would be fucking fired.

The wheezing was a lot louder now, and the blood flood was up to his ankles. He turned a corner in the tunnel and shined his light on a hulking great humanoid mole-creature. Black fur and pink eyes, squinting in the dim torchlight. It lifted its finger and made a noise through its clenched mole-teeth, “shhh.”

Snyder saw where the clothes and the limbs came from. Dragging themselves through the tunnel with the mole monster were about a dozen naked and semi-naked detectives with glazed eyes and filthy skin covered in dirt and dried blood. The mole monster gestured for the detective to follow.

Seeing the state these other men were in, Snyder had no option but to follow the beast. It grunted and grabbed his torch and smashed it broken on the wall. In the darkness the beast made sounds which could only be more digging, more tunnelling through the earth.

Snyder followed the beast in the soggy, pitch-black gloom and thought about how, when he failed to report back on the job, on top of being blind, naked, amputated, and crawling through filth, he would finally be fucking fired.



_______

S.T. Cartledge wrote a book called House Hunter. He's also written some other stuff too. There are some short stories and poetry in magazines, some flash fiction and fan fiction online somewhere too. He also has some pretty killer unpublished stuff too. Like that story with the big guy and the dead things. And that other thing with the wicked cool aliens and the weird creatures. He hopes you liked this story and that you will consider being my *ahem* HIS friend.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

RECKLESS DRAG PATROL By Brandon Cracraft (Random Title 27)



My father served honorably in the Riot Defense Patrol, nineteen hour shifts without food, water, or piss breaks.  Dad used to joke that RDP actually stood for “Rotten Diaper Patrol” because a lot of them wore diapers under their armor.  Since they wore them all day without a change, he said that the locker room was pretty ripe.
            “I know this one giant who still hasn’t washed his uniform,” Dad said, holding his nose.  “I wish the kid would wear a diaper.  He let his pride get in the way of hygiene. I’m sick of smelling his piss and shit every time I go out on patrol.”
            Dad was small for a member of the RDP, barely over eight feet tall and two hundred and ninety pounds of hardened muscle reinforced with plates beneath his skin, making him a grand total of four hundred pounds. 
            “How was Rotten Diaper Patrol?” I said when I caught Dad watching me as I slept.  He took a drag off a cigarette laced with nutrition capsules and caffeine.  It took him a long time to respond.  He hugged his knees, his body shaking.  It was the closest he could physically come to crying.
            Dad shook his head.  “It’s not Rotten Diaper Patrol anymore.”  I expected him to make a joke, but he sounded serious.  Dad actually sounded scared.  My entire body went cold.  I nervously played with the frayed edge of my blankets.  “They have a new name.” He stood up.  Dad was wearing his uniform.  He never wore his uniform at home.  “They are now the Reckless Drag Patrol.”
            I gave him a confused look.  He sat next to me, and my bed creaked under his weight.  “What’s going on?”
            Dad’s eyes trailed to the shoebox I hid under my old blankets and toys.  “As of last night,” he said, his grey eyes scanning my bedroom nervously, “homosexuality is illegal.”  He shuddered, and I felt my body shake.  I never felt so terrified.  “We went to a gay bar and locked the doors.”  His voice cracked.  He sounded like a little boy.  “We put a chain and lock on the door and put bars on the window.  When everything was secure, we set the bar on fire.”
            “They burned to death. . .”  I said, barely able to speak.
            Dad shook his head.  “Most of them died from the smoke before they had a chance to burn to death.”  He stood up, peeling off his armor and dropping them on the floor.  “You need to be careful, Jono.”  He went from sounding like a little boy to sounding ancient.  “If someone finds out, they’ll make me kill you.”
            “I’ll burn them, Dad,” I said.  “They won’t know.”
            Dad tried to smile.  “Maybe this will all blow over,” he said.  “You know how The Country is.  They get a bug up their ass for the stupidest things.”
            The Reckless Drag Patrol continued to cleanse The Country.  I watched newscast after newscast that happily showed the image of men dressed like women being beaten, shot, and burned.  My friend, Abbie-Lee Marsh, did a presentation about the scourge of homosexuality and the importance of the RDP.  She got another A that she didn’t deserve.
            Dad looked worse every day.  He started wearing his uniform full time, even the armor and weapons.  He hardly even ate.  I hated the smell of those damn cigarettes.  The Reckless Drag Patrol didn’t just kill homos.  They killed something inside my dad as well.
            I stopped calling it the Reckless Drag Patrol yesterday.  They stopped going after gay people.  There was no explanation from The Country.  The Country just decided to stop.  They had a new target: traitors.  Anyone who spoke against the RDP could be labelled a traitor.  The Country encouraged us to snitch on anyone who criticized the RDP.
            Abbie-Lee Marsh actually snitched on her parents.  She announced that she was going to a youth education program.
            RDP now stands for Ruining Dad Patrol, even though I will never say that out loud.  Some waiter heard my dad call them “Reckless Drag Patrol.”  He kicked us out and called my dad a traitor.
            Dad told me not to worry, even though he was obviously terrified.  He tried to assure me that the RDP would never kill one of their own.  Loyalty was the second highest virtue after obedience.
Some giant who didn’t even bother to take off his helmet callously told me that my father was a traitor and nothing else.  The RDP officer didn’t stay long enough to let me answer questions.
            I haven’t eaten in days.  No one will sell food to me.  My teacher told me that she would shoot me if she saw me on the street.  I guess I’ll be going to a youth education program.  No one will tell me anything.
            There’s only one thing I know for certain: The RDP killed my dad. 
            At least, I hope that the RDP killed my father.  Dad once told me that The Country was capable of doing horrible things to people.  When I asked what they were, he just shook his head and looked like he was going to puke.
            I really hope that the RDP killed my dad. 

-----
Brandon Cracraft lives with his boyfriend in the historic district of Tucson, Arizona.  His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and his novel, FAMILY VALUES, is available in electronic and paperback format.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Into a Mirror with a Toad by Rie Sheridan Rose (Random Title 26)



Padaragh Filopott was dirt poor. Literally. In a society footed in how much land you owned, how many fields you plowed, how high the piles of sand and dirt that ranged around your home, Padaragh had so negligible an amount that he might as well be landless. His father had been a speculator and gambler, and all that was left of what once was a healthy holding was a fifty foot square of land under a ramshackle building that housed Padaragh and his seven children. His wife had died six months earlier, leaving a new babe to feed.
            Padaragh was at his wits end. He had hoped to receive some settlement from Katoran's family on her death, but they had made it clear that all ties were broken. They had never approved of Padaragh, and considered the children mongrels.
            As he trudged wearily home from yet another attempt to persuade his former in-laws that they owed something to their grandchildren, Padaragh kept his eyes on the dusty road. It belonged to his father-in-law, and he was only allowed to walk it because he paid a tithe every month.
            "Watch where you are going, you lout!" A voice at his feet startled Padaragh to a stop.
            He looked down to see a huge green toad sitting in the dust. It blinked up at him. "Did you say something?" he blurted out.
            "Your ears work, if nothing else does," scoffed the toad.
            Padaragh felt his ears heating up, and knew they must be red. "Sure and I do all I can. Six wee mouths to feed and no dirt to sell. I scrape and scrounge and scrabble every day of my life."
            "What if you could do better?"
            Padaragh stamped his foot in frustration, barely missing the toad. "Don't you think I want to? No man wants to see his children starve."
            "I can help. Take me home with you."
            Padaragh stared at the little creature. "Are you daft?"
            "What harm would there be?"
            "Little Tadagh might put you in a jar and keep you for a pet, for one."
            "He can try." The toad made a move that, in a human, would be a shrug.
            Padaragh laughed for the first time he could remember. At least since Katoran's death, for sure. "Why not?" He bent and lifted the toad into his hand.
            He carried the toad home to his shack, opening the door with a flourish. "I've brought home a friend," he called. "Come and see."
            The children gathered round—Lysant, Katorana, Parvan, Tadagh, Mysha. Only baby Terasan in her cradle and the eldest, Padarac, out at work, were absent.
            When Padaragh held out the toad, Katorana frowned. "You said a friend, Da. That's naught but an old toad."
            "Sure and you are no prize yourself," croaked the toad.
            The girl started. Her brothers and sister giggled at her discomfiture.
            "Now, get on about your chores," Padaragh ordered the children. "You can talk to..."
            "Shaymus," offered the toad.
            "...To Shaymus later. We have something to discuss."
            He carried Shaymus to the dining table and set the toad in a bowl. "You said you could help...I could use some, I know."
            "Have you a mirror?" asked the toad.
            "I might do," Padaragh said. "Why?"
            "Go and fetch it."
            Curious, Padaragh went to Katoran's old chest in the corner and found her silver-backed mirror. It was one of the few treasures left from her childhood. Running a hand over the etched back with a wistful sigh, he brought it back to the table where Shaymus waited.
            "Here it be," he said, placing the mirror before the toad.
            "Set it up where it reflects the table," Shaymus told him.
            Padaragh did as he was told.
            "Now, reach through the glass and pick up the cup you see within."
            "Are you daft?" Padaragh asked again.
            "You are talking to a toad, is this any dafter?"
            Padaragh nodded thoughtfully. "You have a point." He took a deep breath and reached out. His fingertips touched the glass, and then—with a cold tingle—they passed through. He curled his hand around the cup within and pulled it back. He looked down at the cup in wonder.
            "Anything within the mirror can be brought back, if you believe in the magic."
            Padaragh's eyes widened. "Anything?" he whispered.
            "Anything."
            Padaragh scooped up the toad and the mirror and ran from the house. He set the glass against the wall, reflecting the small pile of dirt that he had managed to scrape from the yard. With shaking fingers, he reached through and pulled a handful of dirt through the mirror.
            It was true!
            He raked the remainder of the small pile through the mirror, doubling his wealth in seconds. "Lord save us!" he whispered.
            "And so much more can be yours."
            "I need a bigger mirror."
*
            He got one. As large a glass as the pile of dirt would buy. He and Shaymus took it into the forest, to a clearing where no one was likely to spy them. Padaragh carried a garden spade and barrow with them, and reached through the glass to dig as much dirt as it took to fill the barrow. The clearing on their side of the glass remained inviolate.
            He trotted the barrow home and back six times by nightfall. The pile of dirt beside the house grew higher and higher.
            People began to whisper. He knew it a matter of time before someone found him out.
            Padaragh took every grain of dirt he could assemble and bought a large sitting room mirror—the sort that would grace a rich man's house. He set it against the rear wall of the house, reflecting the lands beyond their little square of earth.
            He had kept Padarac home from work that day. Setting Katorana to work bundling the younger children into all the clothes they owned, he packed up the few items worth carting away into the barrow. He placed Shaymus in his coat pocket and gathered the children close.
            Katorana bounced the baby on her hip. "What are we doing Da?" she asked.
            "We're going on a grand adventure, darlin'. A grand adventure."
            Taking a deep breath, he led his children into a new world. Into a mirror with a toad.

-----

Rie Sheridan Rose has been writing professionally for over ten years. She has published 6 novels, 1 short story collection, 2 chapbooks of collected stories, and 5 poetry collections as well as contributing to numerous anthologies. She also wrote lyrics for Marc Gunn's “Don’t Go Drinking With Hobbits” CD.
Her stories have also been published in Reloaded: Both Barrels, Shifters, and A Bubba in Time Saves None and Abandoned Towers. Her poetry appeared in print magazines Mythic Circle, Dreams of Decadence, and Abandoned Towers as well as Penumbra, The Voices Project, and the Metastasis, Boundless, and Di-Verse-City anthologies.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beyond the Rabbits by Jeremy Maddux (Random Title 25)

The rabbits of Sage Hollow were a fickle bunch, falling in and out of love with each other as well as whatever fads and sensations they brought back from their travails on the outside.  Ian Arbutus had tapped into the secret of his species by ingesting timothy-grass and pulque which he’d brewed from the maguey plant’s sap.  With the body temperature driven to dangerous levels, the rabbit collective of Aztec mythology, Centzon Totochtin, shared their secrets with him.  As the fever broke, Ian waited for a sign of Two Father’s arrival.  He clenched his lucky rabbit’s foot (his own, which he’d lost the previous summer to a tractor blade) and meditated on it, intoning the vibrations that permeated his body.  He thumped his tail with urgency as he awaited the next communication.

    Ian thought he saw movement from the furthest burrow, but it was just his shadow which loomed large to swallow up every sunbeam that reached into the leparidae’s earth.  It hadn’t been his imagination.  Something was approaching through the warren in digitigrade form like most rabbits did mid-run.  Two Rabbit greeted him with detached reverence.  Ian gave the slightest dip of obeisance in order to receive the newest sacred communication.  As many times as Ian had summoned his cryptic visitor, he didn’t get the impression that Two Rabbit was physically incorporated into the environment.  Instead, he seemed to move like fog or condensation against the glass of the humans’ automobiles.  Something else which he frequently noted:  Two Rabbit’s faces, married by inches so that everything to one side was the mirror image of the other.  Despite this, Two Rabbit’s multiple visages never moved in absolute harmony.  One set of eyes would flinch or squint as he used the other set to peer into the nature of the communer.  Two Rabbit unraveled a human fist and furtively dabbed out the latest secret into Ian Arbutus’ waiting paw.  The rabbit god walked backward as shadows pooled over him.  When the rolling blackness lifted, Ian observed only weeds.

    The secrets always came in the form of walnuts which he cracked open with his teeth, then he would let the information coalesce over him as a season of genetic memory.  As he broke the nutshell, a stick figure with the resemblance of a bipedal humanoid performed a lethargic dance in the center of his paw.  He stared for so long at the vertigo swaying that he’d lost the need to blink.  He had to will himself to breathe again.  The stick figure bent itself backward and tumbled as if trying to pass under a limbo pole on the lowest rung.  Then it collapsed.  For a split second, he was sure he saw the gloss of tiny wires compelling the movement of the tulpa.  He waved his hand above it and found no such wires.  That’s when they became separated.  The stick figure tulpa waved goodbye as it slid down his arm into another reality.

    Ian was beyond the rabbits of Sage Hollow.  He savored the transcendence, moving through stages of enlightenment and ennui, then moving beyond that as well.  It was like having his own genus.  That was the only way he could describe it to the others later.  He baffled himself as he realized he’d already codified his current situation to the rabbits in the past tense.  He already had the words stored away in his mind for what he was now experiencing.

    After he became human, he found himself busking on a street corner.  There was a new walnut in his hand.  Failing to break it with his human teeth, he dropped it to the ground and crushed it under his Doc Martens.

    At his feet, there were two stick figures like the one he’d seen earlier only these were made from folded paper like little origami men.  He could definitely see wires controlling their movements.  He gazed up from the lively origami to find a sea of people transfixed on his spectacle of Siguijor.  Somewhere in that crowd, Ian could see Two Rabbit trying to reach him though he was visually absent.  He squinted until he could see his way back to Sage Hollow.  Closing that pair of eyes once again, Ian used the other pair to cajole the paper puppets into the nutshell.  The wires resisted his pull at first but the tulpas eventually settled in for transportation.  They did finally release their tenuous hold after a short struggle.  He thought he saw more wires glistening over his head, hanging there like ominous floss, but he waved his hand overhead and found no such wires.  A disturbing thought occurred to him then that made him stall in his transition back to lagomorph.  That thought was this:  What if we’re the stick figures, and there are enough wires for all of us?


_____

Jeremy Maddux is Co-Editor of Surreal Grotesque magazine and hosts the podcast of the same name where he interviews authors on the cutting edge of underground fiction (Horror, Bizarro, Slipstream).  He served two years as Vice President of a local writer’s group and has a story forthcoming in the Fireside Popsicles anthology this spring via Fireside Press. He may or may not look like Blanka.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trade in the Monster by Dustin Reade (Random Title 24)

At dusk, the ocean of bile churned and burbled. The pallbearers milled about in the thousands, waiting to carry the carcasses to the bile’s edge. Whipping tentacles with purple tops and pinkish-white suckered bottoms thrashed a little ways from the shoreline, waiting to drag the corpses to the pit of the stomach to be digested, the beast’s first official meal this quarter. Ahmed leaned over his gyro stall and whispered conspiratorially in my ear, “one day we will be the unlucky ones, eh?”

    I turned and caught his eye. His face was lean and tough, with smooth lips like the lips of a penis stretched from the base of one cheek to the other. I never liked him. Something about him always made me feel dirty, diseased, as though he carried a virus in his eyes that could pass from person to person with nothing more than a wink. I shrugged, tossed the bag of dead rats on the counter, and said in a plaintive voice, “not today, Ahmed. Can we hurry this along? I have to be back at The Colon in a few minutes.”

    “Good work in The Colon?”

    “Fine,” I said. “Seriously, how long does it take to cut a hunk of lamb and put it in a pita?”

    Ahmed handed me the gyro and gathered up the rats. With one look inside the bag, he nodded his head and clucked his tongue.

    “Amazing,” he said. “How these little creatures manage to survive without being digested…it is truly remarkable.”

    “They’re too small,” I told him, taking a big bite of the gyro. “The monster doesn’t even know they’re in here, I bet. When it swallowed the world, I doubt it realized there were this many creatures on it. You read the paper the other day? Some scientist near The Spleen discovered the remains of three or four other planets, near the outer anus. There were all of these half-digested alien corpses, crumbled buildings, all kinds of things. The Monster has been at this a while, and I doubt it even realizes the magnitude of what it destroys.”

    I took a deep breath, just kind of staring off into space, and said, “It just kind of eats, you know?”

    “Like you, no?” Ahmed said, chuckling under his breath as he tucked the rats into the safe beneath the register.

    I threw the empty gyro wrapper in the trash and walked back to work.

    Near the bile’s edge, I watched a young boy drag a deer into the churning ocean. I wondered who in his family he was protecting. The tentacles had been creeping further inland, taking the elderly from their beds. The Monster is always getting hungrier. For the most part we can keep it placated with the dead, or with rats and animals, but The Monster must forever eat, forever be digesting something. They figured it out a while ago. The Monster is biologically immortal, like a hydra. It is an alien, a planet-eating demon of unimaginable size. Apparently, it just roams about in space, eating whatever it comes across, including planets, and the tentacle-bacteria in its stomach pick the planet clean of life forms, then pushes the detritus out The Colon.

    One hundred years ago, it swallowed the Earth. Terra. Home. It took some time, but we eventually figured out a way to keep The Monster fed without having tentacles randomly pluck us from our beds. Animals, old people, and most of all the dead became its food. Money soon became useless; as did anything you couldn’t toss to the tentacles should they come for you in the night. They seemed to know the difference between organic and non-organic matter. Scientists thought it might have something to do with sensors in their suckers, but know one really knows for sure. So, we began trading in little lives for our own. That is why I fought so hard to get a job in The Colon. All of the bio-runoff, all of the human waste and leftover body parts meant one thing: rats. You can get almost anything with a bag of rats.

    I clocked in and got to work. My desk faced a wide picture window overlooking the river of digested elements. There were no tentacles in The Colon, another perk of the job. There was a knock at the door and a moment later, Jeb, my coworker, walked in. He was chewing furiously on his bottom lip, rubbing his hands together.

    “I did it,” he said. “It’s done.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes,” he nodded furiously. “Completely sure, I managed to secure two pressurized suits from a half-digested NASA vessel that came through the other day. I guess that means Cape Canaveral is gone, along with most of the east coast.”

    “I guess so,” I said.

    “Anyway, that is it, finished. The bulk of the boat has been finished for a while, and I managed to scrounge up a few more oxygen tanks. With the suits, we should be set.”

    “When do you we leave?” I asked.

    “Whenever,” Jeb said. “Tomorrow morning, tonight, it doesn’t matter.”

    “How about now?”

    Jeb looked at me. I could see the terror in his eyes, and the thin layer of excitement just beneath.

    “Are you serious?”

    “Dead serious,” I nodded.

    “Right,” Jeb said quickly. “But what do we give in our place? The ship weighs about two-thousand pounds, and that is all accounted for, but with the two of us inside, that’s what, three hundred pounds of unaccounted weight? The workers in The Outer Anus will notice. We’ll have to trade something, make a swap.”

    “I’ll figure it out,” I said. “Give me a little time. We’ll meet at the docks in two hours.”

    Ahmed was still at the gyro stall when I reached it. He was just closing up, humming some ancient song to himself. I tapped him on the back, and he spun around, surprised. He smiled when he saw me.

    “My friend!” he said happily. “Back for more gyros? You have that many rats? Well, I am sorry, but I am all closed up for the day.”

    “I’m not hungry,” I said. “I need your help. The Colon Police discovered my rats. They want to have me arrested for hoarding.”

    “That is terrible!” Ahmed said. “But what could you want from me? How can I help you?”

    “They haven’t found all the rats. I think if I could get rid of the rest, they might lessen the charges. I was hoping you could take them?”

    Ahmed’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “Yes!” he said. “Yes, of course! Where are they?”

    “Follow me,” I told him, heading for the abandoned shoreline.

    Two hours later, I made it to the docks. Jeb stood under a burnt out lamp post, twisting his hat in his hands. I could see the makeshift boat bobbing up and down in the water.

    “Did you do it?” he asked when he saw me. “Did you find a way to account for our weight?”

    “Most of it,” I said, climbing into the boat and fighting my way into the pressure suit.

    “It has to be precise,” Jeb said, climbing into the seat beside me and strapping himself in.

    “I have a plan,” I told him.

    The boat moved, silent and slow, down the digested river, occasionally bumping into a rotten corpse, or scraping along the tripe-like bile floor.

    “How did you fix the weight problem?” Jeb asked when we were approaching The Interior Anal Exit.

    “I can’t tell you,” I said. “Not yet. Here, we are almost there. I think we are dragging something behind us. A corpse, most likely. Get out there and dislodge it, we can’t have anything weighing us down. I only freed up enough for the two of us.”

    “Okay,” Jeb said, climbing out the manhole door.

    I quickly slammed it shut behind him and activated the lock. I could hear him pounding on it as I accelerated the boat. I could hear him screaming for me to let him in, but I couldn’t. Ahmed had been about my size, and would cover my own weight. If Jeb had really wanted to escape, he would have found some way to trade his weight, to swap, to make room for himself. I was thankful of his work on the boat, but now it was too late.

    I rounded a sharp curve and heard him roll over the boat into the bile just as I pushed through The Asshole and traded in my old life for a new, lonely life among the stars.


-----

Dustin Reade lives in a trailer behind a BBQ restaurant in Port Angeles, Washington. His book Grambo was published as part of the 2013-14 New Bizarro Author Series. He is also the head editor of the online bizarro fiction magazine, The Mustache Factor. He once won one of those “Eat-A-Giant-Steak-And-Win-A-T-Shirt” things in Hollywood, California.




   

Friday, March 28, 2014

Heaven Mask by Pedro Proença (Random Title 23)

There are concepts so horrible, so unimaginable, that once we come in contact with them, our minds  become empty shells, the remains of melted ideas smudging our psyche's interior like an asshole after diarrhea, or rough anal sex. When exposed to these concepts, these viruses, our bodies shut down in such a way we can't process new information for quite some time.

I'm about to lay such a concept on you right now.

God is a huge Jim Carrey fan.

There was nothing else He'd rather do in His free time than to watch classic Jim Carrey movies. Needless to say, His favorite was “The Mask.”

Because “Fuck you,” that's why.

So, God (or as He's known: “The Boss”) is sitting at his desk, reading some Cracked.com articles on his PC, when His secretary walks in, and hands Him the news for the day.

“Sir, here are the latest developments. The clones are still attacking that American city and we don't know how much longer...”

The secretary didn't have a chance to finish, because The Boss stood up and yelled.

“JIM CARREY DIED?”

Offended by the interruption, the secretary held her tongue. Literally, she pinched her forked tongue with her insect-like claws. It was her was of displaying frustration, and The Boss often had her feeling this way.

“Yes, sir, it appears so.”

The Boss got up from his chair, sending it to the ground.

“Bring. Him. To. Me.”

You could actually see the punctuation on that line, floating in the air like little dust specks.

“Sir, there are problems for you to attend. The Backstreet Boys said they can't get Santa to learn their choreography, there's the Antichrist situation in the midst of the clone attacks...”

“I DON'T CARE! Bring him to me, NOW”

The secretary drew blood from her tongue, such was her frustration.

“Ok, Boss, I'll fetch him for you”.

“Thank you, unnamed secretary”.

She left.

The Boss looked at his desk and saw that His cockroach supply was thinning. He considered for a moment calling back the secretary and asking for some more, but He was too excited. Jim Carrey was His fucking idol! And now, they would be face to face.

The Boss straightened His chair, sat on it, folded His hands and placed them on the desktop.

Seconds turning into minutes, The Boss waited. He was very impatient for an immortal being.

What's her name, the secretary, entered the office. She was dragging a shapeless thing trapped in what looked like a burlap sack.

“What the fuck is this??” The Boss said.

“Jim Carrey, sir,” said the supporting character.

Dropping to the ground, The Boss watched the thing squirming inside the sack.

“And why is he on a fucking sack?”

“Well sir, funny story. Actually, on top of being an actor, Jim Carrey was also an alchemist. Since 1994 he's being trying to create the mask from 'The Mask.’ Apparently, when the mask was finished, he put it on his face, and it killed him. Now, in heaven, his soul took the form of a giant, mask-wearing, insect, with all of The Mask's powers. We thought it was wise to put him on the magickal burlap sack.”

Scratching the mole on His chin, The Boss considered all of this. This was a serious situation, He couldn't have an all powerful monster roaming heaven, fucking shit up.

Well, besides Him.

So, after several moments of quiet meditation, The Boss did the only reasonable, sensible thing to do, a well-thought act that would be the perfect way to handle this dire, strange situation.

He ripped the sack with a long, thin talon.

“Nooooooooooooo!” the secretary said. After her speech detailing basically the plot of this story, she earned her right to have a name. Let's say, “Johanna.”

The Mask emerged from the sack. He was a fucking big, dark green insect. The mask was a lighter shade of green than its hard skin.

“Are you God?” the masked thing said.

“Yes, I am,” answered The Boss.

“Not anymore! I'm more powerful than you ever were. I'm stronger, I'm faster, I can make my eyes pop out whenever I see a hot bitch. I'm the rightful ruler of heaven.”

Johanna looked at her boss. The motherfucking Boss. She just knew He would make this all go away.

“Ok.”

What the fuck?

“What the fuck?” Johanna said.

“Ok. Take it. I'm tired of it anyway. You handle the fucking Drakyr, the Backstreet Boys, the fucking clones. I'm outta here.”

Johanna stayed on the floor, quivering. The Boss passed her on his way to the door.

“Just one last thing,” the former God said.

All the light returned to Johanna's face, and she smiled. The ol' sonofabitch would come through after all!

“Yes?” hissed The Mask.

The Boss reached to his back flesh-pocket and pulled out a little notebook, the kind journalists usually carry around.

“Can you give me your autograph?”

-----

Pedro Proença lives in Brazil, and tries to write. He’s also a musician, a gamer and,during the week, a public servant. You can find him on his blog “The Bizarro World of Pedro” and on Facebook.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Heist Job Wolf by Allen Taylor (Random Title 22)

W walked through the dark briskly, trying not to step on cracks. He'd only been a wolf for three days and was still trying to get used to the legs and their odd bone structure. His back was hurting. It felt weird walking on his toes. His claws scratched the surface of the sidewalk with every step and all he could think about was Randall Pepperkorn scratching his nails on the chalkboard in third grade. He wanted to puke.

Three a.m. was no time to be wandering the streets. Sure, it was a Monday night - or Tuesday morning to be exact - and most folks were in bed. He could see one living room light on up the block about three houses. Otherwise, everything was dark.

"Where ya at U?" he muttered under his breath.

The unicorn had disappeared four blocks back and W was pissed. They were supposed to be doing this job together and U was jacking off somewhere.

A voice cut through the dark from between two houses on W's right. It was a soft Pfffft. He stopped mid-step and peered through the dark toward where he heard the sound. There he was, a white steed with a solitaire horn on his head and a tufted beard that flowed from his chin like a white cloud. W turned and traipsed across somebody's lawn toward U.

"Where'd you go?"

"Ssssh!"

He hated to be shushed. Who the fuck did U think he was? They were supposed to be equal partners.

Partnership was a vague term. To W it sounded like a way of saying that he and U had no authority while K enjoyed calling all the shots. K had made it clear to the two of them that they were under his tutelage and they were not to call him Roo. They had to stick to the code: W for Wolf, U for Unicorn, and K for Kangaroo. They didn't know anyone else in this racket and it was probably just as well. W hated it as it was. He just wanted to go back to being a boring accountant.

 "I found a way in," U whispered. W stared blankly. "You know, the warehouse."

"I thought we were breaking into somebody's home."

"Uh-uh." U's voice came out gravelly. "Follow me."

"This job sucks."

"Chill out," U said over his shoulder. "You've only been doing it three days. It gets better after a week."

"So you say."

"You just need to think about what a great opportunity this is. I mean, most people stuck in a wolf's body would kill for a job like this."

"I liked crunching numbers."

"Shit. No one likes crunching numbers. This is far more exciting and far more rewarding."

"Well, I do make more money. But I miss my wife."

"Yeah, I know. My little kitten was the sweetest thing. I think about her every day."

"Hey, can't we just take a little side trip and peek in the windows, get a glimpse of our lovely ladies one more time? You know, like a fond memory, or something?"

"That's strictly forbidden. You know K covered that in orientation."

"Yeah. I just thought you'd be a bud and go along."

"Can't afford it, my friend. I need this job now that I'm on all fours. It was great being an attorney and all, but no one's going to hire a unicorn to sue their pharmaceutical company. Besides, technically, I should be reporting you. Consider it 'going along' that I don't."

"Fair enough."

U stopped. W suddenly realized they had maneuvered between two sets of houses, crossed a street, strolled through an alley, and ended up on a darker lane with a big warehouse staring him in the face. A fence around the warehouse made it look secure. He wondered how they'd get inside.

"Follow me," U ordered.

W felt like sinking his wolf fangs into U's ass. As an accountant for a large oil company, he'd enjoyed being the giver of orders. He was the department manager who answered only to three people above him. None of them ever said follow me. He followed U around the back of the warehouse where a black bag sat on the ground beside a gate locked shut with a chain and a padlock.

"Right where K said it would be," U chuckled. "Most reliable boss I've ever had."

"Whatever you say," W said, kneeling. He was about to stick his wolf paws on the bag's handle when U's voice cut in.

"Hold a minute. You're not wearing gloves."

"Gloves? I'm a wolf."

"You'll still leave paw prints. Allow me."

W smirked and rose to his feet again. He watched intently as U lowered his head and fumbled with the bag with his lips. Crossing his front legs across his chest, W watched in amazement as U unzipped the bag with his unicorn teeth. Then he nuzzled his nose into the bag and pulled out a pair of chain cutters.

"Bravo, bravo," W applauded. "I'm impressed."

"Thanks."

"But don't your lips leave prints?"

"When have you ever known a police department take somebody's lip prints?"

W thought about it. U had a point. That didn't usually happen. U dropped the chain cutters on the ground.

"I can only hold them for so long. Now it's your turn. Cut the chain."

"What about paw prints?"

"Look, I can't cut a chain with my mouth. It's not physically possible. Do you wanna get paid for this job or not?"

"Okay, okay," W said, frustrated. He grabbed the chain cutters and slid them on the chain, pushing the handles together until the chain snapped. U quickly pushed the gate open with his nose and trampled through.

"Hurry! We've got to move fast," U said, running toward the warehouse. W dropped the chain cutters and ran after him, tripping over his feet. Damn wolf legs, he said inside his head. He hated his new body. When U reached a wooden door on the side of the aluminum building he raised his front hoofs into the air and pushed them against the door, forcing it open. Without missing a step, he rushed into the door and ran into the warehouse. W stumbled after clumsily.

A few minutes later they ran from the warehouse with the loot they'd been sent in to steal. U clasped a bag of clanking tools between his teeth as he hoofed up the gravel in the parking lot while W hugged two similar bags between his arms. They carried as much as they could on their own. When they passed through the open gate where they had left the bag, W noticed the bag and the chain cutters were both gone. Someone had removed them. He followed U into a clop of trees outside the gate and they ran at least a hundred yards into a dark clearing somewhere in the middle of the woods. W stopped in the clearing and dropped his bags, out of breath.

"Geez, I need to quit smoking," he wheezed, his front paws on his knees.

U dropped his bag. It clanked. "Told ya," he said, laughing.

"What's funny?"

U lay on the ground and folded his legs up under his belly, resting his chin on his front forelegs.

"Wha- what, are, you doing?" W asked nervously. "Shouldn't we be running? I know I heard an alarm."

"Relax," U chuckled. "Now we wait."

"For what?"

"K."

W scratched his head and took a knee. After a minute of silence he got the courage to speak again.

"What happened to the bag?"

"Don't worry about that," U chided. "K has it taken care of. Let's get some sleep."


----

Allen Taylor is the publisher/owner of Garden Gnome Publications and editor of the Garden of Eden anthology, a digital-only anthology of speculative fiction set in the legendary garden. His fiction and poetry have appeared online and in print for more than 20 years.