Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! Co-win
The Mango Man. Who is he? Where did he come from? How did he come to be called that? And why is everyone terrified of him?
Let me be clear on that. I was the first. The rest are spin off wannabe’s. I do what I can to reduce their numbers. Mayhap, I shouldn’t. Through them, my legend grows. Now that the secret is out. I don't know how long I will maintain a fragile state of control. My fans continue to experiment, so far, without success.
When a fan get's caught? Wake to find yourself with your gut splayed open, sewn up with Mango seeds inside, and forced to become their living blood based hydroponic system. Only the strongest tree survives and you along with it. That explains ‘the terrified’ and why I am called ‘The Mango Man’.
Good for the Mango. Bad for you. What it does for my genetically altered Mango is turn it into the fountain of youth by way of its fruit. Its roots feel their way along your insides, delicate fibers connecting and nourishing themselves along the way. You never die but lie there with four limbs splayed unable to move. Greater roots bind you where you lay as host. The price of eternal life.
That explains ‘the terrified’ and why I am called ‘The Mango Man’. If the dose is right, extracting the juice of the Mango releases its gift without the curse. It made me richer than Midas and healthy beyond belief. I’ve resurrected myself after many an assassination attempt to my murderer’s maddened disbelief. After all, isn’t turnabout is fair play? They get what they wanted to give. Word gets around. More terror added to the story of who I am and why.
Where did I come from? There is speculation I was a scientist escaping from inside a secret Russian government research center, leaving only a blast crater behind. Another myth promotes me into a genetic genius playing god inside a homemade basement laboratory.
In truth, I stole this recipe and its ingredients from the originator. His fertile imagination became his doom when he could no longer resist boasting about what he knew. Now, he lies made captive by his own, some say demented mind, the first organic substrata bound to a modified Mango tree’s roots.
I like to show him off to those who will become like him. Oh, he is conscious enough. That root forcing its way down his mouth gives him something to chew on while unable to voice his thoughts. Striking isn’t he?
Let me pluck off one of his fruits. It is time to extract another ounce of eternal life for me. For you, my wannabe friend?
If you’ve got the guts for it, you are about to find out what it is like to live forever, without some of the side benefits, when your seeds take root. You'll finally learn how my process works and why your's won't. Kind of turn's your stomach doesn't it? My friend, that is only starters.
We are about to change your diet. Your insides will nurture my Mango tree. In return your guts will survive becoming a parasite to my plant.
I am the Mango Man.
|“Atropos was one of the three Greek Goddesses of fate and destiny. She determined when a person would die,” explained Miss Heaven Barkley.
Harry Smith, the student brown nosing his way through her forensic pathology class, held out the surgical blade her hand requested. He knew when a question was being prompted and offered it to the formaldehyde ridden air, “What’s that got to do with science?”
Miss Heaven Barkley smiled approvingly. The forceps exchanged hands, cutting into the dead meat of ‘Doc’. the cancer ridden lung remains of what had once been living flesh. “Pathology is all about causes and results. What determined how ‘Doc’ died? Smoking four packs of cigarettes a day, is what. He controlled the moment he would die but gave that moment up to the fates. Why?”
Caught by the sudden twist in conversation forcing him to pull a magical rabbit out of an invisible hat, Harry Smith went into his standard defensive verbal maneuver, “Why?” He repeated, passing the ball back to his teacher. Sweat began dripping from the back of his neck. That had been a close call. Did Miss Heaven Barkley know?”
The cops moving into the dissection room and standing firmly at the door revealed all. “How did ‘Doc’ die?” Forensic specialist Heaven Barkley’s smile was sardonic in the way it promised to tell all. “Perhaps, you can explain what you were doing at his bedside in Saint Mary’s hospital and how he got on this examination table?” The scalpel pointed to Harry Smith.
Harry Smith had just been knocking about and then fate had struck. Wasn't he part of the medical framework? A lowly medical student seen everywhere and not at all? His answer dried on the tip of his tongue. The means of paying for the expense of his education had caught up with him. There were other fresh corpses waiting in the wings. Accidents that had been waiting to happen. The price had gone astronomically up for cadavers without Covid19.
Atropos’ invisible presence in the room was felt by all. Fate had spoken as one body after another was wheeled in for display. “There seems to be a pattern in their demise. I wonder what it could be?”
It was then, Harry Smith grabbed the scalpel, slitting Doctor Heaven Barkley’s throat with a single blood thirsty gash. Atropos had spoken, yet again.
|“I’m your replacement.” The second angel offered his hand. “Michael. Talk about a mess.”
“Hey, Mike. Yeah, I need a breather. Too much death. Get’s to you when they are so useless. No meaning to them. Guess you know my name. Peter.”
The two stared around them, half in this world, half in the next. Shift changes the day after Christmas were standard. Peter had been waiting for his relief. One eye on making sure the stacked up bodies waiting for mass burial kept their souls intact and asleep waiting for the second coming. Things had to be kept right.
“Want me to stay and show you around? Help you get acclimated to the scene?”
The year had been stirred up into more horror than usual. The trickster and his hoard of dark angels were busy trying to harvest wayward souls. In place of world war, pandemic and mass migration were being used to pull the rug out from under honest souls. Saint Rapheal’s Catholic Center was a microcosm of the sick and misplaced results. “I got the basics. Nice of you to offer to help settle me in. Sure, why not. Who’s that?”
A single aide stood guard at the drug treatment door. She manhandled a bed with a dead body in it, slid a body bag over its head and shoulders, humming off key, waiting. Outside a coroner’s rig backed up to the door. What looked like a large white plastic sheet with matching boots and gloves got out and waved to the aide.
“Harry Thomas, was an army nurse. Got AIDS, infected by a prostitute while overseas. Hooked on drugs during treatment. Kicked out of the veterans hospital, ended up here.” Michael checked off a line on his Apple tablet, only the best record keeping equipment was used by his branch of celestial service.
“Spirit’s restless,” Peter noted. “Doesn’t want to stay asleep. He a special case?”
The two angels watched as the corpse was shoved feet first at the center’s main door. The lock clicked open. Feet were grabbed to yank the dead body onto a waiting gurney with a second body bag ready and open. The moon suited figure cursed.
“Gotta get used to not having sensitive ears, Mike. There are so many dead they get treated like stacks of cordwood for mass graves. Hear poor Harry Thomas’ bones crack? Can’t jerk a dead person like that. Bones get soft and brittle after death.”
“Meant to tell you. Got an overload of special cases waiting in a line at Heaven’s gate. We got to put any new one’s on hold and leave them in Limbo. Don’t matter how restless they are or what emergency message they think they got.” Mike stirred from one foot to another, nervous about forcing free will.
“May take both of us to convince this spirit that’s a fact. All right let him up.”
The dead body groaned, releasing pent up gases, rose, pulled up into a sitting position by the jiggling of its limbs. Michael and Peter watched The spirit struggle to flee its corruption. It was like watching a butterfly extract itself from its cocoon. “Ready?” Peter asked.
“Or not, here he comes,” Michael replied. They felt the opening between heaven and earth turn on like a beam of a flashlight. They were the light at the end of the tunnel, two white robed figures waiting to receive Harry Thomas’ soul.
“Oh, oh. Trouble,” Peter said as the light went out. “Devil’s own come to snatch him if they can. Time to roll the dice.” Chance was the only weapon allowed to angels where free will came into play. Miracles depended on it.
A feeling of ravenous hunger hunting for prey grew in the darkness. A high pitched ringing scream gave birth to the fact that Harry Thomas’ soul had been ripped from its flesh. “Where am I?”
The tug and pull of light against dark revealed shadowy figures wrestling with each other in the gray growing twilight. Shards of lightning flashed against black billowing clouds. One figure struck a pose in the melee. A rainbow pattern rippled across the spirit’s uncertain surface. “Which way?”
The aura coalesced into a humble and bent praying form. The cares of the world bit and chewed at the huddled manifestation. The sick sweet promise of sin offered immediate comfort and escape. The scent curled in snake like tendrils caressing the rainbow hues into a uniform dullness.
“We’re losing him,” Peter felt the pull.
Michael pulled back. ”Remember.”
The dimness vibrated and quivered. They watched the spirit of Harry Thomas relive his entire life in the next split second, weighing the good and the bad. The rainbow turned to stark black and white, torturing itself, trying to become one or the other, remaining both. A silent scream broke the moment, then was gone.
“Did he make it?” Peter brushed patches of spiderwebbed gloom from his white robe.
Michael swept aside the curtain between life and death to view Limbo. The place was crawling with unease and fading hope waiting for judgment. “Nope. Dare we look? What was the guy’s message? Could you tell anything about it? I’ll pass it on when I can.”
Hell was no place for angels. All either could do was follow the pattern of the lost spirit’s fading aura. A small explosion of light rewarded their view. “Didn’t belong there. At least Harry Thomas went out with a bang.”
The small shock wave from hell sent shivers through Peter. Michael didn’t look any better. It made it hard to retain their true form. “It is all yours, pal. Good luck,” and Peter was gone.
“What a mess,” Michael sighed, hunting something worth hanging onto while he took up his post. There was meager spiritual food being offered on earth these days.
In a random moment lost in time, Harry Thomas' tortured message floated in a rainbow, waiting to be found.
|In the space of one year, from one Christmas to another, Jimmy Thorne had lost everything. His job, family and ultimately his sanity. He wandered aimlessly in his thoughts and steps, lost and alone in the oblivion of nothingness he had become with empty soup tin can rattling a single coin in the bottom.
“Homeless,” was his mantra. That was the least of his worries. A strange malady, slowly taking his health away was now his cruel companion. Those others shunned by humanity refused to call him one of their own, offer him their meager share of food or shelter.
Jimmy Thorne managed to prick no conscience. All were strangers at best. His continued existence threatened the worst nightmare envisaged in their eyes. It triggered many an insult, curse, physical violence if what had once been a man did not scurry away fast enough like a diseased rat or mouse.
The one comfort in this worthless life was an endless search for drugs. Uppers which used to carry him into surreal heights of bliss no longer worked. A flat gray numb cloud buried him in it at best.
“Fine the juice,” Jimmy Thorne mumbled while nibbling on his scabbed lips. The sound of crunching glass under his feet in the alley drove him on. The smell of spilled hundred proof alcohol disturbed what otherwise might be called air. For Jimmy, breakfast might be close.
The dark shadow huddled against the back brick wall stirred as it was kicked. “Lee me alone,” a frightened whisper said. It was a drunk woman’s voice.
The bottle thrown at him splashed the rich taste of his own blood on his mouth, mixed with its brew. It was the key unlocking the door. Jimmy Thorne, prey, became a maniac hunter. “MIne.”
His claw of a hand found the spinning bottle at his feet, pointing the way. Jimmy Thorne snatched the neck up, strangling it, in search of the blessed relief it contained. He swallowed, gagging, forcing fire down his throat.
“I’ll kill ya,” the high pitched screech vibrated in Jimmy’s ears. The neck of the bottle made a good handle. More blood spattered him. This time not his own. He hammered sickening thuds into the moving darkness.
A slash of broken glass knifed into his thigh from below. He stomped the hand that held it. A tendon gave and he fell. The bitch clung, biting and clawing, issuing a fake lover’s moan hissing a snake like, “Yess,” asking for more, wanting all of him.
The glass hammer shattered against her skull. Still the bitch refused to let him go. “Mine. You are mine, now.”
Fingers like talons dug at his useless eyes. It was too dark to see. An inner flash exploded into harsh fireworks then, that vision, too, was gone, leaving only pulsating, raging, pain. “Stop it.”
She swallowed Jimmy Thorne’s fist, chewing on it. Jimmy offered another, feeling a cheekbone give. The fight became a mindless thing, a rapture of total feeling hunting release. “Got you,” Jimmy said, His slippery hands found her jugular vein, clamped on it and pressed. Blood flowed no longer into the bitch’s mindless brain.
A silent arm raised behind him still very much alive. The naked long silver of glass it held became a carving knife. Over and over again it dove into Jimmy’s back, searching him to his core. Jimmy’s lover’s sigh of release met the escaping gargle of the bitch’s own.
The two lay as silent as the night this Christmas eve became. Rats, with due caution, eased into the scent of death and the holiday feast that awaited. From the entrance of the alley a Salvation Army bell rang. The sound of a coin rattled into the waiting donation pot.
Deep within the alley, the madness that had been Jimmy Thorne and his bitch became the season’s final begrudged meal, an unwilling holiday gift.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
“Holy smoke,” Steven triggered the TV remote off.
“You bought a new eighty-five inch screen TV knock off big enough to crawl in and it doesn’t even work.”
“Me? You did it this time. Look at that black hole in the back of the TV.” Silvia Marley watched as her boyfriend, Steven Swartz, finished turning the holiday gift to herself around through a cloud of smoke.
“All I was doing earlier was adjusting the settings for better sound. I hope you got a good warranty.” Steven shrugged off his girlfriend’s insult and leaned over to get a better look.
“Men.” Silvia made the word a curse. The quick flair of a migraine made her feel like she had a black hole invading the insides of her head. She knew just how her TV felt.
“Weird. Whatever happened created some kind of vacuum like space back here.”
“Watch what you are doing. It could be dangerous.”
Steven’s hand disappeared into the blackness, followed by the rest of him. All that was left was a splash of arterial blood on Silvia’s immaculate white carpet, her first response was a disgusted appeal, “Stop it. You are ruining my floor. What a mess.”
Being the neat freak she was, Silvia rushed over to clean things up. The black hole in the back of the TV shivered a moment, hummed threateningly and grew quiet. “I am not going to be held responsible for this. It was your mistake.”
She barely snatched her hand back in time. It was a close call. Apparently standing too close to the hole turned it into a raving vortex hungry vacuum cleaner for whatever came near.
“Darn. People will ask about where Steven went.” Everyone knew they were an item of sorts. Silvia was already tired of picking up after him. In the back of her mind she’d been working on a way to get rid of him. “Got to get rid of the evidence.”
Cutting up her priceless white deep pile carpet brought tears to her eyes and blood on her hands. “Stupid fool, deserved what you got.” Silvia was more careful feeding the hole this time. Her mind grew busy with thoughts about wanting to redecorate the room. “Maybe a splash of red to add color on one of the walls with a matching deeper tone to my floor. Steven, you are an inspiration.”
Just to be safe, Silvia unplugged the TV and left it sitting in the middle of the room. A call to her home designer got things moving with her home decorating plans. With nothing to do over the weekend, she began stacking up nick-nacks, pieces of artwork on the walls, cushions and flower pots that no longer would fit the new decor. “I hate yard sales. I hate paying to have this stuff thrown away.”
“I wonder,” Silvia began throwing things at the black hole. It gulped, shivered, grew its mouth larger or smaller to fit what came its way. “This thing never seems to get filled up. I wonder where it all goes?”
It got handy during meal times. Just toss the leftovers, paper plate, cup and plastic silverware at the back of the TV. Part of being a neat freak was never doing dishes unless she had to. The smell of her garbage cans inspired what went in next. “This could be a real money maker. Gets rid of dead bodies, trash, anything.”
She didn’t really miss Steven, but felt kind of grateful he’d shown her this new possibility of reducing the cost of paying for her unending home makeovers. “Why, I might even come out ahead.”
As night follows day, Silvia found herself dealing at the appointed time with the packaging of incoming home decor. The black hole sucked it in as easily as the stuff thrown at it before. Her designer was impressed. “Hey, pretty neat. I could sure use one of those myself. Where do I get one? How do they work this magic?”
Suddenly aware her new priceless possession might be taken away from her once the government or big industry got wind of what it could do, Silvia had to think fast. “It is pretty amazing, isn’t it. I’m testing a one of a kind beta model for a friend of a friend,” she gushed.
“Well, tell your friend if the price is right I want one. Until then, how about we make a deal? This thing is portable, isn’t it? Bring it around to my next project and I’ll pay you to handle the trash.”
Just like that, Silvia was in business with a signed contract. Her decorator friend had to promise never to reveal anything about the mechanical marvel eating up whatever it was fed.
One thing led to another, as things do. Business connections brought in under-the-table loads of increasingly noxious chemical residue, hospital radioactive isotope leftovers used during chemotherapy treatment, and requests to find out if Silvia’s fast growing company could handle nuclear waste dumps.
It was getting harder hiding her secret from prying eyes. It became part of her marketing ploy, much like Coca Cola’s business model of their secret recipe had done. “Ah, Steven, if you only could see me now.” Silvia had an army of lawyers, promoters, guards and sycophants willing to do just about anything to be a part of her gravy train.
The cops hadn’t been able to prove anything other than Silvia was the last reported place Steven had been before making his disappearing act. She, herself, acted like a black hole to any question brought towards her. “He was here and then he was gone. I don’t know where he went.”
The case was still open. His family had their suspicions, but there was nothing they could do. Those less than billionaires of private or public corporations, or their representatives, no longer qualified to be in her presence. The price went up sky high for her services. She no longer had to slave away at work of any kind. Silvia could pick and choose the time and place to get rid of mankind’s worst and never ending effluvia.
Nothing lasts forever. Those caught up in thinking their good fortune will continue unabated, often find out it won’t, to their peril.
On Christmas night in the year 2020, a greedy interstate trash collector who had been using barges to dump waste out at sea, thought he could move mountains of the stuff with Silvia’s help. In a moment of weakness, with the thought of helping mankind from drowning in waste, she agreed. “The process can be dangerous. You must follow my contract guidelines without fail.”
There had been a couple of unexplained accidents when people had disappeared stepping too close along with their noxious waste products. The payoffs had made the fact disappear along with them, but at some cost. Things could have gotten ugly if large corporate greed had not prevailed.
“Sure. Anything you want.” The man didn't waste a word getting rid of his stinky stuff. The next load of every sort of refuse mankind ever made spilled into the back of Silvia’s TV, threatening to swallow it whole. A ripple of earth spread before it, tipping over the lip of the widening, stretching black open mouth striving to gulp everything down.
“Gee. Works like a charm,” The executive overseeing the project rubbed his hands together and motioned for things to hurry up.
“Oh, no.” Silvia noticed what was happening first, being sensitive and tuned in to how her secret worked. Her TV had gotten a taste for not just dirty refuse, but for the very crumbling earth.
“Faster,” the executive danced on the trembling edge of the man made earthquake his dumpsters were making.
The black hole yawned, stretched bigger, engulfing a bit of bedrock along with the massed junk and trash. Silvia didn’t think twice. “Damn Fool, now you’d done it. Go meet Steven.” A single push sent the man sliding and screaming to meet his doom.
Silvia watched as dump trucks were swallowed before they could scatter their contents into the ever growing hungry mouth waiting for them. “I wonder when or how this is going to stop?” Thankfully she’d managed to jump in front of her TV as she’d pushed her client away.
What looked like the beginning of a new Grand Canyon opened below her as she launched herself into flight. The controls of her private helicopter fought the seething air. Everything before her disappeared into a vast black emptiness. The spirit of her old boyfriend came to mind. “Stop fiddling around, Steven. You are making a mess.”
The black hole wasn’t as large as the one at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, but it was large enough. It wasn't satisfied once the world it had been born in was swallowed and gone. It shrunk, feasting on itself, into the size of a baseball, a golf ball, a marble, and then, it too, was gone.
|Amanda Pike felt a compulsion to seize the remainder of the lost moment before all hell broke loose. She wasn’t just some floozy, now, was she? “Perhaps, just a touch of wort?”
The witch trainee hummed as she worked over her spell. It was the one that would make her name, bring her fame, glory and the lusciously wicked feeling of power her withered black heart craved. “Now an eye of frog, I think.”
Every trainee had to create a new spell unlike any other, before she passed the rigorous rights of passage to becoming crowned as a witch in the coven. Amanda Pike was so close she could smell success wafting up in the stink from the bubbly brew she stirred. “Simmer, baby. Do your magic.”
Most witch’s cauldrons soupy mixtures were comprised of strange and deadly noxious plants and animal parts. A sprinkle of secrets blended with a sparkle of useless distractions, to put off pretenders using the mix, finished the extract to each spell inducing tincture. “Finished.”
A bubble rose in the air, round, rainbow surface spinning. Amanda Pike closed her eyes, mumbling her chant to give herself courage. “Now or never.”
The sound of the bubble popping made her gasp. Had she failed? The threat of expulsion from the coven meant being turned into a toothless old hag often burned at the stake, a ploy to satisfy the demands of the populace real witches preyed upon.
“All right. You summoned me. Hurry up and make your demand. What do you want?”
Amanda Pike blinked. There, before her very eyes was the crowned ruler of Hell. Not one of his misshapen minions. It was the very one.
“Caught you, didn’t I?” She giggled nervously, almost like a schoolgirl standing, the first time, before her class.
The bubble had collapsed it’s greasy force shield around Satan, binding him to Amanda’s will. She reached out and poked the imp of all imps, bringing a startled hissed curse in return. “None of that. You are mine, as is anything within your power.”
“Get on with it, then. Time’s a wastin'. Without me, Hell won’t know what to do with itself.” The demon’s eyes burned a fiery red.
Amanda Pike quickly dipped her ladle into her cauldron. One splash later and another bubble caressed the Antichrist, coating his flesh, holding him captive still. Amanda shouted in triumph,“I can call and keep you whenever I want, do you understand me? None of your curses can set you free or seek revenge.”
“It is not me you should be worried about,” Lucifer growled. He stared uneasily past Amanda Pike’s left ear. “Where do you think I get my power, sweetie? It must be fed. Why do you think Hell exists?”
Behind her, Amanda Pike heard the sound of an unlocking gate and smacking lips. The Soul Eater opened its blackness, a dark hole sucking the would be Witch into its maw.
The sound of an unholy belch burped a fiery breath over Satan, burning him free of his coating. “You’re welcome,” grinned Satan, dusting the flakes of bubble off his long pointed tail. “What I do, to keep you happy.”
A wink, a nod and the Angel of the Bottomless Pit dove straight back into the fiery fingers of Hell’s renewed flaming brightness to thundering applause. “Witch supplicant’s don’t know what the hell they are dealing with.”
A second burp out of nowhere vomited Amanda Pike spinning and shrieking into being. Some things, even the Soul Eater could not stomach.
Which is how real Hell came into being for the ruler of that realm. The raking sound of Amanda Pike's whiny voice screeched pure horror. “You should be thankful I made a compact with the Eater of Souls to leave it alone as long as you do my bidding. Now listen up. I’ve got quite the to-do list.”
“You witch.” Satan whined, holding his bat shaped ears.
And so, Amanda Pike was.
|Johnny Hart was new to wild game hunting. This kind was made for him. Life had devolved from being a popular game show host to hosting recreation jaunts for stars as their fetch-it boy. “Let me get this straight.” His eyebrows crawled up his skull in astonishment as he spoke.
“Mister Bigshot wants to shoot a wild buffalo and bring its head back to civilization as a trophy. He flies out here to this Utah preserve. He gets handed a gun. A forklift drops food over a fence. The beast comes looking for lunch. Bang. It falls down dead. That’s it.”
An open palm greeted him. Forty thousand dollars exchanged hands. Things never stay easy, do they? Mister Bigshot wanted something special. Bragging rights for stars is all important. “A two headed buffalo?” Johnny Hart figured killing two of the critters while in a blind drunk might do the trick. “Sure. It’ll cost you, but it can be arranged.”
The going-away party got Mister Bigshot flying before he ever left the ground. Coked up with a bottle of whiskey in hand, the star was seeing double and shooting two headed starlet's with the tip of his finger when Johnny Hart escorted him alone out into the starry night. The arrival at the preserve went off without a hitch. “No. Point the gun that way, sir.”
Was he seeing things? Johnny Hart stopped to rub his eyes. Was that a real two headed buffalo pawing the ground waiting before them? It was. “Here, bully, bully.” The star of this show beckoned, tripped over himself and bang. He was dead. One headless corpse collapsed along with Johnny Hart’s future, when the word got out his charge had accidentally shot himself.
The sound of the gun sent the two headed buffalo running deeper into the preserve. It gave the chilled sweat on Johnny Hart's skull time to evaporate and his beetle brows time to settle down. It also gave him an idea. Johnny Hart needed time to figure things out. “What’s a hunt without hunting? We’ll have to go deeper into the wilderness to flush out our quarry. Who knows how much time that will take? Makes it look more real, right Mister Bigshot?”
Johnny Hart managed the forklift to lift the corpse over the fence to the wolf compound. He watched in fascination. Within minutes it was stripped to the bone. Those were carried off to be cracked and split open for the marrow and buried for further gnawing on later. Maybe Johnny Hart’s luck was beginning to change.
Crows pecking at the pool of blood and bits of brain matter left behind was a harder task. How was he going to disguise that? He picked up the gun, checked the chamber. There was a live round in it. Maybe, just maybe, Yes, he’d have to do some hunting himself.
The two flashing eyes of a jeep’s headlights bumped across the incoming road. The first shot fired had aroused the preserve gamekeeper. He was coming to saw off the buffalo heads. Johnny Hart stood waving the gun as the vehicle came into view. “Nailed it.”
One shot through the windshield and the Jeep jumped in a burst of speed, carrying the dead driver and itself through the preserve fence. The message was beginning to become clear. Mister Bigshot had been kidnapped and was being held for a king’s ransom deeper in the preserve. “That ought to do the trick.” Johnny Hart pinned the scrawled note to the gamekeeper’s body written in his own hand. He’d been made to write it and was being held captive along with the star.
Keeping the gun for protection, fortified with additional ammo found in the jeep, Johnny Hart trudged, following the two headed buffalo dung and tracks. Utah’s form of desert consists of swatches of man size Sagebrush, Bitterbush and Snakeweed, along with the critters native to the area.
He hadn’t counted on Indians. “I got money.”
They weren’t interested. The two ambushing him grunted over which got to keep the gun. They made him strip, divided up his wallet and clothes, then staked him out spread-eagle on a patch of alcali dirt. “Just going to leave me here?” At least they didn’t scalp him.
They’d promised to come back and check on him if his tale of a two headed buffalo turned out true. The sun woke up slowly herding the shadows away. A jackrabbit stirred the underbrush, its long loppy ears scanned like radar at the approaching noise of the searching police helicopter before darting into invisibility once again. “Saved, and it looks like I’ve been kidnapped, too.” Johnny Hart watched the big bird nod at him before beginning to descend.
He was organizing his story when the wolf pack darted over him. The leader growled a startled warning, yelped and bit off his right big toe in passing. The ones coming up behind didn’t even pause. “Something chasing them. Maybe the helicopter crew.”
The copter had landed nearby. Dust filled the air making it hard to breathe. When it did settle, it wasn’t the cops he saw.. It was the two headed buffalo snorting at him, both faces hunting around him maddened because of the wolves.
All the commotion had loosened the leather straps lodging his wrists to the ground. “Where is he?”
“Over here,” Shouted Johnny Hart.
The words turned into a scream. One of the cops shouted. “Jesus. Look at that.”
The two headed buffalo’s horns took turns spearing Johnny Hart’s twisting, jerking body. The last thing he heard was the shotgun blast taking out the beast as it stumbled and rolled its massive weight on top of him.
“What a trophy,” The cop shooting the beast marveled, coming up to the gore that was Johnny Hart’s remains.
“Poor bastard,” The pilot cop spit dust from his mouth. “We’ll have to change our story a bit to cover his death, I guess.”
From the sagebrush, two Navajo Indians looked on, waiting for their desert land to be reclaimed. Weeks later one of them found a a newspaper flapping and landing at his feet. A picture of Mister Bigshot and his unknown fate appeared on the front page along with a shot of the dead two headed buffalo he’d gone hunting for. Of Johnny Hart, there was no mention.
There were whispers among the scattered Hogan dwellers of the Navajo about a white ghost hunting its lost past. The ghost got blamed for any bad magic, like when two of their own were found dead, after fighting over a white man’s stolen belongings.
Watch out for the ‘Gotcha’s’. What goes around, comes around, the growing Navajo legend said.
Unbeknownst to Johnny Hart, he became more locally famous on the reservation as a ghost than he'd ever been watched for on TV.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! and weekly win
A lifetime. Every minute focused on the same frenzied, mad enterprise. Time travel. Impossible? Einstein didn’t think so. Warp the space time continuum and you can go forward or backward. Instantly. Forget about light speed. I know. At the age of seventy-four, I did it.
It is one thing to feel that creepy tingle of recognition and flashback of deja vu. It is another to find yourself caught up in it, unable to escape. Sure, I’d wished I could live the best day of my life, forever. Doesn’t everybody hope that kind of day will never end? Now, here I was in a remake of the movie, ‘Groundhog Day’ living everything about one day without ever leaving it.
The part about living forever is so close I can reach out and touch it. The ripple I made in the cosmos returned me back to the young dreamer I once was. My perfect day is just about to begin. There’s me, my doppleganger self in my prime, sleeping peacefully, not knowing I’m standing beside myself with a knife ready to slit my own throat. Will it be murder or suicide?
I have to do it before this sleeping innocent opens his eyes. I’ve tested this situation with animals. Two clones cannot exist in the same moment once they both become aware of each other neither one continues to exist. Psychic awareness, the shock of recognition is the key. Seeing, feeling the meeting of oneself blends, merges the two together. The mass is too much. Continuity demands an energy release.
I’ve seen these little shock waves change reality before my eyes as one guinea pig literally meets itself nose to nose and both explode into a popping sound echoing them out of existence.
But? When I dispatch one in the instant before? Success crowns my ambition. The glue of sharing the moment surrounded by the singularity of being so closely aligned together requires only one sacrifice to that popping ripple effect. The other remains, renewed, untouched.
What I didn’t count on, how could I? Was, what happens next? I never stuck around to examine that.
Space/time hiccups and I find myself in a time loop doing the same experiment all over again.
I find my perfect day and both of me perfectly in it. I murder my other self, feel reality pop and hiccup. The next moment I alone stand there ready to capture the day’s prize.
A strange lethargy forces me down to my bed. I smile, the cycle has begun. I’ll sleep and dawn will awaken me with its promise.
Only, it doesn’t. Here I am again, standing over me, knife in hand. I have murdered myself, times without number. I can’t stop myself.
What can I do to change this unwieldy outcome? I must quickly examine every detail, every option. It may be my last if things go wrong.
Perhaps, this time I’ll hesitate, our eyes will meet and we’ll both become the nothing we were meant to be.
|SCREAMS!!! daily co-win
Something special happens when you throw snake eyes inside the ’Snake Pit’, the most vicious gambling parlor this side of hell. All bets are off. Everything happens at once and? You never know what all that is going to be. Depends on the mark, every one of whom is unique.
See, sometimes, we got two sets of weighted dice. One never roll’s one’s. We save that for the second set which only does. You got to be a very high roller willing to play Russian Roulette, to get in this game, one willing to bet the shirt off your back and skin behind it before you are allowed in to play.
We make the stakes pretty attractive. There’s all the wine, women and song you want for free, or any substitute you may care for. After all, this may be the last night you’ll ever see. Your wish is our command.
The icing on the proverbial cake, is, anticipating you may win the biggest tax free, illegal, under-the-table lottery ever dreamed up by the mind of man. Riches? You bet. Beyond your wildest dreams.
So, we got the set up. Except for this particular mark. This guy is so addicted to gambling he’ll take any odds, long as he’s got his lucky rabbit’s foot. Yeah, the real thing. Some random dead piece of fur’s left front paw. Thinks it talks to him by tapping once for yes, twice for no, against the palm of his hand. Should he take the bet? No, and the deal is dead in the water. You could be drowning and he’d let you go under. Yes? He’ll bet the moon and figure he’ll never have to deliver. A guy like that.
Final thing is why we want him. This is complicated. To put it as simple as I can, it is a political thing. What’s worth more than diamonds and gold? Power, baby. The greatest addiction of all. Nations live and die by it. Ronald Roy Alverson in this moment’s mix of international turmoil and deceit is the goose who can lay the golden egg. And? He doesn’t have a clue. That is the beauty of it.
Mister Alverson has a secret. He hates snakes. Our boy would rid the world of them if he could, It is more than a phobia, The sight of one of the slithery, venom creatures wiggling before his eyes, triggers a survival response in Ronald Roy Alverson unique from anyone elses.
When threatened by getting bit, he releases his hidden talent of becoming a shapeshifter, not just of himself but of cracked pieces of reality around him that he might escape into. The problem is his lack of conscious control. We got that covered.
This thing is better than the Midas Touch. It is that and any super weapon ever dreamed up. Force field? No problem. Our team went crazy coming up with a wish list. Everything went according to plan.
Well, except for one side effect we couldn’t have foreseen.
Sure, it turned Ronald Roy Alverson into such a catatonic state the deed can’t be undone or a second try done in its place. We knew that going in. All we wanted was the new big boy toys and the power they offered. We got them, too. He whipped through them and destroyed them that fast. We couldn’t allow him to use them against us, now could we.
You know how snakes can shed their skin? Snakes of the human variety like us, now can, too. In the shock of the moment in which Ronald Roy Alverson realized what we were doing to him? He saw us for who and what we really are.
We shed our human form, our outsides assuming what we are inside ourselves. I’m a Gorgon. Still the beautiful woman I was except for growing a mass of snakes, instead of hair upon my head.
One look at me won’t kill anybody. I wish it did. I have to get a bit closer, close enough to bite. Even Gorgon’s must eat. We are pure carnivore with a special taste for the human flesh we once were. For a little while, after eating that kind of meal, the result can reduce this tangled mass of living coils of venom on our heads and make us appear as human as anybody, just like you.
Welcome to the ‘Snake Pit’. We’ve been looking for someone special. We think we’ve worked the kinks out. You may be just the one we’ve been looking for.
Feel like making a bet?
|Daily SCREAMS!!! and weekly co-win
First a phalanx of the Phoenix appeared, rising up out of their own ashes. Their smoke and fiery entrance before me bode ill well. I was the only object standing in their way. How could a mere human withstand their power?
What did I do? I cringed, shuddered, fell to my knees begging for my life. Out of the blue, up and behind me rushed the wild wind of countless wings. When I looked up the sky was filled with countless descending Griffins ready to do battle.
No, my prayer had not been answered. The one good thing about the Phoenix, in the eye of Griffins, is their opposing mythical creature provides a never ending meal. The ensuing raging battle gave me time to creep unnoticed, or so I thought, towards my boat attached to this ancient templed island’s shore.
Of a sudden, I stood transfixed with the sound of mystical music floating to my ears. All other sound grew silent, swept away by the visage of a choir of Sirens awakened and calling from the depths of the endless sea. The earth itself vibrated into an earthquake of harmony.
I knew monster and man alike were done for, as this new hazard took hold of us all. Did you know the Cyclops not only have just one eye but are often deaf from being bludgeoned by each other’s clubs whilst practicing their craft?
As the earth erupted and opened, it vomited forth a maddened band of these singularly well focused beasts, at being so aroused. The horror of the moment enveloped me. Such a mix of terror on land, air and sea left hardly room left to breathe.
I danced on the edge of annihilation before chancing to see a hole in the ground. Before I could escape, that three headed watchdog of the underworld, a Cerberus snapped at me. Coward that I am, I ducked. One launched itself into the fray swirling behind me. Another of even greater dimension took its place, growled, salivating fire and brimstone and followed.
What could I do but close my eyes and give up myself to fate’s worthy hand. I held my breath waiting for death to claim me. A tingling, tickling, teasing caress occurred across my exposed skin, instead. It took the shape of supernatural fairies come to see the great debacle and urge on each form of combatant.
I, being the center of the excitement, had drawn their attention. Curious, they came to investigate why no harm had come to me. They began to poke and prod every which way in an attempt to explore what manner of magic kept me safe.
Blinded by the fairy dust twinkling and flashing in the air, I gave up all hope that my bruised and beaten flesh, weeping its blood, would be saved only to be placed in worse peril.
All attention in this mass of carnage turned towards encroaching waves. A tsunami rose and amidst it appeared the many headed Hydras ready to engulf all else.
Time stood still. The agony pulsing in my breast threatened to do what none else had been able to. The sky split asunder, awakening the moment into further turmoil. It was Pegasus, that winged horse free to travel between mortal and immortal realms, come to see what all the action was for. I seized its mane, heaved myself upon its back, and clung with every fiber of my being.
As we rose, I heard the faint and distant cry of the mournful, keening, wailing lamentation of that fairy woman Banshee foretelling death.
The island below with its temple of doom vanished below the waves with a giant groan. I lost my winged purchase. Pegasus shook me off, winking out of existence into some other-worldly clime.
Earth, wind and water blur against my agonized sight. The passing of so many living examples of myth pounds within my head. Have I alone survived, but for how long? Reality, itself, hangs in the balance. I tremble at what my past history promises to unleash upon the world and what will happen to me next.
Am I alive, or some one else's mad alternate realities dream? The pages of the book closing, squeezing the covers around told me all that I must know.