by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|To not be hurting, that was the thing. Anticipation gets down to the small stuff when that is all you have left. What I had was the blank white walls of a hospital room with a never ending supply of jello.
It gets so time becomes a mindless form of humming music humming idle thoughts singing between the ears. Concentration becomes not moving to make the hurt worse. The body is a prison you can’t escape from.
They took my roommate out during one of my fitful nightmares. Cancer, they said. I wasn’t lonely. I had me and my pain to keep me company. You breathe in and out, lungs made intimate bellows with the help of the respirator.
Everyone talks in whispers when you are near death. Doctors, nurses and aides turn you into an object without ears while they discuss your fate. Jello is canceled. You are put on the needle for nourishment. The drip of liquid pain killer, your new best friend, lies. It doesn’t work.
Hope is a distant thing. It is a spot in the ceiling you look at. Space suited nursing staff take care of your personal needs. The double shifts turn them into robots running on exhausted routine. There are not enough ventilators to go around. A new roomie shares the one with you.
There is a TV out in the nursing station. Kept on loud to help staff wake up. News is all about the dead piled like cordwood. Mortuaries are doing brisk business. Everyone else is stuck home, jobless, wondering when they’ll be kicked out for not making monthly payments.
Hope is more tiny still. I have a roof overhead. It is a miracle I am still hanging on.
There is a new policy. Only those likely to survive will receive treatment. I lose my ventilator privileges. I’m shuttled on a gurney into a waiting area. Last rites are offered. I answer with tears in my eyes and a shake of the head. All I want is to be left alone, feel the pain of my bed sores keeping me alive.
There are not enough body sacks. Thick black plastic industrial garbage bags are used instead. They wheel the bodies to the exit door. No-one else is allowed outside. Space suited figures on the other side transfer each corpse into the back of a freezer container. It is more than half full.
I can see it. I’m going fast. I think I am next. When there is nothing left to anticipate but one’s last breath, you hang on as long as you can, trapped in an inescapable jail.
Thanks for this intriguing and well written tale of a curious invention. By eliminating all that makes people unique and individual--their emotion and personality--it also eliminates their chronic unhappiness in life. And of course the dopamine receptors can't get enough. Poor Harvey bears the brunt of their dissatisfaction when the inevitable happens and the device breaks. I wonder what the hordes will turn to now that both the device and Harvey are gone. Nothing good, in all likelihood.--S.
Harvey Branwadder surfaced from the backend of his pickup. “Top of the line. I got to get rid of it to pay some bills,” he lied.
What Harvey did was steal things. What he couldn’t sell from his engine puffing out blue clouds of exhaust while running on dimly lit street corners, Harvey unloaded at unsavory hockshops. “Take a look. Check it out.”
The notebook was a modern version, the size of a small laptop. He’d burgled it from a hockshop month's ago. The owner had short changed him. Someone else’s loss, his gain. The first time he’d tried to sell it, the strangest thing happened. Now the miracle was routine.
The thing glowed when the newest stranger opened the screen. “Yes?” it said.
Harvey stepped back. “Got a friend here, wants to meet you. Be nice.” Harvey leered, thrusting the computer into willing hands. “Call her Suzy Q. Blink. She’ll get your retinal image stored and you’ll be friends for life.”
“System processing,” spoke the well modulated female tones of the notebook. The shifting light from the screen reflected in the stranger’s eyes held the figure captive like a moth to flame. All sense of emotion and personality was slowly sucked dry. There is no greater prison than one’s own body.
A stir, a twitch, as if awakening from the dead was followed by a long sigh, “Wow. Unbelievable. Sign me up again.” Harvey accepted the praise along with cash in hand for the rental time with the unit. Another satisfied customer would be spreading the word to a wider audience.
It was time to jack the price up, again. This product was more addictive than any drug. The best side benefit is that every one of his victim’s would do anything to protect Harvey and his notebook. In their eyes he was a ministering angel if not God. “Thank you, brother, spread the word.”
Witnessing a meeting between the notebook screen and a supplicant was like watching the blind see, the lame walk, better than any miracle found at a revival tent. The innermost prayerful yearning secret wish vibrated into an unseen link between the screen and the mind that beheld it. “Go with God.”
Harvey was scared of the thing. Greed kept him going. Losing control was his worst nightmare. “Look at them. All end up looking the same numbed out human replicas of themselves.”
None spoke of the personal vision they had seen. Each went through the motions of living and breathing, waiting patiently for their next turn at the tit.
“It broke.” Harvey shrugged off the look of terror in his visitor’s eyes. “Wore out. See for yourself.”
Another fallen God, a religion of lost faith, the true believers came together to worship one last time. Urban legend has it not one of Harvey’s bones was not broken, one muscle stretched, torn apart. This is the sacrifice all unmasked God’s become, when shown to be all too human.
Harvey became nothing in the end.
|Co-win Daily SCREAMS!!!
Things happen. You are going along minding your own business when those flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror. “Traffic check,” you hear.
The cop is having a bad day and about to transfer the honors. “License and registration please.”
Lucky you. You find it without needing the cop to get a search warrant while you are cleaning out your car. “Here, officer.” Total respect.
“Step out of the car.” Traffic slows to a crawl, faces wide eyed, wondering who you killed.
All except the guy on his cellphone, smoking pot, texting it is not his fault why he’s going to be late. Lucky him. Good reflexes. He swerves from crashing a domino pileup effect totaling twenty cars. Takes out the cop instead, gives you the finger, tosses out his lit joint and keeps on going blending safely into a string exiting an off ramp.
“Why’d you do it?” There’s a gun at your head. Highway patrol stopping where all the gawking is slowing people down. “Lay down. Spread your arms and legs while I call this in.”
There you were, leaning over the cop, hand on his throat feeling for a pulse. Your other hand feeling the bloody lump on his head. You’re not murdering him. He is already dead. Smell of marijuana smoke rising up from the lit cig under your shoe.
“Hit and run, officer. He’s getting away.” You start to rise. Helpful. Ready to describe what happened.
Luck runs out. Tasered to the ground. One foot accidentally hitting the Highway Patrol guy a grazing blow in his nuts. You receive a close up face full of mace. Handcuffs. A knee on your neck. Hot melting asphalt coats your teeth.
“Where’s your I.D.?”
It is nowhere, of course. When the cop got hit, spun, and turned into a corpse, your wallet became air born and split the scene. “I want a lawyer.” It comes out garbled spit, gravel and hot tar, turned into half angry denial, the rest maybe a curse.
“Everyone thinks they’re a tough guy.”
Pulled up on your feet, pushed running to catch your balance, duck and roll out of traffic. “Trying to escape?” A billy club sends stars dancing in your head. Lights out.
Wake up in vomit too old to be your own. Sliding length wise in the back seat of a traveling cop car. Siren going. Head splitting. “I didn’t do it. You got the wrong man.”
“Tell it to the queers having a get acquainted party in your cell. Special favor only for cop killers. No I.D. you could be an illegal alien. No rights. No lawyer. No phone call.” The Highway Patrol guy starts whistling between gritted teeth.
It’s the guy whose car hit the cop faces you when the cell door whines open. “You.” He says. Eyes widen. Maybe your luck has changed.
My knee jerks up into his groin. All I have to do is get him to talk. I grab him by the hair. It comes off, a hair piece. Other cell mates circle, sheltering the fight from the hallway’s view. “Let’s make it interesting. Give them a knife.”
Out of nowhere, one spins across the floor. We both lunge for it. Men start taking bets. The two of us scramble, getting kicked, pushed and shoved. The knife gets thrust at me, handle first, from the sidelines. “Do it.”
“All right. Break it up.”
More chemical spray mists the air. I slip the blade inside my pants. I don’t know who may come at me next. “Him. He started it.” A fellow prisoner yells in my ear.
Eyes and nose streaming, I slip in blood, trip over the body of the man who could have set me free. Someone else did him. Not me. The knife slides down out of my pants to flash into view. “It is a set up.” I groan.
The same hustle all over again. This time with ICE agents battering me around. Another car ride. No jail. A warehouse filled with Spic’s who look like me. I’m American but it makes no difference. “On the bus. We’re overcrowded. Sending you home.”
There is no way out. No one is listening. Things move too fast. We are let out in the middle of nowhere an hour across the border. No water. No food. I feel someone trying to pick my pocket. There is a wallet I just stole placed there.
I keep and hold the thief’s hand. “Los Zetas, drug cartel. Make contact for me and keep the wallet. There’s more when we meet up.” There is a hesitant silence, a shrug and a nod. The thief lifts a cellphone to his ear.
I am given respect. Other’s move away from me. Even the pickpocket’s eyes are filled with fear. We walk. A car approaches. Conversation is made. I am given the cell phone. The thief gets his cash.
We ride away in air conditioned comfort for me to give my report. It is a good thing the drug deal went down successfully in the states. I was on my way to return for the next deal. My new bruises, cuts, scrapes and scabbed wounds elevate me in the minds of my bosses. “Take a break, your choice of a woman, extra money, a two week beach vacation.”
It is not a request. It is a command. "You a rising star. Maybe we make a political assassin out of you. You got staying power."
They know I will be back. Once a member and a mule for Los Zetas, there is no way out. No turning back. Not if I want my family left alone. I've heard from my mother about the rape of my sister. I know I am being watched, to see how I handle this thing.
She is now a Puta. A piece of flesh, no longer human or worthy of respect. Will I put her out of her misery while carrying out my revenge? I will use my newly given resources to find a way. There is a sadness in me I cannot express. Life has lost its honor.
There is no turning back, for me or for my many enemies. How many will I take with me into an unnamed grave is yet to be known.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
“You dropped this.”
“Why, thank you.”
For romantics like Marva Lee Parker, love is a mystery, a thrill of suspense. The whys and wherefores mixing fate with idle chance made her a sacrificial offering to Cupid’s arrow.
“Don’t I know you?”
“I would remember. Where have we met?”
Starky Lee Adams handed over the monogrammed lace hanky, feeling their fingers momentary caress. He was a ladies man, well mannered, cultured, rich and well dressed. The vagaries of Cupid were not in his itinerary. The only mystery in his life was in how long it would take to get what he wanted, how long that would last and what would be next.
“Perhaps in Deja Vu? It is a common meeting place for lovers, don’t you think?”
“You make me blush, faint with your uncommon flirting, sir. I think I must sit down.”
Marva lee Parker lived in a well inhabited fantasy land of ever changing made up beliefs. From pirates to princes, scallywags to CEO’s, the men adorning her sense of reality all waited for the moment that embraced her.
“Please. I usually am not so bold. Let me get you something to drink.”
“A glass of water, if you would be so kind.”
The hotel lobby offered the sight of a convention table before a door with a variety of colored liquids in clear plastic cups laden on it. Starky got in the back of the short line, unobtrusively joined hands reaching for freshly poured brew and withdrew. He had gotten what he wanted without an adieu.
Too many faces crowded together. He side-stepped, nudged and made his way back to his prey. A dark haired middle aged matron sat in her place.
“Pardon me? Did you see where the blonde sitting here went?”
“That is no mystery. She’s the guest speaker. See? She’s up on the diyas getting ready.”
Marva Lee Parker caught his eye, winked, saluted him with a raised glass of water. She dabbed her lips with the lace hanky as if sealing their shared glance with a kiss. The hunt was on, the chase begun, romance yet to be won.
“We both seem to be speakers. Mind if I sit next to you?”
“What are you speaking about?”
“About twenty minutes. On Romanticism. Late 18th century to mid-nineteenth. With a focus on heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions.”
The audience loved it. Starky and Marva traded barbed wits. Instead of speaking separately, they played off each other with innuendo, a flirting tease and ease delighting both assembled men and women. Laughter brought in so many strays the hall filled with standing room only. People with tear drenched faces continued to heehaw after they could no longer catch their next breath and breathe.
The combined twenty plus twenty minutes were up. No standing ovation, everyone was rolling on the floor. There was a strange light in Starky’s sun yellow flashing eyes turned upon Marva. “Coming?”
“Already did, thank you. Noticed you did as well. The front of your pants is wet.” Her black eyes had become smokey glint sparkling coals. The hand she laid over his was possessive.
“We killed them, didn’t we?” Starky’s own touch stroked the fire between them briefly, memorizing it.
“Romance will have its way,” Marva leaned into him, fitting her curves where they fit him best, making him her own. “When do we get married? Where shall we honeymoon?” She couldn’t wait to get started now that her innermost fantasy had become real.
A low hungry growl that was Starky’s form of laughter brushed her lips with a nibbling kiss. “I know the perfect place. Let’s get out of here.”
“Inferno county, Hell, yeah.”
“City certainly lives up to its billing.”
“Not a structure left standing. Every building burned down.”
Starky’s hand crawled out from where it had been cuddling between Marva’s thighs. “Told you we’d be alone.”
“Where we going to stay? I got an opening ready to take you home.” The red hot painted SUV began rocking with a timeless rhythm urged on by the cries of ecstasy inside.
“We slept, didn’t we?” Marva disentangled herself from mismatched arms and legs. She felt herself hovering out of body, out of mind. A floating presence satiated and complete gazed out at the hot sun bleached Death Valley desert stretching out in every direction.
“You sucked me dry. I can barely move, woman. Give me some water.”
“Spilled it. Kicked the bottles to pieces. Backseat had a party with it. Got more in the trunk?”
Marva wiggled her sweet bottom firmly in place in the front. “Is that supposed to happen?”
Starky heard his car groan and shudder along with him as his muscles screamed in protest. The abuse he’d put them through in the countless forms of love making gyrations had him all knotted up. “We left the engine on for the air conditioning. Overheated the radiator. Going off like a geyser. Hell’s bells.”
“It is real pretty. Casts rainbows on the windshield. What happens for an encore?” Marva returned to her body in a chuckle. Womanly endurance settled in with pride.
The SUV engine sighed, gasped, coughed and died. Silence became deafening. Hell’s heat wave baked itself inside the cab. Starky’s flesh threatened to separate from his body where dried up salty sweat cracked and pried. “Trunk. We were in such a hurry. Did you pack or did I?”
The back end pried open, yawned and gave up its momentary shade. “Empty,” Starkey’s laughter sounded equally so.
“Honeymoon in Hell. How we going to get out of it?” Marva sucked on her blistered hands baked in an instant touching the SUV. She moved away from the threat of being too close to Starky, her hot breath the only breeze.
“Devil is in the details. There’s an old mine with potable underground river water pooling on a lower level. Maybe some leftover supplies for emergencies like ours. Within walking distance.” Starky didn’t look at Marva, avoiding her hot blazing eyes.
Romance was left in the car. “You’re slowing me down. I’ll go ahead.” Starky’s growl no longer laughed. The couple’s footsteps had widened apart, half buried in the alkali surface, on the bottom of the twelve thousand year old bones of a lake. “Bring you back some water.” He didn’t think he’d see Marva alive again.
“Hot as hell outside. Cold as sin in here.” Womanly endurance proved him wrong.
“You made it. Our honeymoon suite.” He didn’t look up from his mirrored exhausted reflection in the pool.
The shock of ice cold subterranean water made her gasp. Riverlets ran down her face into dried up cracks. “Supplies? Like a CB radio to call out for help?”
“Maybe. Hand crank generator. Too tired to give it more than a couple of turns.” Starky’s foot moved to prod it into life.
The boxy piece of equipment obliged, squawking at him. “Hello? Do you read me? What’s the emergency?”
“Help. We’re lost in Hell,” croaked Marva. Her lips cracked, sputtered into a single cry of laughter and relief.
“The old mine,” added Starky, his growl barking an echo of joy into the surrounding room size cavern. The couple were both on their feet, embracing, dancing together.
“Gotcha’. I’ll relay to the Devil’s Ridge. Have a chopper sent out soon as they can. See you then.”
“You left me.” Marva pushed at Starky. She was so dehydrated her wedding band fell off her finger into the pool, sank and disappeared.
“Only hope was for me to make it and get help. I did.” Starky grasped at her, held on firmly, shaking her into half belief. Marriages are made of a bed of comforting lies, half truths, wishes and a dose of romance. He winked, too happy to realize it was all slipping away.
“Watch out. Let go. I can’t swim.” Marva slipped in a tangle of arms and legs, falling with Starky into the ice cold bottomless pool.
“Ghosts.” The helicopter pilot stared accusingly at the CB owner. “No-one here. Hell of a fool’s errand bringing me out on a lark.”
Two weeks later he was proved wrong. Starky and Marva floated out from hell into a tourist camp oasis, arms and legs bound in a lover’s knot. The sound of bubbling laughter of an embedded water fountain gave applause.
The trip to Hell and back proved successful. The couple would be joined together forever in the small graveyard at Devil’s Ridge. There were other hapless guests in attendance from previous forays where it overlooked Inferno county and the burned out city that was Hell.
|“I feel light headed.”
“You’ve been shipwrecked, mate. Crash landing.”
“Why am I hanging upside down caught in these sticky threads?”
“Oh, that. Space Monkeys. It’s a long story.”
Philo Vance sucked in oxygen from his spacesuit, checked his blinking power light and knew he was running out of time. “Give me the short version.”
His own ship’s emergency pod bobbed softly as if nodding its head in agreement. The female face peering at him through its porthole waved, face adorned with a pleased smile. “I was preparing to feed you to them. That stock of Betelgeuse hundred proof liquid Black Magic you brought in, is about empty.”
“And? So I’m broke, no means of travel. I do hope you thought I was dead?”
“Your spaceship crashed a hive of them while they were breeding. Saved my sorry life. They’d attacked my reserve of Lower Galactic Cloud Space Dust, the celebration got out of hand. Space Monkey’s destroyed my bar called ‘Spaced Out’ just as you arrived. Name’s Marty Evans. What else was I supposed to do?” The woman withdrew from sight.
Philo Vance and his space suit were lifted by the pod’s external work arm and thrust through a ragged dark hole. Star light exploded around him along with a mass of swarming Space Monkey’s.
“Sweet rings of Saturn. She turned my suit into a time bomb.” The power light began blinking an angry red.
The first swarm of alien invaders coupling with each other got caught in the suit’s silken threads. The mass swarmed, writhed in a shock of mating frenzy. Philo Vance watched his power light turn from angry red to purple overload. “I’m cooked. Made an orderve for a drunken Space Monkey wedding party.”
An orifice plastered its wet sucking feeler against Philo’s face plate. He felt another tingle and vibrate at his left arm. An explosion of white hot pain shattered his fear.
“Where am I? What happened?”
“It worked. Sort of. I used the combined energy of the Space Monkey’s moment of rapture and your spacesuit coming apart to create a small break in the space-time continuum.” The woman’s face came up close, kissed Milo’s ear. A soft hand patted his head.
“I’m alive?” Philo Vance moved into her embrace. He was no longer inside the shell of his space suit. The woman, no longer in the emergency pod, seemed intent on replicating the mating actions of the entire horde of Space Monkey’s.
“Very much alive.” Marty Evans did her best to avoid an elbow prying itself under her chin. “What’s wrong with you? We survived. I saved your life.”
Marty used another elbow to wedge himself apart from this wiggling mass of female protoplasm intent on seducing him. “Hey. Stop it. We hardly know each other. We’ve barely met.” They seemed to be inside some kind of force field bubble riding ribbons of fire.
“Spoilsport. We’re snug inside a wormhole pre-programmed to take me back home. Come back here and show me some gratitude. I’m drunk on being alive.``
There is only one thing worse than sex starved Space Monkey’s intent on making your paralized entombed body encased in a cocoon, a repository for their eggs. “You’re not human.”
Finding himself trapped in the embrace of a Sarcovian hallucinating traveling mind dream was the next step up. From undulating pure ecstasy it would turn into unbearable nightmare any second after his psychic energy became drained of any desire.
Philo forced himself to couple, explore and probe the thing’s most intimate demands. There. IN the last moment of his sanity, he created a feedback loop and disengaged. “Enjoy, babe. Climax yourself into star struck infinity. Have a blast.”
The force field shivered. The bubble popped. Marty wrapped herself up in pulsating waves of undulating rainbow ribbons, screaming her agonized release upon release. Philo swam free, riding a blue streak of comet tail flying through the wormhole. His life and his many past lives passed before his eyes. Was this to be his final end?
“Cosmic Hallelujah.” Philo found himself deposited at the famed pearly gates of a mist clouded door to Heaven. Winged angels blew trumpets, played harps and polished their halos.
A glowing white gowned figure beckoned, stroking at a long stringy fading rainbow colored beard. A hand turned a page, pen poised above a list of names. “Next. Oh. It is you, is it? Grab a harp. Here’s your tarnished halo. Start polishing and try to stay in tune.”
Philo struggled against the blare of heavenly music assaulting his ears. “I thought Hell was where unspeakable horrors happened.”
“Our best kept secret. Otherwise everyone would want to end up there. If you’re lucky, in an eternity or two, if you work hard you might earn a vacation. If you don’t blow your mind circuits before then, maybe we’ll meet again. There’s my ride. I’m at the end of my shift.”
Philo watched in jaw dropping consternation as Marty Evans, followed by a host of devilish looking Space Monkey’s warped into the current tick tocking moment of space and time. “Tell my replacement I couldn’t wait and he’s late. Fill in for him while you’re waiting, if you can.”
Gabriel’s name tag dangled, flashing rainbow colors where it lay pinned to his chest. “Takes time learning to control pleasure in all its eternal and vast varieties. Valhalla has some nice surprises, See you later. I’m sure you understand.”
Philo Vance’s mind went numb. “I feel spaced out.”
“Eww.” The two angels holding him couldn’t let go fast fast enough. “Stick him in the nearest black hole.”
Darkness. Depressing unbelievable weight prevailed. Philo Vance was beside himself, caste into all of his many guises. A whole population of a race yet to be born, spit out the end of a giant black hole into a new and empty universe.
He felt himself explode into an instant of the next big bang of birth matter spreading, racing itself into ever expanding nothingness. Clouds of shifting rainbow colored gases belched into suns, solar systems, galaxies. Philo Vance had become an unwilling God of all creation unleashed in this reach of the multi-universe he had become.
The birth pangs would last until the last light of the last sun burned out and space time returned to its dark womb. Philo Vance dreamed up a new breed of drunken Space Monkey’s to entertain one portion of the void.
There was the image of himself arriving. Would the God who was himself answer an unspoken prayer of deliverance or would Philo Vance sacrifice his son?
|I was toast. I knew it, Harry knew it, and worst of all the Little elf dude knew it, too.
The gale-force wind swirling around us plucked Harry up with invisible pincers. One moment he was there, the next moment not. My turn would be next.
“Call me a loud mouthed blustering bag full of wind, will you?” This was the little elf dude that Harry had been making fun of, back in the green room where the mead was flowing fast and free. Little did we know we would be treating our next meeting with black Irish dread.
“Look, lady. Your being a tourist to the Emerald Isle, I shoulda’ been ready for your shenanigans, make’n fun about steal’n my pot a’ gold and me along with it fer’ my bag a’ magic dust.”
Harry did a summersalt, came flying back, upside down, arms and legs swimming in the air. The evil little creature cawing with laughter before me, slapped his knee, wiggled his nose, and Harry made a one point landing on his head.
He never did use it that much when alive. After making a smashing success of himself, I saw, with my gorge rising up, that Harry wasn’t doing any better when dead. “He was jest funn'n. What kind of fairy tale are you, treating cash paying visitors to your country like that?”
“You tricked us,” I admitted, catching my breath. “We never met a real Leprechaun before. Least you could a done was tell us.” My hair settled back down around my shoulders. A sideways glance showed Harry’s body parts twitching as if he was still alive.
If I was going out of this world the next instant the way Harry had, I was going to do it without losing my pride. My tongue struggled to come up with an insult worth cursing this puffed up piece of black magic to hell where he belonged.
“Only reason you are still alive is that lucky four-leaf clover in your fist.” The elf guy’s green eyes glowed. He licked at the rot stuck between his teeth. His breath stunk so bad I almost wished the wind storm back. It had wiped all the moisture out of my eyes. It felt like sandpaper scraping across them when I closed and opened them.
“That’s what all this is about? You could have been nice and asked for it.”
“I want it. Give it. I’ll let you go with your life.”
“I don’t trust you, your foul mouth, or that hair trigger of mad anger you got.” I nodded over to where Harry lay limp as a rag. He’d stopped his twitching and made peace with his fate. Mine still hung in the balance.
“I could blow you to kingdom come and back, If’n I wanted.” His hairy red eyebrows arched in warning. His face began blushing the same deep hue.
All I could think of was to say, “Go right ahead. Puff yourself up all you want. You won’t get my four-leaf-clover. It’s going with me.”
The little guy looked so deflated, he seemed to shrink half his size. “All right. You got me where you want me. How we going to work this out?”
“Can’t bring Harry back to life, for starters, can you?”
The Leprechaun's eyebrows danced on his head. He belched an evil cloud of dark laughter near gagged me. I reeled, clawing at my throat, struggling for breath. “He wouldn’t look nor act the same, but sure. He’s all yours.”
Harry’s butt more than wiggled. His arms gave the earth he’d plowed into a heave and a shove. From the head down he looked just like his old self. The gory scrambled mess above his neck made me want to throw up. I did. All over the little miscreant done Harry in this way.
“Try to blow me off, will ye? You got what you asked for. Now pay up.”
The elf smelled better wearing my half digested last meal than he did with his sweaty natural perfume clouding round him. “You little drip,” I swore, feeling my nose clog up. The Leprechaun’s bad mouthing me tasted worse than swallowing the remains of my own vomit.
“Nuff playing. I ain’t going to ask nice.” He screwed up his face like a purple prune, green eyes flashing sparks of fire. He turned around, leaned over and farted.
I got ready to meet my end. A torture of wind curled around me, lifting me off my feet. It threw me like a missile, striking what was left of mindless, wandering Harry. It was lucky that it did.
Harry got torn apart from me using him as a landing cushion. Pieces of him took to the hurricane wind with bone, gristle and guts flying, spraying bloody mist everywhere. A white splinter of thigh bone took aim, punctured the windbag and left me laying dazed collecting myself.
“Don’t torture yourself like that,” I went over to give that evil elf a good solid kick where he lay pinned by that bone shard to the ground. His black bag of magic fairy dust was open, contents floating away in a last gust of fresh breeze. I could breathe again.
“Ye can’t be leaving me here, this way,” he groaned.
“Make no bones about it, yes I can.” I stared around. Nothing of Harry was left to be seen. He was blown away by what happened. I couldn’t blame him. I felt much the same way. Every stitch I’d worn on me was gone away, leaving me completely naked as the day I was born. “Why should I not? I’m not picking bones with you. You haven’t a good bone in your body, except for Harry’s.”
I blew my hair out of my face, leaned over and kicked Harry’s bone twisting deeper into the Leprechaun’s lung, letting as much hot air out as I could. The little fairy belched a good one and groaned. “Damned tourist. We never should have let you buy our mead and taken your money.”
“Money?” As luck would have it, The little windbag’s farting around had blown a hole in the ground where his pot of gold lay hidden.
His glinting pain filled green eyes met mine. “Take it, for all the good it will do you. Find out how good luck turns bad.” His threat came out as a mere whisper caressing my cheek. I felt the skin there shrivel into a dried up knot.
“Treat visitors like this, makes me wonder how you treat your kin.”
As if on cue, as the dust settled around us, small bobbing heads came into view. I heard the wind stirring in the evil promises the little folk were promising as they came closer. “Just leaving. He’s all yours.” I saluted with a wave.
It was time to go sailing back to my homeland. I managed to keep my balance, dancing on the toes of my feet until I got beyond the sight and sound of what Leprechaun’s do to their evil minded own.
The luck of the Irish went with me. Accidents that end up killing others around me, never blow my way. I keep my four-leaf-clover with me and resist the temptation to bluster like one small Irish windbag I’d known.
I'm a stay-at-home type, now. I mind my own business. You should mind yours no matter what you heard about me. Wish me the luck of the Irish and I won't blow your mind wishing you bad luck, long as you leave me and my four-leaf-clover alone.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
The pothole wasn’t big. With the rains eroding the edges, washing away the depth, it was just big enough.
The thing with five legs was just the right size, too. It was in the process of growing back a few. The last stump ended in a serrated edge fine for sawing at carrion. The one behind it whipped a tentacle into view, lassoing, probing, stinging and slaying whatever was of interest. At times, dead meat was not enough to quell its hunger. Live, stunned, paralyzed flesh eaten raw tasted best.
It was the first and only one of its kind. Mother Nature had fashioned it out of noxious poisoned earth smashed into the last twitching remains of a roadkill hit by a passing drunken driver. The animal matter fed on itself, grew hungry, learned to kill as it had been almost killed.
The thing learned water attracted other creatures near. An added advantage to hanging around the pothole was the occasional ranch pickup’s offering of roadkill. The dead could either be supped upon or used as bait.
It was with some annoyance when poison tipped rattlers came to call and had to be dealt with. Twice bitten, the venom secreted into the thing’s body was analyzed, studied. The riveting pain had to be dealt with. The appendage where the snakes had struck, gave up its former shape. It molted, transforming into a needle tipped stinger.
Bill Smith, the rancher owning this raw sagebrush spread, would have called the thing a living Swiss Army knife, with folding, unfolding specialized tools and blades. He would have appreciated how the new predator was working its way to the top of the local ecosystem’s food chain. At the moment, Bill Smith was drunk.
What looked like a fly bedecked piece of roadkill waited in disguise for either it or the pooled water to attract attention. The hunter wasn’t hungry. It looked forward to testing a new way to kill. Vibrations felt in the dusty road meant something big was coming.
Fancying himself as lord over all he owned, Bill Smith rode his F150 pickup, half dozing behind its steering wheel. A wink of the moon behind a wisp of dark cloud and the left front wheel hit the pothole. “Damn. Made me bite my tongue. Feels like my front tie rod is sprung.”
He stalled the big four wheel drive and got out to investigate the damage. “Jeez-ba-jeez. They don’t make them like they used to. I’ll eat my hat.” A moonbeam flashed down like a giant searchlight, revealing his front tire was flat.
The hunter stirred into action. When run over by Bill Smith’s truck its hidden armor piercing spikes flared up in attack mode. All senses alert the thing felt a moment of startled amazement. It had disabled the big fast moving monstrosity, only for a smaller one to appear from inside.
“Thought I recognized the feel of that bump. You Bast’d. You broke my truck.” The hunting rifle kept nestled in the side of Smith’s door came easily to hand. He jacked in a round and aimed as the hunter jerked into movement. “Bast’d. You smell like a turd. Never seen anything so ugly.”
“Bump turd Bast’d”, the hunter said, imitating Bill’s battle cry. It’s tentacle lashed out towards the rancher’s leg.
Thunder exploded from the barrel followed by acrid smoke. The armed tentacle whipped itself, snake like along the ground. Green ichor drip dripped from the thing’s damaged and broken torn appendage. Bill pumped in another round.
“I”ll be darned. You talk like my wife’s pet crow. What are you, anyway?” The second bullet spit dust, whined into a ricochet back past Bill Smith’s left ear. “Jehosephat. You’re a mother.”
The hunter was imitating this strange form of prey’s defensive maneuver. It split itself, giving birth to a smaller version, just like the F150 had spit out Bill Smith. “Mother Bast’d.” The thing attacked to the left, the smaller hunter to the right.
Bill Smith, caught off guard, used the stock of his rifle for a club. “Quick learner, ain’t you?”
The smaller thing went sailing into a ball, bouncing down the dirt road. The original hunter scrabbled for purchase on Bill’s thick leather boot, piercing it with a poison tipped needle. Bill’s leg twitched, kicking the attacker off.
The hunter made the echoing sound of Bill’s gun going off as it backed off, trying to formulate how this strange being used such a weapon. Each primary level predator backed off, Bill with his hunting knife flashing from the palm of one hand. “Shouldn’t have drunk that last six pack. I swear this can’t be happening.”
He leaped up into his cab, slamming the door shut, intent on running the thing over or using his pickup as a high speed battering ram. The flat tire made him swerve, raising a smokescreen of dust while backing up. “May Bell ain’t going to believe why I’m running late.”
He felt the satisfying bump-titty-bump as his half ton rode over what felt like a squishing rock. Bill slammed his hands into fists on his steering wheel. He let out a rebel yell. “Nothing messes with me.”
Bill slammed his rig into reverse, arm muscles bulging to keep him following his tracks. Another of his tires gave out a hissing sigh. This time the bumpity ended with the full weight of the pickup in place over the thing’s newly created shallow grave.
“Come get me. I got car trouble. I’m near that big wash next to our road.”
Bill Smith’s cell phone squawked back at him. He let it, enjoying the moment, not having to lie about why he wasn’t home on time. “Oh. Oh. Sorry, hon. Got to go. This is trouble city, tonight.” The glove compartment flipped open. The Colt .45 fell out into one hand.
The smaller piece of roadkill, moving towards him in his rearview mirror called him out, “Turd Bast’d.” It was hungry, felt ready to spit bullets. Bill Smith was the closest possible prey.
|"BOY, DID YOU PICK THE WRONG ONE."
Detached. That is what I was, not a feeling remained inside. No past or future intruded on the moment. I was pure focus. I didn’t care if I lived or died.
“Man. You really in the zone.”
“Let me inside.
“You work’n a job?”
“The blood make you notice?”
“You sure wearing it, brother. Is that your own?”
“Are you going to stand there asking questions until you have carry in a corpse?”
“Touchy. Just say’n. Try not to drip on the carpet.”
I let it all go when I shuffled inside. The shock stopping numbness of my injury now fire in my gut. Cold sweat became a fever baking my insides. Volcanic waves of pain roared through me, rising, drowning me in them. I welcomed total blackness.
“Hold still. Got a few more stitches left to sew you up.”
“How bad is it? Feels like a live animal chewing me inside out.”
“You’re talking, ain’t cha? Quit your bellyaching. Sorry. Bad joke. There. Finished.”
“Am I in the news?”
“If you were, we both wouldn’t be here. Drink some water.”
“Can’t. Hurts to swallow.”
“You are a sorry mess. Take sips on the ice. Moisture do you good.”
This time, when the blackness went away, it was Melanie, Harry’s wife. I lay propped up in a bed. Sun came through a window. The gut fire was gone. They’d pumped me full of something fuzzy feeling.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Less said, the better.”
“Harry’s finding you a place to stay.”
“Why not here?”
“Knew you’d ask that. Said to tell you, it’s too hot.”
“Things went bad, but I got the job done.”
“You’ll get paid. No one else could have done it.”
I slept. Dozed. Floated between the prick of needle shots. Sometimes it was day, other times night. The animal living inside me tamed down. Stopped chewing on me. Still felt like broken glass knifing me when I moved the wrong way.
“Where am I? What day is it? You been doping me, haven’t you?”
“Hold on, pardner. Easy. Let’s check you out. That hurt?”
“Bastard. Bust my gut.”
“Coughing up blood. Didn’t know you had it in you. Hold still.”
The prick of the needle. This time into Harry. I’d turned it, jabbed it there. It worked fast. He slumped, fell over me. I reached for his waist, for his gun. Rolled him on top of me. Waited.
Detached. Focused. Brittle but all here. Sounds outside the doorway larger than life. Talking. I listened. Gun warm, gripped in my hand. Hearing a gun go off. A deadly female scream. There my guy was at the door, ready to pay me with bullets. Several thudded in Harry.
I fired point blank. Watched fire seize my man’s gut. The animal eating him inside out. I focused. Waiting. Watched him crawl to me.
“Where’s my money?”
“Why did I hire you?”
“Boy, did you pick the wrong one.”
|“It don’t make sense,” Thomas Magee slapped his tankard of ale down, nearly crushing Able Macquires’ stubby fingers. “Missy were a wee lass and her elderly mother with nary a friend in her life.”
“Cept’n for one of the fairy folk, they says. Which is how Missy came to be.” Able Macquire licked his fingertips tastefully sucking on one after the other. Nothing fazes a drunken sot except’n for more drink.
“Aye. I heard that tale. With some disbelief, I might add.” A pocket full of coin lay empty of weight where Master Thomas Magee’s empty hand went wandering. He stared into the empty bottom of his tankard, squeezed one eye for better view, “She paid a price for her mischief, whatever it were, I’d wager.”
It was in unsteady gait the two helped each other rise. The celebration of this particular Saint Patrick’s Day would leave shameful headaches on the morrow, but for now, all was right with a world gone bad. “Surely, god a mighty, I could be using a rainbow pot a gold. I be more broke than my fiddle I stepped on wishing it were you.”
The red haired Magee lived from mad rage to its brother. The usual black Irish mop adorning Maquire framed a cherub face denying the truth of wicked and evil thoughts held within. “Bless you for that act of kindness. The sound of your bow cat wailing across them strings like to shrivel every nerve I own.”
Every other day but this, the two Irish lads were solid enemies from birth, blessed to be so. They were legends of their time, much like the Hatfields and McCoy’s, original progenitor transplants from the green isle.
They slowed their talk along with themselves, at reaching a fork in the road where they usually parted ways. The rune of an ancient Cletic carved rock stood stolid in their path marking some mystical affair long past.
“They says when Missy reached her teen years, she was twice more ugly than her crone mother. Nay would look long enough to have her.” Magee swallowed hard what he’d already swallowed before. His tankard’s swill lay bitter on the taste in his mouth.
“Cept’n for the promise of her fairy gold,” remembered the tongue of Maquire.
“An what would ye be knowing of that?” There was suspicion in the tone of the blood enemy stood weaving with the shadows under a full moon. “What I want’s to know is where you got enough coin to liquor both us up and why you wanted me anything but sober.”
There were steps taken to widen and stretch any spark of friendliness to splitting apart. Fists were raised in readiness. A fine fight is never better when drink has done its fair duty, eliminating the feeling of pain from embattled senses.
“Take that.” Maquire struck at Magee. His fist struck the rock instead. The crack where it hit widened a mit, opening into a black mouthed cry.
“Me lucky hat.” Magee plunged after it, tripped over Maquire, pausing only long enough for a swift body kick. A howling wind sucked them tumbling into the gaping dark maw.
“I feels like my flesh been torn off,” Maquire sat up first, resting his nether parts on Magee’s head.
“Watch where on ye are resting your cheeky self,” A small earthquake ensued raising Magee, forcing Maquire aloft back onto his feet.
“Now, laddies, look what you’ve done. Broken open a long sealed curse.” It was MIssy shaking the dust of her teenage years appearing before the two sets of raised fists.
“Now, what’s done cannot be undone,” It was Magee’s elderly mother long gone and reported abducted without a trace. “Jest like his poor old dad, rest his soul, driven to drink and worse friends.”
“I want that one,” Missy pointed a pudgy finger between the two.
“That’s my hat,” Magee swiped at the Irish Walish hat escaped to the crown of a wee little fellow. Fairy size he was with a mean little grin firmly in place. Pockets spilling with gold coin scattered, rolling around well sod black cobbler boots shined to perfection.
“By golly, tis a leprechaun,” Magee sputtered, spitting the words between the creature’s ears. “Catch him and all its riches be ours.”
“Hold him. He’s mine. I dreamed him here. Don’t let him go.”
Maquire, of more practical mind, stooped with the hat in hand, scooping up the litter of coin. His large size behind got a kick at the seat of his pants. “Leave that scrabbling alone. Magee’s old crone of a mother belched out. “Now’s our chance. The curse is broken the’t is trapping us here. Tis time to get out whilst the gett’n is good.”
The walls of the underground cavern began shaking from the little fairy guy’s bout of uncontrolled laughter. “Me marry you, ugly wart. Nary a chance. I’d rather give away every pot of gold I own.”
There is no anger quite like that of a shunned and embittered Irish maid. “I wish this curse were alive and yours instead.”
There are those not too sodden with home made Irish brew obtained from the close by inn, who find theirselves weaving and wondering which split in the path to take where they come from. If it be on Saint Paddy’s eve about the hour of magic midnight, the earth itself may be heard to groan a welcome.
A whispering wind will carry the sound of secret girlish laughter from out of a crack in a stone rune. For those unwary travelers who investigate up close, there looms a thunder of embattled rage fighting for release.
Above it all, for the ear pressed against the carved out signs of an old Celtic curse will be heard the cackle of an old crone mother’s warning.
If it be a full Saint Patrick’s moon flashing its glit ray upon the scene, a strange thing will happen. Many a drunk fallen and gawking in the dust can testify of the seizure of a crack widening open. It is a sure way to get rid of an enemy without a trace.
There is always room for one more in a fairy’s domain where a Leprechaun refuses to marry and a good Irish fight is in progress between ever more ardently rage endowed foes.
Fool luck alone spills out in a few sprays of gold coin before the crack is closed. It is how the inn continues to prosper. No drunk can refrain from spending found gain in the fastest way possible.
Some may call this legend, others swear it fantasy, a few cruel hearts have tested the evil nature of its promise, sent their accursed enemies to their unjust doom.
|'Horror Stories' was the first and iconic American pulp magazine that published tales of the supernatural, horror, and macabre. The original issue was published in January 1935, three years after the weird menace genre had begun with 'Dime Mystery Magazine'.
Harry Warren, grandson of the media mogul, James Warren, famous for 'After Hours, Creepy, Eerie, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Help!, and Vampirella', settled the grizzly decapitated head of Robert Murdoch, on an iron spike. "Looks real, don't it?" he said. "Teach him to try a buyout of my company just to put me out of business."
Junior Warren, his bastard son, added a few dabs of fake looking blood running down the jagged severed neck. "Think he'll take the warning, Pops?"
"I arranged to have him awaken to find the severed head of his prized horse in his bed with him. Think he'll get the nudge?" Harry Warren's twisted smile broke into a strangled huffing sound that for him meant laughter.
"The Godfather movie, 1972. you want to threaten Robert Murdoch with your connections to the mob." Junior had been the one setting up the money laundering scheme with the crime syndicate family he pal'd around with so often. "Maybe you should have asked me if it was O.K. with them, first."
Harry Warren's beetle eyebrows danced on his forehead. "You think I'm stupid? Who do you think that is?"
"Dad. You didn't."
The two men focused their eyes through the main office big plate glass window. The familiar figure of a well known crone stood waving at them from the end of the plant's entrance road.
"Yep. I got to them. Promised the witch everything but murder if she'd get me the goods on Murdoch. Isn't blackmail when all I want is for him to leave us alone." The raspy sawing sound of dried up laughter began again.
"That's Myda Murdoch in the flesh. isn't she dead?" Junior's own form of braying humor began with a forced yuk-yuk.
"Ain't no zombie, son. Go out and let her in before she withers into more of a prune than she is and burns away of sunstroke." Harry Warren flicked invisible printer paper dust off a cuff.
"Looks worse than dead to me. Looks like you summoned her from hell." One arched beetle brow look from his pater sent Junior lurching on a stilted half run towards the office door.
"Won't be the first time a businessman was forced to make a deal with the devil." Harry Warren's eyebrows knit together in satisfaction.
"I told her no pets allowed, but she insisted. Said it was her familiar." Junior's tailor made suit looked a little frayed where Myda Murdoch's black cat clung, claws digging into Junior's flesh.
"Stop blathering. Get her a chair, son, and quit that gasping. Then go tend to your wounds. A little blood won't hurt you, unless it's been cursed." There went the eyebrows again, raised, asking Myda Murdoch a silent question.
"Sign here, sweetie." The voice cracked with age. A flutter of legalese contract papers floated to land on Harry Warren's desk. "Want me to have my cat prick your finger for you? Devil requires these be signed in blood."
Myda Murdoch settled her bones (there wasn't much more to her) in an overstuffed chair. She waved off the offer of bar refreshments. "Brought my own spirits."
Mist rose along with a shriek from the hand sized opened container Myda Murdoch drank from. Smacked lips kissed each other. "Hell's best brewed. Want to give it a try?"
Harry Warren's shudder was the first honest thing he'd done in years. "Don't have a taste for that kind of thing. Let me get a magnifying glass to read the fine print."
"Says here I have to offer up my first born but not until the day I die. That right?" Harry Warren glanced at the back of his son he might be knifing, parading back and forth in the hall.
Myda Murdoch's cackle drowned out the sound of the printing presses outside the office. "Yes. On our part, the devil's and mine, you won't kick the bucket as long as you keep profitable according to our contract. Section XIXXIV."
"Wouldn't want it otherwise." Harry Warren barely glanced at the tiny print at the bottom of the last page.
"Go ahead. Do the honors." An index finger pointed and beckoned towards the black cat.
A slash from a razor tipped claw turned Harry Warren's twisted grin into a snarl equal to that of the Witch's familiar. "Sign here. Your business will be yours for perpetuity as long as you enforce our contracts last clause."
Harry Warren paused, realizing he'd been hasty. A drop of blood dripped onto the last page as he leaned over to read that part of the offer. Smoke and fire hissed where his name was being written on the dotted line.
"What have I done?"
When he glanced up the Witch and her familiar were gone. Only a whiff and a puff of sulphur remained. "You, O.K., dad?" Junior coughed, sneezed, pushing his way through the mist.
"You better get busy. Our lives depend on it. We got to comply with this contract before the next edition of our horror magazines are sent out." The twin black beetle brows on Harry Warren's forehead had turned white.
He shoved the document over for his son to read while he massaged the exploding headache beneath his brow. "Contest prompts for a new horror writing contest? That's not so bad."
Then he got to the tiny print bleeding across the bottom of the last page in red. "The prompts have to be real, not just words. We have to summon the supernatural, unholy worst nightmare monster or other gruesome horror prompt straight from hell for that day's contest."
Harry Warren's headache got worse. "Yes. For starters, we've got to replace that fake head on a spike and replace it with the butchered real thing. That's the prompt for Today's horror contest."
Junior scrambled to get on the phone with his mafia friends for something he knew they could provide. Better someone else's head on a platter than his own.
Getting the day's writing contestants together in the same room to show them the prompt made Junior's stomach feel quesy. He reached over his pop's desk to open the drawer where the Pepto 'Bismal' was kept and prepared to swill down the entire bottle.
He and his dad were going to need a hell of a lot of help to make the publishing contract work. That was proven when Myda's boyfriend, one of the walking dead with a yen for fresh brains, took out the first writing contestant as he entered the Warren board room without knowing what caused the heavy breathing behind the door.
A touch of Junior's magic at making the scene look contrived is what it took to make the day a success. "Sure looked real. What an inspiration for my writing." The contest winner had only had to throw up into a nearby wastebasket once before getting started on her twenty-four hour contest piece of flash fiction.
"How do we get rid of these hellish prompts once they arrive?" Junior was relieved a wooden stake to the heart of the day's Vampire prompt had given them a temporary reprieve.
Harry Warren barely glanced up from counting the column of the latest company profits, "The horror stories have never been better. Every one of our magazines is selling like hotcakes." He'd heard Murdoch was mad with envy.
The ghost from yesterday's prompt appeared near the water cooler, making Junior's sexy executive secretary try jumping out of her well endowed skin. "Dad? I'm going to lose another valuable employee. That Seccubus brought in for Wednesday's prompt plumb wore the heart out of Jane Marko, head of mailing. Had to retire on a medical emergency."
"We'll think of something," Harry Warren sniffed. "We got too. Junior? Where you going? Darn it, told him to not mix pleasure with business."
It took convincing the ghost to go haunt the Seccubus into having a damned affair. The ghost now sex slave would last forever riding under the Seccubus ministrations. The problem was keeping them hold up in the executive closet.
Staff passing by, distracted by the orgy of noise, kept opening the door and joining in. "Ain't worth nothing on the job," Junior lamented to the personnel director, a newly hired werewolf, left over week ago horror prompt.
"Leastwise we don't have to use the mob muscle so much, long as we mind chaining him up when it's a full moon. Really sinks his teeth into his job." Junior had to work overtime to juggle all the eggs in the publishing firm's basket of problems. "Maybe get me a good serial killer to keep these supernatural prompts under control, hire him as a new department head after his day as contest prompt."
The enterprise gained fame with its 'look-a-like monsters' parading around the writer's contest room. The growing number of contestants wanting in made winnowing their numbers down by the prompts interviewing them a new problem to solve.
Myda paused from drinking their spirits from her flask. "Having them sell their souls to the devil was my idea, remember." She saluted Harry Warren, with a weaving drunken hand.
"Basement is filled up with their bodily remains. There's a glut on the market for dog meat. We'll figure something out." Harry's eyebrows fought each other as he winked at Junior. "You're in charge. I'm headed on a round the world vacation tour to rub my success in the face of Murdoch."
"Ya' can't be leaving me with this unholy mess." Junior's eyebrows tried escaping his head at the sight of Myda and her curses chasing after Harry Warren's disappearing behind.