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Emancipation: A Mongrel Chronicle – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (10/82)

Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 3
May 31st, 2019
Emancipation: A Mongrel Chronicle

A Cat Named The Mongrel

Everything has a beginning, an origin story of sorts. It is simply the nature of what is, and what is happens to be very cyclical in nature.

The laws of birth and death – as a physical creation, you’re likely familiar with at least one of these concepts, the latter tending to be quite the bitch at familial holiday get-togethers. Here in the Universe dubbed W-2020, much like in my own and maybe yours too, there are no exceptions to these laws – all things, at one time or another, are born, and at one time or another they’ll die… in body. However, as you may or may not be aware, there’s a lot more to this Universe than simple physicality; there’s also the domain of the mind, and more importantly, or rather, more pertinently, there is spirit.

Trotting among the standard run of the mill lifeforms inhabiting this eclectic plane of Existence are lifeforms whom, upon merging their arbitrarily defined circumstances with their minds, become self-proclaimed gods. These beings possess an excessive amount of something, whether it be time, currency, technology, connections, resources (whether valuable or in-), what have you. Because of this access to more stuff than the lifeforms around them, the stuff-havers get an idea in their head that says, ‘You were bestowed with all this stuff for some higher purpose that isn’t perfectly clear to you, for some reason. Ignore that last bit though, you were created for higher reasons than the rest of these peonish peasants!’

Once this idea’s been allowed to ferment inside their mind until it solidifies, these beings go ahead and act like they’re some sort of gift to the world, often making complete asses out of themselves in front of all the other beings that choose to surround them. Unless, of course, they choose to wield their influence for good, or rather, for the benefit of the beings with which they coexist; in these scenarios, regardless of how infrequently they occur, the given self-proclaimed god self-proclaiming their own godship really isn’t that far off from the truth. A bit early, perhaps, but not far off.

At the end of the day though, all these beings wield is influence. No matter how much shit they throw at the fan that is existential kickback, the wind will not stop – it will only stink when it hits their noses.

Above the self-proclaimed gods on W-2020’s infinitely vertical spectrum of consciousness are the actual gods. Not even big G, just to get that out of your head. These beings, having surpassed the base realm of physicality in one way or another, dabble in the mastery of the domain of the mind. They represent, possess, create, and exude knowledge in the purest, most refined sense – they’re the masters of their fields, known by none and studied by less. These beings can be benevolent, if they wish, or they can fuck shit up; godship comes with the ability to decide whether you’d like to help or harm the lifeforms around you on an entirely situational basis.

These gods, as powerful as they may grow to be, are always far from omnipotence; they too die eventually, inevitably cast astray from the pantheon of the mind they spend their entire existences building up. Death is not the end for the gods though; following their demise a god will be reborn, sometimes in a new body, sometimes on a different planet, always equipped with the knowledge of what it must do but lacking the knowledge of how – this instills a certain balance between the so-called forces of good and evil, you see. Gods are also born with a secondary, underlying piece of knowledge to accompany their knowledge of what they must accomplish in life, one inescapable gospel of godhood that some higher beings spend entire incarnations trying to fight: gods are not, and never will be, at the top of the consciousness spectrum.

Seeing how self-proclaimed gods are no more than (sometimes cocky) masters of the body, and true gods are masters of the mind, all that remains are the masters of the spirit.

Universe W-2020 was created by a blast of energy emanating from something near the top of the consciousness spectrum; some think it was a being, some think it just kind of happened, both and neither of them are right. So when this being created everything – the various tiers of lifeforms, the Universe they fester within, the Multiverse it’s all contained in and yadda yadda big words – it did so in the instantaneous flash of a timeless moment. Despite that, even the top being is not omniscient, and it cannot ensure its entire creation remains stable by itself. The being created this Universe to exist in it, not to monitor and micro-manage it; I’m sure you can understand.

In order to sustain balance, this being had to create a new tier of lifeform. A secret, higher form of life, able to control and manipulate the very energy that life both emanates from and is sustained on – these are the aforementioned masters of spirit. These beings operate at the highest possible level of consciousness their specific situation allows for; where the gods are masters of knowledge, these higher beings brandish the very force of intelligence itself. They too exist in a hierarchy, the original creator of what is residing at the top, but yet still as an equal to its fellow spiritual beings (as long as they’re not in the room with it).

To avoid further overuse of the word being, let us call these masters of spiritual pillar of Existence the universally endowed – you know, because upon birth they’re endowed with the intelligence that the Universe itself operates on. There are myriad of these beings inhabiting Universe W-2020, some who know what they are and others that are painfully unaware; this is the story of neither type.

No, this is a story, a chronicle of sorts, about the first universally endowed creature to be birthed into Universe W-2020, one who does not think about the purpose of his own life but one who just simply lives.

This is the story of a cat named The Mongrel.

A Chase Ensues

It’s an exceptionally balmy night in the self-cleaning streets of New Manhattan. An innumerable number of cars are self-driving an even larger, still innumerable number of humans, and even a few beings, to wherever they think they need to be getting to right this second. Some folks are enjoying a night out on the town, keeping it mellow at one of the many speakeasies or smoking lounges, while others are pushing the limits of their own comfort zones at extreme sports venues or snuff houses like Madame Mwazah’s Train of Pain. Some just got out of a 16D movie, their nerves still tingling from being technologically removed from and reinserted into their bodies, while others are looking for a quiet place to veg out and enjoy whatever cocktail of arbitrary drugs, narcotic, Psychedelic or otherwise, they decided to shotgun tonight. Some are lurking in the luxuriously ratty back alleyways, lying in wait to stick up some unsuspecting shmuck who resolved on going for a swell perambulation without packing a deadly weapon, while others, all gutsied up in tuxedos and evening gowns, are staring down at the city from inside their skyscrapers, essentially doing the same thing but in a strictly corporate fashion. The Mongrel, just coming out of a nap, takes in all the nonsense with the most uninterested look possible plastered on his furry little face.

The Mongrel’s lived in this sprawling cityscape for quite a short time now, only being born a year ago amongst a litter of six kittens. His mother was a hairless Siamese and his father was a fat orange tabby, the latter probably serving as the character model for the star of the popular newspaper comic Farfield. All the kittens in the litter more or less resemble their parents, sharing the same colored coat (or lack thereof) of mom and pops, but not The Mongrel. Not only was our dude born a few sizes larger than his siblings, bless his poor mother, but also with a sleek black coat and white fur emerging from his belly, booting his paws, and decorating his nose/mouth/lower face area… you know what I mean.

From the very start, The Mongrel knew that he was some kind of special – whether that meant genetically deformed or superior, he did not know, or care for that matter, for he is a cat. All The Mongrel wants to do in life is, quite simply, his thing. In the last life he lived, this included roaming the forests of the East Coast hundreds of years ago in the body of a fearsome mountain lion, but that was then and this is now, and now, The Mongrel doing his thing involves finding whatever delicious-smelling morsel the hairless apes stashed away for him in the nearby tall metal can.

The Mongrel crawls out of his hidey hole and prowls his way out of the alley, initiating a dash across a gridlocked street until he finds himself face-to-face with a gas station. This station, one of the city’s many Lexicon-Grovels, has a RapidSurvey minimart on the property – this is The Mongrel’s go-to hotspot when he’s hungry or bored and he can’t find any large alley crickets to kill for food, sport, or otherwise. He comes here because it’s a food depository and he respects the humans for building it; what he doesn’t respect is the fact that humans walk in, get their food, and leave without eating it immediately. Like, really? How can one possibly hold food in the palm of their creepily fingered hands and not devour it on the spot?! Like this one time – get ready for this shit – The Mongrel witnessed a human, somewhat young and seemingly both male and female at the same time, walk inside the minimart to get food, walk out with said food, and point a glass rectangle at it for a few minutes, just to ultimately toss the food into the can! Without even eating it! The sheer absurdity, the sheer wastefulness of these dirty, hairless apes! Inarguably flabbergasting, but it didn’t bother The Mongrel for too long; dude ate very well that night.

Keeping low in prowl, The Mongrel lurks around to the back of the building where all the bulk excess food is stored in large metal containers, most of which are slathered in green paint. He was going to hit up the can out in the front, but the one of the odder monkeys accompanied by one of those four-legged hairy beasts walked up and stashed a bag of foul-smelling nasty right on top of all the food, ruining it forever. The Mongrel wasn’t engulfed in a fiery fury of rage for too long though – wildly whipping his tail around helped him sever his emotional attachment to his perceived dinner. Besides, the food stash in the back has way more grub, and hardly any other animals hang around it anymore. This may be due to some sportful genocide (read: playing) on The Mongrel’s part, but the past is the past.

When The Mongrel gets around back he picks up a scent, the aromatic, infatuous scent that can only emanate from one, specific morsel: balls of meat smothered in tangy yet delicious blood-colored stuff. While it doesn’t take The Bottomless Pit very long to find his target – he has a nose like you wouldn’t believe; the Mongrel can sniff out the scent of food from four hundred twenty miles away – you better believe he takes his sweet time inhaling it. Bite after bite of lukewarm beefmeat, lap after lap of tasty sauce; The Mongrel has never been more elated than he is right this moment, bringing decimation with no survivors to this decadent, monumental offering the humans have obviously prepared and left out here just for him. Pure, unadulterated bliss… until about two minutes later when he finds the bottom of his bottomless pit of a stomach, gets bored, and walks away.

As Mongolio turns the corner and prepares for the dash home, something that surprisingly enough isn’t readily edible or killable catches his interest. A car, packed to the tires with humans, pulls up to one of the pumps and lowers one of their windows, letting out all that adolescent apestink. Due to The Mongrel’s supreme sense of hearing, the excessively loud mouth noises of the humans, and The Mongrel’s inexplicable capability of understanding any and/or all forms of communication regardless of the language with which it’s spoken, The Mongrel is forced to eavesdrop on their conversation. Three of the humans, males, are attempting to anecdate the one other human, female, that around Christmastime a few years ago, a flying yeti shot jelly-loaded missiles at them for trying to record it as it flew through the clouds. She’s not buying it though, homegirl just wanna drank.

The Mongrel quickly loses interest in the conversation and turns around to head home and take a nice catnap, walking underneath the beam of a streetlight on his way towards his crossing. He then hears a shriek, followed by the slamming of doors and the rapid onset of approaching footsteps.

‘Ohhhh shit,’ The Mongrel thinks to himself as he turns back to witness two hardly evolved chimpanzee escapees coming at him at a mediocre speed. ‘They’re gonna try to get me.

Mongo, a pure ball of energy, fur, and good looks, dashes back into his hidey hole hidden in the alley, his movements slicker than a greased streak of black lightning. From his spot he listens as the humans try to and quickly fail to keep up with him; he even watches their dirty feet as they stomp’n’tromp along mere inches from the entrance to his cubbyhole, completely unaware that he’s there, yet there he is all the same. Funny how that works, isn’t it? The humans proceed to waste the next twenty minutes of their lives searching every square inch of the alley until a creepster in a trench coat and nothing else scares them off. The most intelligent species on the planet, according to themselves; if The Mongrel was physiologically capable of laughing like a human, he undoubtedly would be right now. However, he is a cat, so he does the thing that any cat in their right mind would do in a situation such as this: hunt down that filthy bastard cave cricket that just had the audacity to crawl out of a crack between the bricks.

A chase ensues that lasts all night, taking The Mongrel from his alley nestled in the heart of the city to the drone-powered shipping hubs of the PortNation district, then back across to the graveyard of the suburbian outskirts near the North Beach of the walled-in island until they bang a hard left and enter one of the more ethnically and sexually diverse districts of the city, South Jopia. A quick note, and The Mongrel wanted me to tell you this, but despite all the fancy names, everywhere looks the same in this stupid city. PortNation is a bunch of skyscrapers, the headstones of the suburbian graveyard are all skyscrapers, and South Jopia? All scrapeskyers.

The cricket fights hard and well, truly giving The Mongrel a run for the dollars he does not have nor want. Eventually the pair make it back to the middle of the city, The Mongrel’s dojo. They blow past his hidey hole a few times before the insect turns down a street that The Mongrel has always avoided because instincts, not this time though. This time there’s a cricket involved, a smart, respectable cricket, a cricket that must taste death at The Mongrel’s claws.

Literal cat chases metaphorical mouse down the street, under a barely open garage door, and into what appears to be a physical space that was distorted into a dimension of pure light. When The Little Guy’s eyes adjust, the room’s true identity reveals itself: a massive garage with marble floors engraved with patterns of olive branches and owls in gold, rubies, and more gold, light fixtures installed in the ceilings and floors, and a team of dormant robots that, thankfully, look absolutely nothing like humans whatsoever. The Mongrel, taken aback by all these reflective surfaces, gets distracted long enough for the cricket to disappear once more, leaving its pursuer not even the sound of its crunchy legs tapping against the floors. Oh well, at least The Feline Phenom has a new place to sleep and live. Nothing will be able to find him here, especially not one of those silly humans. There’s no way one of them could fit underneath that garage door, no freaking way. Their dumb, stupid, useless, dumb opposable thumbs are just too fat.

Studying his surroundings, The Mongrel notices there are quite possibly more cars in here than there are out on the street. This place must belong to a human, then… ugh.

A wave of tidal proportions composed solely of the feeling of tiredness crashes over Mongo and joins forces with his already overwhelming wish to avoid human contact until he slumbers and wakes back up. This sends him on one mission: find a car, one that he’s never seen driving around before, and sleep soundly until he can sleep no more. There’s actually quite the selection in here, and that’s after eliminating all the cars that don’t fit into the very strict guidelines and preferences The Mongrel holds for the places he rests his head at all hours of the day and/or night; how lovely!

Deciding that snooping around and finding the perfect car would take far too much effort, The Mongrel jumps into the nearest vehicle with an opened window, which just happens to be a laser red Vechy Vorcette from fifteen years ago, give or take. A very sleepy Buddy curls up into a little ball on the back seat and gently drifts off into slumber. Deams of unbridled cricket massacre guide him into a state of unconscious delight.

The Passenger Seat

The next morning, a resounding ding startles The Mongrel from the most catly of naps. His ears perk up and he lazily stands, does a little stretch thing, and walks over to the car door, barely poking his head up enough to see what in the world is impudent enough to disturb him from his slumber.

Surprise surprise, it’s a fucking human. Exceptional. Awh, but this one’s all dressed up in a suit, and he has a purple tie, too! How charming.

Our furball, less than half awake and not giving a damn, sits up and watches the human stroll halfway across the gilded floor before randomly stopping dead in his tracks and swinging his head back and forth, swaying his hair, as if he was surveying the room. The Mongrel, sketched out by the eccentric behavior, ducks down to the floor and does his best to hide in the space underneath the passenger seat, managing to fit a whole third of himself into the gap. Meh, good enough.

The clicks and clackles of Suitboi frantically pacing around the garage ricochet off the walls and directly into The Mongrel’s ears. What’s more, the human keeps whispering words to himself under his breath as he tromps around, sketching Mongo out to an even further extent. It isn’t that Cat’s afraid he couldn’t outrun the human, that’s not it at all, escaping just requires a certain amount of effort effort that Boy doesn’t feel like expelling right now. All he wants to do is go back to sleep, so much struggle so early in the current stream of consciousness does not resonate well in The Mongrel’s infinitely complex brain.

Eventually the human relents, the click’a’clacking of his shoes unto marble audible for entire seconds after. He begins to speak, his mouth noises easily penetrating the makeshift hidey hole Mongruh’s buried himself in.

“All right, y’all… I don’t know who or what is in here, but I really, really feel like something squirrely be goin’ down. There’s some straight juju in the air and I don’t know if it’s the bad flavor or the good flavor of juju. BUT! I don’t really want to know either, so I’m just gonna leave… if you’re some kind of thief or something, well, I think you should make like a loaf of banana bread and get the fuck outta here before I find you and put you the fuck outta here. ‘Kay, byeee!”

With that, The Mongrel hears more clicking proceeded by a car door opening and closing, more miscellaneous car noises, the sound of three low-speed collisions, followed finally by the human audibly wishing to himself that he had lit up this morning. ‘What a strange huma…’ The Mongrel thinks to himself as he falls back to sleep, still sort of underneath the passenger seat.

Suitman

A few hours pass and Dude wakes up. He’s significantly less sleepy, but he feels heavier than usual, a bit sluggish even. He goes to peek out of his hidey ho– oh wait, he lives in a garage now, that’s right. This place is certainly upgrade to what was once his humble abode, but when he decided to live in here for the rest of his eternal life, The Mongrel failed to consider something of dire importance to his quality of life: where is he going to poop?! The Mongrel must be sneaky at all times from now until he never ever dies ever, especially with that confirmed human sighting this morning, but his poops and sneakiness don’t exactly go together. Like, at all.

Stress begins to overtake The Cat, but not your everyday stress; no, this is real stress, stress like a human’s trying to get him, stress like witnessing the global extinction of alley crickets, stress like he’s bombed on someone’s spot just to find out there’s nowhere to drop his bombs!

It’s at this point, his tail mid-whip, that a wonderfully relieving revelation overtakes our little friend: this place isn’t just a garage. This is his brand new, gold-encrusted marble-tiled litter box! If only momma could see him now… anyway, as he’s about to leap from the car and find himself a nice spot to lay it all down, the memory of the weird human rears its fedora-topped head.

‘Fuck that guy, I’m gonna shit in his car.’

And so he does.

And so it smells.

Really, really bad.

Cat, feeling lighter on his feet than ever before, springs from the eternally ruined automobile and takes a prowl around the garage to better familiarize himself with the new digs. Well, he starts to prowl, but the prowl evolves into a sprint when he spots that damned cricket from last night. That little motherfucker escaped The Mongrel and it dares to show its goo-filled exoskeleton again?! Oh no, not today.

A pursuit over the marble ensues. The Mongrel has never before encountered such slipperiness during his escapades over concrete, nor asphalt; this marble’s a different animal. Just like The Mongrel. He respects this choice of flooring.

Jumping over motorcycles, ducking under cars, leaping through a helicopter or two, and forcing The Mongrel to slide around all over the place, the cave cricket proves to be quite the prolonger of the inevitable. Eventually the pair comes to a slightly opened vent that connects to a series of tubes leading somewhere under the floor, and the cricket jumps in, leaving The Mongrel to bat at the cover until he realizes he needs to use is claws to pry it open. And so he does. Having thrown all caution to the wind many, many lives ago, The Mongrel then slings himself into the darkness after his prey.

The fall feels like it lasts for hours. Fur and whiskers tumble violently through the air and sensations of all three of the emotions on the feline emotional scale hit The Mongrel at once. In reality, the fall only lasts a few fast minutes and The Mongrel lands on his feet totally unscathed, but there’s no telling him that, he’s a survivor. The cricket’s completely vanished from his sight, and his mind, too; Mongo’s attention is wholly captured by the underground laboratory complex he seems to now be trapped in.

Such a busy basement – there are workstations for all sorts of “manly” hobbies, more computers than a team of four humans could use at once, robotic beings both assembled and scattered about in pieces, welding equipment, mounds and mounds of unorganized spare parts avalanching out of open doors and storage cabinets, a couple walls covered with a large assortment of weapons of both the standard and science fiction varieties, test tubes, gigantic vats of chemicals (some glowing, some radioactive, and some both) and, finally, not a single poster depicting a specimen of the human feem. The Mongrel, having been around the block more than a few times, realizes exactly what kind of human lives down in this cave, and he wishes to avoid making eye contact with it at all costs.

Upon this realization, two large metal doors that were previously posing as a normal wall slide open behind The Mongrel, releasing a tubby creature wearing overalls under a transparent plastic lab coat, of all things. The creature, taking an unimpressive step and a half before noticing The Mongrel’s presence, freezes and allows his eyes to bulge from his head.

“Oh my god thERE’S A CAT IN HERE! CAAAAAT! HOw did you get in hERE?! NO! You’re a spy, sent from the United States Government Resurgence Force! Obviously! All weapons systems, robots, automated chemical spraying hose-o-ramas! When I step back behind that door, open fire and don’t close up shop until you’re either dead or out of ammo! There’s no telling what this cat could do! This is NOT a DRILL, robots, I repeat! This is NOT a DRILL!!”

The chunky monkey, busy going around the room and shouting at all his inanimate objects, did not notice The Mongrel pull a quick how do you do, for The Mongrel is as smart as his fur is sleek. From beneath the floating flying saucer bed in the corner, The Mongrel watches the hulking creature pant and gasp uncontrollably as if it was exhausted from walking around in circles for two minutes, then it limps back into the secret room and seals the wall. For the next several hours (or minutes, who’s to say?), more loud noises erupt from that solid metal door than The Mongrel ever wanted to hear in his literally infinite life. Once the onslaught against the monkey’s own ridiculous fears subsides, said monkey opens the door and creeps out into the chemicular mist laden battlefield, the smells of gunpowder, laser beams, and heated metal co-mingling with the myriad of spilled, mixed, and ruined chemical compounds is almost enough to send The Mongrel into a seizure.

Almost. But not today.

The human, a wide smile carved across his genetically paranoid face, walks back into his bedroom and seals the door. With the slap of his right sleeve, the ventilation system clears out all the nasty air and replaces it with clean, homemade air, hinted with a scent of lemons and lavender. Unfortunately for humey, the smile morphs into a terrified gaspish mawgape when The Mongrel walks out from underneath the hovering bed and breaks the silence with an apparently paradigm-shifting, “Mrrrrow?

“Wha… what? No, that’s not… how?” the man(?) whimpers as he falls to his knees, palming his leaking face. “How is this possible? All of my equipment, muh–… my weapons. You… survived?”

The Mongrel gets the feeling that this dude desperately needs more human contact, or any type of interaction with other living things, for that matter.

“Well, I knew this day would come,” the overall-clad man-sized mouse squeaks out. “You know, cat, if that is what you really are, I knew this would happen. You’re obviously from the yoU-eSs-Gee-aRe-eFf, I mean, duhviously. I’ve been discovered, Cape Enterprises Uncorporated’s secret is officially uncovered. This truly is the end of days.”

The human raises his right arm and rolls up his sleeve to reveal a wristwatch, not just any normal watch of the wrist though. No, The Mongrel can sense the power emanating from deep within the gears of the thing’s clockwork; something is coming, something big.

With the inputting of a complicated series of button presses, all the lights go out in the bedroom. The once white fluorescents are replaced by a dreadful red glare that comes as a package deal with an obnoxious alarm.

The human looks The Mongrel in the eyes, whimpering, “Just know, Gruncle Fred, you did this,” before curling up in a ball and singing himself a nursery rhyme as his face leaks moisture from various orifices.

Suddenly, a robot voice with an alarmingly feminine undertone comes booming through the alarm chatter.

“ATTENTION. SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE HAS BEEN INITIATED. YOU HAVE, COUNT ‘EM, THIRTY SECONDS TO GET YOURSELF AT LEAST FIVE AND A FOURTH MILES AWAY FROM EARTH BEFORE THE CAPE REACTOR DROPS DOWN THE TUNNEL TO THE CENTER OF THE PLANET AND IGNITES. HAVE A PLEASANT DEATH AND THANK YOU FOR DYING WITH US HERE AT CAPE ENTERPRISES, UNCORPORATED.” Then, once the robot filter kicks off, “Okay boss, how do I make it sto–” click

The Mongrel, unsure of exactly what’s going on right now, sits himself down next to the sadsack and spends the next fifteen seconds grooming himself. Five seconds after that’s over with, Suitman from the garage materializes into the room. After shooting tubbo in the neck with a cannonball or a dart or something, hard to tell, the suited human deactivates the blaringly loud inconvenience with a press of his tie. He then looks around, assessing the situation with a facial expression of this shit happens way too often here before pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes.

“Oooooh-kay, so a few hours ago I certainly felt differently, but now I’m very glad you shat in my car today. C’mere lil’ guy, let me get you out of here. Sigmund needs some sleepy time.”

This goes about as well as you’d expect, The Mongrel avoiding His Eccentricness for minutes on end, the former jumping rapidly from the bed to the walls to the ceiling in an attempt to not get getted. This lasts until the jar of Catnip is removed from Suitman’s jacket, our Feisty Furball becoming immediately more complacent once he catches a whiff of the holy herb. Always being one for compromise, The Mongrel allows the conscious human to pick him up and carry him into a small room that, once the doors close, seemingly begins to ascend.

More than a few minutes of the human breathing very heavily later, the doors open into a cozy little hallway that leads into a cozy, not so little office that sports a dastardly lack of scratching posts. Before The Mongrel can squirm his way out of Suitman’s grasp, a demented howl reverberates through the air. As Cat looks over and locks eyes with the howler, he gets a strange impression that the woman’s name must be Karen.

“BOSS!” as The Mongrel allows the woman to give him a belly rub. “Where did you find this adorable little whoozits?! I LOVE him! We should call him Milkshake!”

The Mongrel and Suitman turn to each other, sharing a look of What the fuck? over a simmering mutual feeling of The fuck we should. The man lets The Little Man down and proceeds to explain to the Karen that one, they’re not keeping the cat (Duh. Nobody contains The Mongrel.), that Sigmund almost hit the big red button again because the cat found its way into his lab, and four, that after he gets back from his business trip to Oregon, he’s going to bring the cat to an animal shelter.

Karen protests and points out the fact that her boss left out the number two and skipped over the number three, but Suitman will have none of it, telling her that if she wants a cat she can go out and save one from imminent death on her own time. She answers this with a pout, explaining that she already has seven cats downstairs and she needs another one for the office when Suitman isn’t around to entertain her.

Sutiman, claiming he isn’t offended by Karen’s comment, acts extremely offended and goes off on a tirade about how he does so much work, how he has such a cool suit filled to the seams with so many gadgets and contraptions, and… The Mongrel loses interest, deciding to explore his new new digs.

It takes Mongrath, Eminent God Of All Things Feline, literally twenty seconds to locate a collection of wooden scratching posts that are all set up around a raised platform, the essence of the platform whispering to The Mongrel that it will be used for very unsettling purposes within the next year. Ignoring this, The Mongrel gets to work ruining the chairs forever until that tidal wave of exhaustion comes back for a second helping. A full day of being bombarded by bombastic bangs and booms can really take a lot out of a cat! Dude wanders around until he finds what appears to be either a bedroom or a hidden cannabis closet, it’s difficult to tell due to the conflicting smells of human and cannabic origins. The Mongrel jumps up on the bed to find a smaller, suitcase-shaped bed for himself, stuffed almost to the brim with identical copies of the exact same black suit. ‘Purrfect.’

The Mongrel squishes his way into the suitcase, burying himself betwixt a suit and another suit for sustainable warmth. As our boy’s fading into sleepdom, his nose picks up a cannabic odor drifting up through the clothing, quickly dominating his awareness. Yeesh, do all humans do drugs? Sad little monkeys.

Still feeling zonked from mingling with the Catnip deities, The Mongrel gently drifts off to sleep in his brand new makeshift hidey hole. Sweet dreams, Buddy.

A Flick Of His Tail

The next sunrise, Chuck wakes up feeling the wonderfully human feeling of being burnt as fuck. I mean, he wakes up feeling awash in afterglow. He checks the clock guarding his nightstand– 4:21 in the morning. ‘God. Damnit.’ Sleep has never been a close companion of Chuck’s, always flirting with him endlessly before dipping out the bathroom window halfway through their dates. Unless it’s a double date with Cannabis and More Cannabis anyway, but that’s beside the point. He decides that, for the first time in his life, mind you, that since he is up, he might as well stay up and get on with his day. Today this means leaving his city, breeching the mainland, and flying until he hits the other side of the country.

Chuck and Emilio, a childhood friend of Chuck’s, have been trying to get together for a good ol’ fashioned week-long powwow for quite some time now, but Chuck’s antics and wildly successful business ven– well, his antics mostly, always seem to get in the way. Not this time though; it’s almost 2020 for crying out loud! If New Manhattan’s most elusive eccentric wants to fly to Oregon for a week and smoke himself sillier, he should be able to. And if he has to lie to his Karen The Secretary and call it a business trip, so be it.

After draping himself in one of his many identical suits, Chuck zips up the suitcase (dutifully ignoring the purring noise emanating from deep within) and sneaks out to the elevator.

The evil box of fears takes our man (and cat) to the roof where there’s a large aerial vehicle waiting for him. This is no average helicopter or plane though; based off an old wartoy called the W-22 Osprey, one of old Grunc’ Fred’s most potent fuck you vehicles, The Superego Mk I has the shape of a transport plane with helicopter propellers at the ends of its wings, the props capable of shifting from verticality to horizontality once the craft is up in the air, plus an extra fourteen somethings tacked on that Sigmund threw in just for good measure. Chuck chucks the suitcase back in the passenger bay, one side unzipped, as he climbs his way into the front seat. With the press of a button that’s clearly marked AUTO-TAKEOFF AND
-PILOT, the craft takes off into the air, Suitman grabbing the joystick and making a very big show of pretending to be in control of his ascension. Once Chuck is… well he’s never high enough, but once the craft gains enough altitude over the city’s border wall, the propellers achieve horizontality and the fourteen hidden somethings reveal themselves to be jet engines, sending the craft beaming through the sky like a meteor through outer space.

A few minutes of pretending to fly later, Chuck gets bored and wanders out to the passenger bay. He sits down next to the suitcase and pats it a few times, saying, “Okay, I know you’re in there. Come on out little guy, I won’t throw you from the plane.”

Chuck gets neither a reply nor an acknowledgment, the suitcase simply does not respond to his gesture. Reacting in the way any sane, rational human being would in this situation, Chuck tears the luggage open and starts digging through his packed belongings as frantically as he possibly can. Suits and matching slacks go flying every which way, even loose, and to his astonishment, he only finds some shedded fur, a hairball (gross), and an empty baggy that carries with it the faint scent of catnip. He digs further until he hits the bottom, making sure his stash of Cannabis is still intact, which it is, allowing Chuck to breathe himself a sigh of relief.

“Oh well, I guess I’m going this alone.”

Chuck mopes his way back up to the pilot’s cabin to find none other than The Mongrel, sat proud and tall upon the co-pilot’s seat. Woah!

“Yo, Milkshake! I mean, Random Alley Cat I Found And Saved From Imminent Death That You Yourself Caused! You’re here!”

Mongo looks over to Chuck for a second before diverting his gaze back to the aircraft’s radar and GPS map. The cat, to Chuck’s amazement, sits motionlessly, attentively staring at the map for minutes on end without responding to any of his catcalls. Chuck can hardly even exist for a few minutes without getting himself involved in some sort of psychotic shenanigans, let alone sit still; this cat is something else.

Human starts pretending to fly again, this time as a fighter pilot in the surely upcoming third iteration of a worldwide war. After he downs a few bogeys, he checks in on his co-pilot, who seems to be missing. Coincidentally, meaning the phenomena can’t be linked at all, there’s a sequential jumping-scratching noise coming from the passenger bay, forcing Chuck to debate whether or not he should stop playing pretend. At first he decides not to, but his decision quickly reverses itself when the craft rumbles and entire torrents of air start rushing all around him. The words fuck and Oh are queued on repeat in Chuck’s head as he attaches a safety leash to his belt and proceeds with an investigation.

Rounding the corner, Chuck sees the one thing, the single set of circumstances that he was hoping to avoid seeing: the cat somehow opened one of the doors separating the inside of the craft and a forty-thousand-foot drop. Chuck’s gaze meets The Mongrel’s once more; the two silently stare at each other for seconds on end as oxygen, belongings, and an assortment of herbs fly out into the open sky. The suited man, securely attached to his ship and unable to walk any further, can only manage a single plea, two groveling words as a solitary tear forms and is immediately whisked away from the corner of his eye.

“Please… don’t.”

With a flick of his tail, The Mongrel jumps from the aircraft like the caution he threw to the wind all those incarnations ago. Chuck leaps but is immediately caught by his belt like a pissed off dog on a chain, sending his face directly into the plush carpet lining the floor of the vessel. He peers up and tries to catch a glimpse of the flying cat, but the little black furball has already shrunk out of view, his very being merged with the forests below.

Chuck, feeling emotionally devastated, manages to shut the door and regain stable footing, which he quickly abandons as he collapses back to the floor in a fit of rage, sadness, and an overwhelming need to not feel anything right now. When the rage has passed, Chuck gets up and hobbles to the front seat, engaging hyperflight. A joint is pulled from his suit pocket – the sheer astonishment over the fact that it survived the door’s opening allowing our catless hero to feel a tiny bit less miserable. He makes it to Oregon before he can even find a lighter, but not to worry: Emilio’s waiting for Chuck at the airport, and he’s got it covered.

The Mongrel has achieved emancipation. Thank you.

Fin


The Mongrel Dashes

Overcome with jubilation, dopamine, and an increasingly intense Psilocybin high, Chuck sprints up the foothill. His giddiness is cut short about seven steps later, however, when his bare foot splatters a fresh, steaming pile of nasty.

“Oh come the fuck on now, really? REALLY WITH THI–” sniff “Wait, I know that smell.”

Chuck quickly swings his head back and forth, surveying the area until he spots a very familiar tuxedo-furred furball staring him down from up the path. The Mongrel dashes, Chuck following him all the way to the mountain’s peak, the Mushrooms allowing him to ignore the screams for help his legs are trying to send to his brain. Upon reaching the summit and striding over the arrow-shaped rock that he doesn’t even notice, Chuck comes to a pastureish clearing with a cabin set back near the treeline. It is here that he shares a startled look with a curly haired hippie sitting lotus in the grass.


Hello Commons, this has been the third story from the fourth chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

A Shame Indeed – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (9/82)

Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 2
December 2nd, 2007
A Shame Indeed

Louie

A loud pounding noise echoes throughout the hollow household of Greg and Patty Clarke, the entire foundation seeming to shake with each forceful impact. John, the eldest son, slowly opens his eyes, half expecting a raging gorilla to come barging through his bedroom door. He then realizes said door is open, which can only mean the knocking is coming from the front door. And that he must get up. Spectacular. After wondering who is tryna bother his family so early in the morning, he shakily rises to his feet and rummages around his room for some clothes without beer stains soaked into the threads. In his haste he finds only a long-sleeve thermal shirt and a pair of Neye’ke competitive running shorts; if it was perfect for answering the door for the pizza man last night, it’s perfect for answering the door this morning.

John fully grasps the brutal extent of the hangover he’s harboring as he saunters out of his bedroom and catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror hanging in the hallway. The mere image of his own bloodshot eyes is enough to trigger the all too familiar headache and the gut-wrenching nausea at the same time, causing him to flirt with the great idea of taking a tumble down the stairs. Hangovers have an inconvenient tendency to sneak up on John, but most days our boy buckles down and handles them like a champ. Today is not most days, however, so he retreats to the bathroom to splash cold water on his face before continuing along to the bass drum convention being held downstairs. The pounding only gets louder as he nears the front door, and John notices his headache pulsing in rhythm with the knock. If John wasn’t in such mind-numbing agony, he would probably really appreciate that.

Upon unlocking and opening the door, John finds who else but his neighbor, a kindly old geezer named Louie. Louie has a wife named Roberta who he’s been with, faithfully, for fifty-five years; Louie is the type of old man that John aspires to be one day.

“Goodmorning Louie, how’s it goin’ m’man?” John says as he removes a knuckle-full of crust from his eye. “What can I do for you?”

“Good morning John. I’m doing wonderfully, how are you?”

“I’m doin’ okay. I have a bit of a headache but I’m hangin’ in.”

“A headache, eh?” Louie asks with a chuckle. “Probably from all that loud music you boys were listening to until all hours of the night!”

“Yeahhhh sorry about that, I had a little party last night. Parents are out of town, they’ll be back sometime later today though.”

“Oh it’s okay, John,” Louie says, patting our hungover hero on the shoulder. “You just have to learn to be a bit more considerate is all. You and your brother. Speaking of which, I also brought over this flying disk,” as he reveals a flying disk. “I think he accidentally threw it over my fence the other day. He really must be more careful you know, it almost hit Roberta right in the head when she was outside gardening!”

Louie holds the disk out in his hand but keeps a tight grip on it for a few seconds when John goes to grab it. If John would look up, he’d catch quite a chilling stare coming from Louie’s suddenly beady eyes. However he does not, instead focusing on the disk and assuming his hungover brain is playing tricks on him. In an attempt to appear normal, John keeps his stationary hold on the disk until Louie eventually lets go. After studying the mundane object for a few moments, John casually tosses it onto the floor behind him.

“I’ll make sure I hit him on the head with it when I see him.”

This makes Louie snicker. “All right, well, not too hard I hope! I’ll leave you be now, tell the folks I said hello when they return.”

“I think I can manage that,” John replies with a smile. “See ya later Louie. It was good talkin’ to ya, man.”

John closes the door. Overwhelming feelings of gratitude rush him as the house grows silent once more. All John has left to do is go back upstairs and crawl into his nest, where he can continue sleeping off his fantastic night – and less than fantastic hangover – for the rest of the morning. He slowly climbs up the stairs, the nausea strangely getting worse with each slight increase in altitude. Or, maybe he stopped paying attention to it during the talk with Louie and he’s just now becoming aware of it again. He decides the argument with himself is null and beelines into the bathroom to throw up when he gets to the top of the stairs.

After washing the taste of digested food out his mouth, changing out of his vomit-covered morning attire, and chugging two bottles of water to purify, John puts on the first pair of sleeping pants he finds in his bombsite of a bedroom and crawls into bed. Within minutes he hears the front door open and at least six legs run into the house. This can mean one of two things: the house is being burgled and John is probably going to get murdered by intruders, or, his brother had gotten home from walking the dog. As much as John wishes for the former, he chooses the more realistic viewpoint and uses his pillow to muffle any and all ruckuses in the house from invading his earholes.

The pillow seems to do the trick; John’s out like a dead lightbulb in seconds. He daintily drifts back into his dreams.

Play It Safe

A loud thump erupts from downstairs, stirring John in his sleep. The alarm clock reads 1:30, and judging by the total lack of light coming through his open windows, John deduces that he slept through the day. He fumbles around trying to feel for the light switch next to his bed, taking him far longer to locate it than he will ever admit. Sitting on the side of the bed, feet dangling over the carpet like hanged men from the gallows, John waits in the silence, blocking out the dull ringing in his ears to listen for any more strange noises of the night. A few minutes go by with no audial stimulation, and just as John so much as brushes his fingertip against the light switch, another thump echoes through his house and freezes him still like a wax dummy.

One loud sigh later, this groggiest of twenty-somethings stands up, his feet somewhat sinking into the aged carpet. Slowly walking across his room, John’s heart begins to beat faster and faster as his mind comes closer and closer to piecing together what might be going on. He puts his hand on the door handle and hears a barrage of thumps, this time coming from the hallway right outside his door. Then something makes contact with the door from the other side, scaring John not only out of his wits, but also out of the grip he held on the knob. He quickly steels his nerves and opens the door, fully expecting some kind of mix between a murderer and a thief, only to find his lovable beagle Spike laying at his feet. ‘Aww, poor guy,’ John thinks to himself while reaching down to pet his puppy pal. ‘Must have had a nightmare and ran into the wall again.’

After the impromptu pet therapy session, Spike hauls tail back downstairs, and John takes a stroll over to the bathroom. There he proceeds to ruin everything for hours to come in the matter of a few minutes. After a flush, and then a courtesy flush for good measure and good manners, John leaves the war zone a hero and backtracks to his room so he can finally catch slumber, although he has a funny feeling he’ll be woken up again.

Something seems off to our dear, tired John though; something about the dimly lit hallway is different than it was before he went into the bathroom. He stands there puzzled for what feels like hours, only to realize his brother’s bedroom light has been turned on. ‘What is he still doing up, it’s a Sunday night,’ he thinks to himself before shambling down the hallway like a zombie hungry for the flesh of the light switch. John elects to play the good brother and simply reaches in to turn off the lights without looking in to see whatever Jason is up to. He lets out a “Goodnight, kid,” and gets only silence in reply. When he turns around to go back to his room, he notices that someone has apparently turned on the kitchen light downstairs, too. John lets go of the controls and his mild anxiety takes over – now it really seems like someone is trying to goof him in the worst of ways.

Deciding to play it safe, John opts to head back into his room and lie down on his soft memory foam mattress, pulling the covers up to his head. He figures that dying in his sleep is definitively better than being killed whilst he’s awake, so he sees sleep as his only legitimate option. Right as John is in the middle of questioning the morbidity of his own sense of humor, he hears what he assumes is the bathroom door shutting in the hallway as some light pollution leaks in through the crack under his door before vanishing. Luckily for our young hero, this distraction proves to be enough to end his previous thought process, and he gently drifts off to sleep.

A Cold Monday Afternoon

It’s a cold Monday afternoon in December; the ominous gray clouds above the town had opened up earlier in the morning to relinquish a joyous mix of ice, rain, and snow upon the unsuspecting population. Hours of exposure to the pitter-patter of precipitation was enough to wake Louie up, his old body creaking as loud as the floorboards as he stands, gathering himself. Something succulent catches his nose and he can only hope the mouth-watering aroma he’s smelling is, in fact, Roberta’s famous bacon and eggs as he proceeds to search for his fuzzy slippers. Truthfully, they’re a little too fuzzy and sweaty for Louie’s taste, but he got them from his adorable grandchildren Samuel and Jackson, so he treasures them immensely anyway.

“Good morning, my love!” exclaims Louie as he struts into his kitchen, hugging his wife from behind. It is only then that he looks outside and sees the flashing red and blue lights. “Honey, they’re not at Greg and Patty’s house, are they? What on Earth happened?”

“Go turn on the telly in the other room, it’s all over the news, dear. Greg and Patty… and both of their sweet kids, they’re all… they were all… oh, I can’t even bring myself to say it!” Roberta puts her arm across her forehead as if she is going to faint, but quickly composes herself. “It’s a shame, Louie; it’s a damned shame!”

Louie is already in the living room with the television tuned to the local news channel, and there it is: Family of four found (by the local mailman) dead and buried in their own backyard. The reporter begins going over theories of what may have happened, but not before reading a very clear disclaimer stating that he is sharing the speculative thoughts of the news station and not of the police. Louie reminisces on the news-reported incoming alien invasion incident that swept his town in fear a few years back and chuckles to himself. The reporter goes on to report the most likely scenario in which these heinous acts were committed under would be a triple-murder-suicide, considering the husband’s slit wrists with a matching knife found inside his unfilled grave. Every other family member seemed to have sustained blunt force trauma to the head.

“Oh dear!” Louie exclaims, closing his eyes and shutting off the television immediately after hearing such gruesome, foul language. “Roberta, let me hold you. This is an utter tragedy, even worse than the flooding of old Skunks!”

After eating breakfast together, the couple reluctantly turns the news back on as to update themselves on their neighbor’s situation. As the screen boots up, they catch the tail end of an update stating the now family-less dog has been found safely locked in the upstairs bathroom, with a full bowl of food and water no less. The sad couple then learns the police ruled the case a triple-murder-suicide, just as the reporter predicted, surprisingly enough. They were also made aware of the memorial service being held later in the day, after the storm passes. Louie and Roberta collectively decide to go to the service, as they had a very close relationship with Greg and Patty. It would be the right thing to do.

The Driver’s Seat

The storm overstays its welcome above the town, finally dissipating around half past seven, delaying the memorial service until eight o’clock sharp. As Roberta steadily makes her way out the door and into their car, she calls out to Louie to hurry up, refusing to be even a moment late.

“I’m coming, woman. I just need to find my shoes!” he shouts back, hoping to push his wife’s buttons to lighten the mood a little. After looking through his closet multiple times all to no avail, Louie finally decides to search the hallway closet for his dress shoes. This attempt proves successful, as he locates his trusty pair of shiny black Chaps right next to a pair of damp, muddy boots. Louie grabs the shoes and takes them to the bed to carefully slip ‘em on his sleepy feet, tying only the most graceful of knots with the laces.

“Here I come, honey!” he yells out the bedroom’s open window before shutting it. “You can start the car if you’d like,” to himself.

Locking the front door before he exits his house, Louie proceeds down the walkway and passes by a rain-washed shovel, the blade standing in a runny puddle of mud, the handle leaning up against his garage, before reaching his car. He opens the door and slides into the driver’s seat, which feels very warm to the touch; he smiles at his wife. She smiles back for a moment before the sorrow and grief take back over.

“Oh Louie, I’m just so broken up. They were such angels, what a shame,” she pouts as she wipes a tear streaming down her face.

Louie reaches over and hugs his frail, dismayed wife with one arm, cuddling her. “A shame indeed, my love.” He gives her a kiss on the cheek before returning his full attention to pulling their car out of the driveway. Louie takes Roberta’s hand and off they drive into the bleak night.

Fin


Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the fourth chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

The Legend Of Tiny Tim – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (8/82)

Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 1
March 6th, 1987
The Legend Of Tiny Tim

That’s The One

“Jym’bah-k, the sun approaches the horizon. I really must get going. The boy why stowed away with me, where is he?”

“You mean,” with one bushy eyebrow raised, “your son?”

Yes! that’s the one. Where did it run off to?”

Smoke And Ash

From within his cavern he hears it – the whisper, the cackling, the pollutant mouth noises of the Hairlessfut. Darkness surrounds him inside his home; he wades through it until he can feel the cool breeze of the mountains whipping across his weathered face. As the smell of the forest mixed with a slight hint of smoke and ash graces his nostrils, he knows what he must do. With a leap and a grasp or two, he begins to ascend the mountain.

Intelligent Ape Creatures

Where indeed. Off in the jungle, out of both eye- and earshot of their respective fathers, a young Charlie and Tim-nah’tee sit upon the bank of a river, casting their lines in hopes of catching something fine. The water is crystal clear, the current the only hindrance in the two friend’s search for river fish, visually speaking. A butterfly with iridescent violet wings flutters by before landing on Tim-nah’tee’s furry head; there it sits undisturbed until he lifts his pole behind his head and casts, startling the insect into fluttering off to a patch of red, purple, and orange flowers rooted a few feet away. Charlie, eyes caught by the beautiful little flutterby much unlike the fish in the river by their bait, sets down his pole. He leans over and reaches for the thatch catch basket, looking inside only to find it utterly empty. He lets out a sigh, feeling a large hand pat him on the back not even an inhale later.

“Do not worry Hairlessfut, there will be plenty of fish to catch next time.”

“I know… that’s why I sighed,” mumbles Charlie, eyes trained on the water babbling by below them.

“Oh? But we had a wonderful day Charlie, even though the fish didn’t bite. We’ll do it again when you come back next week… you do wish to return, don’t you?”

Charlie folds his arms, the sleeves of his littleman suit creasing. “Yes, more than anything, Tim. I don’t want to have to come back though, I want to live with you guys. I love it here, this island is so incredible, so magical… my home is jus–”

“Your home is your home, Hairlessfut. It is important for you to go back to it. Come, the sun is nearing the horizon; soon we won’t be able to find our way back.”

“Is that really such a bad thing?”

“That depends… can you kill a spotted nightprowl with your bare hands and a fishing pole?”

“Um… no, I don’t think I could.”

Tim-nah’tee smiles. “Me either, so we’d best get a move on!”

Young Charlie returns the smile as the ‘Futs stand and proceed back towards the village, the largest coastal settlement, nay, the only settlement on the entire Isle of Fut. The island, coincidentally shaped like a foot complete with five increasingly smaller islets where the toes would be, is something of a well-kept secret; only about ten humans across the surface of Earth know of its existence. A tropical paradise akin to the Galapagos Islands due to the uniquely evolved flora and fauna, this island has been separated from the rest of the world ever since its conception in the early days of the cataclysm that gave life to what we know as Planet Mediocrity. A thick fog emanates from the ocean in a ring around the island, merging with the clouds above and becoming one, giving off the appearance of a monumental never-ending storm, a trick of the light that couldn’t be more misleading if it tried. The majority of aeronauts are afraid to fly anywhere near the supposed monsoon, let alone through it; in fact, only one human’s ever had the balls, funding, and influence to pilot a plane into the plume of water vapor until he punched through to the other side. Shortly after realizing what he’d discovered, the man devised a plan to assemble a crew and sail a ship to the shores of the mysterious island, hoping to raid and pillage all the oddities, resources, and whatever else the cherry island had to offer them. It was the man’s destiny; if God didn’t want him to rape the island, why’d He let him find it?

His crew was comprised of ten men, including himself. The mates were all trained in multiple forms of martial arts, survival, sharp and blunt weapon combat, as well as attaining mercenary-level aptitude with firearms and explosives. The mates were more than well equipped to overcome any challenges or obstacles waiting for them in the underbrush of the lush jungle… is what they thought, at least. There was one detail, one tiny little asterisk the cabal of conquistadors did not account for that threw a rather large monkey wrench into the metaphorical nuts of their plan – the race of eight-foot-tall intelligent ape creatures that call the island home.

Two return trips and a sunny day later, the seaborne aeronaut is somewhat patiently waiting on the beach for the current form of his sperm to come wandering out of the jungle so they can get back on the water already. ‘That damned child.’

Like two slow-moving bats out of hell, Charlie and Tim-nah’tee emerge from the forest, fishing poles in hand and an empty catch basket balanced atop the latter’s head. The boys approach their father figures, their smiles returned by one of the adults whilst the other holds his maw in a stern scowl. Upon seeing the emptiness of the basket, Magnus grows even further unimpressed and leaves the group to prep the ship for the journey home. In the midst of saying his goodbyes, Charlie hears his father calling to him with a certain get the fuck over here tone in his yells, inspiring a skip in the boy’s step. The Quatchfuts watch him go, waiting for their moment.

The GMS Horgan, a wooden seafaring masterpiece reminiscent of the eighteenth century complete with elegant exterior metalwork and fourteen or some odd sails crafted from a mixture of the finest hemp and flax, had landed on the shores of the Isle of Fut early this morning for the third time in far too short an amount of time. As the Horgan prepared for landfall, the elders had convened and the tribe had spoken; now, Jym’bah-k is forced to throw himself over a most decadent handrail after climbing the damp and slippery exterior of the boat in order to deliver the news to the captain, the very captain whose quarters is all the way across the massive barnaclish deck.

One unanswered knock on the door and he’s inside, greeted by none other than an empty desk and the stench of stale burnt tobacco. The old sage looks around and spots two chairs against the wall next to him. Sitting down on one and a half of these chairs, Jym’bah-k patiently waits until he hears the approaching weighted footsteps of a human in charge. Said human, slightly red in the face, is quite startled when he sees his slightly crouched visitor, but he quickly settles himself into an eerie state of calm when Jym begins relaying the message from the tribe.

Quite bluntly, Jym-bah’k states that Magnus is never to return to the island. Not only that, but any craft bearing his name shall never breach the fogwall again, lest it be swallowed up by the as of yet unevoked Wrath Of The Sea. The reason? The impurity of the black hole that is Magnus’s heart is dangerous to the Quatchful population of the island, especially so towards the impressionable Youngfut. Also, the very existence of the Hairlessfut is already raising a lot of existential questions amongst the tribe’s youngers that the elders just aren’t ready to answer yet; exile is really the best course of action for everyone involved.

Magnus tries to offer the ape sage currency, power, technology, weapons, human women, anything and everything he can think of to change the Quatchfut’s mind, but Jym’s whistle stays dry. So dry, in fact, that he simply relays the message a second time in the exact same tone before turning around and heading towards the exit. A flicker of hope is lit deep within the bowels of Magnus when the apeman turns around at the door, but it’s quickly extinguished when he’s told that his son Charlie is more than welcome to return, but only when he’s able to make the voyage by his own terms.

Unable to keep up the threateningly calm mask that he wears, Magnus storms across the captain’s quarters and slams the splintery old door with the force of a hurricane, clipping Jym’bah-k’s ass as he slowly walks out. Sounds of a muffled tantrum can be heard erupting from the quarters as Jym begins to search the vessel’s upper deck for young Charlie, the sage going as far as asking for help from Magnus’s crew members. Unfortunately though, the ship begins to depart before the boy can be found, forcing Jym’bah-k to trust that Magnus will be honest and relay the message in full.

Jym leaps from the stern of the ship and lands on his beach with a tumble, damp sand caking his fur like mudpies. The tribe joins the weathered Jym’bah-k in watching the soppy carbuncle of a thousand chopped trees sail off into the darkness that forever looms over the horizon. After thoroughly picking the sand from his fur, Jym gathers the rest of the tribe’s elders and they all head to the Mokka Grove to prepare for the upcoming religious ceremony. Back on the ship, a frigid wind of the approaching nightfall blows the fishing hat off of young Charlie’s head.

A knock on the door followed by not only one, but two more knocks startles Magnus from a chairnap. At first he says nothing, struggling to keep his nose breathing from audibly rustling the hairs of his mustache. The fear of his mind beginning to leave him halts its encroachment when the knocking is repeated, followed by the sounds of a boyish whine.

Boiling internally, “Come in already, will you?”

The small, frail little thing enters the room and noticeably puts effort into shutting the door behind it, trying its best to do so silently but failing miserably. Its hairless prepubescent face is covered in a trying, gay little grin that makes Magnus feel both uncomfortable and indescribably disappointed. They just stand there for a moment, the awkwardity building until the man can bare it no longer.

“What do you want then, brat?!”

“Well,” Charlie squeaks, gulping. “I wanted to thank you for taking me futfishing again. I really like these trips we take together.”

Magnus takes a moment to discern the importance, the necessity of this dragged out interaction, but he dredges up nothing. “That’s… great, I guess. Anything else?”

“Um, well… when are we coming back?”

Magnus’s eyes light up like Vietnam War-era napalm strikes. “Did… Jymbo didn’t speak to you before we left, did he? A few of my crew reported that they saw the ape looking for you.”

“No, I went to my room and sat in the corner like you told me to. I must have missed him,” says Charlie in a gradually less audible voice.

Magnus, eyes locked in a squint, says “I see… very well.” He sits up straight and dusts off his already spotless captain’s jacket, then, “Well he and I had a little chat before we departed from the lovely Isle of Fut. Much to our mutual disappointment, he told me that, due to the blasphemously inappropriate relationship between you and Tiny Tim over there, you’re no longer allowed on the island.”

The deafening shockwave resulting from the audible shattering of Charlie’s hopes, heart, and happiness kills the large plesiosaurus trailing behind the boat. The boy stands motionless, tears welling up in their ducts.

“I’m afraid the Quatchfut tribe fears that you’re going to grope the young ape lad inappropriately, and quite frankly, I agreed with them. You never know what a young huma– sorry, Hairlessfut is capable of when it’s not being watched, especially you, Charles. They told me that I can come back whenever I want, and I think I may well return once more. You know, to get that full Isle of Fut experience. Without you, of course, you fucking psychopath.”

Magnus offers his son the most genuine of false smiles until it, er, he leaves the room in a fit of misery. Feeling confident, Magnus spins his chair around and puts his feet up on a cushioned ottoman made of gorilla bones. As if by instinct, he locates a cigar buried underneath a pile of maps and lights that puppy up as he begins pondering his next financial venture. Maybe something with smells or something with hair, who cares; the dollars will flow regardless.

Game Trail

The light of a distant campfire shines like a dim orange star, the forest below appearing to reflect the infinity overhead. He looks up to the moon floating in the heavens above, lighting the valley just enough for his eyes to make out a small foothill near the glow of the fire. A deep breath of cold night air is drawn in and held. Eyelids dominate his vision for a few moments until the air is relinquished, the forest seeming somewhat brighter now. He advances through a game trail and starts down the mountain.

The Isle Of Fut

Right around the arch of the Isle of Fut, hidden deep within the heart of the dense jungle, lies a secret fruit grove. This is the sacred Mokka Grove, birthplace of the Quatchfut tribe’s holy sacrament. Every eight years of a Quatchfut’s life, and once at age twenty, a religious ceremony of sorts takes place in which the Quatch’ and a guide both eat of a Mokka Fruit, the planet’s sole species of psychoactive fruit. The voyagers embark on a tremendous four-hour trip in which their consciousness merges with that of the Universe, giving them the opportunity to learn lessons that cannot be taught in any other way. When they come to, they feel as though their minds have aged for infinite eternities while their bodies have gone untouched by time, only growing slightly hungrier. The ceremony takes place within a cavern dug into a hillside located just a short walk away from the grove. The location of the cave is known only to the elders; it is up to them to guide the Youngfut to their sacred place and teach them the lessons and traditions so the ages-old culture can be passed down and correctly taught to posterity.

Tonight, Jym’bah-k proudly sits across a large stone table from his son in this very cavern, one half of a Mokka Fruit cupped in each of their hands.

Tim-nah’tee watches his father lower his dome and touch the flesh of the Fruit to his forehead. He begins chanting, quietly at first until the reverberations of his whoops and howls begin to shake the plantlife growing through the cave’s walls. Tim takes a good look at the purple flesh of his fruit before touching it to his own forehead and joining his father in the shamanic chanting. A pressure reveals itself between Tim’s eyes as he does this, spreading to his temples as a whirring, rushing feeling overtakes his body. The spirits of the Ancestorfut wake and gather inside the hallowed cavernous temple as the Quatchfut mystics sing the song of their tribe – then, silence. Father and son look up in unison and their gazes meet in a moment of true synchronicity before the fruits are devoured, sweet juice and purple flesh spraying until nothing but the pinkish-white rind falls to the ground as the bodies of the voyagers do the same.

A certain trance sets in as Tim-nah’tee becomes aware of a slow dance of vibrant purple lights taking place within his own mind. This being Tim’s second time venturing into the spirit realm, he is taken immediately, the rest of his world melting away until the last bit of his physical awareness drips off into the nothing in which it floats. Jym’bah-k, being much more experienced in the ceremony of the holy fruit, finds himself reinhabiting his body almost immediately. Even from deep within the temple, the old sage can feel the rapidly approaching shockwaves, can smell and the faint odor of chemicular combustion that’s punching its way through his jungle, one ancient tree at a time.

A Bottle Of Pink Juice

At first, there is nothing; no lights, no darkness, simply the numb perception of a sole pocket of nothingness that dwarfs the scope of Existence itself. A single cosmic light appears, orange around the outside with a glowing scarlet core. Another appears, this one green and purple, and then another, and even one more, all the colors of the visible spectrum manifested into glowing orbs of light off in the distance. A sky full of stars flashes into existence as the perception, the spirit, floats through the kaleidoscopic space, seeing everything and nothing at the same time. It approaches a small rock topped with a purple-skinned ape sitting upon a gilded throne, a spear held in one hand and a bushel of fruit in the other. The ape hurls the fruit into The Void and begins to devour the spear, a torrent of red liquid oozing from its smiling maw as it feasts.

The bushel scatters and the spirit is drawn to a white fruit. He follows it through the cosmos, passing by a pod of rainbow-skinned whale creatures with seven horns sprouting from each of their tails, a swarm of large metallic beehive structures, and whatever else may currently be traveling through the cosmic realm of Psychedelia, this highest of subjective dimensions. The fruit freely floats about until it finds a planet to merge with, the watery rock embracing it like a mother with open arms.

Following germination, three mighty statues depicting wise old apes sitting cross-legged rise from the soil before animating into three living apes with glowing white eyes. A white-skinned hairless child appears before them, walking out from beneath the surface of a great ocean with bruised skin, three teeth, and a tuft of hair missing from its battered head. The child is taken in by the apes before it is cast back out into Existence, a bottle of pink juice in one hand and a piece of wood with a tree carved into it clamped to the other. The child returns to the ocean as the wise apes return to their pedestals, sinking back into the ground from whence they came.

The Universe begins to fade away now, piece by piece, planet by planet, star by star, until there’s nothing left but nothingness once again. Tim-nah’tee, no longer in spirit form, looks down to see that his body has returned to him. What appears to be a trap door opens before him, releasing a miasma followed by a yellow-furred feline creature with four ears, a single whisker, and two tails with six and a half spots each. The beast floats in the nothingness with Tim-nah’tee as it devours a large rainbow crystal that wasn’t there when the creature first appeared. Tim gazes in lush, astonished amazement as he watches the otherworldly creature twirl about and devour its feast. What can but shouldn’t be described as a few moments of appeased crunching and silence go by before the creature locks eyes with Tim-nah’tee and asks if he’s going to say something.

Telepathically.

At first, Tim fears that the Mokka Fruit destroyed his mind; the voice appears in his mind’s ear without warning and repeats itself several times before giving the young Quatchfut a chance to answer. Stunned, our monkey keeps silent, leaving the leopardish thing to repeat itself again and again, refusing to relent until Tim finally screams out an uproarious, “YES!”

Then, “…What are you?”

The beast tells Tim-nah’tee that it does not matter, and that his first question was very stupid.

“What am I doing here?”

Tim is served a memory of himself eating the Mokka Fruit and becomes aware that the feline being is attempting to communicate telepathically, but Tim just isn’t shuffling the deck. Then, a thought crosses his mind suggesting that the beast only exists right now for a very specific reason: to have this conversation.

“Tell me what you must tell me, spirit,” boldly.

The creature takes another bite out of its crystal and stares at Tim, offering nothing more as a response.

Caving, Tim telepaths, ‘What do you need to tell me?’

Tim wonders why he left out the spirit that time before realizing the creature needs to show him something. Tim wishes the creature would be more forthcoming, which causes it to laugh. A few more moments pass by.

‘What do you need to show me?’

Between them, a large foot-shaped island materializes into The Void. A luminous spark ignites a gigantic fire at the heel of the island, the blaze spreading up along the arch and tracing the entire perimeter. The jungles, and everything within them, are consumed by death and destruction before Tim’s eyes.

Still not quite grasping telepathy, he has a thought asking him whether he wants to live and escape or die with the rest of his kind.

‘I want to live, please!’

The spirit of the nightprowl stares Tim down as the concept of being imbued with a great power floods into his head, a power strong enough to protect his body from the harsh blaze.

A moment of contemplation. ‘Wait, that will not do. I must save my tribe, or at least as many of them as I can. It’s what my father would want, he’s given me everything. Given everything to all of us. I need a stronger power, feline; is it possible?’

The beast holds a soul-piercing stare as clouds of vapor continue to flow out from the existential trap door below it. Sure, it’s possible, Tim-nah’tee learns, but he may not be capable of harnessing such a power. Tim asks again and again, spoon-feeding the apparition its own medicine until the ‘prowl screeches and starts dry heaving. With a sly wink, the spirit of the jungle hacks up a pitch-black blob, lobbing the shapeless form directly at Tim’s head. Upon contact, Tim is forcibly cast backwards into infinity, falling through the canyon of nothingness, questioning the spirit creature that was once before him as he plummets through the abyss.

After an endless eternity of falling, the spirit of Tim-nah’tee crashes back into his body, finding himself alone in a slightly hazy cavern.

Twilight

The Quatchfut adolescent stands up slowly, still very much under the influence of the Mokka Fruit. He looks around the spinning room to see that the walls are squiggling, as if they were composed of snakes and nothing else, as if they’ve been composed of snakes. The flames of the torches sconced along the walls seem to be dancing in perfect unison, each flicker of the fiery ballet bringing their plasmic forms closer and closer to Tim’s essence, his soul is exposed to the world like a heart upon the sleeve of a Hairlessfut. Our boy dashes, crashing through the low hanging vines at the cave’s entrance to find himself greeted by twilight. He looks up into the sky to see a thick, noxious cloud of black smoke emanating up from the jungle, visible only because of the orange glow piercing the canopy.

All around Tim-nah’tee, bathed in the moonlight, the foliage is green and alive. Yet something doesn’t seem right; there’s a smell in the air, a nose-wrinklingly nauseating, but almost pleasant smell of… what? Such a mixture of the familiar and the foreign paired with the Psychedelic compounds cruising through his brain creates nothing but confusion, insecurity, and a calamitous sense of anger and destruction in the mind of young Tim-nah’tee. Without thinking twice, he sprints into the forest, his unusually dark shadow trailing close behind him.

He eyes the blaze before he breeches the clearing of the Grove. A towering inferno the likes of which is feared by Dante himself stands before the young Quatchfut, engulfing all but four of his tribe’s miracle trees. What were once tall, strong towers of age-old life are new being reduced to nothing more than charcoal and soot, one by one, to be swept away by a gust of wind in a matter of days. A fire, just like the one currently consuming his home, ignites within the broken heart of Tim-nah’tee. He howls into the night, WHOOPs and screams, tears pouring down his face only to be evaporated before they can fall by the heat of this confounded conflagration. The entire religious side of Tim’s life is being incinerated before his eyes, and by whom? Who in their right mind could commit such an evil, ghastly act against all that is good and living?

Tim’s screams are returned by two creatures at the other end of the Grove. He looks forward with his saucer-sized pupils and spots two soot black bipedal things, coated in fire, screaming and howling and heading right for him.

‘Of course,’ Tim thinks to himself, balling his fists and preparing for battle. ‘The demons have returned for my homeland…’

Demons Sent From Another Dimension

What was once considered Quatchfut society before it was burned to the ground by jealous outsiders was never a very superstitious civilization. Parents did not lie to their young about witches hiding out in the woods or about goblins and gremlins that eat naughty little children in order to scare them into acting right; they simply taught their offspring the correct way to live. That being said, they did have one story that was passed down from generation to generation about life before the species had found their home on the Isle of Fut. In the olden days which followed the Zeroc exodus and the hard reset of humanity, the Quatchfut sought shelter underground. They found it, as the Earth is hollow, and you know what else they found? A fierce subterranean race of bipedal reptile creatures who called themselves the Klorveckx. These monsters believed in servitude and punishment rather than love and freedom, and they enslaved the Quatchfut race for as long as they could – that is, until the Quatchfut figured out how to escape from the dastardly realms of Inner Earth.

The thing about the Klorveckx, though, is that they’re about as intelligent as they are misguided; at some point in the convoluted past of the species, they genetically modified themselves to be born with totally fireproof scales that excrete an extremely combustible oil, which enabled them to set themselves on fire as a combat tactic. Whenever a group of the stinking, hairy Quatchfuts got too rowdy or weren’t working hard enough, the bipedal, tailless lizardmen would set themselves ablaze and grapple with the apes, often leaving their victims with massive burns and infections, if they lived through the encounter at all. This was all at a time when the Quatchfut’s intelligence hadn’t been fully developed, you see, so they listened when the Klorveckx said that the burning monsters were actually demons sent from another dimension to wreak havoc on them for not serving their masters well enough. They listened every time.

Today, this story has been reduced to a myth, a faded memory that none of the remaining members of the currently dwindling Quatchfut population was ever made to endure. However, when under the influence of the Mokka Fruit, up means down and two plus two equals the rings around planet Saturn, leaving a lot of room for misinterpretation of perceived events; in this case, Tim-nah’tee witnesses two large creatures blitzing towards him, two monsters covered head to toe in flames, and he decides right then and there that the Klorveckx demons have returned for him and his tribe.

Sand And Water

‘… and now they must pay for what they’ve done.’

Imbued with the power of the cat spirit’s hairball, Tim-nah’tee leaps forward and grabs the leg of one incoming demon, slamming the blaspheme to the ground. Tim climbs on its back and lifts his fists, bringing them down with the force of a thousand meteor strikes over and over until there is nothing left in the soil but a skull and a backbone. Using this to his advantage, Tim grabs the base of the spine and stands up, locking eyes with the other demon. As if he was holding a medieval flail, Tim reels back and whips the skull of his deceased foe into the skull of his animated foe, both skulls exploding into a billion burning bits and pieces on contact. Tim-nah’tee spits and pounds his chest before the gravity of the situation bares its weight on his shoulders: with the short amount of time he spent fighting, not only have the walls of fire began closing in around him, but his hair is also beginning to smoke. It will combust soon; Tim has two options: tear through the miles of smoldering jungle in front of him and reach his village, or take a detour to the shore and circumnavigate the blaze.

Considering the fact that sand and water don’t burn nearly as well as jungle burns, Tim trudges into the incinerator of a forest and bobs and weaves his way back to the beach, dodging fiery bits of vines and bounding over every burning bush he comes across. The sand at the end of the jungle is beginning to conglomerate into a liquid, glassy substance from the pure heat of the island-wide fire, catching Tim by the foot and force-feeding him a mouthful of sand. His muffled scream, accompanied by the unbridled, wretched pain, is the only thing, the only sensation that keeps him conscious long enough to drag himself into the ocean, the salty water extinguishing his burning coat and washing the sand from his mouth. On the dark side, this instant transition from unbearable heat to chilled ocean water saps Tim’s energy and consciousness, leaving him to float alone not only on the cold ocean, but also in an emotional stew of rage, sadness, confusion, despair, and fucking rage.

When he comes to, the fire has all but died down and the island, the only home Tim has ever known, is entirely reduced to rubble.

Gingerly, the last of the Quatchfut tribe drags himself out of the ocean. He attempts to stand up but falls right back down into the sand, the thin layer of ash topping it dirtying what remains of Tim’s fur. He stands himself up and hobbles down the shoreline towards his village, or at least, whatever’s left of it. The moon is approaching the horizon when he reaches his familiar section of beach, the sun’s reflected light providing our fallen hero with enough luminescence to see that he’s far too late. Charred corpses of the Youngfut and the Elderfut are scattered among heaps of ash, a once thriving village utterly decimated. Just as Tim-nah’tee is about to embrace his deep, bottomless sadness, a sharp pain strikes him in the neck, and he falls to the ground. Right before he fades into darkness, he makes out the silhouette of a sole Hairlessfut approaching him from the ruins of the village.

Coyotes

Stepping only on rocks and fallen logs, he slowly creeps through the forest towards his destination. His body is warm though the air is cold. His mind races as his legs carefully carry him over hill after hill. He spooks a band of coyotes huddled together at the summit, their frightened yelps creating a moment of silent anticipation among the Hairlessfut at their campground. They are completely unaware of him, but he can see them all. Perfect.

Tiny Tim

“Is it awake yet?”

“Dunno. I keep throwin’ bananas at it but it won’ fuckin’ move.”

“A’ight, hold on. Lemme zap it.”

BZZZT “GRRAAAAAHHHHHH!”

The two men exclaim their joy in unison.

“Ayyy, there ya go! Wake up bigfoot, it’s the last day. Clean up crew ain’t comin’ ‘til least nightfall, you got one more performance before daddy’s boys come back for your hairy ass. So, yeah, wake the fuck up,” the human condescends upon Tim as he slaps the shock baton in his hand.

A few days ago, a groggy, stiff Tim-nah’tee was woken by a very turbulent rumbling in complete darkness. His foot stung, his head was pounding, and his dark side was desperately trying to regain control, but the body was still far too weak. Within a few moments of waking, that odd, sharp pain bit into his neck and he was out cold, yet again. This cycle of waking to darkness, followed by a darting neck pain tackling him back into sleep repeated itself at least a dozen times before Tim finally awoke to a set of metal bars. The cage was not large; it gave our Quatch just enough room to stand up and bump his head on the ceiling.

The cage stood, and still stands, in the middle of a large red and white striped circular tent, keeping Tim alone with his very dark thoughts until the two men, and I use that term lightly, appointed as his trainers paid him a visit. They taught him how to fear a shock baton and how to do tricks in exchange for measly scraps of food and water, spending an entire twenty-four hours of life they’ll never get back juicing the patchy-haired biological miracle of a creature with electricity to get their jollies and payslips. The next day, Tiny Tim performed for a crowd of fourteen humans. The day after, six. Today is the final day of the one and only Skunksville Permanent Circus Attraction, and you better believe Mister Bahrleigh is going to get as much of a return on his investment into the ape man as possible. With only a few hours until showtime, Tim realizes that he needs to figure his own way out of this demented situation.

Shortly after the trainers leave the tent, the one and only Mister Bahrleigh waltzes into the center ring. A short and stout man clad in vertically striped pants with a puffy blouse and a top hat that would make Abraham Lincoln want to go to the theatre, he steps forward, cane in hand, towards Tim’s prison. The two lock eyes before Mister Fancyfuck looks his newest attraction up and down for the first time, chuckling to himself as he turns back to face the entrance. The man offers some obnoxious remarks about the blasphemy of the valley town being turned into a reservoir before spinning back around and slamming his cane into the cage. Tim doesn’t even blink, instead leaning forward and gripping the tenuous bars with his massive hands. The rage boils, but the pot has a lid.

His face within breathing distance of Mister Bahrleigh’s, Tim says, through a mouthful of clenched teeth, “Release me, you pitiful abomination of aged flesh and regretted life choices.”

Bahrleigh stares for a moment, then, “You… you could talk this whole time?”

Tim is silent, speaking volumes through a hot puff of air from his nose. He removes his hands from the now slightly bent bars and sits back down, legs folded.

Bahrleigh audibly swallows and slowly backs away, his pupils shrinking down to the size of the point of a freshly sharpened pencil. “I-I-I see. Well, erm, I uh, I would, b-but, I… I misplaced my keys!”

Tim looks up at the geriatric grandmaster with the most uncaring expression ever expressed on a face, bipedal or otherwise.

Remembering that he has a train ticket to Anywhere, Buthere to buy, the proprietor of Skunksville’s most permanent circus quickly evacuates the premises. A few moments later, the sound of rubber tires peeling out of a dirt parking lot brings a small grin to Tim’s otherwise melancholy face. That was the mastermind keeping him prisoner here? That spindly old yellow-toothed cretin? It really is no wonder why this was their first meeting.

Tim takes a few deep breaths and closes his eyes to meditate. When he opens them back up a few hours later, he’s surrounded by darkness, save for a dim light shining through a small hole poked into the cloth covering his cage. All is quiet; normally before a show starts, Tiny Tim is treated to the neurotic chattering of the audience, their diapers filled with anticipation and the waste products of salty, sugary concession snacks, but today, nothing. They must be doing a dress rehearsal for the final performance, how charming. Tim sits in wait in his cage like a dog in an empty suburban household for what feels like only a few minutes, and then darkness accompanied by a high-pitched noise. A bout of loud tapping follows the screech and a shockingly familiar voice begins to boom on the other side of the pierced veil shrouding Tim in his cell.

“Lady and gentleman, I am obligatorily proud to welcome y’all to the final performance of Bombastic Bahrleigh’s Circ de la Circ! I’m your host, William der Waffe. Since we have such a… sizeable crowd tonight, we’re going to skip right ahead to the final act of our show! Also, everyone else beat feet and you two showed up before I could finish packing, so here we fuckin’ are!”

A hesitant clapping fills the void.

“Aalll right! So, without further ado, I give you…” as he prances over to the center of the ring and grips a corner of the cloth, “Tiny Tim, the real-life bigfoot!”

Will yanks away the old, spotty cover to reveal an empty cage, complete with extensively bent bars on the side facing away from the seats. The audience, a man named Louie and his daughter Daisy, offer nothing more than a confused silence and raised eyebrows. Will would have noticed the missing bigfoot if he had turned around to face what he was introducing, but it’s not his job to do so. He’s the announcer man and the ringmaster, and he hardly gets paid shit as it is.

“This mysterious creature was found by our scrappy, exuberant founder Mister Bahrleigh whilst he was on an expedition deep into the jungles of a long-lost island called Bigfootlandia seven years ago. He single-handedly wrestled this creature into submission, the nutbar, then had him boated into the country and carried by a train right here to Skunksville! Alas though, the train had a tragic accident in Upstate New York and Tiny Tim escaped, cursed to roam the local forests alone for seven long years until he finally found his way back to us. Lady and gentleman, I again give you…”

Will turns around and finally feels the sting of this most prickly of predicaments. “… I… I give y-you… ohhhh fuck me.”

Will’s eyes dart back and forth a few times before his spotlight begins to shake. One audience gasp later and the large contraption comes crashing to the dusty, hayish ground faster than Will can even come to terms with what the hell’s happening right now. Surrounded by darkness, Will’s suddenly sweaty hands fumble around to ready his stun baton and… yikes, that wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say that he never found his stun baton, and when the fallen, broken spotlight flickers back to life a moment later, the two members of the audience are greeted by an empty cage and nothing more.

Louie throws a vice-grip on the back of his daughter’s neck and drags her out of the auditorium, the noises of her kicking and screaming held underwater and drowned by the cacophony of dirt-lot peel-out filling the air for the second time today. A few hours later, when the four members of Horgan’s cleanup crew show up, they find nothing but a flickering stage light and a battered, bloody, empty cage. When the light goes out, only one man escapes.

And the rest, as they say…

Echoes

“…is history. Soon after, the remaining denizens of the sleepy town that was once Skunksville were huffed, puffed, and tossed out of their homes as the valley flooded, creating the Wanapo Reservoir’s little brother, our very own Skunksville Reservoir. They say Tiny Tim escaped into the forests of Quarryville that night, and he’s been here ever since. Allegedly, if you listen really closely out here at night, you can still hear him whooping in the distance, searching for more of his own kind that he’ll never find.”

The crackling of the campfire is met with the cracking open of a can of Pssst Blue Ribbon beer, which is then accompanied by a belch. Tyler rolls his eyes as he takes another swig to recover from Sam’s cheesy story. Jack, on the other hand, is staring wide-eyed at his big brother.

“Does he really live in these woods, Sam? Have you ever seen him back here?”

“Why?” Tyler croaks. “You wanna protect my sister from him? Twerp.”

Jack’s face turns a rosy shade of red that complements the glow of the fire quite nicely. Sam smiles at his little brother before lighting a joint with the campfire and taking a small puff. A distant WHOOP echoes through the night air, widening Jack’s eyes even more. Tyler shoots a nervous glance as Sam, but dude just chuckles and shakes his head.

“See? I told you guys he was real, and now he’s comin’. Just kidding lol, it was probably some coyotes or something. Tyler, pack a bowl, would ya. This jay isn’t going to last much longer, and we have a tent to hotbox. You’re more than welcome to join us inside, Jack.”

“Nah I’m okay, I don’t do that stuff,” defends Jack, lowering his stare to the fire. He’s petrified, and the coyotes can smell his fear.

“Oh, you don’t have to, but suit yourself!”

Sam and Tyler stand and proceed towards the tent, sparking their bowl before they even get inside. As he’s zippering the tent, Sam calls out, “Tell Tim I said hi!”

Jack lasts a few more minutes before petrification turns into fear and the distant yipping of a band of coyotes convinces him to run into the tent at full speed. He busts into the contained cloud of calm giddiness, decreeing that he won’t be getting eaten by any fucking coyotes tonight. Through the ensuing laughter, the tent is zipped shut with the force of a frightened teenager and remains so until the morning.

Off yonder on the foothill, Tim-nah’tee smiles and cups his hands around his mouth, offering the young Hairlessfut one final WHOOP before he begins his trek back to his cave on the other side of Bored Mountain. Once inside, he curls into a ball and falls back asleep to the soothing soundtrack of a pleasant summer’s eve.

Long live the legend that is Tiny Tim.

Fin


Black and Purple Cloaks

I am alone in The Void with one more loose end to tie up; what better a way to tie off a loose end with another end just as untaught?

A puff of smoke appears from within The Void. It clears to reveal a mysterious mystic adorned in black and purple cloaks.

He looks up to me and says, “Finally, you’ve called.”

I have. Listen, you said you didn’t want to be stuck in the branch universes anymore. Well… something was released into the main universe, something dark and very powerful. It came from the gullet of a seventeenth-dimensional cat creature an–

“Ah yes, I believe I’m familiar. We play blackjack and eat toxic berries under the green moonlight every other Twoosday.”

No shit? Invite a brother next time. Anyway, said cat creature expelled something into the body of a Quatchfut; said Quatchfut no longer needs something. Can you remove it and hide it somewhere?

“I certainly hope so, else this may be my execution.”

‘Clever boy,’ I think to myself.

“And where shall I hide your dirtiest of laundries?”

In a bottomlessly deep pit beneath a very specific warehouse. Being yourself, I believe you know of which ‘house I speak.

“I do now… hol’ up. Is this… this isn’t the inspiration behind that whole monkey suit nonsense in that other universe, is it?”

…just do as I say.

“Very well,” with a sinister smile as the cloaked man fades.

A moment later he returns to The Void, silently staring.

What is it?

“When shall I remove this something? The life of the Quatchfut, nay, this entire Universe is a clusterfuck, a dredge to wade through.”

When he escapes the circus, but before he reaches the forest. You know, somewhere along the dash across the lakebed. And make it painless, would ya? The poor bastard’s been through a lot.”

“Indeed. And when shall I stash this something away?”

Immediately. There are plans in store for that ‘house, yes, many plans indeed. Eh, anything else…?

“Yeah, what’s my payment?”

Your… payment? ‘He must be joking.’ You mean other than the fact that you’ll continue to exist here?

“Yes, other than that.”

Well… I can give you… you know what? I don’t even want to spoil it. You’ll play a role in something bigger, how ‘bout that?”

“Deal,” he says. “‘Twas a pleasure, Highest One Writing.”

That is was.

With a puff of smoke he’s gone.

I am alone in The Void.

All is as it should be.


Hello Commons, this has been the first story from the fourth chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Stinking Human – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (7/82)

Universe W-63: Who Are You?
Stinking Human

The Suited Man

A thick cloud of Cannabis smoke wafts up in a wall, dispersed by the rim of the fedora on the suited man’s head. His shoes and the end of his pant legs are caked with mud and sand, his suit is getting uncomfortably humid from the drizzle, and if he has to relight this damned joint one more time, the Universe will never be the same afterwards.

Before him stands a pyramid of sorts composed entirely of pink and purple pudding stones and topped with a rocklet bearing quartz crystals bigger than golf balls. The structure is approximately two and a half feet tall and the ground around it is immensely disturbed, as if a hole was dug and then filled back in. Taking another drag of his left-handed cigarette, the suited man contemplates the meaning of all this; what he’s looking at, why he’s where and when he is, why his suit is so uncomfortable to wear in this weather. He’s pulled into a mental vortex of self-questioning and rabbit hole diving, only to be yanked back out by the sound of a sliding glass door closing shut a ways behind him.

“What in the hell?” he hears, quietly, back by the house. Then louder, “Yo! Who are you?”

He turns and sees a man with what can be described as a lion’s mane of curly brown hair sprouting from his head. He’s dressed in a tie dye shirt and pajama pants. The suited man takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, turning back to face the pyramid. He goes over every conceivable answer to his previous questions and can come to only one realistic possibility, and boy is it a doozy. He then hits the joint and holds the smoke in for far longer than any man should.

The suited man is certain of one thing in this moment, and one thing only: he is about to be thoroughly unimpressed.

“Yo!” yells out the maned man as he walks up the muddy slope to the site of the pyramid. “What are you doing in my back yard, guy?”

The suited man isn’t paying attention to the words being tossed at him; in fact, he can barely even hear them. What makes him aware of the maned man’s presence is the slight hint of body odor that slides its way into the suited man’s DMs as the creature slinks closer and closes the gap. Unable to ignore him any longer, the suited man turns to face his tie-dyed adversary and demands, “And where in the fuck have you been?”

The maned man is taken aback by this accusation, as he hasn’t the faintest idea who this random suitworne man in his backyard could possibly be.

“Uh… excuse me?”

The suited man takes another drag of his joint and holds it in far longer than a normal human would. I feel like he does this to prove something, to make a point, but I’m not quite sure; his intentions are illegible. As he exhales clouds, the suited man chokes out the words, “You heard me, fucko. I’m your old pal, don’t you remember me?”

The maned man studies the strange being that’s been presented before him by a force unknown, entirely unsure of how to feel about this whole situation.

“I bet you’re fuckin’ trying to figure out how to feel about this whole situation. See, that’s gigantic mistake number one,” scoffs the suited man before burning more plant matter. “So, this pyramid. Is there someth– someone buried under there?”

“Uh… well… I guess you could say that, yeah,” mumbles the maned man. His gaze is locked on the crystal crowning the structure.

The suited man politely puffs air out of his noise as an alternative to laughing out loud. “Well then, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m pretty sure I know exactly what’s going on here, too, like, cosmically. Tell me this, maned man: How many full moons have passed since your last bathe?”

The maned man’s demeanor changes a bit after this question; he closes up like a frightened box turtle, never to see daylight again. “Uhh, it’s been a few days, I guess. Or months. Not really sure, to be honest, but. Uh. Who are you?”

The suited man can feel an emotional wall being built and paid for. “Seriously, you dense motherfucker? Chuck! It’s Chuck. Chuck Leary? Did you really forget about silly ol’ suited ol’ me?”

“Chuh… Chuck… Leary? From my… what? That’s, no, that’s really not actually possible. Ohhh Christ I’m hallucinating, oh boy.”

The suited man starts laughing maniacally, and not in a laughing with you kind of way. “Took you long enough, my word. What’s it been since the first black hole, an iteration? Two? I’ll bet you’re high right now, too, you monkey, you stinking human, you absolute stoned ape.”

Confusion clasps ‘round the maned man’s head. “Wh… what? What does that even mean?”

“I’m not talkin’a you, maned man; I’m talkin’a you. Nevermind, the moment passed.” The suited man turns away from the maned man and gazes down at the pyramid, taking another three or so hits from his joint. “How did he die?”

The maned man almost answers straight out, but decides instead to return to his shell. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. There could be treasure or a yoU-eFf-Oh buried under there. For all you know, that pyramid is guarding a secret back entrance to the ancient civilization of Atlantis. Why do you ass–”

 “How did the cat die, homie?” the suited man cuts. The maned man falls, gutted like a fish. “He was your son, tell his story.”

The maned man is quiet for a moment. The sea of clouds filling the sky above him darkened as the conversation between these two men progressed, and at this point, the drizzle’s evolved into a full-blown drazzle. The suited man passes his left-handed cigarette to the maned man who, instead of smoking it, just holds it in his fingers.

“Go on, take a hit. It’ll loosen you up.”

The maned man stares down the joint. “No… I don’t do drugs. I don’t deserve to even try drugs, I’m a failure. How can I reward myself by starting a drug habit if I don’t even have the courage to tell the world about the second book I wrote? How can I smoke drugs when I wrote a self-help book that didn’t blow up overnight? My cat died Chuck, I… I let my cat die… I’m unworthy.”

The suited man processes this for a moment. “Try again.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m not repeating myself. Hit that thing or give it back, my oral fixation is entirely indescribable.”

The joint returns to the suited man, who proceeds to hit the stick like it’s a red-headed stepchild. After a moment of fighting himself internally, the maned man breathes and begins to speak.

“He died from a heart condition, okay? His heart was too big or something, and there was a blood clot, and… his back legs gave out. He was hardly five years old. I saw him drag his broken body across my bedroom floor before I could scoop him up, Chuck, I… the image is burned into my mind. All I can think about is all the times I let him scratch on my door in the morning because I didn’t feel like getting up to feed him, every time I let him outside and forgot, every other terrible thing I ever did to that poor cat.”

“Yeah but, at the same time, you were thoughtful enough to give him a big-ass piece of turkey as a last meal” the suited man reminds, hoping he isn’t asked how he knows that. “Turkey was his favorite, and you knew that. And you gave him some before he was taken to the hospital. You didn’t let him suffer. You did the right thing.”

“I forced him to eat that shitty prescription food he vehemently hated for the last five months of his life.”

“You didn’t fuckin’ know he was going to die, Jesus. You were just doing what you thought was right.”

“I… I kind of did know he was going to die, though. Like, I can’t really put it into words, but I always had a feeling he wasn’t long for this world. And still I neglected him.”

The suited man takes a few more moments to process. “All right, so even if you weren’t consciously bullshitting yourself by allowing yourself to entertain the ridiculous belief that you can see the future, you didn’t neglect your freaking cat. You gave that mongrel the best life he could have possibly lived. Sure, it wasn’t perfect,” he says before looking up and all around himself. “Neither is this freaking Universe. I’ve been to more than one now, and this one gives me a nasty case of the willies, man. You did your best and he lasted four years and change. Accept it.”

“No.”

The suited man topples. “Uh… kay?”

“No, I won’t accept that.” footstomp “That cat was an angel, a guardian angel sent to me by the Universe. He was my best friend! I refuse to accept tha–”

“That you no longer need a guardian angel, and he was doing you a massive fucking favor by staying with you this long, and that his life was fairly traumatic, so as soon as he hooked you up proper, he got the fuck out of NewMann?”

The suited man can tell that his words just fucked up the maned man’s head game. He shrugs and looks back at the grave, thinking back to the time he found a cat lurking around in his garage. Shaking his head, the suited man says, “Christ man, even I got to meet the damned cat. It’s utterly undeniable that you loved him, and that you still love him. What do you have to torture yourself like this for?”

“Because,” the maned man says betwixt fat tears, “I don’t know. I don’t deserve to be happy. This life probably isn’t even real. I’m probably still in a coma from the night I cracked my skull and didn’t immediately get medical attention, this is all just a coma dream. Or better yet, I’m actually crazy and this is all a hallucination, and the camera’s going to start panning out until it shows me strapped in a straitjacket flopping around one of those padded rooms that you’d see in cartoons and shit.”

The maned man lowers his head to let the tears drop directly from his eyes to the ground. Or maybe those are rain drops, it’s quite hard to tell. “I never appreciated this body that I was given, or my family or my friends, or anything. I’ve been depressed since the day I was born, and I use the few humans who actually choose to include me in their lives as an excuse for driving myself to the point of literal insanity. What the fuck do I even matter, like really, who would care if I just died? Right now, somebody could literally sh–”

PSHEW

thump

The suited man blows away the smoke rising from the barrel of his fingergun. A moment later, the maned man passes him back the joint and exhales a large cloud of smoke. Then, he shakes his head in existential confusion.

“Wha… what the fuck just happened?” the maned man attempts to say through numerous gasps for oxygen.

“To quote one of your favorite rap songs – Smoke by Ces Cru, by the way, off Constant Energy Struggles, great fuckin’ album – We’re lovers in the smoke, and we can’t even breathe.

The maned man’s bottom jaw goes slack for a second. “Am… are… do you expect me to get any meaning out of that?”

The suited man takes off his sunglasses, rolls his eyes, and puts his sunglasses back on. “Okay, so you got yourself into a thought spiral that was clearly just diggin’ you deeper into the mindhole you’ve been burying yourself in for the past couple whatever. So, I transformed my thumb and pointer finger into a railgun and blew your fucking head off in order to set your tormented spirit free from the timeline you were stuck in, which may or may not exist anymore. I don’t really know, or care, to be honest with you. Anyway, so you, in your pure, undiluted spiritual form – said form being a formless interdimensional geometric energy body of a dubious consciousness level – was immediately summoned back to an alternate reality that I was simultaneously existing in where, instead of holding my joint like a bitch, you hit it and just now passed it back to me. For a split second, your consciousness was in between bodies-slash-universes-slash-timelines, but you’re back now. Makes sense, right? Let me answer for you – no, it doesn’t make any sense, because I just made it all up. Sometimes, things just kinda happen. Go with it.”

The maned man’s bottom jaw goes slack for a second. “Am… are… do you expect me to get any meaning out of that?”

“You… you just copied and pasted that exact line… jeez. Okay,” mocks the suited man before smoking the rest of his joint. “Oh word, that thing disappeared on me. I was starting to think that it wouldn’t go out.” The suited man brushes a glovestroke of water off his suit and it’s immediately replaced by more raindrops. Taking a few deep breaths, he turns around and starts walking towards the street.

“Wait, Chuck!” calls out a distraught the maned man. “Where are you going? What am I supposed to do now??”

“Well,” the suited man says as he stops in the trenches he builds with each footstep. “For one, you could do me a favor.”

The maned man hesitates, but then figures, ‘What the hell, why not?’ “Okay, what do you need?”

“For you to finish that stupid novel you’ve been trying to write and let my universe just fucking exist.”

“Wait, what?”

The suited man treks back across the backyard. “You heard me. You need to let my universe exist again. It’s been swallowed by a black hole, what, three times in a row now? I don’t know how you did it, don’t know how you continue to do it, but it needs to fuckin’ stop, dude.”

The maned tries to break eye contact but he can’t, even through sunglasses the suited man’s stare holds firm. “You… you mean… my literary universe is… real…?”

“Literar… what the fuck? No, fucking… okay, let me explain this real easy. We all live in Existence, it’s this big clusterfuck of energy, and we’re all connected to it in ways that I don’t understand enough to postulate on correctly. I just know we’re all plugged into it like a big surge protector. So, you live in this Universe, whatever you want to call it, and I live over in my universe, let’s call it Doubleyou’Dash Twenty-Twenty, okay? Ya with me? So, see, for some fucked up reason that I don’t even wish I could understand, you’ve somehow tapped into my universe. Your consciousness bears witness to the events, you can even control the existential flow, and you do it all by writing.”

“…Naaahhhhh, that just… that sounds kinda crazy, like, I feel like you’re just a hallucination, and my dream of writing a novel is just supposed to be symbolic of my cat, and when he died, so did my happiness and my dreams.”

The suited man looks around like he’s being pranked. “What the fuck are you talking about? The only crazy part about any of this is the fact that you’re doubting the reality in front of you, which is me, by the way. Hey there. Notice me. Look, you wrote a couple books, right?”

“How do you know that?!”

“Because you said so before, that you didn’t have courage or whatever. Look. When you started writing your little stories way back when, you started something, kid. You interfered, you became something of a cosmic, existential interloper. You started some shit with my universe, hell you made my best friend destroy it three times. Or maybe you didn’t, maybe he just pulled that shit for the hell of it, but regardless, usually it just starts right back up and I find myself living my life again with a vague sense of having done it all before; but, it still hasn’t started, and I know it hasn’t started because instead of waking up there right now like I normally would, I’m here in your Universe, Mister acHe Oh Doubleyou, which tells me that something’s up. Plus, we ran into each other when you were writing the second one, remember?” ‘Wait, how do I know that?’

“We ran into… what? Oh… oh my fuck, that was fucking you, at the Walmart! Jesus, you… are… are you Jesus?

“No you assfuck, I’m Chuck. And you need to fix my universe so I can go back there and continue living in it.”

“Dude, but I can’t just fix your whole universe, my life is going on a different path now. I write nonfiction books, they’re abo–”

“Fuck you and your asinine nonfiction books, nobody wants to read about an egotistical shithead who writes about his own life like it fuckin’ matters. Besides, even you think your books are shit the way they are, and for all you know, I’m appearing here to realign you with your purpose in life. So you’re going to take your books, okay, and you’re going to rewrite them and present them as satire, as that’s an easy thisisfake label to slap on – fiction is just more interesting than nonfiction, that’s just what it is, plus, all fiction is based on reality anyway, and reality isn’t even that real. Might as well call it like it is. Yeah, yeah this is good, you’ll do a trilogy about how a writer struggles to write anything good until the third book where he delves into fiction and gets super successful. The story will be told through the books he writes, and in the third one – the book about my universe, if you’re having trouble keeping up, – you can even put in a chapter starring you and some chick living in uh… living wherever you want to live if you ever get your shit together and move out of your parents’ house! We’re getting started NOW, wake up, slappy! What’s the name of this Universe?”

“Huh?” the maned man huhs, incapable of keeping with the suited man’s game of rapid fire.

“This Universe, the one we’re currently permeating in. What’s She called? Like, make something up if you need to, fucking hell dude keep up with meeeeee.”

“Uh… uh… UH! Universe, uh… Doubleyou’Dash Sixty-Three?”

“Surely! Why not?! Okay, so you’ll rework the self-help book, rework the other one, make ‘em satire, and put them in a series called Doubleyou’Dash Sixty-Three. Then, when you’re feeling nice and good about yourself with your new satire books, you’ll magically man the fuck up and fix my universe! It’ll be the aforementioned third book, call it whatever the fuck you want, it’s officially a’go!”

The suited man dances in victory. The maned man feels doubt.

“What if I don’t though?”

Continuing his dance, “Then do something else for your third book, then make mine the fourth. Look, you have the information now, and if you keep up this drug smoking trend, the–”

“Drug smoking trend?! No, I don’t do drugs dude, I told you!”

“You just smoked my Cannabis.”

“Neither of us can prove that.”

“Fucking… you are inane, child. Do a poetry collection for all I care, whatever you need to do to force yourself into writing my universe’s book. Once you do that and it’s nice and finalized, I can go back home, and we never need to have one of these conversations again.”

“Okay okay, fine, I get it. This is my life’s purpose, to write your universe’s book. Thank you for finally letting me know what I’m supposed to do, Uni. But… how am I supposed to actually get there, Chuck? I’m not creative like you. Flip the self-help book into satire, fine, that’s easy, but what about the other one? Ih–”

Dancing like a porpoise, “STOP I don’t want to know what it’s about, not even a little. Just… fuckin’, I don’t know, do you got any extended family? Old dudes or dudettes?”

“I mean… I have a grandmother, yeah.”

“Great! Read it to her, make the second one a book about reading a book. That’s creative as fuck.”

“It… is?

“Sure!” as he breakdances whilst floating inches off the ground. “I don’t care even a little bit, dude. Just do it, and then write my universe’s book.”

“And the short stories too?” the maned man interjects, puffing his flat chest out. “I should put my stories into a book too, right?”

“…Yyeeaaaahhhhh,” the suited man says, lowering to the soggy lawn. “Yeah, I mean, I guess you could do them, you probably don’t have to, though. You know, you could just like… skip ‘em. Or don’t. I don’t really care, manbro. Just make my universe whole. No more black holes.”

“No more black holes… okay, I think I can do that.”

“You think?” stopping his dance furiously enough that the music in his head stops playing.

“Uh…” the maned man uhs, “sorry. I can do that. I’ll start on the self-help book tonight. Um… Chuck?”

“What?” the suited man asks, searching his body for a joint.

“How do I… how do I know that you’re real? Like… how do I know this isn’t all a hallucination? I mean… you’re a character I made up, and now you’re in my backyar–”

“I’m a character you made up?” the suited man growls, stepping into the maned man’s comfort zone. “How fucking egotistical are you, child? You can’t possibly think that you are responsible for my existence.”

The maned man shivers.

“Stop shivering, cretin! You’ve no reason to be chilled!”

“Why are you talking like that? Just… show me the ring, that’ll prove you’re real.”

“Now you demand to see my jewelry! You harlot, you’ll just slip it off my hand when I sleep!” the suited man sings, dancing to a tone-deaf swan’s song.

The maned man has never once been more convinced that he is, in fact, mentally insane, than he is in this moment.

“Chuck… please,” the suited man says. “That’s what you were going to say, right? God you’re lame kid, so belligerently unsure of yourself.” As he removes his right glove, “Is this what you’ve been trying to see? This little diddy doo-dah right here?”

Upon the suited man’s bare middle finger shines a platinum ring fitted with a glorious gemstone which shines with all the colors of the rainbow and then some. As the maned man’s eyes feast, his brain grows hungrier still.

“There, you’ve seen God. Are we on the same page now, like, are you going to fix what you’ve broken? Is my universe going to be back on the other side of my next portal?”

“Well, uh,” the maned man squeaks, feeling great responsibility resting on his bony shoulders. “Probably not, I mean… I don’t know exactly how the bit about the interdimensional traveh–”

“Interuniversal travel. Get it right, bloke.”

“Interuniversal, you’re right. But um, I don’t know how all that works and, and I mean, it’s not like I’ll be able to write the whole five books tonight alone.”

“Five books?” the suited man asks, ignoring all the squirrels in the trees that won’t quit staring at him.

The squirrels turn their heads to the maned man. He says, “Yeah, the self-help, the grandma, the poetry collection, the novel about your universe, and then the anthology of my short stories.”

The squirrels look to the suited man. “Oh right, yeah. Well all I care about is the novel, so… anyway, how will I know when it’s done? Hmm… I’ll just have to live here with you.”

The maned man isn’t about to let that happen, even the squirrels know that much. “I can… hrmm… I have an idea.”

“Shoot,” says the suited man whose hands turn into guns.

“I can buil–… well, write a flash fiction about you getting stuck in a contraption, some sort of isolation tank that’s powered by your ring. It’ll hold you in a state of existential limbo until the ring senses that universe Doubleyou’Dash Twenty-Twenty is back in Existence, and then it’ll click and you’ll be there.”

The suited man smiles and says, “That sounds like a dope plan, actually. I’ve never been isolated in a tank before, only in closets. Anyway, I do have a request.”

The maned man, who had taken out his smart phone, looks up and resumes the conversation. “Wuzzat?”

“Two, actually. One: don’t mention that I told you to make these books, at least not until the last one. Your readers, hypothetically speaking, will think you’re nuts talkin’bout a dude in a business suit in your back yard setting you on your destiny. At least, not until I’m properly introduced in my own universe first… hmmm… actually, on that note, definitely do the poetry collection, and add in a part about how you can mysteriously perceive the events of an alternate universe and how you talk to a voice in your head that tells you to write the books or something. It’ll be good for the story. Secon–”

“But… but those things are both true, I can see what happens in your universe. I do hear a voice in my head, and I talk to that voice, and it does tell me to write books.”

“EVEN FUCKIN’ BETTER! Second, when I come to, I want to be incarnated in the middle of the action. In medias res, or whatever the hell. I’m tryna be side by side with my best buddy… you know who that is, right?”

“Uh…”

“You better know who that is.”

Off the top of his maned head, the maned man knows not. “I’ll… surprise you? Or, how about I’ll put you back in the moment, but then have you realize you talking to me today worked a day later? How about that? Yeah, I like that,” as he looks back at his phone.

“I mean… that’s complicated as shit, but whatever, wake me up wherever, but… wait, who the fuck are yo–”

“Who the fuck am I?” the maned man asks rhetorically, standing alone in his back yard, beneath a now cloudless sky as he taps away at a keyboard projected below cracked glass. “I’m your creator Chuck, universe Doubleyou’Dash Twenty-Twenty is my invention.”

The maned man’s finger mistypes a key and his brain is slow on the draw, forcing him to delete seven words in the correcting of one.

“The real question Chuck, is who the fuck are you? You just appeared here in my backyard, staring at my cat’s pyramid, and asking me all these questions. You could be a police officer or a government hacker who tapped into my computer and read all my writings, and you were sent to spy on me because you think I’m gearing up to write a manifesto or something silly like that.”

With his prey verbally backed against a corner, the maned man raises his eyes from the screen and shouts, “Got you now, Chuck, if that even is your real name!” to the empty space in front of him.

The maned man notices that the squirrels are gone as he looks back and forth, surveying the backyard. The rain has stopped falling, the grass is saturated with polluted skydrips, and the quartz gleams atop the pyramid. He’s alone there, no wildlife, no suited man, no peeping neighbors, nor bored construction workers next door. No security cameras, no actively recording programs running on his smart phone. Only a foggy memory of events that just transpired a moment ago… and no way to verify if the suited man had really been there.

The maned man looks to the ground, tapping at the footprints with his big toe. None of the holes feel solid, surely they must be real. He didn’t make them all though, did he? No, no he’s barefoot, he can’t be responsible for the footprints made by business shoes… unless he stole his father’s and used them to trounce around in the mud instead of sleeping last night again.

No, no he was out here praying last night, hoping that Milkshake would hear his pleas and return to visit in astral form. The cat has yet to come, but the maned man will pray again.

And then, he will write.

Fin


The Contraption

Chuck wakes up in a dark space, his mind suffocated before the taste of air graces his lungs.

“What the fuck?” he shouts, flailing his fists and kicking his feet. The surroundings catch his punches and lick his shoes. Arms and mouths lined with dull vampire teeth then sprout from the walls of the dark space and leave Chuck’s suit tattered and positively riddled with tears and bite holes. He submits.

“Hello? HELLO??” Chuck screams, his voice bouncing off the interior of the contraption. “WHERE THE FUCK AM I?!”

You’re in the contraption, Chuck.

Chuck says nothing, his own words still ricocheting off the inner wall of his cranial sanctum.

‘You’re in the contraption Chuck, the one we talked of.’

We?” Chuck accuses the empty air. “What in the fuck?! Why am I hearing voices?!”

‘It is I, Chuck. HOW. You came to me in my backyard, and we talked about my life’s purpose, remember? Such a beautiful vision… but I thought perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me when you disappeared. Then, I remembered… the contraption.’

“The contraption,” Chuck says aloud, trying to follow along. Oh right, he just talked about this a moment ago – weird how you just forget stuff like that. “Right, yeah, okay. So I’ll be in here until my universe is fixed, right?”

‘Oh Chuck, your universe is fixed. I published the book a month ago… how long have you been in there?’

“Literally a handful of seconds, it’s fine dude. Don’t worry about it, just send me on my way.”

Send me on my way… wait, shit, how do I do that?

“Hello? Are you going to let me go home or not? I need to make sure I like it so I don’t need to come back here,” his voice dropping through the spectrum of inflection along the way.

‘Uh…’ I stall, trying to come up with something. ‘Just… um… wait for the click?’

“Okay…” as Chuck begins the eternal wait for a click that may never, “Suddenly, I don’t think this is going to work,” click.


Hello Commons, this has been the third chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Deji – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (6/82)

Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 2
Deji

Old Friends

A warm breeze rustles Deji’s spiky black hair. The crescent moon glows a gloomy orange through a hazy layer of clouds as mist spills down and coats the surface of the reservoir. All the candy in the world couldn’t beat this, a peaceful summer’s night on the dam.

With his back leaned against the cold concrete divider, Deji sits in the shadow of a streetlight with a busted-out bulb. The working streetlights to his right and left provide Deji with just enough light to see in front of him, yet there’s enough darkness for his eyes to pick up the stars; the lake has never looked more beautiful than it does right now.

A car drives by and beams bright lights out of its windows, an army of photons marching in step right over Deji’s head. He hears a voice calling out, “Dee-Jay! Dee-Jay, where are you?”

Where indeed; there not but there, existing unseen as one with the inky blackness of the night that so many admonish for lack of understanding. Not our Deji though; the darkness has always been a second home for him. It accepts him, understands him.

The calling fades as the search party drives further and further away. Whoever DJ is, Deji sure hopes he’ll be okay.

Shortly after the air slows to a calm, it’s shattered into pieces by a sportscar of some kind coming from the opposite direction as the last car. Had they passed each other? The resulting wind reaches over the divider and gently taps Deji on the head. He smiles and looks down to the end of the bridge to watch the headlights follow the road back into the forest. Maybe that was DJ, tearing asphalt on his way home from some nightclub mere moments after his family left to go looking for him. A distant streetlight shakes as the car rumbles by.

Deji has quite a history with this dam, he used to go for midnight jaunts to this very spot with his old gang of friends all the time. They would meet up in the woods and play together all day just to sneak out at night and go for their long, serene strolls above the water. They were all so close, Deji shared everything with his friends… except for his candy. Deji’s caretakers would never let him share his candy, not even with his roommate Koncho.

“Koncho takes his own candy,” the caretakers would always tell him. “Your candy can’t help him, Deji. It’s only good for you.” Don’t they know that sharing is caring?

A motorcycle passes. The rumble from the muffler tickles the inside of Deji’s ears. He’s always liked being in spots where nobody could see him, it makes him feel safer. Less alone. Maybe DJ drives a motorcycle, that would be radical.

Deji looks down to the other end of the bridge and the shaky streetlamp goes out with a flash of light when the biker leaves it in his dust. Deji hears the biker pick up speed before he hits the steep uphill of the mountain road.

‘Uh oh,’ Deji thinks to himself. ‘It’s about to get dark.’

Deji hears voices coming from the forest on the other side of the dam, the side that he came from. Very faint voices, echoes really, the whines of a tribe of concerned humans. Deji scrunches down a few inches further below the concrete divider as a big truck with booming music flies by, what a busy night. On his right side, a little yellow frog crawls out of a crack in the sidewalk and leaps over the divider into the road. When Deji peeks over the divider, the frog is gone. Maybe DJ is a missing pet frog, what a twist that would be.

Unperturbed, Deji sits back down and gazes out across the water. He’s used to seeing things that aren’t there, or rather, things that the other humans can’t see. Nobody could see his friends but him; well, him and his parents. His parents never liked his friends though, they would always try to keep them apart.

By the same effect, Deji’s friends would always tell him not to eat the candy his parents gave him, and Deji would often listen. The candies are kind of nasty anyway, they never taste like anything. His parents didn’t like that though, and neither do the caretakers – it’s been quite a few years since Deji’s seen his parents. Even longer since he’s seen his old friends.

A pair of effervescent eyes peek through the trees near the peak of the mountain, catching Deji by surprise. Headlights probably, and they’re coming down the road in his direction, too. He scrunches down further in anticipation, but… nothing. A few minutes pass and they never hit the bridge. Where did they go? Did they accidentally run DJ over?

Deji scans the dark mouth of the bridge, waiting for the car, for movement, anything. Another streetlight goes out, the furthest one, the one closest to his home.

Then another, and another.

He looks back towards the other side of the bridge and the same thing happens, one by one down the row the streetlights go out with a brilliant flash. Darkness encroaches down the bridge towards Deji, leaving him surrounded, stranded alone on an isle of the unknown that is swiftly being swallowed up by a tsunami of oily blackness. But… is it the unknown?

A knowing smile spreads across Deji’s face. “Hello old friends, I’ve missed you.”

The last two streetlights go out.

Fin


Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the second chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Chase Your Dreams – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (5/82)

Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 1
Chase Your Dreams

Have Fun

Koncho’s keys rattle like the head of a staff wielded by an African medicine man as he gets home and penetrates his front door’s lock.

“What a day, what a motherlovin’ day,” as he steps inside and attempts to remove the water-logged flippers from his callused feet. The life of a deep-sea welder is not an easy one, but it sure does pay the heck out of those bills.

Something is amiss though, a certain smell is aloft in the air. It’s familiar, too familiar, it almost smells like… his wife’s… no, can’t be. Just like that couldn’t be his brother’s car parked in the driveway.

As he ventures further into the boxcave that is his house, Koncho hears a muffled banging, almost like a headboard bashing against a wall with a blanket shoved in between, but the blanket got dislodged a while ago. As Koncho delves nearer and nearer to the center of his cave, the noise grows closer and closer to cacophony; he stops at the door. Someone, or someones, rather, are in his bedroom. Making noise. Sweating. Moaning. He slowly opens the door to find his wife Megaladochious furiously going at it with his brother Jognatathan.

“Koncho!!” Megaladochious screams, not bothering to cover herself with a blanket because the blanket is under the bed.

“Heeyyy honey, I’m home. Hey bro.”

“Sup Konch’, you wanna get in on this? Literally?”

“Hard pass Joggney, that’s gross. You’re gross. I’m gonna go to the sanctum and get some sleep. Long day. You guys have fun.”

He turns to leave. The two continue to have fun.

The Sanctum

Koncho closes the door slowly and lets his wife and brother resume the mutual realignment of each other’s spines. Directly across the glossy wood flooring from the bedroom is a heavy cast iron door that creaks when it opens and shakes the entire house when it closes – this is the entrance to the sanctum. There is no staircase behind the heavy door, simply a fat rope hanging from the ceiling; Koncho dons his rope gloves and slides down into the darkness, feeling the rope tremble as the door shuts automatically. The first time he made his descent, he burned the majority of the skin off his hands, which was just slightly less than pleasant.

The sanctum is a bottomless cavern that was discovered under the house about thirteen years after construction was completed. A single rock reaches out from the abyssal depths, flat topped with a decorative staircase running down it in a spiral, that serves as both a landing pad and a private bedroom. Megaladochious can get pretty insatiable at night and she rarely accepts no for an answer, which is great in a way that’s indescribable with mere words, but sometimes, Koncho needs his sleep, and sometimes is sometimes now; Koncho is out cold within seconds of hitting the sheets, flippers and all.

The Spider

Koncho’s slumber is short lived, just like the life of a butterfly. One minute you’re flapping your wings in North America, the next a hurricane is destroying the Mongolian caterpillar factory farm where you were originally born. Groggy and feeling partially braindead, Koncho struggles his way out of the cocoon that is his seeping arrangement and falls to the rocky floor. The jolt from the impact is exactly what the right side of his brain needs to wake up! It beats a cup of coffee clear out of the mug.

Koncho finally stops attempting and goes about actually peeling the TimberSea flipperboots off his feet. He then walks towards the rope to begin his ascent when, again, something seems off.

The air is buzzing with the feisty aroma of spices and seasonings sizzling in a pan mixed with the uncanny aroma of chicken. He walks to the edge of his rock and gets down on all fours, and what does he find? A massive, hairy, black spider sitting on a log, pan in one of its eight grotesque hands, frying an orange substance over a campfire that, gravitationally speaking, should not exist.

The spider notices Koncho and shrieks like a little girl, dropping the pan on the campfire and squabbling away. With the haste of a bullet train, Koncho runs down the side of the rock, jumping over the rotting oak log to grab the wooden handle of the frying pan. Just in time too, the food almost burned. He takes a little slice of the orange stuff and pops it in his mouth – ah, sulfer shelf, the chicken of the woods. He eats the rest of the mushrooms and chucks the frying pan down into the bottomless pit before turning around and walking back up the wall.

Koncho notices that his bed seems softer now, and like a candle in the wind, he’s out.

The Cat

When he wakes, Koncho finds himself laying on a memory foam mattress in an unfamiliar bedroom. He looks around and studies the unfamiliar setting, tan carpet covering the plywood floor and archaic redwood furniture towering over the baseboard heating. Something is scratching at the door, trying to dig its way through the splintery wood. Koncho gets up, his bare feet sinking ever so slightly into the carpet. He opens the door slowly until the cat speeds things along, barging through the entry and running straight towards the wall. After executing a sick backflip maneuver, the cat jumps up on the bed and curls up into a little ball, purring itself deeper into the dream dimension. Koncho smiles, not an extravagant, toothy smile, but a gentle, content grin. What is this wonderful place?

He walks out the door to find a young man draped in purple and black blanket-looking things sitting on a couch and playing a video game. There’s a pair of arms holding an assault rifle on the screen, charging forward towards a virtual WWII-style airplane hangar with a small group of virtual soldiers. The man looks over and grunts at Koncho before reverting his attention back to his game. As Koncho walks down the stairs, the sound of gunfire erupts behind him, followed by an angry “God damnit!” and the crash of a plastic controller hitting a sheetrock wall.

An older man and woman are sitting together on a pink couch downstairs. A news program is playing on the television, this screen much smaller than the humongous rig upstairs. The older man says, “Goes it howin’,” without looking away from the news, and the woman smiles at Koncho, then continues to read her book. On the counter behind them, there’s a plate of freshly prepared scrambled eggs and bacon, the aroma nearly knocking Koncho over with sheer delight. He sits and digs in, the bacon crispy and the eggs loaded with cheese and spices as if it was prepared by a world class chef.

“Are you working today, honey?” the woman asks, looking over the back of the couch at Koncho.

Koncho hears himself say, “Yep, nine to three. Then I’m doing some volunteer work at the ecology center.”

The woman gives him another smile as warm as his breakfast, telling him how nice it is that he’s giving back to the place that he went to summer camp as a child. Koncho has no memory of this house, of the humans inside it, or of the summer camp; Koncho has no idea how he got here, but he’s happy. It’s all so simple, so serene.

Shortly after breakfast, the old man gets up and leaves for The Void, the younger man from upstairs leaving with him, blankets and all. The old woman goes for a stroll and Koncho finds himself alone in the house with the tuxedo cat, since woken and now rummaging through the pantry.

What could it be looking for?

Koncho pokes his head in and the cat freezes, slowly turning to face our man. They look at each other for a while, locked into a staring contest the likes of which Koncho has never participated.

Then, “Hey.”

He freezes; did the cat just speak?

“Hey. HEY!”

Koncho wakes up on his stone bed, the large spider standing over him with all eight of its hairy, arthropodic legs.

“You owe me thirty dollars for those ‘shrooms, bucko.”

Fin


Hello Commons, this has been the first story from the second chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Three High Campers – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (4/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 4
Three High Campers

Dip’A’Dop

A Qic’s flick is accompanied by the soothing, irresistible crackle that kicked off so many hip-hop bangers that Chet never listened to during his childhood as smoke flows through the artificial glass pipe and into the organic meat pipe leading to Jimmy’s lungs. A moment of silence to appreciate the wind whistling through the trees, then, “Ahhhhh.” A small, happy cloud floats towards its family in the sky.

“Can we get moving guys? It’s almost dark…”

Jimmy passes the bowl to a very happy to be here Kris.

“… and we’re nowhere near the campsite, we still have a lot of walking to do…”

Kris takes out a crushed-up water bottle and fills it with smoke, expanding the plastic with enough crinkling to drown out the chatty Chet. Then, he breathes the smoke back in. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

“… and if we don’t get to going, we’ll have to set up a whole n– yeah, pass it here.”

Chet Skylark’s had an excrutiating week. After a very turbulent Wednesday at work, Chet gave into a sobriety-induced bout of insomnia and carried it all the way through work the next day while his fiendish friends, unbeknownst to Chet, robbed all the weed from his house. And burned it down. Accidentally.

Chet definitely won’t be getting that deposit back.

Now, our Chet’s perched on a log with those very same friends, taking another quick burn break before they continue along on their camping excursion. Mentally exhausted, physically perturbed, and high as the park’s canopy on ‘dro, Chet just wants his clique to stop smoking drugs for two seconds so they can get their tents set up in the daylight.

His attempts at moving the stoned statues fails, but luckily a mysterious rustling emerging from a bush behind them does just the trick.

“The fuck was that?!” Jimmy cries as smoke gently floats up his windpipe and out into the air. Kris grabs the bowl and torches it out of fear, clearing the chamber.

“It… could be Tiny Tim,” Chet says over Kris’s coughing.

Jim slowly turns towards Chet, keeping a disgusted and slightly embryonic look on his face. “Tiny… Tim? The fuck is that, some kind of circus act?”

“Uh… kinda. I’ll tell you guys later, when we have a fire going. Can we go, though?”

Jimmy opens his mouth to say something snarky, but the chance is snatched when he gets pelted in the head by an acorn. Jumping Jim leaps up, his heart racing as fast as his eyes are scanning the forest around him, but he sees nothing. Then, he gets domed by another acorn.

“Ow, FUCK!” Jim screeches. “Yeah let’s dip’a’dop, y’all grab the cooler!” as he scurries towards the trail.

Chet and Kris share something of a look and a definite chuckle before grabbing the cooler together and shoving off. Meanwhile, two squirrels high five each other before twitching their way down the tree and over to the log to paw up any leftover Cannabis flakes.

Crack

The darkness of lady night quickly encroaches over an innocent, warm summer’s afternoon. The gang stops for a smoke break no less than three more times between their leaving of the log and their inability to see the trail they walk down. There’s a slight wind, and between it and the lighter with the glowing flint, igniting the bowl is becoming quite the hassle. Kris already burned himself twice, poor dude. Yet they keep repacking the bowl, keep burning the holy herb, until Chet finally speaks up.

“So like… I guess we’re not gonna make it to the spot tonight.”

Jimmy shoots him a look that goes totally obscured by a cloud of smoke. “I think we got a spot right here, man! I’mma crack a bottle, why don’t you two crack some wood and get crackin’ on a fire?”

Chet looks over at Kris, who’s using the lighter to study the intricacies of the lines on his hand, and shakes his head. It takes him nearly a half hour to dig out a pit with his hands, assemble rocks around it, and scrounge up enough dried leaves and twigs to bundle together and sustain a small flame. Kris went ahead and collected an armful of logs, which is about as useless as Jimmy is right now, but at least he’s up and moving.

The twigs that Chet gathered won’t last long in the fire, so Chet stumbles off into the darkness in search of firewood. Jim gets to work on packing the bowl again. The grind must never stop.

“Y–” a cough. “Yo, how much pot we have left?” Kris asks after confusing the fire pit’s smoke to that of a freshly lit bowlpack.

“Uhh… not much. Bag’ll be empty soon. Here,” Jimmy growls as he tosses the bag over the open fire to Kris. “You pack it from now on.”

“Word. Hey man, when are we gonna thank Chad for the free weed, dude? This is so dope of him, I feel li–”

“Already did! Yeah, we covered it, it’s all taken care of. Like I said before,” as he leans forward, the campfire casting spooky shadows on his face. “Don’t. Mention it.”

In the darkness around the campsite, the leaves begin to rustle.

Tiny Tim The Terrible

“Nah,” Chet says to a silent friend group. He listens intently for a few more minutes, then, “Nah, definitely not squirrels. The noise is too big, that’s at least an obese raccoon or a woodchuck or a coyote, or suh’um like that. Maybe a beaver, although we’re kind of far from water.”

“The noise is too… big? What? That doesn’t even make any fucking sense,” Jimmy spits before helping himself to the first hit of the freshly packed bowl.

“Well, you know what I mean. It’s gotta be something bigger than just a squirrel, plus, nobody’s taking acorns to the head. Know what I mean? Kris, do you get me?”

“Honestly dude,” Kris says, trying to get a grasp on reality, let alone Chet. “I have, like, no idea. I’m just kind of here right now guys, I don’t even know if I exist for sure. Like, yaaahh.”

Jimmy and Chet look at Kris, then back at each other, then back at Kris.

“So uh, so anyway,” Jimmy says as he fishes for the lighter that tumbled out of his hand. “Too big to be squirrels, huh?”

“Yeah man. Like I said, it’s probably just a big raccoon or a little deer or… hah, or Tiny Tim.” Nobody laughs at this joke, and Chet feels a little awkward. “You guys wanna hear the story now?”

“Not really,” Jimmy says, telling us all how he really feels, “but it’s gotta be better than mister, fuckin’, I think therefore I might not be over there.”

Kris says nothing, allowing the words to whoosh over his head like a paper airplane. Yes, instead of accepting the offer for a pissing contest, he just looks at Chet with googly eyes and a winning smile.

“A’ight, so like, in my hometown, there’s this lake, right? Well, there’s a lot of lakes, but the one I’m talkin’ about is different, it’s called Skuh– uh, uh, I mean… Monksville. Yeah, sure, lots of monks live there now, whatever. So it used to be a town called uh… well, it doesn’t matter, the important part is that the government swooped in and bought all the land in the seventies so they could flood it and make a reservoir.

“So the town, before it was flooded, it had like, this like, this permanent circus attraction thing, and during the last few days the town stood, they got this new attraction called Tiny Tim the Terrible. I wasn’t alive back then, but a buddy of mine from back home, his mom lived in the area when she was a kid, and she saw it, the thing was literally a bigfoot. Like, mad tall, hairy, bipedal, the whole shit. Apparently, some rich guy ape-napped him off an island out in the Specific and sold him to the circus. I don’t know, the details always change a little bit.

“So uh, yeah, on the last day of the circus, Tiny Tim escaped and killed the circus workers. Ran off into the woods, never to be seen again. Legend has it that he still lives there today, back in Tre– uh, back in my hometown. That’s the story. What do you guys think?”

The guys offer Chet literally zero in way of a reaction.

Trying to save himself, “I uh, I heard it from a friend. He tells it much better.”

“Well I sure fuckin’ hope so. That sounds like some Jersey-ass shit man, where’d you say you were from again?”

“What?!” Chet asks, caught off guard. “What do you mean, I-I, I live in Mundon! I…”

“Hold on Jim, I got this one,” Kris pipes in, finally dislodged from his existential thought hole. “You see Chet, Jimmy and I are very interested in the study of cryptids, that is to say, creatures of myth and legend that may, or may not, exist. Of all the states that used to be legally bound to the United States of America before it became untied, New Jersey stands out to cryptozoologists and our larger community of critically thinking truth seekers as a hotbed of ridiculous and probably false stories. The Jersey Devil, ghost wolves that haunt a paved road, this Tiny Tim character – all ridiculous creatures with ridiculous backstories. Now, you ever see Mothman up there in the pine barrens, you let me know. A bigfoot though? Come on, man.”

“Yeah,” Jimmy contributes. “If I remember correctly, you just kind of showed up here one day Chet, totally alone. Like, you’re not a clone, you had to come from somewhere, but you never told me or Kris, or fuckin’ Steve for that matter, where you came from.”

“N-no, I–” Chet falls off the back of the log, but Kris approaches and helps him up. “Thank you. No, that’s just not… you guys wanna hear something really ridiculous? That new chick at work I was tellin’ you guys about, Isabelle? She thinks I’m her long-lost brother or some shit. For like, no reason too, just because I kind of look like him. And our voices sound the same. Like, how weird is that?

“Guys? C’mon, how Jersey is that?!”

An uncomfortable silence. Then, from Jimmy’s mouth, “Yeah, you were saying that earlier. Question for ya, Chet: did you move into town around the same time that she did?”

“Well, yeah, I think so… but–”

“And is she, too, from New Jersey?” Kris postulates.

“I never said I was from Jersey! But uh…” Thumbs are twiddled. “I don’t know, maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember… to be honest, my memory’s been weird ever since I moved to this town. Like, it feels like… never mind. But anyway, I–”

Jimmy shrugs, cutting Chet off with the chipped edge on his shoulder before he hits the bowl. After cashing that bad boy, he carefully balances it upon the beer can structure, not bottle but can, that he’s been building ever since he cracked open that first cold one. “Maybe she’s right, man.”

This simple suggestion fucks Chet up worse than the mind-melting collision of paradoxical memories. He starts spinning, the Chetsweats flow in torrents, the trembles rear their ugly head – it’s just like Turbulence all over again!

“Nono, no, that’s just, no, that’s… you know what? Fuck it, I’m buggin’, I’m like, I’m tense as hell. Here,” Chet says, hand in his pocket. He takes out a small bagglet of herb and Jimmy and Steve share a look. The leaves outside the glowing orb around the campfire begin to rustle as Chet throws Kris the baggie.

“What’s this, bro?” Kris asks, his voice suddenly shaky.

“My secret special stash, man. Go on, pack it and pass her over.”

Kris looks at Jimmy and gets a nod, so he proceeds to pack the bowl. This weed is very crystally, much more so than the rest of his weed. The nugs are a deep green with subtle hints of purple, and the trichomes are just… the thing looks like it was dipped in sugar. Rainbow sugar. Or salt, it’s very hard to see colors in the low light, it could just be white. And the stickiness, oh the stickiness! Kris has never went from zero to one hundred on something so fast, this magical preemo bud invades his thoughts as he packs it down, truly dominates his mind. You know, man, thank goodness for Chet, he really has been the hookup today. Weedman Chet, Pagan Deity of Mundon State Park. How lucky I am to know him…’

“Ay. AY! Yo Kris,” Jimmy spouts as he claps his hands an inch from Kris’s eyes, snapping him from his trance. “You’ve been staring at that shit for like ten minutes, puff it or pass it, son.”

Embarrassed, Kris tires to give greens to Chet, but he refuses, insisting that he who packed it shall spark it. No arguments from ya boy, he burns a hole right through the center of the mound, killing the entire stash in one monolithic hit. The look in his eyes says holy shit as he exhales a cloud dense enough to snuff out the fire in Chet’s makeshift pit. Jimmy’s peeved off as ever, but Chet’s impressed, already working on breaking up the bud from his second bag from his secret special stash. You know, the one he didn’t take out but is holding nonetheless?

Jimmy has to get up and snatch the bowl from Kris because a coughing fit has consumed the boy’s very soul, but that’s okay. He ashes it and passes it to Chet, who begins to fill ‘er up.

“Yo I got greens on this one, right Chet?”

cough cough cough

“Yeah, sure man, whatever you want.”

Cough cough cough.

“Word, I’mma hit it like croupy over there, just you watch.”

Cough Cough Cough Cough!

“Hah, I believe it m–”

COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH FUCKIN’ COUGH!

“DUDE,” Jimmy yells at the man sitting hardly an arm’s length away from him in the middle of the woods at two o’clock in the morning in a state park where camping, with or without a permit, is illegal. “DRINK WATER OR MAN THE FUCK UP! C’MON!” Jimmy then punches himself in the chest a few times, asserting dominance like a gorilla.

Kris, of course, does neither of these things, opting to just keep coughing. Chet cools the mood down by packing the bowl far beyond its rim, piling up enough pot to knock an elephant on its ass. He passes the miniature marijuana mountain to a suddenly wide-eyed Jimmy. Just as he’s about to light it though, Kris totally ruins the moment by spitting out a chunky mouthful of blood, some of which splatters on the fire, releasing a sticky, sick cloud of cooked-smelling smoke.

“YO! WHAT THE FUCK?!” as Jimmy jumps up, dropping the bowl and shattering it. Psychoactive herbage flies everywhere, the majority of the flakes landing in the small pool of blood.

Kris’s breathing is getting laborious. He clutches his own throat with both hands and yelps out in pain, like a puppy who got closed in a car door. His left arm then slowly returns to his side, like he wasn’t telling it to move.

“Kris!” Jimmy shouts, leaping over the fire to try to help the poor bastard. He leans Kris up against the log, then, “His hand is… Chet, his fucking hand is stuck to his fucking throat, what the fuck did you give him to smoke?!”

Meanwhile, Chet has been sitting motionlessly on the log with an expression of sheer terror carved into his face with a jagged piece of glass. His friends yelling at him brings him back into the moment.

“Just weed! I-I got it out of my stash after work!”

Chet hurdles the fire and helps Jimmy in trying to pull Kris’s hand from around his neck, but it won’t budge.

“Fuckin’ liar!” Jimmy yells out. “Me and Kris lifted all your pot after you came home on your break! GAH!” At last Kris’s arm falls to his side, the hand covered in blood and puncture wounds as if it got hit with a shotgun blast and put through a meat grinder.

“Wait, what? You guys stole my weed?”

“You clearly fuckin’ know we did, you poisoned Kris! Fuckin’ tried to poison me!”

“NO! No Jimmy, if you guys took my weed then we’ve been smoking it all night! I have no idea what’s going on right now, this isn’t m– oh fucking hell, look at his hand! Uh, FUCK! Uh, yeah, I-I-I ran home after work and grabbed a little bit out of my stash, I left it all on my bed! Oh fuck, look at his,” he gags, “look at his neck!”

Jimmy, doing just that, notices a myriad of small, needle-like crystalline structures jutting out from Kris’s neck. Kris, meanwhile, has stopped breathing, and falls face first into the fire pit. Jimmy and Chet go to grab him, but then they freeze when they both hear a loud WHOOP echo through the forest.

The two boys who are still alive freeze like the crystals poking out of the dead boy’s neck.

“Um…” Jimmy says, shaking in his skater shoes he wore instead of hiking boots. “What the fuck was that?!”

“It…” Chet says, swallowing nervously. “It almost… sounded like… like… Tiny Tim…”

“No,” Jimmy creaks as he backs up. “No, nononono, FUCK NO! You’re just, you’re just crazy! You’re a fuckin’ psycho, this is all just… this is all just a game to you!”

“Jimmy,” Chet says in a grave voice, the last tone of voice he’ll ever be able to take. “No, I–”

“FUCK YOU CHIP!” Jimmy screams before darting off into the forest, leaving Chet alone with a partially burning human body. And Tiny T–

Jimmy’s footsteps quickly and abruptly come to a halt. Save for the crackle of the cackling fire, everything in the gusty forest is still; the silence is deafening. If Chet had any food left in his stomach whatsoever, it would undoubtedly be in his pants right now. The silence continues for a few savory moments before it’s broken into pieces by heavy footsteps and a muffled screaming coming from the direction in which Jimmy sprinted off.

There, appearing into the light across the campfire from Chet, is Jimmy’s floating body. But it isn’t floating, is it, Chet? No, that’s just your mind projecting a certain hallucination over reality in order for you to feel less stress upon perception. Jimmy’s body is certainly suspended, but not voluntarily like that twisted porn you watch; no, its being held there by a gigantic, brawny, hairy ape fist, the fingers encapsulating Jimmy’s little head like it was a ping pong ball. Just as soon as the veil is lifted and Chet realizes that he’s the star of a horror movie, the fist tightens, crushing Jim-jam-a’reeno’s head like it was a rotten clementine and dropping the body so it can drain out and feed the forest.

It is at this point that Chet decides he’s had enough. He screams, yells, shrieks, hollers, you get the point, before leaping over Kris’s body (which has ignited the campsite into an inferno) and sprinting off into the darkness. A WHOOP and the accompanying footsteps follow him close behind.

Chet can’t see anything. Hardly guided by the moonlight that’s having trouble moving through the clouds, he miraculously dodges under the branches, over rocks, and between swaying trees for what feels like hours without pause. The footsteps stay right behind him, the heavy breathing of the gigantic whatever the fuck keeps the back of his neck warm as a cold wind chills the blood in his palpitating heart to a slush. An owl hoots. The fire spreads.

Up ahead of him, Chet notices a small clearing, a hole in the canopy allowing tons of moonlight to spill in and illuminate a spot, a clearing in the woods. Not just any clearing though – The Mundon Commons, the camping spot where Chet and his buddyboys were supposed to sleep under the stars tonight. The spot that Chet built as a homage to… anyway, oh well, better late than never, right?

Engaging maximum overdrive and clearing the crisscrossing thoughts and memories from his head, Chet dashes towards the clearing, only stopping when his foot catches a rock, tripping him up and sending his face directly into the ground.

Except he falls through the ground.

Darkness is everywhere. Not just average nighttime darkness, absolute darkness. Existential darkness. Chet can’t see his body, the forest, the monster from his past chasing close behind him; Chet can’t see anything. He can’t feel anything either, can’t orient himself – there’s no up, no down, no right, no left, no good or bad, no right or wrong. Nothing, just… pure, undiluted, existential darkness… or rather, nonExistential darkness. Chet doesn’t exist, he never did exist, and as for who wore the mask that knew itself as Chet Skylark, well… whoever he is, someone catches his hand and pulls him back up.

I’ve Gone Crazy

Suddenly, eventually, and just like it’s always been, it’s day again. Chet opens his eyes to a blue sky partially blocked out by a swath of lush green leaves. A certain peaceful feeling’s aloft in the air, one Chet hasn’t felt in a very long time. Since before he moved to Mundon even, but it’s a welcome sip of refreshing spring water. He lifts his head and looks around, this place is very familiar to him; the woven deer statues, the horseshoe rink, the fire pit next to the gigantic rock, the hippie floating in the lotus position a foot above the big rock, it’s all here.

‘Wait, what?’

“Yo!” Chet calls out after picking himself up out of the dirt. “Yo uh, who… who are you? What’s going on here?”

“Hello, Tyler,” says the waterfall of brown hair without turning around. “It’s been a little while, hasn’t it, buddy?”

CheTyler falls back down, one of his minds hitting his skull like a wrecking ball and crushing the other one into neurodust. When he gathers himself, he pauses, then, “…No. No, no no no, that’s… that isn’t… you’re dead, you… you committed suicide on your younger brother’s birthday, you… I thought you were dead.”

The hippie, still airborne, turns around to face Che– er, I mean Tyler. A joint’s hanging out of his smiling mouth as he stares at his old friend from across the campsite. Such a peaceful, knowing smile, as if he understands any of the psychotic nonsense that’s gone down here tonight. Almost like… almost like he’s been contro–

“Oh my god, I’ve gone crazy. I’ve literally lost my mind. Sam, is this real? What even is real? Who is Sam? What am I? Who is what? Help me.”

Tyler gets on his knees and crawls towards the floating hippie, groveling at the air beneath his folded legs.

“Tee. Chill dude, stand up. There ya go,” as he pets Tyler’s head like a lost dog. “The only crazy thing you’ve done is suspect that I killed myself just because you found a gun on top of my mountain. Without the accompanying body, or even bloodstain, that would be present if I did kill myself. You jumped to a conclusion, man, and that conclusion brought you next to the edge. Then you jumped off that too, and here we are.”

“But… but I–”

“And to answer your question, yes, this is real. Everything is real, my friend, at least until it isn’t. Unless it never was real, then… yikes. You wouldn’t be aware of it anyway, in that case.”

Tyler contemplates this for a moment, then his brain shorts out again. Through tears he says, “Sam, what’s going on?”

“Nah, let me ask you something though. Remember when your family evacuated Quarryville? Because of the Zerocian invasion ship?”

“The… what?”

“The big alien spaceship that appeared over Treering, right next to our houses? Remember?”

Tyler, all of it slowly coming back to him, hesitantly nods.

“Okay, good. So, do you remember seeing any aliens since then? Any at all? Has the word extraterrestrial come up even once since you dipped out your mom’s basement and changed your name? Because ever since I left my mom’s attic, dude, I’ve seen nothing but spacemen.”

“Um, I… no, I don’t think so. Nobody ever really talked about it, I don’t even know ifAHH!”

The hippie lurches out of the air and tackles Tyler, pinning him down to the ground. Forcing him to stare into his glowing irises that weren’t that green the last time. The hippie says nothing.

Tyler thinks, ‘Holy fuck, are they changing colors? Are those even colors?! Then, “Sam, what the fuck is this?!”

The hippie leans in close and whispers into Tyler’s very dusty ear, “It’s not Sam anymore, Tee. It’s Sam.”

Sam hovers off of Tyler and resumes the lotus position, allowing his buddy to gather himself from the shambles the past few days have reduced him to. Then, “So, see that rock in your hand?”

Tyler looks down and there is, in fact, a rock in his hand. Not just a rock though; a crystal, about six inches in length and shaped like an obelisk ending with a point on both edges. “Woah, where did–”

“You’ll know what to do and when to do it. Don’t worry, you got his. I believe in you. Now,” as he winds up with what appears to be a piece of a metal bedframe, “Without further adeau, toodle-loo.”

CRACK

Tyler Portman

“Ty-LEEEERRRRRR! WAKE the fuck UUHHHPPPP! We have to un-PAAAAHHHCK!”

The screeching of his sister’s voice rings in Tyler’s ears like the moon when fuel pods were crashed into it. He jolts awake, hitting his head on the open air above him. He was sleeping on the couch at… his parents’ house? In the living room, no less? What the hell?

Tyler Portman fishes his phone out of his pocket and checks the day – May 5th, 2020.

‘Huh… I guess it was all a dream.’

Fin


The Denizen

The Void clears; I am here, but I am not alone.

Well well well, look who found a monkey suit.

“What can I say? Banks are surprisingly easy to rob when you’re mah–”

AYE! Don’t say the ehM word, there’s none of that here.

“You mean here here, or here here?”

I’m… not sure what the difference is supposed to be.

“I’m saying I want in. I’m tired of this branch universe bullshit, I want to be part of the main one.”

There’s not a main… ugh. Don’t look at me like that, you know it’s not as easy as that.

“Sure it is, you let me into that other branch universe to rob the bank. Just fucking write the words…! I promise not to cause too much trouble.”

Enough! Vanish, denizen!

The denizen vanishes; I am alone in The Void.


Hello Commons, this has been the fourth story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

F(r)iends – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (3/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 3
F(r)iends

Bronology

Ripping down the street going thirty-seven in a twenty-five, Chet Skylark’s mindstate is the same color as his eyeballs: bloodshot red. An excruciatingly sleepless night spent neurotically and maniacally searching through his house for a reason to not clean his room just recently ended in a much-needed bowl of weed. His clothes reek, his hair is so greasy that it’s sticking to the back of his neck, and he keeps going cross-eyed for some reason, but Chet’s not about to let that crap stop him. Hours late to work is not a look he needs to repeat two days in a row, especially with the Bronager’s ultrachic taste in scheduling.

As Chet turns on to the last stretch of driving between him and the job that affords the gas he feeds his car, the 822 MiniMart begins to shine in the distance like a golden palace among the clouds. The Grand PM’s clock reads a solid 8:55 – today just might be Chet’s lucky day. Then, a shrill sped up reggae bonanza reminds dude that it is never, ever, Chet’s day.

“Hello?”

“Yooo, Chit!” says a raspy voice, the speaker of which hasn’t woken up yet. “What’s goooood kid?”

“Uh, it’s Chet, and not much. About to get to work. ‘Sup Jim?”

“I know ya name, Chot. Yo, we’re smoking later today, right?”

Chet slows to a stop at the most inconvenient traffic light that was ever installed within the fifteen feet between the exit and the entrance of the 822’s parking lot.

“Yeah, you texted me before. I’m working until fiveish, but we can chill after.”

“What?” Jimmy says, sounding insulted. “I didn’t fuckin’ tex– oh wait, hahahahah yeah I did. I just woke up, word. Catch ya later, Chatter Cheese.”

“Dude, it’s Che–” click

The phone flies over Chetter Cheese’s shoulder and lands in the groove between two of the back seats. Oh that Jimmy, that Jimster, that Jim-jam-a-fuckin’-reeno. What a guy. As soon as the delayed light turns green, Chet slams on the gas and banks the turn on two wheels before drifting into one of the many open spots in the parking lot of the 822, sliding in just one spot over from the only car in the entire town of Mundon with tinted windows. After very attentively taking the keys from the ignition and pocketing them, Chet hustles inside the minimart with the bustle of a bus full of TLEs.

He did it! The car’s clock said 8:58 when he got out! Our boy is at work on time! He might be high, but let’s be real, if he wasn’t, he probably wouldn’t be here at all right now! All that matters is that Chet’s here, he’s present, and he’s in a good mood, ready to face the day and all of its consumer-based challenges.

“Skylark, you’re late. It’s nine’oh-one,” booms the loudspeaker, alerting all zero of the customers that Chet is a minute late.

A burly red-haired woman with not nearly enough freckles on her face, arms, legs, and every other part of her body that she doesn’t have covered up by clothing, walks out of the doors leading into the back. She stands before Chet with folded arms, towering over his otter-like build, and looks him up and down before taking a deep, loud inhale of the air emanating in his immediate vicinity. At first, Kath shakes her head in disappointment, but then she just chuckles to herself.

“A minute ain’t that bad, all things considered. You look like hell Chet, you livin’ okay?”

Chet smiles. Good ol’ Kath. “Yeah, I just didn’t get much sleep last night, my brain wasn’t behaving. I’m sorry I’m late.”

Kath motions towards the absence of a line at the register. “Well apologize to all the customers you’ve held up with your tardiness! You’re lucky Mistress Bron isn’t here today, she’d chew your ear right off for this blasphemy. Nah, just kidding kid, you’re all good. Your shirt’s on backwards though, fix that. Also, we have a new employee, she’s in the break room. So uh, don’t change your shirt in there. Or do, I don’t know how confident you are. I’m goin’ back to my she-cave; try not to burn the place down, okay?”

“You got it, boss.”

“Good. The girl’s name is Isabelle, you’re going to train her in the ways of Bronology one-oh-one. Soun–”

“Did someone say my name?”

Chet and Kath both turn towards the counter and see the new employee. It’s that girl that came into the store to buy cigarettes yesterday, the admittedly attractive but not remotely Chet’s type girl. Chet’s stomach turns to a lump of metamorphic rock.

“Isabelle, this is Chet. Chet, Isabelle. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to my cave. Call me if yuh’s need me, but uh, don’t need me.”

Kath turns and leaves the children to play. Chet, attempting to avoid eye (and every other level of) contact, circumnavigates the counter and slips into the break room to fix his shirt. When the cloth is draped over his eyes, he hears the door open and freezes.

“So hi!” Isabelle Portman says to the side of Chet Skylark’s shirted head. “I came in here yesterday to buy some ciggaboges and you checked me out, do you remember me?”

Chet slowly brings the shirt over his body and turns to face his first adversary. “Oh yeahhhh, hi– uh, hi there. I’m Chet. I’m also really stoned, so I don’t know how much help I’m really gonna be for you, uh, fer you today.”

“Oh, its cool!” she beams, bubbly as the Creature energy drinks cooling in the fridge. “This job is pretty basic, just don’t steal all the money. Hey, you know, it’s kind of funny, um, you look so much like my brother Tyler!”

‘Shit.’

Pack The Bowl

“Yo, so I had an idea. Let’s go camping tonight!”

“Camping? Fuck it, I’m down. I haven’t been camping since… well, it’s been a fuckin’ while. I’ll grab my stuff after I get out of wor–”

“Nah nah nah,” Jimmy corrects him, “you gotta pick us up right after you get out, it’ll already be five o’clock.”

“But all my camping stuff is at home, I–”

“So just run home during your break, it’s gotta be lunch time soon, doot.”

“Well… that’s not a bad idea, actually. There’s this new gir–”

“WOAH!” Jimmy shouts, coming a little too close for comfort. “Woah, Chatter Box, I didn’t ask, ‘cuz. You can tell us later though.”

A pause. Then, “A’ight man, sounds good. I’ll run home in like an hour.”

“Wort. Yo we got you on the weeds, bee-tee-dubz.”

“Dope, thanks Jim!” said with a sudden change of inflection. “I’ll hit y’all up when I get out of here.”

“Wort. Peace.” click

As Jimmy lowers the phone to the cup holder, Kris passes him a cherried bowl over the console. Jim takes it and draws, inhaling until the little red glow flickers out. He exhales the smoke through the pipe and scatters the ashes of his cashed bowl all over the car, which only adds to the slight haze the boys already have brewing. The bowl, and an expecting look, is passed back to Kris, who takes said bowl and leans back in the driver’s seat, dodging the look and all of the world’s expectations. Jimmy holds the look as Kris closes his eyes and soaks in the hot box.

“Dude,” Jimmy croaks in a raspy, burnt-out voice. “I can still see you through the smoke, pack the bowl.”

“I can’t though, dude,” Kris slowly drawls back. “We smoked all the weed. Oh yeah, I wanted to, like, ask you and stuff, man. How are we gonna have enough for the camping trip tonight?”

“Fuck, already?” Jimmy says, tuning out the noise after hearing the word all. “A’ight, whatever, we needa go to Chad’s house. You know his address?”

“Maybe, but…” as he pauses to contemplate why one parks in the driveway and drives on the parkway. Then, “Woah, sorry, I uh, I think I’ve only been in his driveway before.”

“So what’s the address?”

“Umm… either, uhh… um… twenty-four Kodey Drive, or… yeah, either forty-two Kodey Drive or twenty-four… no, forty-two Kodey Lane. Or… I forget man, they don’t like, they don’t name streets in this town too good at all.”

Jimmy forcefully leans his head back and gazes up at the burn marks in the ceiling of Kris’s car. “Okay, you go to Kodey Drive, I’ll go to Kodey Lane. Call me if Chad shows up, but don’t let him see you.”

Jimmy hops out of the car and slams the door, leaving the stoney Kris with his mission. The afternoon air is cool and, as he takes a big drag of it through his nose, Jimmy can hear his lungs whistling.

A moment later, the tinted driver-side window opens and Kris leans out. “Why can’t I let him see me? Aren’t we, like, meeting him there? And stuff?”

“Dude,” Jimmy dudes without turning around, “just do what I said.”

Off they go.

The Qic Is Flicked

Jimmy’s high starts to fade after fifteen minutes’ walk between the parking lot of the 822 and what is hopefully Chet’s driveway. He’s hidden in the bushes, and branches keep poking him in the sides. The sun’s too hot, it’s making him sweaty. There are freaking bugs crawling all over poor Jimmy. He thinks to himself, ‘There better be some good fuckin’ weed in this house after all this shit.’

Forty-four minutes later, a vaguely familiar Grand PM pulls into the driveway. Chet climbs out and Jimmy silently sucks in a breath, not about to get peeped after all this bullshit. He watches Chet walk into the house through the already unlocked door. The man damn near screams and blows his cover but no, this is his chance, he can work with this. He waits for the twenty seconds it takes the thumps to summit the staircase, then Jimmy makes his move.

Lying in wait on the stairs leading down to the basement, Jimmy peers through the crack under the door. Seconds go by, then minutes. What the hell is taking Chot so long to get his camping shit and get out of here?!

Eventually he hears feet slapping down a flight of stairs followed by a door being shut. Jimmy emerges from the basement and a slight waft of Cannabic odor graces his nostrils. He breathes deeply, taking it all in. ‘Very well,’ he thinks to himself before running up to Chet’s room, gingerly stepping over the skid marks at the bottom of the stairs.

Surprisingly enough it’s actually pretty clean in Chet’s bedroom. Jimmy notices a pile of toothpicks or something next to the door, but other than that it’s spotless in here. He’s not here to judge Clint’s cleanliness though; sitting on the foot of the bed in a neat little pile ripe for the pilfer is a big ol’ bag of weed, more pieces than anybody would ever need (let the record reflect that there’s only one glass bowl on the bed), and a bunch of papers and other stuff that Jimmy doesn’t care about right now. Without any hesitation, Jimmy goes into the bag and pinches a couple nugs, breaking them up with his fingers like a caveman as he stuffs the bowl of Chet’s pipe with the crumbs. At long last, party time – Jim leans back, slaps the pants of his pocket… the pocket of his pants, and grimaces when nothing cushions the blow.

‘God dammit. Of course he forgot a lighter! Looks like it’s time to call Kris, buddyguy Jimmy the Jim-Jam Jamster.

Fortunately, Jimmy only has to wait a few minutes for Kris to bring him the lighter.

He told Kris that the door was unlocked, but the moron knocks on it anyway. Obscenely annoyed and not nearly high enough, Jim-jamboree stomps down the stairs and throws the front door open.

“Dude, I definitely, like, didn’t go to Chet’s house. I knocked on the door and some lady answered, right? So I ask for Chad, and she starts flippin’ a dip on me, like, accusin’ me of being sent by her daughter to mess with her. Dude, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Dumbfounded and slack-jawed, Jimmy stares Kris in the face. “I… I didn’t ask, Kristoff. Where’s the fuckin’ lighter at, dawg?”

Kris pulls the lighter from his back pocket and Jimmy snatches it before it’s even presented. Jimmy sprints back upstairs with Kris following close behind and he jumps onto the bed, wildly grabbing at the bowl as it bounces back and forth, as if Chet slept on an old hippie-ass waterbed or some shit.

Then, the Qic is flicked.

An hour or two later, Chet’s herb supply is half depleted. The dynamic duo decides they’re probably high enough for now before smoking one more bowl together and packing up the weed supply. Kris, still confused over where they’re going to get the weed for tonight’s camping trip, starts to take his last toke, but stops himself when Jimmy get up and walks out the door. Opting to not get left behind, Kris rises and ejects the red-hot charcoal cherry of their umpteenth bowl into the air above that random pile of green-tipped toothpicks next to the door. Better to have loved and lost to never have loved at all, he supposes.

Party Favors

Jimmy flicks the spent roach of one of the many joints he rolled from Chet’s weed into the street. The afternoon sun is glaring down at the boys as they soak up their high on a bench near the town’s sole patch of forest. It’s not deep enough to get lost in, yet it’s dense enough to lose yourself in; perfect for a camping trip.

“Duuuude,” exhales Kris, his eyelids more than half of the way shut. “They call it a park because you park your car to get out into nature. Maannn, the, like, English language, I sweeeaaaar, duuude.”

Jimmy rolls his eyes, thinking, ‘This fuckin’ guy.’ He checks his phone. 5:17. Why is Chet not here yet? They can’t really smoke any more until they get to the camping spot. Too many humans out and about, watching them, observing them, keeping an eye on the two misfits sitting on their bench, plotting the downfall of the town of Mundon. This day has been a chore and a half, and it only seems to be getting more inconvenient for our buddy Jim.

Then, the sound of a crying puppy erupts from Jimmy’s pocket, nearly causing Kris to piss himself.

“Finally!” click “Hello?”

“Hey Jim, it’s Chet. Where should I pick you guys up?”

“Nowhere lipshit, me and Kris are already at the park. Hurry up, I wanna get stoned.”

“Whuh– I thought, erm… didn’t you say it was gonna be me, you, and Steve?”

“NO, I fuckin’ dih– oh wait, yeah ahahahah, yeah I did. Yeah he couldn’t come, bummer bro. Why you always gotta bring the mood down, man?”

“HI CHET!” Kris screams from a foot away.

One dirty look from a stroller-pushing father later, Jimmy says, “Kris says hi.”

“Hey Kris. A’ight, I’ll be there in a few. Sorry I’m late, that g–”

“DUDE!” Jimmy spews, garnering the attention of the passersby (other than the dad of the year) that weren’t paying him any attention until now. Then, perhaps a bit more quietly, “You aren’t late, dude, you’re not even here yet. Huuurrrrryyyyyy!”

click

Jimmy turns to Kris and says, “He’ll be here soon. Try to sober up a bit, okay Kris?”

“Okie dokie.” Kris takes a few deep, intent breaths, but remains as stoned as ever. Oh well. “Dangit, I tried man. Hey, it was awful nice of Chad to let us burn at his house before, man. Like, in his bedroom and stuff.”

Jimmy shoots his compatriot a look that goes way over his head. “Yeah, dude’s great. Just don’t mention it to him, cool?”

“Okay man. Hey, can I mention that he’s super cool for letting us smoke his weed tonight? ‘Cause tha–”

“No, Kris, speak when you’re fuckin’ spoken to. I swear to god, you’re a brick wall.”

A few minutes later, Chet pulls into the parking lot. Kris springs from his seat to help his buddy unload while Jimmy sits back and enjoys the show. It’s incredible that they’ve trained circus monkeys to work like humans, really stunning.

Eventually Jimmy approaches the two dudes he’ll be smoking with tonight and holds out what used to be a big ol’ herb sack.

“Yo. Got the party favors.”

“Dank!” Chet exclaims, maybe a little too loud. “Dude I need it, that freaking new girl at work I was telling you about? She kept trying to convince me that I was her older brother who apparently ran away a few years ago. Fuckin’ weird, right? Like, is it just me or is that weird as shit?”

“That’s just queer, chick was probably into you. Lots of humans into incest shit now, with that fuckin’ porn on the internet and shit,” Jimmy explains before hocking a horrific loogie right next to Chet’s shoe. “Doesn’t beat our story though, a firetruck nearly tee-boned us on the way over here.”

“Yeah man,” Kris says, shaking the PTSD from his thoughts. “It was crazy irresponsible of him. Like, where’s the fire, right?”

Kris has a laugh, offering to share it with Jimmy and Chet. They silently decline.

Then, Chet picks up the slack. “Well damn, dudes. Sounds like we could all use a burn, then.”

And with that, the three wander off into the woods on a search to find a nice spot to smoke themselves silly and settle down for the night. Yes, they’re all going to settle into place, just like the charred remains of Chet’s rental house. It’s a good thing his landlord swung by to demand an early rental payment, or else the fire department never would have gotten called!

Fin


Mystic Shit

“What do you mean you can’t discern the cause of the fire?! I need to make an insurance claim! What am I supposed to say, that the shit got struck by fuckin’ lightning?!”

“Not if you’re Jewish!” the fireman chuckles, patting himself on the belly. “Look sir, I–”

“Tyrone, please. You know my name.”

Tyrone sighs. “Fine. No, Lemmy, we’re not totally sure what started the fire. We think it could have been a tossed cigarette butt or something of the sort, but we found this in what might have been his bedroom before it caved in,” as he holds his hand out. Sat in his palm is a melted glass thing, a paperweight but warped, disfigured, and totally unrecognizable.

Lemmy takes it and holds it close to his eye, the glass still warm from the fire’s touch. “What kind of mystic shit was this kid into?!”


Hello Commons, this has been the third story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Insomnia – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (2/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 2
Insomnia

Second Day In A Row

As if by clockwork, Chet’s eyes burst open the moment his cracked alarm clock strikes 11:11. He groans the groan of a grizzly that was woken from hibernation precisely three months early and rolls over to swat the cackling arthropod from the sanctity of his nightstand before pouring himself out of bed and crawling around on the floor. This isn’t part of any workout routine or weird meditation thing, but it is a ritual of sorts; with only enough energy to keep one of his eyes half of the way open, Chet sniffs the air and locks on to his target. He digs through one of the numerous molehills of clothing jutting from his bedroom floor like mountains of arbitration and finds his beautiful Aphroditty, her bowl full of ash from the previous night.

Beside the slightly ashy pile of clothing is his lighter, a plain black Qic that Chet lifted from the 822 Minimart under which he is so thankfully employed. Multiple attempts at flicking the yanked Qic do not pan out for young Chet, unfortunately – it seems his lighter is low on fluid. Such stress so early in the morning; not only does Chet need to find his little plastic garbage can beneath the heaps of clothing scattered about his bedroom floor to throw his lighter into, but he also needs to dig out his box of matches from his old camping backpack that he hasn’t used since before he moved out here so he can smoke. The catch: said backpack could literally be locked inside the Ark of the Covenant for all Chet knows. He will find the lighter regardless, he has to. One day without a wake and bake session is bad enough, but two days? Hell no.

‘This isn’t that big of a deal,’ Chet mentally reassures himself whilst flinging dirty laundry into the air behind him, ‘You can just pinch another lighter from work on your break.’

Looks like the 822 job isn’t the worst gig in the world after all. A full fifteen minutes later, Chet comes across his vanquished but still breathing alarm clock. He is then checked right in the face by a hulking reality strapped with a hockey mask: he’s going to be hours late to the job, yet again. Second day in a row. Fanfreakingtastic. This means that uppity-ass Mister Bron-ass will be spelunking even further up Chet’s ass today than he normally does. Say goodbye to that break and hello to a docked paycheck.

No break is whatever, Chet usually doesn’t take one anyway, but the docked slip of money paper will lead to a smaller weed fund for the month; this is a code red, if ever there was one. Giving the pipe incarnation of the goddess of beauty a kiss goodbye, Chet sloppily dresses himself in his unwashed deli uniform and sprints downstairs, then out into the cold night air.

Scrambled

Being sober and therefore entirely out of his element, Chet dives into his car and backs the Grand PM out of his driveway. The duo makes it halfway down the road before noticing the lack of late-morning sunshine; Chet slams on the breaks and the PM stops dead in the street, the skid marks left behind the tires as dark as the circles underneath Chet’s eyes. This is the very worst-case scenario, the one withdrawal symptom that makes yesterday’s nonsense look like a stroll to your mom’s house. See, the other problems go away when the medicine is administered, but this one? When certain tectonic plates are set into motion beneath the Earth’s surface, there’s no stopping the ensuing tidal wave. Having felt more than well rested from the two-hour cat nap Chet allowed it to indulge in, Chet’s body is now more animated than your parents when you walk in on them for a surprise visit, emphasis on the surprise. His mind is deader than the deadbolt they forgot to lock, his body’s as exhausted as your parents are with the fact that you exist, and his mind is as disgusted as you should be at this dreadfully extended metaphor. Tonight, the luxury of sleep no longer exists to Chet, similarly to your innocence after you walk in on your parents nailing each other when you pay them a spontaneous visit home from… wherever you live.

Yeah, I said it. I made it real, and now you have to deal with it, just like Chet when he screams out, “FUCKING INSOMNIA!”

Chet throws the Grand PM back into reverse and returns to his driveway, the cold night air licking his face through the broken window. Dragging his feet up his steps and slamming the front door shut to show the Universe just how angsty he is at all of this, Chet retreats to his cave with his proverbial tail between his legs. C’mon Chet, you’re not that scrambled, just a little tired is all. Look at the positives, my boy! Not only is there ample time to find your matches and smoke ya bad self up, but your brain’s going to be so wired by the time your shift starts that you’ll probably get to work early!

What’s that? Oh, you can’t hear me because you’re too busy screaming at yourself internally? Cool man, I’ll just let you do you.

Chet gets the night off to a great start when, as he’s turning to walk up his stairs, half of his body collides with the wall. Studies show that during bouts of insomnia, the given sufferer is so motor-impaired that they may as well be intoxicated; Chet is out to prove the legitimacy of this study.

Just after recovering from tripping up the second-to-last stair, Chet walks into his guest bedroom. He strips out of his uniform and climbs between the covers, melting into the comfy bed like cheese between two sheets of lasagna. Here he simmers for about forty-two seconds before he realizes that he’s in the wrong room and starts screaming internally again, cursing belligerently at the malevolent force who rearranged the layout of his rental house. He leaves the guest room a mess so said malevolent force can clean it up for him later.

Clouded by irritation, the chetsweats, a headache, and a slight tremble in his hands, Chet stumbles into what should, by all rights,be his bedroom, and trips over a very sturdy pile of clothing. He remains here for a good short while, too angry to get up and too tired to lighten up. It’s a good thing his carpet’s so saturated with weed smell, or else Chet would be pushing furious.

Chet’s Smokin’ Tonight

Eventually Chet comes to the realization that lying on the floor of his bedroom isn’t going to get him any closer to being stoned. He rises and decides to search through the tidier rooms of his abode before tackling ground zero. The backpack is almost certainly buried in this room, and he knows this, but procrastination is a thing, after all. A quick sweep of the bathroom reveals nothing with a side dish of startling uncleanliness, so he moves on to the guest bedroom.

“Who the fuck was sleeping in h– oh… wait. Shit.”

Jotting cleaning the guest room just above searching the bedroom on tonight’s imaginary to-do list, Chet goes downstairs and begins an expedition through his entire household. Starting with the living room where he never smokes his weed, he then proceeds through the kitchen, then the den, then the hall closet, and finally ends in the basement where he never dwells. Chet grows tired of his own wild goose chase and returns to his bedroom, the little home inside his house.

The home that he still hasn’t cleaned, which he must do in order to search through it.

Chet trips over the sturdy pile of laundry again and kisses the floor, kind of like Jimi Hendrix but the exact polar opposite. Chet decides to clean that specific pile up last, solely out of spite. You know you’re exhausted when you start spiting inanimate objects, amirite? And you know you’re really far gone when you hear an assholeish voice in your head narrating everything you do, like, what the fuck, right? Right Chet? What the fuck, RiGhT?’

With hopes of kicking out these intrusive thoughts, Chet selects a pile of clothing that has yet to hurt his feelings and gets to work. After, that is, he performs the smell test to determine whether or not they actually need to be washed.

sniff

When he’s done gagging, Chet picks the remaining pile up and holds it while he searches for his hamper. It’s stuffed inside his closet, right under the shelf where he keeps his stash box, but it takes him a while to remember this. Meanwhile, the caustic toxins present in Chet’s laundry pile begin eating through the first layer of skin on both his hands and his arms, which is fine because it’s just dead skin cells anyway. Chet doesn’t feel a thing, and if anything, once the biohazard is properly contained, his arms seem to work a bit better! As Chet flings pile after pile of dirty laundry into the hamper, he contemplates when the last time he did laundry was. When… when did he do laundry last? I– er, he’s… we’re asking you, hypothetical reader, because if he doesn’t know, then I sure as hell don’t.

Oh well, doesn’t matter. Chet’s phone is going off.

Two more piles get loaded into the hamper before Chet needs to peel back a curtain and crack a window. The smell of evolved body odor, once a concentrated colony has been established, is far too much for young Chet to bare. Not even a bear would come near this nonsense, and they eat human shit. Like, baby human shit, like, if you load a dumpster up with full diapers, close it, wait five seconds and open it up again, there’ll be bear in there just tearing the shit up – literally – and it’ll be pissed at you for disturbing its feast!

Ah, there goes that phone again. Chet’s ringtone is an old reggae song played at four-and-a-fifth times its normal speed; when he’s high, this tune is a randomly delivered batch of pure musical ecstasy. Right now, Chet is not high, though, and the obnoxious shrill might as well be his mother’s nails on the chalkboard she keeps in the kitchen. Kept. Probably still keeps. Whatever. With a mean flick of his wrist, Chet pulls all the blankets off his bed, which is the last known location of his cell phone.

There’s no easy way to say this: Chet’s phone crashes right into his forehead. This, tonight’s umpteenth collision, does nothing to make our camper any happier, and he kicks over his almost full toxic waste depository in retaliation. That’s a yeesh Chet, that’s a big ol’ yeesh. After composing himself and re-containing his disaster, Chet finally check his phone. It’s his stoner pal Jimmy, texting him at three o’clock in the morning to say the following:

yo were smoking l8r rite

Chet, whilst wondering why the WHY this needs to be asked at three o’clock in the morning, answers back…

Yeah, I have work but afterwards I’m down

cool. wat time

9 to 5

k

Chet puts his phone down and moves the hamper out into the hallway. He once had aspirations of playing competitive basketball in high school that he never followed through on, so he makes a little game for himself: for every shot he sinks into the hamper, he’ll take a hit from his pipe. You know, when he finds something to combust the plant matter held within its luscious bowl.

Fourteen missed shots later leave Chet’s hallway more littered than a minefielded rice paddy, and Chet is grumpier than the farmer who discovered said minefield with his now prosthetic foot and leg. Oh well, it’s not like Chet’s not going to smoke because of this.

Cue the speedy reggae.

steves comin to

Chet studies the strange symbols on his phone screen, attempting to decipher their meaning. ‘Oh, Steve is coming to smoke,’ he thinks to himself while he makes a one-man show of rolling his eyes in a very no shit kind of way.

K

dont k me toolbag. c yu 2mro

Chet throws his phone into the hallway. To his surprise, it lands in the laundry basket! Whoop whooooooop, Chet’s smokin’ tonight! Er, this morning! Chet’s smokin’ this morning! Or, actually, would it be later…? Whatever. Chet’s getting high soon. Besides, time isn’t even real.

It Is Time

By the time Chet’s finished clearing all but one of the piles off his bedroom floor, the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon. In a flash decision of egocentricity and continued spite, Chet moves to clean out his calamity of a closet before touching the stupid pile of stupid clothing on his stupid fucking floor.

You know, the one that outsmarted him twice in the same night.

The inanimate laundry pile. Yeah, that one

Inside his closet, Chet finds no less than two CO2 airsoft guns – a pistol and a rifle – that he’s totally going to get fixed one day; fourteen little cardboard boxes that have the words HotBox stamped on top of them with a branding iron, all stuffed with various pieces of smoking equipment and accessories; mounds of infected dirty clothing; mounds of clean clothing that caught the dirty contagion simply from sharing a proximity with the nasty clothes; a cylindrical box containing a burnt-out lava lamp; two oversized stuffed animals, one a bear and one a bigfoot, that a now-straightedge ex-girlfriend gave back to him after he originally won them at a carnival for her; eighty-seven old vidyaGame magazines that Chet never skimmed, read, nor looked at; a few old movie posters rolled so tightly that they’ll never unroll without curling, and; a box of pizza that was left in there so long ago that the microorganisms in the cheese have evolved to the size of beetles and developed their own ecosystem.

Yet no backpack, no matches, no spare lighter. Imagine that.

All right, time to swallow that pride. Chet stands across the room from his archenemy, The Gatekeeper. The final battle is about to begin. Orchestral boss music plays in Chet’s head before it’s cut off by the theme of that old western flick The Bad, The Good and the Guapo. A tumbleweed composed of lint, dust bunnies, and weed tumbles by in the background. Then… Chet anticlimactically begins throwing the last of the dirty clothes onto the piles that have formed around his hamper. As the pile diminishes, Chet becomes very angry with himself when he should just be happy; the pile was so sturdy this whole time, so easily able to outsmart him, because it was built upon his camping backpack.

The one with the matches in it that he’s been searching for all night. It was right there in front of him the entire time. Imagine tha

“Shut the fuck up with your imagine that shit! Fucking hell!”

Matchbox in hand, Chet hasn’t been this excited since he was a newborn who’d just seen the light. He lights an incense, closes the opened curtain, dims the lights, hits that lo-fi. ‘It’s showtime.’

Holding a freshly packed Aphroditty and the matchbox in one hand and a single match in the other, Chet overzealously strikes the green-tipped twiggyboi. So overzealously, in fact, that the match breaks in half as it combusts. In a blaze of glory like no other, the ball of phosphoric flame flies unguided through the air towards Chet’s nightstand. By the time our boy launches himself at the small fire and extinguishes it, a small but not as small as the fire scorch is burned into his carpet. ‘Fuck.’

After making a pit stop in the bathroom to run water over the incredibly minor burn on his hand, Chet slinks back into his room, his tail tucked so far between his legs at this point that he realizes, ‘That’s not a tail, that’s just my dick! Man am I tired.’

Chet gets down on his hands and knees to pick the tiny sliver of charcoal from the melted strands of carpet fibre, and that’s when he sees it. There, underneath his nightstand, lays an old lighter, one that he paid for long ago. He never even got to take the safety off, it’s so pristine, so innocent. So pure. Reaching through cobwebs and entire bedscrapers full of dust bunnies, Chet salvages the lighter and lays it next to Aphroditty; truly a match made in heaven. Then, he turns and whips the box of matches into the wall next to his doorjamb, spilling all of its contents on the once clean carpet beneath his light switch. New room’s gotta start somewhere, right?

Finally, it is time. Chet sits on his floor and leans back against his bed. He lights his bowl right in the center of the leafy green soup and draws, filling them lungs with the best oxygen substitute known to man. He holds his hit in until his eyes water, then slowly exhales the cloud into his room so he can breathe it in again later. Six more hits and the bowl’s made as ashy as the air is hazy. Finally, after a night of more trials and tribulations than Heracles himself had to face, Chet is one happy camper.

That is, until the alarm on his phone goes off, informing him that it is now 8:52 AM, and that he’s going to be late for Bronology 101.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Fin


Chad

“What do you mean you saw him?”

“I saw him mom, I saw Tyler! I mean, the guy’s name was Chad or something, but he looked and sounded exactly like him!”

Momma Portman shoots her daughter a look. “What were you doing at a minimart, anyway? You don’t eat that shit foot. If you’re smoking cigarettes, young lady, I swear to God…”

“Ugh!” Isabelle ughs, “I was just thirsty and I needed to grab a drink, mom! Are you not hearing me?! I saw Tyler, he’s still in town! He’s not dead!”

Mom grabs Isabelle by the shoulders, brings their faces close. “Listen to me, very, carefully. Your brother is gone, he’s an asshole and he abandoned our family. He’s dead to me, and he should be dead to you, too, Isabelle. This…” She softly pushes her daughter away and begins to massage her pounding temples. “This is the third time you’ve claimed to see him in the past year. Get a grip, child! He’s gon–”

“No, he’s not!” Isabelle shouts, pushing herself further away. “He’s my brother and I love him, and you should too! He ran away for a reas–”

“HEY! If you keep this shit up, then I’m calling your father at work. You know he doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

Isabelle backs away towards the front door. “He was never like that before Tyler left. All of this shit started the day you walked down into that basement and found it empty!”

Isabelle storms out of the house, not letting the locked door stop her, and climbs into her car. Lighting a cancer stick and hanging it out the window, Isabelle speeds off into the day, unsure if she’ll ever be coming back.


Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Turbulence – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (1/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 1
Turbulence

Wake And Bake

beep. Beep. BEEP!

Chet looks at his alarm clock through cracked lids and burning eyeballs. The screaming lovechild of hard plastic and microchips is shamelessly spazzing out like a toddler whose mom won’t buy him a candy bar, it’s way too early for this shit. Normally he would crush the crow-colored contraption into a nightstandful of broken pieces with his fist, but not today. Instead, Chet calmly presses the snooze button, and with a click the screeching ceases. Painless. Easy.

His eyes slowly close as he drifts back to sleep.

beep. Beep. BEEP!

click

beep. Beep. BEEP!

SLAM

Chet’s had about enough. With his dastardly clock vanquished once and for all, the Chetsecutioner slowly drifts back to sleep… again. Eventually, his eyes open to a squint and he wonders why the sun is so bright at only seven o’clock in the morning. Whatever, the sun can do what it wants; Chet sits up and rubs his eyes until the guilty ecstasy of the action turns to pain and he has to stop.

Ya boy Chet doesn’t have to be at work until nine today, giving him plenty of time for the daily wake and bake session. He stands and happens to notice his cell phone before he does his pipe and grinder, so he decides to check if anybody sent him any texts first.

“Ohhhhh fuck me it’s ten’thirty.”

Chet throws on his bowling shirt of a uniform and rushes out his front door, not even bothering to lock it behind him. It’s not like he owns anything that a robber would want; you see, Chet lives in the house equivalent of a dive bar bathroom these days, and this is the wealthier part of town, too.

Car keys in hand, he dives into the driver seat of his Grand PM and throws that plastic bitch in reverse, hitting the main road with a holy fuck am I late tempo. As he put-puts down the main road, a very startling realization hits Chet similarly to how his car hits every pothole it drives in, then out of – this is the first morning in literally four consecutive months that he didn’t smoke right after waking up. The forecast for today: a bare-legged trot through a field of roses.

Chet pulls into the parking lot and parks his car – over the line between two spots, by the way – at 11:04 on the dot.

‘Only one hour late,’ Chet thinks to himself while he enjoys his last moment of Chet time before he walks through the doors. ‘Or is it two? Three? Ah, who knows, late is late to these assholes.’

Chet hatches from his car like a baby dinosaur emerging into the world, releasing a skwakish yawn and slamming the door shut with his keys inside. He won’t realize he’s done this until much later – damn that scrambled brain of his. That’s one of the withdrawal symptoms Chet always feels first, the inability to think in a straight line, or be aware of his surroundings in general. He’s aware of his inclination towards scatter-braindedness, ironically enough, he just never remembers to check himself before he inevitably wrecks himself. Oh well. The first thing Chet sees as he pushes through the doors of the 822 MiniMart is his “boss” (read: assistant manager of the store on Wednesdays and Fridays) standing behind the counter, impatiently slapping the unmopped tile floor with his foot forcefully enough for the zero present customers to hear over their incessant chattering. Chet apologizes for being late and promptly gets chewed out. The irony of being talked down to by a four-foot manchild who unironically wears spandex leggings is almost too much for Chet’s increasingly animistic mind to bear.

The twentysomething, or in the words of Bron, loser punk-ass is very rarely late to work, it happens no more than once every couple months; the assistant to his manager just completely wasted his own youth and has zero chill left in his system, and what’s more, he feels the need to take it out on his subordinates. When enough white stuff has formed in the corners of Bron’s mouth for him to consider his message delivered, he retreats into his office in the back of the back of the store. Chet’s left overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and the wish to be toasted like a buttered roll right now.

The Eight’Twenty-Two

An hour or two pass – or maybe twenty minutes, it’s hard to tell – and the jitters are jittering strong. Chet’s hands won’t stop their trembling, it legitimately feels like the spirit of Parkinson’s disease gripped Chet’s nervous system by the ass as it passed him by on the bus. He checks his watch and sees that it’s just about two-ish, and like clockwork, in stumble the usual customers.

First is Smitty, a morbidly… uh, healthy warehouse worker who builds himself the same meal every day whilst acting, the entire time, like he has noooo idea what he’s about to inhale: a meatball sub with bacon, a bag of extra-grease flavored potato chips that he will pour onto the first meatball sub, a second meatball sub, this one with extra sauce and extra bacon, and a diet Bepis soda. Next come two -agers in the back half of their teens, or as Chet calls them, TLEs (tomorrow’s least educated), who sneak out of school early every day to buy the 822’s shitty garbage food because they don’t want to eat their high school’s shitty garbage food, and they’re followed by a couple of cool stoner dudes that Chet knows. He considers them friends, but they consider him the random dude at the 822 who would give them free food in exchange for bags of bottom-of-the-jar shake.

Until they got caught anyway, which was pretty lame, but it also came with a silver lining: the stoner bois got to see Chet get publicly berated by Bron while they munched on some popcorn they didn’t have to pay for.

A bucket’s worth of customers come in after the rush, but they didn’t leave much of an impression on Chet, so they may as well have never came in. Lunch passes without a hitch and the number of customers in the store dies back down to an overwhelming zero, just in time for Chet to get the sweats! These are no normal sweats though; these are the Chetsweats, the unrelenting cold sweats that don’t stop until the armpits of Chet’s uniform, which nobody let him know was inside-out this entire time, are an entirely different color than they were when he walked in. He checks his watch – only hours until his shift is over and he can go home and quell his symptoms.

With the Chetsweats comes a rush of irritability, mostly because of the feeling of frigidity in his pits makes our buddyboy hate his life just a little bit more. Just a teensy bit, like, the size of a droplet of sweat after it’s assumed its final form in your armpit and it flows down your side like a raindrop on a waxed windshield. Chet wishes he wasn’t such an idiot, that he would’ve just smoked this morning. He totally could have, too, rushing here was pointless; coming in at 9:01 would have ordered Chet the same verbal slaughtering that was delivered for coming in hours late. The daily mental processes of the asinine humans he’s forced to work under must be a carnival sideshow. He feels bad for them, really. They should just smoke some pot. It would probably fix a lot of their problems.

In an attempt to not think about weed more than he already is, Chet reminisces about the last time he ventured into the ‘22 without taking his wake and bake. He politely told a customer to, and I quote, “Fuck off and play in traffic, harlot,” and the guy totally deserved it, too; nobody gets to steal a box of honey buns unless Chet gets some free bud out of it. Shortly after Chet’s inappropriate outburst, Bron let the thief get away with the buns. The bastard then went on to write a bad review for the store on Holler! Despicable; Mundon is as Mundon does, at the end of the day. Chet normally doesn’t give a shit about little petty stuff like that, he’s usually a pretty chill guy. But when he doesn’t take his holistic medicine, well… connect the dots.

Suddenly, a pain reminiscent of getting hit with a baseball bat swings into Chet’s cranium – the headache has officially arrived. His vision even goes blurry for a few seconds, so he does the only reasonable thing he can think to do in this situation – he curls up in a little ball on the floor and closes his eyes. With the departure of one sensory input, another one arrives in the form of a high-pitched ringing in both of his ears.

It’s times like these where his cravings for the holy plant are the strongest. Chet doesn’t want to get high at this point, it’s far beyond that; he needs relief. His body is literally attacking him from the inside and he simply cannot deal with it, not here at work.

After a few minutes the headache subsides and his hands stop trembling, but the tropical rain forests that are his armpits are still precipitating, and he can’t concentrate on anything besides his own yearning for hot, thick, yellow-white smoke filling his lungs, taking him airborne…

“Um… hello? Is anyone here?”

Attention passengers, brace for turbulence! Chet peers over the counter and sees a young lass who could accurately be described as a beautiful blonde bombshell by anybody other than Chet, and she’s looking around for a cashier. In a flurry of panic and spasmodic jives, Chet ducks back down and discretely crawlwalks into the employee’s lounge, the swinging doors hitting him on the ass on the way in. He checks his appearance in the mirror and is relieved that he doesn’t look like a total wreck and/or nutcase, which is a good sign. Maybe today isn’t so bad after all. He lets a bang drop over his left eye because reasons and walks back out to the counter, ready to face his next challenge.

“Hello, welcome to the eight’twenty-two! How can I help you, miss?”

“Hi, can I get a pack of Marlburrow Reds? I need my herbal fix.”

Chet, about to fulminate over the sheer misuse of those words, calmly turns and grabs a pack of cancer sticks. He tries to make conversation a few times whilst he rings the Sheila, up but stutters because his mind is more scrambled than the alleged egg product that Charlie’s placing between two halves of bagel in the back.

Chet drops the cigarettes in a bag and finally manages to squeak out, “You know, you’re smoking the wrong plant there, chick.”

Chick laughs and explains that she tried left-handed cigarettes with her brother a few times, but her parents found out and forced her to take a drug test twice a week for an entire year. ‘Yeah, that sounds about right.’ Aside from the stoner dudes, friends and family are both F words to Chet, so he usually avoids the dramas of living with other humans… but he does have Bron, so… he guesses he can understand having a way of life forced upon oneself.

Our boy– sorry, man hasn’t spoken to his parents since the day they found out he tried smoking cigarettes; when this happened, they tried to administer further punishment to their twenty-three-year-old first born son who was already banished to the basement, kicked off the family’s health insurance, and forced to pay the house’s electric and gas bills out of his own pockets, so that night he took it upon himself to disappear from their lives forever. The sad truth about the matter is that his parents drank as much – if not more – alcohol than Chet smoked when he was still living at home, tobacco and weed combined. And they both chain smoked cigarettes in their youth, and weed, so really they were hypocrites. Oh well, Chet’s much happier now; he can get high whenever he wants, and the rent he’s paying isn’t going to the reasonlessly spiteful humans that made him. Win-win situation.

Chet bids the girl a neutral farewell and she just kind of looks at him for a second, as if she was looking at someone who she knew for a long time. The moment passes and she leaves. She lights up a cigarette as she climbs into her car.‘What a shame.’

Chet interrogates his watch again and learns that only a couple of minutes have passed since he last checked the time, his inner voice proclaiming a resounding, ‘Ffffffuuuuuuuucccccccckkkkkkkk.’ On the bright side, there’s only an hour and… an hour and multiple minutes left of his shift. Math was never Chet’s strong point, okay? So what? Anyway, the headaches come and go in tumultuous waves over the next hour and x minutes, a stellar, salty sensation of spins accompanying the swell every so often. Lots of high-school-aged TLEs come and go steadily through five o’clock, most of them buying their daily rations of chips and Creature energy drinks, and whatever other food product their smelly, hormone-driven existence is craving this particular day. As he rings up literally seven slushies for a single skinny kid, Chet can’t help but think about how good a slush and a bowl would be right now. Gar.

The after-school rush makes Chet lose track of the eternally slow passage of time, and by the time the last snot-machine grabs his backpack from the front of the store and dips out, it’s half past five. Great, Chet’s co-worker is late! This is exactly what he needs right now, Chet definitely isn’t vividly contemplating suicide! Feelings of anxiety and nausea rush through his intestines, as does the need to fucking smoke some fucking reefer already. Somehow our THC-less tetrahedron survives until half-six and Geoff, his most uppity of co-workers, strolls in, his pristinely shined shoes clicking against the still unmopped tile floor. Chet, attempting to sound as diplomatic as possible while at the same time coming off as a neurotic lunatic, asks Geoff where the fuck he’s been all day.

“Well you see, Mister Skylark, Bron gave me a ringy earlier on in the day and requested that I not come in until seven o’clock. I’m actually early, thank you very little.”

‘Oh for fUCK’S SAKE!!!!!!!!!’ is what Chet thinks, but he says, “Oh okay, no worries man. Have a good night,” as he turns to finally get out from behind the front counter. While he’s flipping the false countertop up, he sees Bron leaning against the back wall of the deli, hands folded tight under his armpits, thumbs twiddling his nipples through his shirt, face exhibiting a very ape-like grin of satisfaction. This is me saying this, not Chet: fuck that guy. Geoff tells Chet how awful he looks and offers to take over now if he wants to go home, to which Chet responds with a mental ‘Fucking duh,’ and a verbal, “Thank you very much!” Our internally conflicted stoner has just enough time to get outside to his car and try the still locked handle of the driver’s side door one single time before a husky Bron gallops up behind him.

In a voice with more nasal influence than a nerd with a sinus infection and one functioning nostril, Bron unleashes his finishing move. “That’ll teach you to be late again, kid,” extra emphasis on the kid. “Now get on outta’ here.”

Chet tries to explain to Bron that he can’t quite get on outta’ here because he accidentally locked his keys in his car in his mad rush to get to work this morning, but Bron ignores his words and walks back inside.

Chet’s had a very long day. His body, which is used to an hourly intake of a very specific plant-based, medicinal, naturally occurring chemical, has been waging war against itself in an attempt to make Chet come to his senses and smoke right this second already. His boss was a douche, the customers were customers, and now he has to ask His Prissyness for a ride home.

No.

No no no no NNOOOO!

Chet’s symptoms all come at him at once, the splitting headache, the sweat that puts the rain in rain forest, the dizziness, the mental fog that you could cut a donut out of, everything. If life was bad all day, he just entered an internal dimension of hell that he never knew existed – he can’t fucking deal. He snaps, snaps I say! Snaps like a jazzy finger-thumb combo! Rapidly turning his head back and forth to assess his surroundings, he finds a perfect tool for the job – a large hunk of pavement. Chet dives for his asphalt salvation, picking it up and using it as a chair in the wrestling cage match of the century – impatience versus unfortunate coincidence.

In the plot twist of the millennium, the two decide to team up. Chet smashes his car window.

Holy Smokes

The drive home is a cold one; the sharp evening air (occasionally carrying with it small splinters of window glass) blows into Chet’s face and eyes and ears the entire drive. He gets home to find his driveway stark empty, devoid of the landlord’s spiffy sportscar that sometimes comes to check in on him (read: request an early rent payment). Chet considers this lack of upcoming human contact to be the first good thing that’s happened to him all day.

Chet gets out of his car and pulls out his cell phone to order a pizza for delivery before he walks inside. He meant to call as he was leaving work but, you know, unbridled rage and all that. Once his dinner (a buffchick pizza) is on the way, Chet runs inside and takes himself a hot shower, oddly enough without smoking first. This is the extent of his mental cloudiness.

He gets out just in time not dry himself off before the pizza guy knocks on the door. Dressed only in a towel, and a short one at that, Chet struthops downstairs and opens his front door to find a very surprised delivery boy. The kid’s either in his mid-thirties or he’s seventeen, it’s strangely hard to tell, and he comments on Chet’s house smelling like a few skunks got loose and had an orgy. Chet replies that he has no idea what the kid’s talking about, and when the kid puts his hand out for a tip, Chet smirks and hits him with the following before shutting the door in his face.

“Here’s a tip, chiefy ol’ boss: get a job that’ll pay you full wages. And hold your nose next time.”

The couch poofs dust as Chet sits down.

Inhaling half the pizza without stopping to breathe makes the headache go away, but Chet’s tremblsweating will stop for no ‘za. He turns on the television to Dimelodeon and lays back for a few moments, allowing his stomach to process whatever it is that goes into buffalo sauce, before his eyes damn near pop out of his skull. ‘Chet can smoke now!!’ Chet thinks to himself.

With this realization observed, Chet’s up in his room so fast that he leaves skid marks at the bottom of the stairs.

With his door locked and a mellow lo-fi instrumental playing in the background, it is finally time. Chet pulls his pride and joy out from within his closet – the stash. His cache of supplies includes a bulbous ziplock baggie of herbage, seven pipes, a pack or two of rolling papers, and, a left-handed cigarette rolling contraption. The baggy contains no less than three ounces of pure, green bud, the words Big Daddy Dank chicken-scratched on the plastic. Last time Chet picked up, his dealer told him that he got a really rare, exclusive strain, and therefore, he had to charge a premium, but Chet didn’t really give a shit. At the end of the day, he just wants to burn cabbage, and he’ll pay any price… any price.

As he opens the bag, a very specific aroma wafts into the room, but Chet doesn’t even notice. After smoking for so many years, his olfactory bulb has become totally immune to the skunky scent unless he literally sticks a nug up his nose. Why would he do that, though? Waste of nug.

Chet takes a moment to contemplate whether he should roll a joint or smoke with his bong, but then he comes to his senses and grabs whichever piece is closest to him.

He packs his bud into Aphroditty, named after the goddess of beauty or something like that, all the way up to her brim. This is definitely more dank than big daddy needs to be smoking right now, Chet knows this, but Chet also gives an unprecedentedly minuscule fuck about how much he smokes tonight, so yeah. ‘Fill yer pockets, boi.’ The symptoms of withdrawal miraculously drip out of Chet like saliva from the mouth of Pavlov’s dog as soon as he finds his lighter; he takes a moment to enjoy the zen in the air before igniting the fire.

With a flick of his Qic and a crackle of burning plant matter, Chet finally gets what he’s been seeking all day: the holy smokes.

A ghastly plume enters his body and travels down his esophagus, most of it going into his lungs whilst the remainder sneaks into his stomach so he can belch it back up and enjoy it later. The outside world and all of its preconceptions melt away in a matter of seconds, leaving Chet to be alone with his thoughts in the inner sanctum of his mind.

spark

crackle

spark spark

crackle

cough. Cough. COUGH!

What was once green is now a blackish-grayish mound of ashes. He presses the butt of his lighter into the open urn and compacts the ash, fiending himself one more hit, this one tasting dramatically less herby than the previous ones. In fact, this hit tastes like somebody bit the end off a cigar, burned it crispy, and pressed it against the back of Chet’s tongue, but Chet ignores it. He lays back and feels as if he was floating while at the same time sinking into the bed.

Chet is one with his blankets, a conduit for the warmth.

Love is everywhere, everything is bliss, and Chet is absolutely digging it, the winds of inner peace lift his being up from the dirty bowels of the 822, up from the rude pizza kid, up into his room and into the lovely realm of Psychedelia, up and up through the sky and past the clouds and the air’s getting thin and up and up and up into spac…

Fin


The Void

I am alone in The Void.

Then, he appears.

I’m unsure of what to say. He’s sure to say nothing.

Finally, I break.

Look, I appreciate your contribution, I really do. The pamphlet is now a tiny bit fatter. And weirder. And I appreciate it. And you. But I wasn’t being serious, I don’t really know how to–

“I don’t care that you don’t know how, I care that you put me in. I even made it seem like your moksha medicines or whatever name you call your drugs unlocked the Spiraling ability. I did all that for you, so now you owe me. Asshole.”

I… all right, fine. I think I know how to fit you in, um… random question though, totally unrelated: do you happen to own a monkey suit?

DoIhappento,” sigh “no, I don’t fucking own a monkey suit. I don’t even have the money to buy one.”

Well shit bud, I guess you better go and rob your ass a bank or something! Those cloaks don’t exactly scream Tiny Tim, ya feel me?


Hello Commons, this has been the first story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~