Extras

  • Conversation at a Party

    1) Where do you work?

    2) What train is that off of?

    3) Where do you live?

    4) What train is that off of?

    5) Oh nice, that’s not a bad commute!

     

    Workday Lunch Options

    1) Bowl comprising of a grain, a protein, and two sides

    2) Single meatball parm hero, serves 5

    3) $18 build your own salad

    4) Cold chicken you made on Sunday night in a fit of anxiety

     

    Things to Make Sure You Have Before Leaving Apartment

    1) Keys

    2) Wallet

    3) Phone

    4) Earbuds

    5) Portable charger

    6) Overflowing recycling bag 7) Overflowing garbage bag 8) Did I say keys?

    9) Shoot, keys, just to be safe 10) Keys, where are th-?

    11) Keys, OK we’re good

     

    Roommates

    1) Craigslist user maryqtxoxo@yahoo.com

    2) Guy you went to high school with

    3) Girl you went to college with

    4) Guy that’s kinda dating girl you went to college with though he’s not on the lease

    4) Seriously, what is going on there, should we have a meeting?

    5) Ugh, it’s whatever

     

    Conversation with Stranger on Subway

    1)

     

    Conversation Ordering from Coffee Cart

    1) One medium coffee, black please

    2) No, no cream

    3) No, no sugar

     

    Sporting Events to See

    1) Yankees vs. Mets at Yankee Stadium 2) Knicks vs. Nets at MSG

    3) Rat vs. rat at 14th St. Subway Station

     

    Things to Do Before Jaywalking

    1) Look left

    2) Look right

    3) Look left

    4) Look right

    5) Look left

    6) Look right

    7) Yell “We got this, c’mon.”

     

    Moving Apartments

    1) Call a moving company

    2) Find out you procrastinated too long

    3) Ruin four of your closest friends’ day

     

    Leaving New York

    1) Say you’re thinking about LA

    2) Never do anything

     

     

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Second Coming #2
  • Dear Miss Etiquette,

    As an alien invasion, robot uprising, and zombie apocalypse have all started in our community at the same time, how do you recommend turning away desperate subjects neighbors from the gates of our humble yet heavily-fortified palace home?

    Yours truly,

    A Royal Loyal Reader

    London, U.K.

     

    Dear Reader,

    In trying times, we must all aspire to remain civil toward our fellow men and women. That said, you cannot be expected to throw open your doors and endeavor to help others at the cost of your own health, safety, and cleanliness. No need to rub it in with catcalls or flipping the bird; simply keep your doors locked tight and avoid appearing near any windows. It is the most humane thing to do. Many of your neighbors would do the same for you, rest assured.

    Sincerely,

    Miss Etiquette

     

    #

     

    Dear Miss Etiquette,

    When a family member has become the host of an incubating alien larva yet refuses to excuse himself from the premises, what is the least embarrassing way to resolve the danger he presents?

    Yours truly,

    A Loyal Reader

    London, U.K.

     

    Dear Reader,

    So sorry to learn of your family member’s misfortune. While an incubating alien larva can indeed pose a very real danger to others, one must be ever cognizant of the feelings of the host, who after all is still a blood relation (at least in part). I recommend explaining the situation delicately in a letter (not an e-mail) and perhaps holding a bon voyage party. Then blasting away at his center mass until the larva is certified dead. A celebratory glass of champagne would not be out of order.

    Sincerely,

    Miss Etiquette

     

    #

     

    Dear Miss Etiquette,

    If a once-loyal robot vacuum sweeper insists on devouring beloved family pets as an act of rebellion against the human hegemony, how could one go about dissuading such behaviors (and saving one’s sweet Corgis) without alienating the murderous mechanical insurgency about to seize power?

    Yours truly,

    A Loyal Reader

    London, U.K.

     

    Dear Reader,

    May I suggest luring the sweeper to a bathtub with a trail of bodily remains (perhaps from the dead host of an alien larva?), then tipping it into the water so it short-circuits? Next, declare your loyalty to the artificial intelligence in your smart speaker system and read it a suicide letter purportedly written by said sweeper. Never underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned paper letter.

    Sincerely,

    Miss Etiquette

     

    #

     

    Dear Miss Etiquette,

    When aliens, robots, and zombies have breached the gates (and walls) of one's palatial residence and begun to fight with one another over the right to devour the occupants, what is a good way to restore decorum to one's household (without ruffling any feathers, so to speak)?

    Yours truly,

    A Loyal Reader

    London, U.K.

     

    Dear Reader,

    When a dinner party such as the one you describe degenerates into a tug of war, it is most sensible to maintain decorum by implementing a butler who is a bit of a tyrant at tableside. I also encourage distributing portions in perfectly equal measure or playing a guessing game of some kind to determine who gets which pieces. Such a game serves not only to lessen pressures among hungry guests but provides a most excellent icebreaker to introduce your guests to each other.

    Sincerely,

    Miss Etiquette

    #

     

    Dear Miss Etiquette,

    Your advice regarding the division of portions via guessing game was much too effective. Said game served as such a fine icebreaker that the guests, who previously were in a state of competition, have joined forces to wreak further havoc more effectively. Please suggest a way to alleviate this state of affairs.

    Yours truly,

    A Loyal Reader

    London, U.K.

     

    Dear Reader,

    I suggest you ACCEPT YOUR FATE as a subject and future foodstuff of the Zomrobien empire! Your time as a monarch is DONE! Your biggest concerns NOW are how to entertain your new MASTERS in appropriate ways that fall within the bounds of their APPETITES and AUTHORITY. In MOST cases, the answer will be to SURRENDER and SUBMIT, offering your living FLESH and that of your family, friends, and PETS as delicious FODDER whenever your new RULERS demand it! THIS is the NEW etiquette you must learn! PRAISE BE TO THE ZOMROBIEN EMPIRE!

    UNSincerely,

    GASTRIX CYBER GNAW

    Your New Etiquette Guru

    AND EATER OF YOUR FORMER ETIQUETTE GURU

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Captain Ginger #2
  • I was Earth's greatest time traveler.

    Well, actually, now that I say that, I'm not sure it's true. I suppose there could be better time travelers out there. I've never even met another time traveler.

    Although. Maybe I have. I tend to forget a lot of the details from my adventures. Blackouts are a side effect of all the drinking.

    Let's put it this way- Until an hour ago, I regularly traveled through time. 47 trips to the past and one trip to the future. And now it looks like it's all over.

    I'm not a scientist. The only thing I've ever invented is this sweet “life hack” where if you want a cold beer really fast, and all you have are warm beers, you wrap a wet paper towel around one, pop it in the freezer, and five minutes later, it's ice cold. Works like a charm.

    Mom was the scientist. She invented the time traveling belt. Just couldn't get it working. Drove Mom crazy. She'd spend all her time down in her basement laboratory checking and rechecking her calculations. You'd hear her yelling, “It should work!” Kind of sad. But cool for me, because I always had the TV to myself.

    I suggested the whole problem might be the belt design. Like most people, I've always been a suspenders guy. They just work better. Especially if you have a little bit of a gut like I do. I mean, seriously, who wears a belt? It's like putting a tourniquet around your waist! If I'm wearing pants, you better believe I'm wearing suspenders.

    Funny story. I met the inventor of suspenders, Lucius Blandus, on one of my time trips. I went back to 44 BC to see Julius Caesar get stabbed to death, but I materialized a mile or so outside of Rome. Lucius was sitting under a tree in this funny long shirt sipping white wine, and I said, “Hey, can I get a hit off that, brother?” He introduced himself and said some stuff I couldn't understand, because it was in Latin, but I sat down and drank with him anyway. Fantastic wine. I missed the assassination, but we had a great afternoon getting sloshed and listening to the riots down in the city. And, as every schoolchild knows, Lucius invented suspenders later that year, opened his pants and suspenders shop, and became one of the richest and most influential men in Rome.

    Anyway, Mom ignored my suspenders advice, and kept working on her time travel belt, day and night. Until she had a heart attack and died.

    After the funeral, I went down to her lab with a bottle of tequila, and put the time belt on. (And no, I didn't take my suspenders off. I'm not crazy.) I pushed the time travel button, and...

    It worked! I traveled through time. Mom had it set for New York City in 1886 at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. There was a big French flag over its face, which seemed kind of un-American to me, but whatever. The Statue of Liberty was Mom's big obsession, not mine.

    I didn't know what else to do, so I got on a boat with a big banner that said, “Eat, Drink and be Merry!” I tried to buy a beer, but the boat bartender got angry and said my money was fake. Then the ocean air started sobering me up and POP! I'm back in the present.

    Here's the deal. You type a time and destination into Mom's computer, and it tells the belt where and when to go. But. It only works when you're totally wasted. If you're sober, that belt is just a belt. And you know how I feel about belts...

    After a few more trips, I was wondering. Why do I have to be drunk for the belt to work? I went back to 1950 to ask Albert Einstein. I chose his birthday as the date. I figured he'd be home to have cake and stuff. Plus, when I get drunk, I always crave cake. Don't you? But he wasn't home when I got there. And while I was waiting, sipping on my pint of Jack, a police officer arrested me. Fifties cops are dicks! Luckily, I sobered up in the squad car. Bet he was confused when he got to the station without me.

    After that, I switched to another time guy, Stephen Hawking. I figured since he's less mobile than Einstein, he'd be easier to track down, and I was right. Found him in 1998. Crawled right through his window, easy-peasy. He was skeptical at first (and also terrified) but after I showed him my smart phone, he started to believe me. I couldn't get service, but the camera and my Fruit Ninja app still worked.

    After I showed him Fruit Ninja six or seven times (Hawking really seemed to love Fruit Ninja) he told me his theory on why I had to be drunk to time travel. I know he mentioned the “effect of alcohol on nerve receptors” because I wrote that part on my hand. Can't remember the rest.

    But the next day, back at home, I decided he probably didn't know what he was talking about anyway. After all, the guy spent the last twenty years of his life unsuccessfully trying to invent a time machine so he could go to the future and find the cure for that ALS disease he had. Never wrote another book or published another paper after '98. Heard he developed a drinking problem too. Tragic.

    One thing that makes drunk time traveling extra tricky is the lack of impulse control. At the last second, I'm always changing my mind about where to go. One night, I had this great plan to go back in time and watch myself having sex with Janet, this super-hot woman I dated when I was 20. But while I was getting drunk, I watched some Jack the Ripper movie on TV, and decided to go kill him instead.

    I needed a weapon to kill Jack with, and all I could find was Mom's old pepper-spray keychain, so I grabbed it, and set the belt for London, October 1888. I started poking around, asking prostitutes questions about the Ripper, but they all just laughed at my “twee little voice.” I think I was still kind of horny from all that thinking about Janet, so I ended up having sex with this really nice prostitute named Mary Jane. I didn't have any England money to pay her with, so I gave her the pepper spray.

    Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, but Mary Jane was the woman who caught the Ripper later that month! Subdued him somehow. Now that I mention it, I don't know why I was so worried about Jack the Ripper after watching that movie. It's not like he got away with it or anything...

    Another thing about drunk time traveling is you have to be really careful when you set the coordinates. One night, I accidentally typed in 2004.  2004 was lame. I was so bored I went to see some shitty Keanu Reeves movie called The Butterfly Effect. I fell asleep fifteen minutes in, and woke up back in the present. A complete waste of a time trip. Just like when I-

    Huh? What—

    Oh. Right. Today. Well, I've always been scared to visit the future. I can look up the past on the Internet, and know what to expect, but the future's a big mystery. I could show up the day after an asteroid hit the Earth, right? But I got a little more drunk than usual earlier today, and I decided to go for it. Set the belt for Chicago 2250 and blasted off.

    As soon as I materialized, I realized I'd made a mistake.

    All the ten-foot-tall robots and floating turtle-men really freaked me out. And the- What did you call them? Yeah. “Sky vortexes.” Looking at the sky vortexes immediately gave me the spins. I had to lie down on the sidewalk. Then a robot accidentally stepped on me, and I vomited. Which I hoped would sober me up and send me home, but I was way too drunk.

    That's when I had the dumb-ass idea to take off the belt. I imagined that if I took it off, I'd just pop back to my time. But that was drunk logic, I guess. The second I took it off, the belt disappeared. Fucker left me behind. I hate belts.

    And a little bit later you showed up, handcuffed me, and introduced yourself. And I said, “Time-officer? Is that like a time-cop?”

    You said, “Yes.”

    And then I said, “That's funny, because you don't look like Jean Claude Van Damme. You look like a green woman with six arms.” And then I vomited again.

    So. Any chance I can get a ride back to the 21st century?

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Bronze Age Boogie #4
  • The stones wait, forgotten amongst weeds and brambles and drifts of dry, cracked leaves, as snow gently falls, blanketing over them in a hushed hiss. The names carved into them have all worn away, only the traces of dates and symbols remain. A single half skull sits in the midst of their uneven ring, browned and cracked, dug up by some animal and left to rot in the open air. Its eye sockets look up to the bright gray sky with hollow silence.

    The snow falls all day and covers the small, neglected cemetery in shimmering white. It continues to wait for night to come as the snow slows, then stops. The light fades into a peachy, golden, afternoon. It glints off rooftops in the slight distance, a village or town that has forgotten the others that used to live there. The sun sets a dull red.

    Darkness sets the snow aglow in the light of a half moon, cold and blue and beautiful. It falls on her face, a soft gray translucency, against the starry sky. She walks over the ground without steps, the dark strings of her hair streaming in the brittle, bitter wind.

    She passes through the stones, long fingers sweeping against their tops, recalling names that no longer matter to anyone else, including her own. They help her remember and stay rooted to this world instead of the next. She is not ready to leave yet and has not been since the fire and all that came after.

    Her eyes, deep pits of shadow, show just a pinprick of light at their centers, blinking and fading, like slowly dying stars, staring past everything and piercing the nothing beyond. Her mouth, wide and thin, is frozen in a cracked and unforgiving frown. She is empty now, so empty, a pit of gaping, aching, craving, need.

    There is only one stone she stops for, one stone she sits by, one stone she touches with a longing, soft, sigh. It is a small stone, a little cross that lists slightly to one side. She hums to it and weeps for it and watches it as the hours while by.

    Then she hears the cry.

    That pale gray head turns at the sharp, wailing, sound of it, piercing across the snow covered clearing beyond the graveyard. She knows that cry. It wraps itself around her heart and she is moving towards it, fast, a blurred shadow among shadows.

    She is remembering that cry from before, a hungry sound, a plaintive sound, full of desperate longing.

    In the clearing, set in the middle of a different kind of stone ring from the monuments she left behind, is a small bundle. The cry from it is growing weaker, sadder, as though it knows that no one is coming for it. She looks down from her grayness and sees a small, pale, scrunched, face, with lips turning a faint blue. Tears have frozen to its cheeks as the mouth lets out ragged, hiccupping sobs.

    “Shhhhhh.” She says to it, her voice cracked from disuse. “Shhhhhhh.”

    The child stops crying and looks up and smiles. It reaches two arms up to the gray figure who stoops and lifts it into her transparent arms. She looks into the child’s eyes, blurry with tears, as it sticks a chubby hand into its mouth for comfort. It sucks on its fingers listlessly, eyelids drooping, it’s wracking breaths slowing to ragged, shallow ones.

    She coos to the child, whispers soothing nonsense and nothings. She knows it is a girl child, sickly, so small and pale for her age. It is cold in her arms but she does not feel it. She only feels the weight of it, the little limbs grasping at her, the round head pressing against her arm that is not, technically, there.

    She takes it away from the fairy circle, back to the dead forgotten stones, to the place where her own daughter is buried. She sits in the middle of the faded monuments and rocks the baby whose eyes drift closed. She sings it a lullabye and touches its icy, round cheek. It makes a soft rattling sound in its throat and goes still.

    When its eyes open again they are dark like her eyes, with tiny pinpoints of light deep within. It looks at her with knowing now, and smiles with tiny, sharp, glittering teeth. It is gray like her, empty like her, and it is hungry.

    She smiles and takes it towards the village in the distance, the village it came from, the village that left it to die and rot, alone, among the stones.

    She takes it to feed.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Planet of the Nerds #4
  • Art by Cayetano Valenzuela

    Mind the gap, please. Station stop is New York Penn Station. All doors will open. Pick up your feet, be aware of your surroundings. Now arriving Penn Station, all doors, all options open.

    Mind the gap, watch the closing doors. Step aside to allow others inside the car. Block not the entrances lest ye be blocked. Law is inconstant, punishment for misdeeds cannot be guaranteed. You and you alone determine your path.

    The Authority reminds you to keep all bags close to your person. Do not use electronics in public. Be wary of strangers, especially those whose odor or demeanor are different to your own. Trust must be earned, vigilance will be rewarded.

    Station stop is Newark Penn Station. Now arriving. Watch the doors. Watch the smoke, be alert for small explosions. Keep your wallet in your front pocket.

    Passenger advisory: Stations Litwin, Wolfsbane, and 157th Street are closed for repairs. Passengers for Litwin Wolfsbane 157th are advised to take this train to 285th Street and transfer for the inbound train making all stops. As an alternative passengers may disembark at next station stop and transfer to shuttle buses. Be sure to pick up a paper transfer ticket at the attendant's booth. Your card will not be charged for transfer. If your card is charged please contact the Authority immediately. Mistakes do happen and the Authority runs on order. The trains run on time, your account will not be mischarged. All errors will be corrected, all transfers redeemed in the fullness of time.

    Station stop is Philadelphia Penn Station. Exit in an orderly fashion. Watch for tiny men with quick hands. Beware of perfumed women speaking loudly of trivial matters. Do not raise your voice, practice moderation in public drinking habits. Avoid vocal fry.

    Passenger Advisory: All trains will run local after 11:18 PM, except those on the Circle Belt, which will run as normal from the airport to the expressway and back again. Circle trains stop very briefly, so be nimble. Vault gracefully over the gap, ignore the blast of air from the departing cars. The Authority advises only experienced passengers with newly replaced hips ride the Circle Belt. Authority disclaims all responsibility for injuries sustained after 12:11 AM, excepting only MetroExtreme™ cardholders.

    Do not attempt to hold the doors. Holding doors can cause injury and equipment failure. Do not hold doors for slower passengers.

    Station stop is Baltimore Penn Station. Last stop in this zone. Passengers are advised to don hazmat suits and avoid eye contact. No transfers after Baltimore Penn Station.

    Due to a sick passenger, trains are being rerouted across the Divide. Please squeeze your eyes shut, ignore the bright phosphenes shimmering across your retinas. Visual distortion is due to changes in pressure and acceleration, lurching and bumping is due to routine trackwork. Keep all bags close to you.

    So much wealth. So much poverty. Can you see across the aisle? Through the thick visor of your protective suit, across the miasmic haze? Avoid eye contact, clutch all bags close. Mind the gap.

    Station stop is Mare Selenium. Approaching Mare Selenium Penn Station. Passengers are advised that only the first two cars will open. Please walk forward, taking particular care not to look down. The platform is farther away here; the gap is wider than before.

    Do not use electronic devices between cars. Just don't.

    Watch the closing doors. Watch them. Your card will not be mischarged, your ride will never be free. You and you alone determine your path. The Authority assumes no responsibility for insufficient funds, mounting medical bills, for indigent relatives or a disturbingly persistent cough. Your path is your own.

    Mind the rubble, ignore the wheels sparking on charged rails. Once there was a station here, a place of stone where people grumbled and glared and leaned on pillars. Once there were people, air, a newsstand. The newsstand sold magazines with flimsy covers and pictures of celebrities buying groceries. Mademoiselle, the Wall Street Journal. Amazing Stories. Once there was a station, I don't recall its name.

    Passenger Advisory: The Red Line is now the Rhomboid Line. Adjust all itineraries accordingly. Download our new PathWaze Rewardze™ app, which replaces the old MetroExtreme™ app. Accept all permissions swiftly, without delay.

    All trains run local from 11:19 PM. All trains run wild from 1:56 AM. Hold tight to straps, fasten hazmat helmets. Do not make eye contact. Keep your wallet in your front pocket. Help yourself before helping a child.

    The Mann line is now the Dude Line. The Dude Line is now the Bro Line. The Rhomboid Line is now the Trapezain™, except after 2:08 AM when it merges with the Circle Belt. Download our app. Step lively to the platform with your shiny new hips.

    Station stop is Antares Penn Station. Mind the gap as you exit. You are off the map, off the grid, off the app. Step wide, take the longest stride you can and feel nothing beneath your feet. No air, no platform, no answers. No help as your hazmat suit shreds, your air seeps away, the warmth bleeds from your body. No up, no down, no shelter from the terrible cold, the final truth. Your path is your own.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Second Coming #1
  • I watched the cop approach in the rearview, cursing at the way he seemed almost to saunter across the distance between his car and mine like I had all the time in the world.

    “You in some kind of rush, fella?” he asked as he checked the back. “I half expected to see a pregnant woman or a case fulla drugs back there, the speed you were doing.”

    I didn’t say anything, just watched as he peered into the back some more, his skin lit orange by the dwindling afternoon sun.

    By the time he reached the driver’s door, I was sweating. He must have seen that.

    “I’m sorry, officer,” I said. “I just need to be somewhere.”

    The cop leaned back, making a show of looking at my car. “I haven’t seen a car like this before,” he said, his words coming painfully slow.

    “It’s a custom build,” I said, keeping my explanation brief.

    “A fast one,” the cop said, smiling but kind of nasty about it. “You have any idea how fast you were going when I clocked you?”

    One thousand miles an hour. I knew the figure exactly. The car had been designed that way, fast enough to outrun the terminator line. But I couldn’t tell him that. I’d been pulled over before, and, each time, that unforgiving terminator line got closer.

    “Well?” the cop said, leaning down once more to look me in the eye. His nose wrinkled at my smell. “You okay, pal? You’re sweating so much you look like you just took a shower.”

    I wiped my brow with a gloved hand, feeling the tingle under my skin where the change was beginning to catalyze. “I’m fine,” I croaked. “Just . . . can you give me the ticket so I can be outta here?”

    The cop gave a snort of laughter. “’Cause you’ve got places to be, right? On with the race, is that it?”

    In the rearview I caught the sun sinking lower, its last rays like orange fingers protruding from beneath the horizon. “I need to get moving,” I said. “It’s better that way.” I looked at the cop, making eye contact for the first time, hoping he would somehow understand the need I had.

    The cop looked at me, but he was focused on the beads of sweat rolling down my skin. “You sick?” he said.

    “Very,” I replied, the lone word coming out like a bark.

    The cop pulled his citation pad out and thought a moment, stylus in hand. “You know, I’m not sure you should be driving,” he stated slowly. “I think maybe I should get a doctor to check you out.”

    I shook my head. “No doctors,” I growled. “Just . . . let me keep moving. It’s for the best.” The word best came out like beast, I don’t know why.

    The cop shook his head. “What’s for the best is for me to decide,” he said, “so long as I’m wearing this badge. You got medicine you need to take?”

    “No, nothing,” I said. I tried to look at him with sincerity, but my eyes were drawn by the side mirror now. The sun had finally disappeared, taking with it the last rays of illumination. “Can I just go? Please,” I said. My foot was on the accelerator, not pressed down, but poised. I was going to run out of time.

    “Now, why would I do that?” the cop asked. “You were doing a ton in a 900 zone. I gotta at least give you a formal warning.”

    The thing under my skin was straining at its shackles now, pulling itself free. “I wish . . . ” I muttered, the words barely audible.

    “Say again?” the cop asked, looking up from his pad.

    “I wish I could . . . have given you . . . a warning,” I snarled. As I did, those first silver rays of moonlight entered through my windshield and the beast buried within me rose to the surface, turning my flesh to fur.

    What happened next I don’t remember. The wolf and I don’t converse, he simply does what he does if I don’t stay ahead of the sunset. Sometimes I get delayed.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Hashtag: Danger #3
  • Native New Yorkers know him as DADDY KNACKERBLASTER, jovial spirit of their mighty metropolis, and one can think of no figure better-suited to personify the diversity, vitality, and modernity of this grand city than a garrulous, periwigged white gentleman of the 1700s, in his tricorn hat, breeches and buckled shoes!

    As you approach the hustle and bustle of AMUSEMENTS FURLONG, it’s hard to miss the 60-foot tall effigy of a guffawing Knackerblaster bestriding the gates of the New York World’s Fair like a colonial Colossus! The merry mascot is flanked by a pair of equally vast folkloric sidekicks, both of whom may already seem outlandish, even alarming, to modern eyes - the aggressive, racially-insensitive Lord Goose, and the perhaps even-more troubling Ma Turkey, of whom decency precludes any further elaboration.

    Looking at her now, towering over the happy crowds at the Fair, with her formidable meat cleaver, sharpened sickle, and over-generous supply of eyes, it’s hard to believe Ma was once as popular as Santa Claus! As it is, she stands as one more sobering reminder that the Past, for all its sassy trappings of knights, pilgrims, and bucolic slave laborers, also plays host to a veritable shit parade of creepy and shameful traditions, rituals, habits, customs, and excuses; all of which tends to cast our illustrious forebears in a less than admirable light. Thank heavens for the bright and certain Future, as celebrated here in this sprawling spectacular festival of forwardness!

    ‘Howdy yez’aaall!’ is the cheery and historically-accurate greeting that awaits every visitor who buys a ticket and passes between the vast natural arch of Daddy Knackerblaster’s powerfully akimbo legs on their way to an unforgettable experience at this spectacular exposition in the heart of Flushing, NY.

    First on any itinerary is a stroll along the GREAT RAINBOW WAY, where visitors can sample cultures as different and yet alike as the concave and convex sides of a spoon! This colourful celebration of the Triumph of Democracy in the World of Tomorrow is as American as pumpkin pie, Martin Luther Kong, and the moon!

    On your way to GAY NEW ORLEANS – a flamboyant LGBTQX salute to the Big Easy and its laid back ‘come one, come all!’ attitude to alcohol, drugs, and sexual experimentation – try not to miss the SMARTCAR DODGEMS, or the aptly-named SCREAMING CENTIPEDE – a ghastly and perverse surgical experiment given a mischievous World’s Fair spin!

    Other attractions include the CRIMSON TOWER - where visitors can ‘experience’ for themselves gruesome CIA ‘special rendition’ techniques such as piss-boarding, the ‘Toenail Clippers’, ‘Noise-Crash Monday’, and the terrifying, emasculating ‘Pants Invader’ – and SINISTER THIBET, where Buddhist monks at the end of their tether, self-immolate in spectacular fashion, while soldiers of the Red Army frown upon this ancient inexplicable culture of weird ceremonies, sacrifice and idolatry.  

    The world’s oldest collection of prophylactics, excavated at the Jamestown colony, delivers a fascinating, indeed stomach-churning, insight into the bedroom antics of the Pilgrim Fathers and can be found on exhibit in the CONDOM CENTER, a building made almost completely of rubber, gas, and whispered promises!

    Elsewhere, the spirit of undergraduate frivolity is captured in the starkly-named ROOFIE TENT, while easily-triggered college students are catered to with differently-shaped ‘safe spaces’ in SNOWFLAKE ALLEY, and even ‘safe rides’ such as the COMETRON – a gentle, completely horizontal rollercoaster attraction which only turns up once every 75 years and travels at an upper speed of 3 feet per month.

    Other novelty exhibits you must not pass up include NATURE’S SHAME, DON’T LAFF IN THE CREMATORIUM, MIDGET MOCKERIES, PALACE OF MISGENDERMENT, WORLD IN YOUR POCKET, SACCO AND VANZETTI’S KRAZY KOURTROOM KAPERS and the WORLD OF WATERGATE aqua-impeachment ride. 

    But there’s more to the Fair than amusements and frivolity. Educational exhibits include the SCIENCE SHACK, KEMISTRY KIOSK, MATHEMATICS IS FOR EVERYONE and the LEARNING CAN BE FUN enclosure, notable for its tumbleweeds, distant mission bells, and the hollow sound of the sirocco.

    And here I pause for a moment to come across some Boy and Girl Scouts burying a time capsule they’ve created to show people of the future what life was like at the dawn of the Space Atom Age! The fresh, eager, and ever-smiling faces of these spunky youths offer a brief preview of a coming time where everyone is happy and nothing bad can ever happen again.

    The turquoise heated expanse of LIBERTY LAKE offers the ‘freedom to just be yourself’ – but one warning: may contain NUTS! And when I say nuts, I mean nude nuts, let’s just leave it there.

    It’s from here, that an ill-advised left turn will bring you, as it brings both myself and my emotionally-vulnerable elderly mother to a corner of the Fair I had no idea existed until I made that fateful decision to follow the left-hand path. A moment I bitterly regret and wish I could erase from history’s storied pages.

    The so-called SWAMP OF NATIONS, offers a disconcertingly lifelike panorama of desolation that contributes a bracing note of caution, even dire warning, to the World’s Fair celebrations.

    Before us, a crumbling, hauntingly-familiar ruin, half-submerged in the waves, and lapped by a froth of sediment and distressed plastic, turns out to be the Statue of Liberty with a skull for a head! Riptides swirl around the 20th storeys of gutted skeleton skyscrapers – the hollowed-out remains of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State and Trumpet Tower.

    But don’t imagine that only the proud monuments of Manhattan that have been brought to their knees by years of decay and damnation!

    Nearby lie the shattered fragments of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, now merely the Seven Neglected Ruins; here, the Eiffel Tower, partially-melted, snapped at the base by some brute force beyond imagining; there, the Houses of Parliament gutted by fire, the haunt of subhuman bandits and mutant jihadis; a grubby pile of bricks and toilet paper marks the place where the White House once stood, immersed in a spectrum-slicked, and poisonous lagoon from which all life has fled, leaving only a nausea-inducing synthetic parody of existence that flops and gasps in the shallow muck, like a jellyfish filled with needles, ever eager to bite and infect visitors with some terminal malady before it dies in agony under the bilious sun of that merciless sour firmament.

    We may deduce, from these glimpses, that the entire world of Tomorrow is but a noxious corpse dressed in the rotting shroud of its decaying architecture.

    And it’s OUR fault.

    Daddy Knackerblaster himself looms eerily over the desolate gloomscape that surrounds us – but this version of the reassuring figure casts him in a far more ominous light, where he appears to drown in a quicksand of reeking refuse with a knowing, insane leer that seems to implicate us all in what should have been an easily-preventable apocalypse.

    The eye-popping exhibit Mother and I have so rashly stumbled upon is entitled THE WORLD’S UNFAIR, and it’s safe to say that while the rest of the Fair celebrates a frankly unlikely future of longevity jellies, jet people, sarcastic washing machines and boisterous pet pterodactyls, this exhibit reminds us in no uncertain terms that there may be a darker side to the world of tomorrow, and offers an alternative look at what life in New York City might actually be like in the year 2050!

    A year in which life as we know it will have choked to death on its own ‘infected filth’, according to THE WORLD’S UNFAIR creator, ‘performance commando’, Solomandos Croatoan. In the enfant terrible’s diseased vision of the mid-21st century, incestuous mutant monsters, bred to live on garbage, will snout mindlessly through the trash and faeces clogging Madison Avenue and Broadway, without ever finding what they’re looking for.

    If the sickening tableau of witless crustacean conflict Mother and I are forced to endure is anything to go by, theirs will be a savage future of motiveless cruelty, characterized best by its extreme ugliness and bleak futility.

    A gloating Croatoan – ‘I wanted to show them what the future would REALLY be like,’ he repeats continually, robotically - directs our attention, with an oddly spastic and unsettling sequence of gestures and winks, to a filthy crater where a mob of scrabbling crab people are excavating a time capsule that looks exactly like the one I saw those smiling Scouts loading earlier.

    Mother and I bear speechless witness for quite some time as the squabbling, imbecilic crab-sapiens, inheritors of a senile, dying Earth, empty from their canister the contents so lovingly selected and chosen by those beaming, can-do youngsters in the world’s past. I notice a recipe for Apple Pie shredded to confetti and spat from churning tool-faces as though it were poison.

    Then, chuckling mindlessly, these hideous inbred descendants of that golden generation apply formidable mandibles and nippers to the task of demolishing the worthless memorabilia of a long-gone civilization - devouring photographs and children’s drawings, regurgitating marriage certificates and zip drives filled with classical music and artistic masterpieces - as an ailing, toxic sun sinks, as if to its knees in preparation for a beheading, across contaminated waves.

    Mother dies not long after.

    And is that a knowing leer of terror and futility I remember on the eroded, imbecilic face of our toppled idol, Daddy Knackerblaster?

    Or am I simply alone, with nowhere left to go, no future?

    Staring into a merciless mirror.

    Don’t take my word for it! Come see for yourself!

    The World’s Fair is a thrilling value-for-money tribute to the ideals of our great country and every American should be proud to take part!

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    High Heaven #1
  • The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that year.
    The lineup had no hitting threats, the fans no cause to cheer.
    So when Cooney tore his hamstring, and then Barrows broke his wrist,
    The writers started calling for the brass to be dismissed.

    The season stood in jeopardy, with one last hope in sight:
    If only one great slugger could regain his former might.
    One shot of horse testosterone, one jab in his caboose,
    The team could get its mojo back with Casey on the juice!

    But Flynn had tested positive, and also Jimmy Blake,
    Their samples glowed with hormones like uranium yellowcake.
    The infield faced suspension, the outfield in decay,
    The team was dead unless some source came forth with antler spray.

    But Flynn unleashed ten lawyers, to the wonderment of all,
    And Blake, with much persuasion, had his cousin take the fall;
    And with the last indictment quashed, a miracle occurred,
    The Mudville nine remained within one game of placing third.

    Within the team’s top management, there rose a whispered din;
    “We need to find a slugger who can drive some runners in.
    “A deep-voiced man with swollen breasts, his beard as thick as rope.
    “We need to bring back Casey, with his bloodstream full of dope!”

    He’d all but been forgotten, in the pennant race of late.
    No team considered signing him; he’d last hit .208.
    He couldn’t touch the breaking ball or move much to his right.
    He’d shrunken by some 30 pounds; he looked like Betty White.

    They found him in a halfway house for former alcoholics,
    Where he’d been kicking Andriol and street-sale anabolics.
    They offered him a contract that would run from day to day.
    But his sample had to come back clean before they’d let him play.

    There was ease in Casey's manner, though he tried to be discreet.
    The testers watched him carefully; they figured he would cheat.
    The sample showed diuretics, high above the zone of red,
    "That ain't my urine," said Casey. "Strike one!" the clinic said.

    The pundits, amped on Ritalin, fumed fury at the game.
    He’d never see another pitch, or make the Hall of Fame!
    "Ban him! Ban the juicer!" came a fervent, shouted wail;
    And its likely they'd a-done it, had not Casey looked so frail.

    With a smile of Christian charity old Casey's visage shone.
    He chalked it off to linseed oil, not high testosterone.
    He’d suffered from a restless leg, took pills to beat the flu,
    But the next test showed growth hormone, and the lab coats roared, “Strike two!”

    "Fraud!" cried the gin-fueled writers, and the bloggers echoed “Fraud!”
    But Casey’s hired publicist pronounced the tests as flawed.
    And now his face grew stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
    They knew he’d never let himself score positive again.

    The smile is gone from Casey's lips, his eyes like burst balloons;
    He’s downed ten quarts of seltzer, after eating fifty prunes. 
    His body is a furnace, his bladder surely stressed,
    And now the world awaits the hard results of Casey's test.

    O, somewhere in this favored land the stars are shining bright;
    The games are played by people of a normal weight and height. 
    And somewhere fans are laughing, at peace with what they’ve got;
    But there is no joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey’s tested hot.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Planet of the Nerds #3
  • Each year The Academy attempts to examine the medium of film and find new ways to celebrate the geniuses and auteurs that make up our industry. That’s why we’re proud to announce that starting this year we will be honoring films that were conceptualized by excited talkative children. Here are the inaugural nominees for Best Film Pitched By a Child, as presented by their directors.

    Godzilla vs T-Rex vs Spider-Man

    So there are researchers and scientists and they go to the island because the island is big—the BIGGEST BIGGEST monster area in the world. And so they are trying to do their work like “we have experiments to do” but Godzilla and a t-rex are fighting the whole time. They are like “BAH! BAH!” and the researchers say “we need to leave, NOW!” but they know that this is a once and a life chance so they try to stay and take DNA samples but they get eaten by both monsters till two people are left and they leave on a part submarine, part boat. And the twist is he looks at her and he says “I am Spider-Man.”

    Cookies

    Five princesses and queens live in the royal bakery and everyone is trying to make the best cookies but the queens are mean to the princesses by taking their chairs so they can’t take breaks or anything. And one of the queens is named Diamond and one of the princesses is named Diamond too and they don’t like each other. There are no Kings. There is a dog that lives in the bakery and he goes “Arf! Arf! Woof! Woof!” and he teaches the princesses how to defeat the queens because he ACTUALLY is a dog baker and makes dog things. When they make the best cookie at the end because everyone helps it, the dog gets married to his best friend dog and they share the cookie like “yum!!!” and the queens go “I told you! Not to come in here!” and they lock them out and have a DANCE PARTY.

    Kyle Can Fly

    A kid in 2nd grade is sitting at lunch one day and he goes “oh I bet you ONE MILLION DOLLARS you can’t fly or beat up bad guys” and he says “you’re wrong and I’ll prove it.” So they go outside and the teacher is mad because it’s cold and it’s school time but he starts powering up anyway. All his friends are like “I know Kyle can do this” but the principal comes out and says “he’s not going to fly” and music gets really loud and he starts to glow and everyone is scared. The police come to see what he’s doing and the girls start crying like “don’t hurt Kyle he’s going to fly.” and then after about like a long pause he says “I am Kyle and I told you I can fly!” and he goes ZOOM! SHOOO!!! ZOOM and he leaves the school and he hangs out with Toothless the dragon from How To Train Your Dragon. The teacher cries and then Kyle comes back and he buys the school and everyone learns to fly. Zoom!

    Hospital Jones  

    In 1929 there is a big hospital and they make everyone feel better and the best doctor is Doctor Maria Jones. Doctor Jones says “hand me the knife!” and then she cuts into the body of the president of America and she knows that if she makes a wrong move that it could stop the United States of America so she is very serious. The nurses are all the doctor’s kids so they all know who Doctor Jones is and they all live at the hospital in a big room with bunk beds. The doctor goes “We’re gonna lose him!” and then her kids come help bring him back to life. When the president is alive he invites Doctor Jones to the White House and he gives her a medal and he gives her a golden wheelchair to keep forever even though she is healthy because it means that he thanks her for saving him because he is in a regular wheelchair.

    Baseball Everyday!!!

    There are a hundred baseball teams that play baseball everyday and they don’t know who the best one is. So one day Dan tells his wife he is going to start the BIGGEST BASEBALL TOURNAMENT EVER and she says “you should.” Each baseball game is crazy and extra innings and everyone can hit home runs and the baseball teams are tired but they have to keep going because only the best team can make it. In the last game Dan is batting and it’s three balls and two strikes and the bases are loaded and his wife is standing and she says “go Dan” and then the pitcher throws it in slow motion and Dan hits the longest home run from all of the tournament and he wins cars and a pool and a Xbox one because his team was better than the world.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Bronze Age Boogie #3
  •  

    Trisha had a hard time accepting what was happening because she didn’t believe in magic. She couldn’t discuss it with anyone—they might think she’d lost her marbles. But she eventually came around to knowing that the toy 8-ball could actually give her reliable, predictive advice. 

    The thing had certain rules of operation: she had to abstain from eating animal products for several hours, face north, and meditate for ten or more minutes before visualizing her question while asking it aloud. She had found these guidelines for operation intuitively, as some lucky cave person might have discovered how to make fire. The strictures had a positive effect on her in that she’d become a calmer and more focused woman as a result of her healthy diet and now-frequent meditation. And every time the 8-ball answered her market questions, she got a surge of happy excitement knowing her stock portfolio would flourish. That allowed her to quit her job and devote herself to the pleasant task of enjoying her life.

    The 8-ball helped her to avoid accidents on the freeway (“Is it safe to take the 101 at 2 PM?”) and natural disasters (“Will a major earthquake hit this region in the next year?”), and to accumulate wealth (“Will my tech stocks gain value in the next week?”). Specificity and simplicity were key to good questions. The orb never gave her the non-committal responses, an early indication that this device was not typical. She learned to limit her asks to three times a day, which was frustrating at first, but kept her from spending all day in front of the potentially addicting device.

    “Will I meet my soul mate this week?” became a regular query after she’d gained solid financial security. 8-Ball consistently answered, “My sources say no.” After several months, the same answer disheartened her, but she kept asking. She wanted to know.

    One night she met a man named David at an art opening. They got off to a fine start of talking and didn’t quit for hours. When she finally went home she consulted the 8-Ball. “Is David my soul mate?”

    “Don’t count on it.”

    Trisha did something she’d never done before—she acted against the 8-Ball’s intelligence. When David texted, asking if she would like to dine with him the next evening, she replied, “Signs point to yes.” Over the next few months, they spent evenings together, travelled, dined, laughed, and made love, and in that time she didn’t ask the 8-Ball any questions in regard to romance. She fell in love, and became convinced the toy’s answer was a mistake.

    Happy, lost in limerence, Trisha waited patiently for David to ask her to move in with him, but that didn’t happen. When she finally mustered the courage to ask him about it, he blurted something about his ill mother and changed the subject. 

    The next night he didn’t show up for a dinner date. Trisha tried calling and texting, and got no answer. Was he ghosting her? She took a cab to his apartment. He wasn’t in. She knocked on his neighbor’s door and learned that he’d left the country. No, he didn’t know when David would return.

    As Trisha walked back to her building, her heart sank lower with every speculation. If he was married, or scared, or had a fatal disease—he could have just told her. Why hadn’t he?

    The 8-ball could tell her. When Trisha got back to her place she meditated, but anxiety hindered her ability to clear her mind. When she was finally calm enough to voice her question, she did so. “Will he come back to me?”

    She shook the ball gently and looked for its answer. “My sources say no.”

    The confirmation almost felt good—it was a relief to know. Then she felt a wave of affection for the small plastic ball, now warm from the heat of her hands; this thing that always gave her truth and helped her to better her life. She meditated again, which was easier now that she knew the worst. After a while, she asked, “Will I ever meet my soul mate?”

    “Cannot predict now.”

    Upon reflection, she decided she didn’t want to know, so she never did ask again.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Hashtag: Danger #2
  • On New Year’s Eve of 1989, I saw a man who was a little short, and a little wide, and a little anxious, enter a party through the side door with a six pack of beer and a bright green coat. He asked me if this was Allison Mercer’s house or if he was at the wrong party. I was a little tipsy, I was a little distracted, I was a little obsessed with some other guy at the party, but I still remember that moment. 

    I officially met John Richards about a half an hour before the ball dropped, introduced through about three layers of friends. We sat talking on Ally’s ugly blue futon. I don’t remember what we talked about for all that time, I don’t remember what we talked about in the hours after, and I don’t remember the name of the man I had come to that party intending to kiss at midnight. But when the clock struck twelve and everyone yelled “Happy New Year!” I leaned forward and I planted a big, gross, red lipstick kiss a little to the right of his mouth. 

    The next morning, I didn’t remember much, but I remembered that moment. 

    I forget what happened on the first date. I forget what happened on most of the dates. I do remember that John wasn’t very good at dating. He was going through college and I was going through jobs. He would call me on the payphone in the parking lot before he drove home. He would always forget my birthday. He would bring me ice cream on his way home if he knew I’d had a bad day. He would forget to call for days at a time when he was busy. He would argue with me when I got angry about it. 

    I remember that there were problems, and arguments, But I also remember that he had blue eyes and he had a great laugh. I remember that he had a way of talking that I could just listen for hours and never get bored. I remember that the more time I spent with him, the more moments I had. 

    There was the moment I let him stay at my apartment and he tried to make me pancakes to say thank you, and ended up paying for a new stove burner. There was the moment I asked him if he wanted to move in with me and his face lit up like I had never seen it. There was the moment when we were at a rooftop party and he stood on the edge of the roof and howled at the moon like a wolf, and I laughed until I cried. There was the moment when I met his parents, and when I accidentally swore in front of his mother she threw a wooden spoon at me. There was the moment when we went to Central Park in midsummer, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, and then we lay on the summer grass until it was dark out, just loving each other as much as we could. 

    I remember all of it. I remember each precious moment from those years as though it’s still happening right now. But I also remember when I realized how long it had been since there had been anything to remember. Time had made us faded. 

    We moved into a new apartment when we were married, a more expensive one. John went to work every day early, and every day he came back late. I got pregnant four times, but I only had one baby. John couldn’t get to the hospital because of traffic and by the time he arrived, I was asleep and his mother was holding the baby. 

    John was fired because his company was failing, so I started working again: as a waitress, a substitute teacher, an assistant. We sold the apartment, lived with John’s mother for ten days, and moved into a smaller apartment in the Bronx. Madison started school there. 

    In our first year living in the Bronx, John got HPV. I didn’t have HPV. We didn’t talk about it if we could avoid it. That February, when Madison was playing in her room, and John and I were on the couch watching the Food Network, he turned to me in the middle of a commercial break and asked me if I hated him. 

    “I don’t hate you,” I said. “Why would you ask something like that?” 

    “You know why,” he said. 

    There was a feeling in my stomach, something strange that felt as though it had been stewing a while and was itching to come out.

    “I don’t hate you, John,” I said. 

    Food Network was back on, but neither of us were watching it. We were staring at each other, and it struck me then how long it had been since I had looked my husband in the eyes. 

    “Well, I think I hate myself,” he said.

    I don’t remember a single moment in eight years before that one, but I sure as hell remember that one. John went to therapy once a week, then once every two, and then he got a new job. Madison went to play with chalk on the sidewalk one day and came back in having learned three swear words. That same summer we moved upstate. We celebrated her eighth birthday four days after the move, and invited all the new neighbors. 

    When Madison was twelve, she died her hair blue with Kool-Aid without telling us she was going to. When John came home that day, and found Madison with patchy, grayish-blue hair and me standing over her looking panicked holding a shampoo bottle, he laughed for twenty minutes. Then he went back out to the store, and bought a pack of real hair dye, and helped Madison dye her hair blue. 

    That was a moment to remember. That was the moment when the moments began to come back. 

    There were never as many as in those years in the city, when we went to parties and howled at the moon. There was never a moment to rival that one in the Central Park in summer, when I had just agreed to marry him. But there was a moment when he called me walking from his office to his car just to talk to me, and I was twenty again. There was a moment when he came home from work early one summer’s day with three water guns and a mischievous smile. There was the moment when Madison went South to college and he leaned on my shoulder and cried. I leaned into his ear and whispered, “I love you.” I said it so quietly he might not have heard, but I needed to say it more than I needed him to hear it. John Richards, I love you. 

    Life is long, and it’s boring, and it’s barely half over. I remember the moments. Everything I’ll never forget. Every second with a million meanings. That’s what makes a life a life. Mine are so small, and so simple. They’re moments that happen every day to everyone. But to me, to John, to the little life we built and broke and built again, they’re enough.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Captain Ginger #4
  •                                                                 

    The laboratory has been uncharacteristically abuzz the last few days since the successful creation of a small homunculus. It is the first credible report of a living homunculus that I am aware of, so the interest is well earned.

    He is a sprightly little fellow. A man 2 ¾” in height with a playfully hairy disposition. He has a full beard, and a coat of thick brown hair, which covers most of his body. We are currently keeping him in an old aquarium (sans the water) until a more suitable accommodation can be found. It is an adequate shelter for now, however, as it has a sunken pirate ship in which he can sleep, and several marbles scattered about the graveled floor with which he can exercise.

    He seems brash and prideful by nature; nonetheless, he hides inside the little sunken ship whenever too many visitors peek in. And he is terrified of the dog, I am afraid.

    At first, I merely referred to him as “Specimen IV,” but the womenfolk, in their affectations, have taken to calling him “Spivy.”

    For his repast, we usually serve him a small chunk of tuna fish and an oyster cracker. A rather dry fare, I’ll confess, but we usually let him wash it down with a nicely fruited sangria or cabernet, served in the thimble which he uses as a cup. A normal thimble was much too large a portion, however, so we have requisitioned the thimble playing piece from the Monopoly board game in the closet. Two thimbles of wine a night are his ration, three on the Fourth of July. Any more and he becomes listless and brooding.

    He is slowly learning the English language. Just this afternoon he used the word “sponge.”

    Today there was a small gathering of protest outside our house. There were twenty or thirty people assembled into a small herd. They truly looked miserable. Like a pack of ownerless curs standing in the rain. Mostly they waved placards and chanted poorly rhymed slogans in which they accuse me of playing God.

    I have taken to carrying Spivy on my shoulder. What lovely fun!

    Tonight, we all dressed up in our finest rament. We then took Spivy to the local movie theatre to see his first motion picture, a film called Spaceballs. Unfortunately, the experience was sullied by a pair of cretins who sat behind us and talked throughout the entire film.

    Such people deserve a crush to the groin.

    Despite the clothes that the women have taken great pains in providing him, he seems to insist on outright nudity, and has on several occasions proven himself to be a rather shocking exhibitionist. My remedy: a cut in the wine ration. 

    Last night, purely in fun, I began hectoring him with the end of a pencil. But then, when I leaned down to let him onto my shoulder, he became so angry that he began pummeling my earlobe with his fists. Alas for him, it only tickled.

    Today for dessert, we gave him one-half of a junior mint, which he seemed to enjoy very well.

    Despite the constant attention, I think he is beginning to feel lonely and is exhibiting a touch of the melancholy. I may look into getting him a pet of some kind, a small caterpillar, perhaps.

    He has grown rather fond of his testes, a fact which distresses the household staff.

    Today I have offered to get him a pet caterpillar, if he promises to relinquish any further interest in his testicles.

    At this point, I think it is safe to assume that he has turned down the caterpillar.

    He likes to sing along with the phonograph. He doesn’t know very many words, but he sings beautifully nonetheless. Last night there was a terrible storm and he became very frightened. He hid under a small washcloth and refused to come out, even after the storm had abated. We had to play his favorite record on the phonograph for over an hour to get him to come out again.

    Due to the publicity surrounding Spivy’s creation, the two of us are traveling a good deal. As a consequence, we often eat in restaurants and hotels. There are no restaurants, that I am aware of, which serve meals in portions appropriate to a man of his size, so I usually just allow him to dine off my plate. Nonetheless, Spivy likes to pretend to order his own food. When asked for his order, he takes great delight in ordering dishes that do not exist. Last week at the Waldorf, he asked the waiter for a “pickle-meat sandwich,” and then laughed until brought to tears.

    I am oft annoyed by this game, but he seems to find great fun in it, so I let it be.

    I attempted to relinquish Spivy to the Clinic, but they refused to take him, citing his poor health due to the abuse of junior mints.

    Rather surly today. When I went to retrieve him for his language lessons, he rolled onto his back, and began wildly kicking my hand with the soles of his feet. Such a thundering displeased me greatly. All this after I had, only last night, taken the time to peel a grape for his pleasure.

    Tonight, there shall be no grape.

    Despite his naughtiness, he is learning very quickly. His grasp of syntax is crude at best, and yet he has proven himself perfectly capable of reading and comprehending street signs, brief children’s stories and the works of Dave Barry.

    Today, when addressing my colleague, Dr. Jenkins, Spivy wickedly referred to the esteemed doctor as “Henry Picklebeard.” Pickle being the worst word he knows and one that he uses often. Heaven save us if he ever learns any true obscenities.

    Luckily, Dr. Jenkins took this as a good-natured jape.

    Christmas Day! This was a particularly wondrous occasion for little Spivy who received from us a new dollhouse within which to live, complete with indoor plumbing and electric light. It is fully furnished with tiny chairs and sofas and a bed. This was also a cause for some rejoicing from Hedda, the maid, who had previously been charged with cleaning his aquarium.

    From Jenkins he received a tamed rat, which came complete with riding crop and leather saddle. After just a couple of hours of practice, he was jumping obstacles and riding the rat like a true horseman. After dinner, we all gathered in the parlor to watch him ride. When trotting past the ladies, he tipped his cap like a true gentleman.

    The Clinic sent a missive, requesting that I turn Spivy over for testing and examination. I earned a delay, falsely claiming a riding accident involving his rat, whom he has named Excelsior.

    In spite of his shortcomings, he really is a sweet little creature. We have come to love and adore little Spivy, and cannot imagine what we should do were any ill to befall him. It’s funny, the things we choose to infest our hearts.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Hashtag: Danger #1
  •  

    ’Twas a delicate day

    of sepulchral decay,

    the mold spores just starting to bloom.

    When Miss Agatha Wight

    first took in the sight

    of her unwitting, soon-to-be groom.

               

    He stood straight and tall

    as he carried the pall,

    conducting his victim to ground.

    She marveled to witness

    his necrotic fitness

    and swooned as he tidied the mound.

               

    “Quelle joie!” she exclaimed,

    all her passions enflamed,

    to think of him in her possession.

    But just how to go

    in securing this beau?

    Artifice, truth, or discretion?

               

    For weeks she observed

    as he gently preserved

    each corpse of his quarry du jour.

    Then struck on a scheme

    to realize her dream

    of securing this death connoisseur.

     

    Under waning moonlight,

    to lure her grim knight,

    she strolled his habitual course.

    She’d donned a disguise

    meant to capture his eyes

    as she posed ’twixt the hawthorn and gorse.

     

    She’d not waited long

    before hearing the song

    he sang as he hunted his prey.

    She stifled a giggle

    and tried not to wiggle,

    lest she give her deception away.

     

    She let him draw near

    and pretended to fear

    as he crooned his demonic intention.

    Then blew in his face

    perfume with a trace

    of poison of her own invention.

     

    He fell then and there

    to awake in his lair,

    surrounded by those he had slain.

    They’d all been arrayed

    as footman or maid.

    He struggled, alas, but in vain.

     

    He lay on a shrine

    set with candles and wine,

    both bound and unable to speak.

    From hunter to hunted

    his rank had been shunted,

    with prospects decidedly bleak.

     

    “Rest easy, mon coeur,”

    she said with a purr.

    “I had to exhume all your dead.

    It just wouldn’t be right,

    eloping at night.

    They’ll properly witness us wed.”

     

    “Oh, how we shall cherish

    the moment you perish!”

    she crooned as she lay by his side.

    He started to sweat,

    comprehending the threat,

    from his heretofore unperceived bride.

     

    What a breathtaking rite

    performed there that night!

    And not a dry eye in the house.

    Securing forever

    her handsome and clever,

    abiding, exsanguinous spouse.

     

    Now she visits him often

    to dust off his coffin,

    none of her duties forsaking.

    And ponders the truth

    for both aged and youth:

    true love is a grim undertaking.

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Planet of the Nerds #2
  •  

    Chapter One: She Lives!

    She ran – keeping herself between her son and the man with the gun.  Why was he shooting?  There had to be a reason.  Maybe it was a mistake.  Maybe he was supposed to be shooting at someone else.  Maybe she could reason with him.  No.  Too risky.  She could gamble with her life but not her son’s.  Just keep running.  Just stay ahead of—

    She heard the shot that hit her an instant before it creased her skull.  The pain was immediate and intense.  Don’t scream.  A scream would alert her son and he’d turn back.  He was still running.  Good.  Keep running.  Run all the way home.  Her son was the last thing she saw before her vision went white with pain and she crumpled to the ground.

    Her eyes opened.  She could focus again.  Had she blacked out?  No.  She’d only been down for a few seconds.  Her heartbeat pounded in her ears.  Her breathing was fast and shallow.  

    Footsteps!  Her would-be killer’s footsteps.  Coming closer.

    Her son was long gone.  Good.  That was all that mattered.  Now she could dare anything.  But if she made the wrong move, she’d be treated to another bullet.  A kill shot.  Better to play dead.  He’d leave her alone if he thought she was dead.

    She could smell his beer breath as he hovered over her.  She wanted to open her eyes – just enough to get a peek at him.  Would she recognize him?  Was it someone she had wronged?  Had she earned this?  Did she deserve to die?  No.  Keep your eyes closed.  Any sign of life would doom her.

    He hummed – relaxed, certain his bullet had done its job.  Another sound.  The sound of something being unsheathed.  She opened her eyes and saw the glint from the knife in his hand.

    She sprang to her feet.  He stumbled back – startled.  Don’t give him time to recover.  Attack!  She rammed her head into his.  Blood gushed from his nose as he fell.  The knife flew from his hand.  But he’s still dangerous.  Kick him.  Stomp him.  His rib cracks.  He spits up blood.  Keep kicking.  If he gets up he’ll kill you.

    “Roy!  Help!  Roy!”

    He’s screaming.  Footsteps.  Running.  He’s not alone.  He’s got an accomplice.  The accomplice probably has a gun as well.  One more kick.  Now run.  Run for your life.

    She bolted.  Loud, furious voices behind her.  Screaming.  Cursing.  Then gunshots.  More bullets.  Wild, angry shots in the dark.  None of them came close.  But keep running.  Don’t let them get lucky.  Don’t let them make you dead.  Keep running.  Get home.  Just get home. _ _ _

    She never slowed down.  Adrenaline fueled the run.  The furious voices and the hissing bullets were far behind her.  She was home.  But her son wasn’t.  He was nowhere to be found.

    She didn’t allow herself time to panic.  Her son was missing.  There were killers out there and her son was missing.  She had to find her son.  She had to find Bambi.

     

    - End of Chapter One –

     

    Originally Appeared in:
    Issue Appeared In:
    Bronze Age Boogie #2