A resolved look settled on the face of the detective as he inserted the sixth bullet in his .45 and shut the register. He looked at the newspaper on his desk and the secret document that lay next to it. "Read & Destroy" could be read on its cover.
He blew a large cloud of smoke to the lamp that sat clutched to the desk. The rays looked ghostly through the temporary fumes. He held the burning cigarette against the document, waited until it caught flame and then dropped it casually in the wastepaper basket.
The flames licked the paper, rapidly reducing it to a smouldering heap of ashes.
The detective looked at a small bottle of ink on the table.
"ACME Disappearing/reappearing ink" was printed on its label. He took the bottle and indifferently put it in a coat pocket.
Eddie inserted the .45 in its holster and adjusted his tie. He took a bottle of cheap whiskey from another pocket, intending to take a swig. Then he remembered something that had been contained in the secret document.
"Do not trust anyone," he muttered to himself, "not even your booze dealer."
His new booze dealer was a big man with a large, quadrangular face ornamented with long side burns. In Eddie's opinion quite the kind of man that wouldn't mind poisoning a poor alcoholic. He tossed the bottle in the aforementioned wastepaper basket and left his office.
He regretted the act as soon as he walked down the stairs. The whiskey might have been cheap, but how many times had it not helped him to get over a romance that had gone down the drain, or to get over a case that he'd failed to solve, or even to temporarily forget about his brother's death?
Above, some of the liquor oozed through cracks in the dust bin.
He stood outside and took a deep breath of New York air. He stood firmly, legs slightly apart, as if he was prepared to face the worst. His eyes flitted right and left, carefully taking in what was happening around him without moving his head as much as an inch.
A police car raced through the streets, its siren making a noise that seemed to bounce through the inside of his head like a tennis ball.
The blue flashlights threw disembodied shadows of a mysterious figure on the wall next to him. The mysterious figure seemed to be drawing something from his inner pocket; it could be the suction pipe of a vacuum cleaner, but it could just as likely be...
In a flash of instinct and skill, the detective drew his gun, aiming it at the supposed shadow. It had gone.
"Well I'll be..." he cursed, re-inserting the weapon where it belonged, "...seeing ghosts next!"
He stuck up a thumb and the next moment a yellow cab had appeared on the street before him, as if it had appeared out of the blue (which it seemingly had). A small cab it was, with no roof and a mouth on the hood.
"Yo! Where 'ya wanna go, Eddie?" the cab inquired.
"Kennedy Airport, Benny," the detective replied, seeming unabashed by what had just now taken place, "and make it fast, will ya?"
The cab left in a cloud of smoke; the stench of burning rubber penetrated the air.
The wind blew rashly through his hair as the detective held on tight to his seat. Surely the cab hadn't had any traffic regulations lessons recently; it seemed principally neglecting every one rule ever written down with regard to traffic in any place at any time.
Eddie closed his eyes tightly, knowing that it wouldn't make even the slightest difference whether or not he complained.
After about fifteen death-defying minutes, Benny came to a screeching halt outside Kennedy Airport's main entrance.
"Here we are Eddie!" the cab exclaimed, "That'll be...let's have a look...three bottles of ink."
Eddie fingered the contents of his coat pockets, eventually taking out the bottle of ink.
"This ought to be enough, hoodwinker!" he grumbled as he handed it over to the cab.
"Gee, Eddie, thanks! That's worth at least five regular bottles of..." - "Keep the change, and split!" Eddie interrupted, slamming the cab's door.
Benny seemed a bit hesitant, not quite knowing what to do now someone had spoken to him like that. After some seconds of apparent deep thought, it disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared, leaving only behind a subtle waft of burned rubber.
Eddie walked up to the main entrance. A glimmer at the top of a nearby building caught his attention. His instincts took over, making him dash for the automatic doors at a far higher than usual speed.
Cronos Warchild, mercenary and hired gun, cursed in himself, fumbled with his side burns and dropped his ultra-precision gun. A commonly used synonym for an animal's solid excrements passed his lips. He disappeared inside the high building, taking the elevator down.
"Flight IA 734 for Tel Aviv is now boarding. All passengers please report at gate C," the Public Address system at John F. Kenney Airport's main hall proclaimed, "Thank you."
Eddie walked towards the counter to get his ticket. He had to hurry. There wasn't much time left to get to gate C. And he didn't want to be late.
"But I have nothing to declare!"
The detective looked at where the savage voice repeating these words had came from. It came from the ticket counter; there was no queue, only a large dude with loadsa muscles, a red piece of cloth wrapped around his head, carrying an M 60 machine gun. He was arguing with a blonde piece selling the tickets. He had a small pouch hanging around his waist, from which a ticking sound arose.
Eddie joined the next queue, observing the muscled guy.
"But, sir," she girl now told that man, still apologizingly but already losing her patience, "you cannot take aboard that equipment. I'm sorry. It's regulations. No guns, and no bombs either."
The man only grunted in reply, then started to explain to the girl that, what with the likelihood of two people carrying a bomb aboard any given flight being infinitely tiny, he had brought one just to be certain that...
"I'm awfully sorry, sir," the girl repeated, slightly raising her voice now, "but I have to ask you to be so kind as to..."
A large, broad man with a rather ectangular face and long side burns had appeared behind the ticket counter girl, looking menacingly. He was wearing a Pan Am shirt that was obviously in need of replacement by one of a larger size.
"Take a hike, dude!" the man's voice sounded, threateningly. His eyes gave the muscled guy with the red piece of cloth tied around his head a killer look.
It was clear that this supposed Pan Am employee had no intention of ever repeating this hint without some additional physical interaction.
The muscled guy took a piece of cardboard from a satchel on which "Afghanistan" was written in a most terribly fashioned handwriting. Muttering angrily, he turned around and walked outside. There, he extended the cardboard sign and stuck up his thumb. A small yellow cab with no roof appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere; the man entered it, after which it left in a cloud of smoke.
Eddie saw that the girl was pretty much aghast at the rather squarely built man's performance. He found the man now looking at him, fixing him with an obsessed stare.
Er...didn't that face look somewhat familiar?
Eddie got a sudden craving for cheap whisky.
"Tel Aviv...er....First Class," the detective replied when it was his turn at the other queue and the girl at that ticket counter had asked him what might be his destination. She typed something on a terminal, after which a printer made some noise and ejected a ticket which she handed to him.
"Gate C, sir. Have a bon voyage," she said sheerily.
Eddie kept his hand extended for another while, pulling it back when he concluded from her raised eyebrows she wasn't going to have him have anything after all.
Airline Company personnel just wasn't the way it used to be in the good old days.
He headed for gate C.
"On your way to the plane, you will be contacted by our agent in Kennedy Airport," the secret document had read, "and the fact that he might to you seem a bit odd will be his password."
Near the gate, Eddie once more noticed a flickering of something metal - this time in the shade of a large plant. He pulled out his .45 and leapt at whoever was in hiding there. This time he would have him!
He ended up holding a rabbit at both ears.
"Pflulululeeeaaase!" the rabbit complained, "don't you start yankin' my ears! I hate it when people yank my ears!"
Eddie released the rabbit from his grip, mumbling somewhat of an excuse. The animal, which looked decidedly odd, dropped to the ground. It looked like a rabbit yet it didn't either.
"Would you mind putting away that thing, too?" the Rabbit asked while pointing at Eddie's gun. Eddie nodded and put it safely away. He glanced around skittishly.
"I'm Roger," the rabbit said, "Aren't you Eddie Valiant, the famous detective?"
"Yeah," Eddie replied. The rabbit was about to say something again when Eddie signalled him to be silent. He sharpened his ears as he heard his flight being accounced again.
"Last message to all passengers for flight IA 734," a voice droned, "This flight now finishes boarding at gate C. The flight will depart shortly."
"Sorry, pal", Eddie said to Roger, "but I've gotta go. I've got a plane to catch, and it seems I have to hurry. If you don't mind, I'd..."
"I am the secret agent you are to meet," the rabbit interrupted urgently, "I was told to warn you that there's a contract out on you. An incredibly effective international hired gun is on to you. You'd better watch your steps."
Eddie didn't have any time to reply or say anything at all. The rabbit, which had a distinctly odd sense of drama, vanished in a puff of smoke (yeah, toons can do that). The detective stood glued to the ground for the better part of a minute, scanning the large plant for possible further flickerings in its shade.
"Flight IA 734 now departing," a voice droned, shaking Eddie from his puzzlement. Through the windows he saw his flight taxiing towards its designated take-off runway.
Without him on it.
What would his superiors say if he didn't turn up at Tel Aviv next day?
Once on the proper runway he saw the plane increasing speed, slowly but surely. A couple of moments later, it took off. It went into the sky like a smooth bolt of erupting fire and melting metal.
A smooth bolt of erupting fire and melting metal?
A rolling, thundering sound caught up with the people in the hall of Kennedy Airport. Women yelled frantically, children cried; men ran to and fro carrying boxes full of Kleenex tissues. The plane had exploded in mid-air and had crashed on a well known street in New York, killing thousands of business men and leading to the utter collapse of the dollar index.
No doubt. A bomb had exploded aboard the craft. Someone did not want Eddie Valiant to arrive at Tel Aviv. And whoever didn't want that, didn't want it pretty badly.
A couple of minutes after the plane had exploded and crashed, a telegram arrived at the desk of the ticket counter girl who had barely recovered from her supposed colleague's rather harsh treatment of that muscled dude, let alone the crash of the plane that they guy had originally wanted to be on. She accepted it with trembling hands, then passed it on to a couple of Airport security men after having read it.
"Didn't I tell you? - STOP - You should have let me aboard - STOP - Signed: John R.," it read.
Eddie strode to the main exit, carefully looking all around him for the possibility of assassins. Obviously, this international hired gun that Roger had been talking about was pretty seriously devoted to killing him. It seemed better to keep a low profile for a while. The president would probably remain missing for another couple of days and then there was always time to...
At that instant, a flicker caught the corner of his eye again. Right behind him. Heavy steps followed his.
"Third time lucky, eh?" Eddie muttered scornfully, starting a trot. Heavy steps still followed him, also quickening pace.
A high whizzing sound of sorts passing his ear told him that whoever was picking him for a target knew halfway how to do it. He scrambled outside and stuck up his thumb. The next moment a yellow cab had appeared on the street before him - as if it had appeared out of the blue (which it seemingly had). A small cab it was, with no roof and a mouth on the hood.
"Hiya! Where 'ya wanna go, Eddie?" the cab asked.
"Never thought I'd be happy to see you, Benny," Eddie gasped, "back to my place. On the double!"
The cab left in a cloud of smoke; the stench of burning rubber penetrated the air. Eddie looked behind him and saw a huge man stampeding with rage, waving something that resembled a post-space-age piece of weaponry.
There was a piece of ragged, gel-stained red cloth lying on the cab's floor.
After fifteen death-defying minutes, the cab came to a screeching halt right in front of Eddie's office.
"Here we are, Eddie," Benny said, "that'll be...uh....lemmesee...six bottles of ink!"
Many people wonder about the sometimes devastating rate of inflation nowadays, and so did Eddie now.
"But on the way to Kennedy Airport, half an hour ago, I paid only three bottles! What..."
"It's added danger money," the cab interrupted, "the dude who hired me about ten minutes ago first refused to pay and when I started complaining he shoved an M 60 under my hood! Then he even wanted me to pay for a telegram or something he wanted sent to the airport!"
"All right, all right," Eddie, to whom all of this made little sense, retorted, "Hang on for a moment, will ya? I'll just get some ink upstairs."
He got out of the cab, fingering his pockets for the keys. Darn! Where had he put those blasted keys?! Or had he perhaps lost them somewhere?
Once upstairs, in front of his office door, he fooled around with his credit card. He barely had to insert it for the door to open. It was never that easy, unless the door had already been open. Had he not locked it when he left?
So pondering, he entered.
As he searched his drawer he suddenly heard a click. He turned around and found himself looking straight into an impressive-looking barrel of what seemed to him like a post-space-age piece of weaponry. It seemed lethal enough for him to make only slow and deliberate moves.
Cronos Warchild, mercenary and hired gun, placed a ghetto blaster on Eddie's desk and pressed "Play".
The fanfare part of Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra" sounded through Eddie's dusty office. It reminded him of some exceedingly dull but no doubt endlessly cult and deeply literary SF movie he had seen once.
"Say goodbye, sucker," Warchild said, his voice sounding just as lethal as his ultra-precise gun that was now aimed at a spot precisely between Eddie's eyes.
"Goodbye," said Eddie while putting a finger in the gun's barrel as Warchild pulled the trigger.
A commonly used synonym for an animal's solid excrements passed someone's lips.
Original version written late 1988. Rehashed September 1993.
A very good evening to one and all. I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to relate to you the unfortunate result of, as we in this green and sceptred isle of ours like to say, "not getting any." I am openly admitting here to being a sufferer of this cruel condition so that other fellow sufferers can know that they are not alone, except, of course, in the biblical sense of the word.
I am a budding writer, although due to this terrible affliction I have of late spent more time budding than actually writing. I have attempted, from time to time, to put fingers to keyboard in moments of literary compulsion, but have always been thwarted by my own bodily urges. But let me give you an example so that you can get an idea of how this form of "writer's block" (nay "writer's bollock") exhibits itself for all to see - I wrote this piece earlier today filled with good intentions, yet, as you will see, my hands were being led not by my conscious mind but, unbeknownst to me until I read it back, by another mind at the completely opposite end of the spinal column. I have capitalised the sections of particular distraction for illustrative purposes.
As Andrea stared solemnly into the fire she recalled the ferocity of the blizzard that she had endured on their way to this place, a lonely log cabin high in the hills. The car had died a couple of miles down the road, forcing her to brave the remaining distance on foot. She had barely been able to keep going against the merciless force of the soul-chilling gale pushing her back towards icy oblivion and when her goal came into view she had never been more glad to see a WOODEN ERECTION in her life.
A drift of whiteness growing up the door combined with her lifeless fingers had toughened the fight to GAIN ENTRANCE but her resolve had GROWN also and she let out a DEEP SIGH as she felt the ENTRANCE YIELD TO HER IRON GRIP. RELIEF SWEEPING THROUGH HER BODY, she clambered through the OPEN ORIFICE into the WARMTH THAT AWAITED HER. Slowly her frozen form began to thaw out and she lit the log fire that had lain unburning since the summer. Sitting in front of the dancing flames she had removed her winter coat and flicked her hair back from her face, revelling in the WAVE OF HEAT SWEEPING OVER HER, STARTING WITH AN ECSTATIC TINGLING IN HER TOES AND GROWING UP THROUGH HER ENTIRE BODY REMOVING ANY LAST RESISTANCE SHE HAD AGAINST THE FIRE'S PROBING FINGERTIPS. SLOWLY SHE DISROBED ALLOWING THE BLAZE TO SPREAD ALL AROUND HER WRITHING FORM, SAVOURING EVERY TOUCH, EVERY SENSATION IMPARTED TO HER BY THIS RED HOT LOVER.
You see? It start off very innocently with just one sexual reference in the first paragraph, but by the end of the second all hope of a literary marvel are shattered by my thwarted libido crowbarring its way into my higher brain functions.
Don't think that I haven't tried to find a way around, desperate times call for desparate and disparate measures. You might think that by choosing a scene and cast not possessing a single sexual characteristic between them would reduce the prospects of lustful intrusions to negligable proportions. Nay! For demonstration purposes, let us take three entirely innocent objects in an entirely innocent setting. Let me see......a library, a book, a pair of spectacles and a small pebble named Sam:
The library was quiet this time of the morning, the reference section entirely devoid of life, the borrowing area hardly bustled, what life there was was soon to end if the coughing emanating from that quarter was any indication. A single shaft of sunlight escaped the captivity of the rolling autumn cumuli that drifted slowly overhead, spotlighting a single barren table and in particular the one book resting open upon it.
The illiterate beam cast its single, brilliant eye over the sole picture contained on the open pages of the encyclopaedia, an annotated diagramatic of the workings of an internal combustion engine. Absorbed in what it saw, the studious ray failed to notice the pair of spectacles folded upon the adjacent page while the scholar vanquished an unrequested call of nature. And, it's interest in the book magnified manyfold, the light became heat and the heat claimed the book as its own. Its grip was a powerful one and its craving for knowledge grew, grew beyond the bounds of this one volume of encyclopaedic instruction and it grasped out at the boundless collection of words within its reach.
It was not long before the library was consumed. Its occupants were evacuated but two people were unaccounted for, one disciple of knowledge who had succumbed to a call of nature and one Miss Forbes, librarian's assistant who had done the calling. They were found in each others arms and other, more moist parts of the human anatomy, in the gentleman's toilets by a fireman who removed the door with his fearsome chopper, which he wielded in double-handed fashion. Both parties were unharmed by both the fire and the fireman's magnificent weapon and how they all larfed about it afterwards.
OK, so it wasn't quite so bad as I expected, ignoring the "shaft" in the first paragraph as artistic license, it was going pretty well until the tying up of loose ends, which, in itself is an expression of not undisguised depravity, fun though it may be. The truth is that I bit my fingers several times before finally letting my feelings burst forth in an explosion not dissimilar in scale to when a certain Charles Chaplin stepped on the proverbial hosepipe and then lifted his foot. "But what about the small pebble named Sam?" I hear you cry! Well, some of you may well have guessed by now that I only threw that one in to make it hard. How about something more moody, perhaps set in times gone by when storytellers were worshipped as much as TV sets and, yes, even more than "The Les Dennis Laughter Show"?
"Come children, and sit with me by the fire", beckoned the old man sitting beside the sole source of light in the dark Winter evening. This man was known throughout the land as a master of experience, for he had travelled through all the lands of the known world and, some said in hushed tones, many more. His presence always drew attention, his name awe, his weathered face incredulity. In town after town he had become known for relating the many things he had seen to the young folk who rushed out to greet him when word of his arrival struck. There was not a man nor child in the land who had not heard of this man. So they ran away.
No, better end that one before it gets out of hand, as God reputedly said to himself as Adam first saw Eve. One obvious option open to me, or to anyone else unfortunate enough to find themselves in this situation, is to surrender. Surrender to the primal screaming that is oozing into my cerebrum like a reasonably viscous fluid, give up the fight and join the ranks of the other side. But such is the power of the calling that I fear that if I were to submit to Its demands than I would become Its slave for all eternity, and all my utterances would become perverse and my every sentence would bear the insignia of the double entendre. If I did surrender my soul to its will and fall into the ranks of the obsessives then I am afeared as to what might be created on this screen, yet if I denied It then would It ever go away? Should I open a direct channel from this nether world into this one and accept whatever profligate child results from such a joining?
No, as long as I have control over my actions then I will fight! Until such a time as this demon spirit is exorcised by a being of such angelic virtue, or not as the case may be, then I shall not succumb, though I may from time to time pass the utterance "ooer missus" at the passage of words such as "succumb" as a vent to the dammed, nay, damned reservoir of coital passion. For like Dr David Banner, a raging monster dwells within me and I am forced to wander, never knowing when He might emerge again doing irreparable harm to my apparel of the moment. And, though it may take numerous rewrites and endless hours of editing, I will continue to spew forth material which is truly deserving of the adjectival prenomer "literary". And I shall not be beaten, except in a playful and sensual manner!
So I end this text on a message of hope for fellow and fellowess sufferers out yonder, fear ye not, thy time will come, as shall ye!
Original written somewhere in 1992.
I wake up with an enormous headache. It seems as if a mercenary annex hired gun is trying out his latest killer gadgets on the inside of my poor skull. With every heartbeat, a throb slithers through my head's veins, creating a feeling as if the very thing is about to burst into pieces.
I open my eyes. At first, I only see some vague colours, predominated by miscellaneous shapes that move in specific patterns across my retina. As the colours sharpen, these images disappear as though melting in the sun.
Ah...the sun! Can't someone turn the bloody thing off? Or at least close the blinders? Even more violently throbbing sensations are finding their way through my skull's nerves.
Pain! Pain! Can't someone extend a helping hand to this poor and suffering soul?
I use all power that is left in my aching body to press a button on the wall, labelled "Nurse (female)". I can barely avoid accidentally pressing the button next to it, labelled "Nurse (male)".
After a short while, the room is entered by a gorgeous brunette - the likes of which would turn any healthy male's heart into a smouldering heap of cells, slowly devouring the rest of the body into utter foolishness and folly. She wears white nurse's clothes: A mini-skirt and a blouse that should actually have had a few more buttons starting at the top. Her long, long, beautiful legs are only covered by air molecules that seem to struggle to be able to touch her. She blinks her eyes in a fashion that would enrapture the very Pyramids of Gizeh, and with a casual move of her right hand puts her hair in a way so that it congenially covers one of her shoulders. It glimmers like silk in a fresh summer morning's sun, even better than in most shampoo ads.
With a voice that would have spontaneously melted both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, she sighs: "Can I be of any help to you, sir?" (Please note the emphasis on the word 'any')
I open my eyes when I discover that her beautifully hewn body blocks the rays of the sun that try to pierce my eyelids; I clearly see the shapes of what God must have had in mind when he designed breasts.
"No thanks," I mutter, "just close the damn blinders and I'll be blissfully happy."
She looks at me, utmost wonder portrayed in her endearing rainbow eyes. She then looks at her blouse as she starts to slowly unbutton it. While doing that, she opens and closes her eyes regularly, as if in slow motion. She wears a lovely teint of eye-shade, I can now clearly see. Her hair still glimmers in the sun like purest silk from far away Eastern countries.
Yeah....those are surely the things that God must have had in mind...
She slowly turns around and walks to the window, closing the blinders, drawing the curtains, too. She makes each move as deliberate as possible, trying to make each and every animation as seductive as it can possibly be. Soon, the room is only lighted by a dim spotlight above the bed as she gently walks back to my bed.
I must have dozed off for a few moments just after she closed the blinders and drew the curtains, as suddenly she isn't wearing her mini-skirt any more, either. She now only wears some white lingerie, the edges of which are decorated with the finest lace.
She sits down on my bed, and with her warm and lovely voice asks whether I would like to touch her. When I don't respond to this invitation, she shows even more wonder in those rainbow eyes of hers, and gently puts one of my hands on her left thigh.
Her leg feels like velvet under my fingers. Purest, finest and softest velvet, that is. I sense her warmth, and I hear her breathing slowly as she moves closer to me on the bed.
She kisses the long and well manicured fingers of her right hand, then puts them at my dried-out lips.
She glances around as though someone might be looking, then carefully removes the final part of textile that is covering the upper part of her delightful body. She bows over me and puts her lips on mine. Her lips are soft, warm and, like Raymond Babbitt would say, wet.
She releases her lips from mine, doing this in such a lovely way that many men would have found that even more exciting than the actual kiss. This promises more!
Yet, there is no response whatsoever from my side. Glad to find that no light was trying to kill my sensory nerves that had had their best time processing the crushing pain in my head, I close my eyes and nodd of again.
"Nurse," someone standing in the doorpost whispers, "you may stop now."
A man wearing spectacles and a long white coat stands there. In his hands he holds a notepad and a pen; on his coat hangs an ID plate reading "Dr. James Hamilton".
"No response to sex," he says as he writes the words down.
The gorgeous nurse collects her clothes and leaves the room.
"Creep," she whispers below her breath as she turns around just before walking through the door. The last thing I could have seen when she disappeared into the dark corridor was the sustained wonder blurring vision in her rainbow eyes.
Next, another girl comes in. She is wearing a black miniskirt with a small white apron embroidered with lace, a black blouse, black tights, high heels and a laced alice-band that keeps her long, curly black hair tidy. Her large, brown eyes look at me as I lie on the bed with open mouth, still nodding off.
She's also much of a looker, but that was already clear by the aforesaid.
She pushes a small carriage on which various bottles containing variously coloured liquids are located. Her hips sway enchanting to and fro as she pushes the thing to my bed.
She simulates a modest cough in order to get my attention.
She simulates another one for the same purpose.
Yet, I simply nodd on.
The girl looks to the door, in which' post the man wearing the long white coat still stands. He signals her to remain subtle, and to open a bottle and hold it under my nose.
She seems puzzled when looking at the carriage, as if she doesn't seem to know what to select from this vast collection of fluids. To be perfectly honest, this lovely girl probably truly doesn't know.
"Eighty-five percent," she reads aloud, fetching a flat bottle with "STROH-RUM" written on its label. She gently lifts up my head and moves the bottle subtlely to and fro under my nose. Within seconds, the whole room is filled with the smell of liquor - a smell that would on its own be enough to get quite brainmurderingly drunk.
She pours the equivalent of a quadruple "STROH-RUM" down my throat, immediately stepping back a few paces.
Apart from enormous quantities of droplets appearing all over my forehead, arms and neck, nothing happens.
No move. No response.
Now, it's her turn to display lots of wonder in her fawnen eyes.
The man in the long white coat signals her to use another bottle, trying to lip-sync a word.
"Ah...Plantiac," the girl agrees, and takes a bottle containing a brown fluid.
"Hmm...thirtyfive percent..." she says approvingly.
She pours a bit of the fluid into a small glass, takes a sip herself and then holds it under my nose. For a fragment of a moment, it seems as if I indeed open my eyes.
The lids don't agree with what they're told, however, so they remain closed. Even a glass of the best and smoothest Dutch Brandy ever, Plantiac, doesn't succeed in drawing my attention or even waking me up. The divine smell of the liquid enters my nostrils, yet there is no effect to be noticed. Only the sweat on my body seems to disappear.
"Fawn," the man with the long white coat whispers, "that will be all."
Tears well up in her eyes as she seems to realize that her job wasn't performed satisfactorily.
"You've done the best you could," the doctor says as she passed him, "Go and have a drink. It's on me."
Just before actually leaving the room, she turns around and looks at me. "Creep," she whispers below her breath.
The doctor looks up from his paper.
"No response to alcohol. The patient does seem to have a certain effect on women, causing them to call him 'creep'", he proclaims, writing down the words.
"Next." the doctor says.
The room is now entered by cigarette-wielding babe with long, lank, incredibly blonde hair, lightblue eyes, bright red lips, long legs and a tight blue skirt just below the knees. She nonchalantly blows a few puffs of smoke to the ceiling in a way that would have made Jerry Hall jealous. Her hips dance as if in a supernatural trance in a way that would have made Mick Jagger go nuts instantly (and forget all about Jerry). She wears a very tight white blouse that leaves only little to guess about the shapes of the upper part of her anatomy.
Her necklace is one of silver inlaid with many a diamond; a solid golden bracelet ornaments her right wrist whereas the other one is sublimified by a Rolex watch. Her left breast supports a priceless brooch. If my nose would have been open to any alien impressions, it would have sensed a most extravagantly expensive perfume (one of those 'turn-the-men-on-because-it-brings-out-the-worst-in-'em' brands, something like Loulou). But it wasn't, so it couldn't.
She also sits down on my bed, and from somewhere she gets about 10,000 real US dollars that she starts to move back and forth under my nose. She smell of fresh paper money appears to have more penetrating power than her expensive perfume, as in my dreams I now vividly imagine myself swimming in a warehouse full of thousand dollar bills - much in the fashion like a certain member of the Duck family would.
Yet the potence of the smell and the associative thought is not enough to make me wake up. At times, I only see coloured shapes moving in specific patterns across my retina, sometimes littered with sound effects.
I make a sudden move with my right hand, as if wanting to grab a joystick, pushing its fire buttons rapidly. The woman startles and nearly drops her cigarette on the bedlinen.
"Creep," she hisses, slaps my face, stands up and walks away. In style.
Even the way in which she did this would have made Mick Jagger go berzerk. Just before passing the doctor, who is scribbling something on his notepad, she turns around. If I would have looked, I would have seen something like wonder in her bright blue eyes before she vanished into the darkness of the corridor.
Only the tap-tap sound of her high heels can be heard for a few moments longer, until that also fades away into silence.
"No response to money," the doctor sighs, "NEXT!"
Another girl, this time a rather common one, enters the room. She wears amazingly high stiletto-heels on which she seems barely to be able to balance her gait, fishnet stockings, an extremely tight pair of leather black trousers and a torn Metallica T-Shirt; various metalware items cover her neck and arms. Her hair is dyed almost perfectly white, and falls in broad curls over her shoulders. Bright pink lipstick and blue eyeshade make her face, and she appears to be chewing some kind of cheap bubble gum. Under all the superficial impressions, she can still be seen to have been very pretty. Once.
In short: A girl that would turn every headbangin' nervewreckin' muscletorturin' freakin' heavy metallunatic on, referred to as 'tart' by many potential mother-in-laws.
The smell of artificial strawberry flavour fills the room as she lifts an enormous 2x50 Watts ghetto blaster off one of her shoulders and puts it down on the small desk near my bed. She plugs it into the nearest wall socket and presses a button. A small drawer flips out slowly, in which she puts a small shiny disc. She looks at the label approvingly, then presses another button. The drawer closes and a slight whizzing sound arises from the machine.
Within seconds, the hospital room is filled with the noise of Heavy Metal Mayhem, blackened noise and hoarse cries proclaiming death, hell, destruction, murder and genocide. The girl starts jumping all up and down the room, wildly banging her head. That surely ain't no wig she's wearing.
The doctor observes me silently in the doorpost. He is now holding his fingers in his ears, and he is trying to write with a foot, his notepad lying on the floor.
As the vocalist's chainsaw massacres, the guitarists exploding strings and the drummer's atomic invasions are ready to plunge into a second cacophony of sound barrier obliteration, the doctor frantically signals the girl to shut down the device.
She breathes hard as she moves the hair out of her eyes (and mine) and adjusts her torn Metallica T-shirt.
I still lie there. Not affected by it all. Still no response whatsoever. Not as much as a fragment of a twitch.
"The man's a bloomin' creep!" the girl cries as she unplugs the ghetto blaster and runs off, almost knocking down the doctor. Was that wonder to be seen in her eyes?
"No response to Heavy Metal," the doctor writes down, "no hope left. Case terminated. Patient 188.8.131.52., Karsmakers, Richard C., sufferer of the Arcade Insanity Destruction Syndrome, will be put to sleep. Permanently."
He beckons someone who had apparently been waiting in the hallway all along during these sessions.
Another nurse, looking like an identical twin of Gloria Estefan, comes in. She wields a hypodermic syringe labelled 'Cyanide'. She rolls up my sleeve and sticks it in my arm, then slowly injects the liquid into my veins.
The last things I see are small coloured objects flying across my retina in a specified pattern. My hands make a last sudden move, trying to grab a joystick, press a fire button. As my life and last strength flow away from me, I faintly motion the nurse to bend over to me.
Hoping to get a chance to hear my last confession, an oral version of my will, or even receiving a last regretful kiss of farewell, she does so. I whisper something in her ear.
A moment later, I utter my last breath. Cyanide works fast and efficiently.
"Space Invaders?" the nurse wonders, "what a creep!"
Original version written early 1989. Rehashed September 1993.
Tiny droplets of salty water emerged from certain microscopic cavities on the forehead of Cronos the Cumbersome, formerly mercenary and hired gun, now one of the new acts of Circus Piccadilly. Especially where the salty liquid poured across a sore wound inflicted upon him when his gun had exploded in a previous story due to someone sticking his finger in the barrel when the trigger was about to be pulled, it ached most profusely. Before him was the deep abyss of the theatre, with a concrete floor covered by a thin layer of sand located right at the bottom. A trapeze bar swung to and fro in the air. Spotlights were aimed at him. Many, many metres below him, hundreds of the planet's inhabitants sat gazing with open mouths.
He was about to do the most dangerous trapeze discipline ever done by a rookie.
It had all started two or three weeks ago. Killing was his business, and business wasn't good at all. He had come here to liquidate a writer of a book that had apparently offended some kind of religious group on Earth. Of course they were being childish, but Cronos wasn't about to question anyone who paid.
Lots of outlaws and refugees lived on Ambulor Eight, and Warchild had considered it his best bet to look for the author who had fled after the first few threats had been made.
So it turned out to be. The author had been found quickly and was eliminated accordingly, but now he had to go back to Earth to get his totally immodest fee. And that was a tougher job than he had imagined it to be. He didn't have any money on him and some outlaw had pinched his American Express Traveller's Cheques.
He had gone to an employment agency in search for some means to earn money in a decent way. It was very difficult. He knew how to handle just about every weapon and he was a master in most martial arts, but didn't have any academic qualifications.
The job he got at the Ambulor Eight Thai Boxing Training Centre hadn't worked out satisfactorily: After he accidentally crippled a pupil there, he was assigned to clean the sanitary availabilities. When he had to clean away the excrements of a Mutant Maxi Mega Monster of Multifizzic Omega once, which are regarded as the Smelliest Creatures in the Universe, he found out that he definitely wasn't 'educated' to do this kind of job.
Another job, at the Salvation Army, also hadn't worked out due to rather obvious reasons.
So now, eventually, he had been hired by a circus. Nobody knew why they had decided to select him, least of all Warchild himself. Probably his utter lack of being able to come up with any qualifications at all had helped.
And now he stood there. About to do something that he was not supposed to survive, probably. He saw the circus manager standing, partly behind a curtain, talking with a dude that looked just as mutant as the indescribable thing he recently saw in a Thai Boxing School's loo.
"Another one whose payment cheque we can tear apart in a minute or so," the circus manager whispered, "I still can't believe he agreed to do this stunt - not with his total lack of experience!"
He chuckled, accidentally swallowing a piece of chewing gum. He coughed, and the mutant creature next to him patted him roughly on the back.
Cronos couldn't hear this conversation, of course. Not only because they were whispering and generally were too far off, but also because he had forgotten his hearing aid back on his home planet.
The trapeze bar was coming towards him now. He jumped. Just about every female creature and several weak-hearted outlaws cried out when they saw the huge body hurtling itself through the air, totally missing the trapeze bar by several yards.
"Shit," he said, before crushing down into the heavy concrete floor, many, many feet below.
Cronos Warchild currently resides in the Ambulor Eight Hospital for the Very Very Splattered, surrounded by rather a lot opf nurses and people that keep on talking about pills, poison, jumping off high buildings and trying to stop Arcturian Mega Trains.
Original written late 1988. Rehashed September 1993.
It is damp. Very. It is hot. Very, too. The hero strides alone, unhindered by mosquitos and leeches. Grim determination shines in his eyes. He needs no helmet. Only his faithful M-16 is at his side, a couple of hand grenades cling to his belt. His Colonel awaits him at an airbase in a neighbouring country.
The malaria-ridden water splashes freely around him as he crosses yet another small river, penetrating ever deeper into the very bowels of the jungle. In his mind he sees frightened faces of worn-out men. Fellow Americans, boyfriends, husbands. Fathers. He sees scars all over their bodies. He sees brains being blown out by mandatory Russian roulette, wounds inflicted by brute Vietcong sergeants' knives. Sights that make him hardened, make him persevere, make him struggle to go on and reach his Goal.
He walks on, seemingly unperturbed by the long vines and dense undergrowth that would have made any soldier's offense damn hard. But this hero is a tough one. Very. And he is angry. Very, too.
The sound of exotic birds cannot please him, nor the exquisite beauty of flowers that hang from branches and seem to leap at him, as if rejoicing, from tree trunks.
He stops suddenly, brushing aside some fallen leaves.
A booby-trap, hidden.
Cleverly, he trips the wire from a distance with the nozzle of his best friend. A sharp object flings itself into a tree, passing through air where he should have been. But not him. Not this smart American hero. Not the man who doesn't even need a helmet. Not the man of a few grunts and even fewer words.
His eyes narrow. Was that something suspicious he heard?
He sees a Vietcong patrol through the low trees. They haven't spotted him at all.
Will he shoot them? No. He can't risk the camp hearing distant shots. They will be warned in that case, which is hardly the hero's intent.
He waits until the patrol has disappeared from sight. He is not only tough, but he's also very smart. The all-time American hero. The camp is getting nearer. He fingers his Rambo knife. It is one of those large things with compass and fishing gear built in. Not that he needs any of that. All he ever needed was the needle, that he sometimes used to stitch his own wounds, without sedation of course. It had been a while ago now. It had been cold. It had been in the middle of nowhere. And it had been something that he preferred not to have flashbacks of.
Once he had arrived back home, his friends had all started to die of cancer. Whithered away by so-called harmless Agent Orange. He knew nobody from back then who was still alive. Nobody, that is, except for his Colonel. His Colonel who had called upon him to single-handedly rescue a dozen Prisoners Of War still held in the People's Republic. Chuck had done it, so why couldn't he, the hero?
Meanwhile, in a POW camp deep in the jungle, an evil sergeant has tied an innocent American soldier to a wall. He administers electric shocks to the poor man. Just to prove his point, the Vietcong bastard takes a knife and cuts a long wound across the prisoner's chest.
The prisoner bites his tongue and closes his eyes in intense agony, but does not utter a sound. The Vietcong sergeant looks at him and laughs an evil grin. It's the kind of person you'd like to have someone shoot.
In the background, other prisoners can be heard. They cry in pain. It seems as if all enemy soldiers have recently read books on torture. De Sade, that kind of thing. Really sick.
They're all the kind of people you'd like to have someone blow up.
A feeling of premonition hangs in the air.
The hero is torn from his sad thoughts when he sees a fence of rusty barbed wire before him. Behind it he sees bamboo towers and huts. The kind that blow up spectacularly and burn easily.
Darkness falls. The sound of crickets is deafening.
He takes out his binoculars. At first he sees nothing except for the odd soldier toting a Russian automatic. They talk in an incomprehensible language. Incomprehensible, that is, to anyone but the hero. Having served several tours, he has succeeded in learning the language tolerably well. Well enough to tell a Saigon prostitute what he wants, at any rate.
He sees small cages. Through the sturdy bamboo bars, desperate faces can be seen. There are rats. They sweat and stink. The rats, too. Morsels of food are left on broken plates on the muddy floor. Even the prisoners don't touch it.
The hero waits some more. At about midnight, having listened to the crickets long enough, he cuts through the barbed wire and succeeds in planting plastic explosives under each major hut without being spotted.
The huts blow up in perfect sequence, each shabby bamboo hut transforming itself in an explosion of fire equal to that of gallons and gallons of fuel, all at the hand of a bit of plastic explosives. Vietcong soldiers drop off high spots dramatically, doing one or two mortal saltos, hitting the ground outside of view.
The first soldiers wake up from the nearby barracks. They run outside, shooting, against a background of blazing fire. They speak and yell commands in that same funny language observed earlier. They spot the hero after a few moments and start shooting at him, about two dozen of them.
They all miss him, miraculously (very). Bits of sand explode in the ground around him, splinters of bamboo disconnect themselves violently from the hut before which he stands. He does not need to take cover, for he is the hero. It would be out of the question for a hero to get shot. At least not when they're as tough as him, nor when they're on a suicide mission like his. He shoots a couple of rounds, three at the most, killing all of the evil enemies.
The evil sergeant is still alive. His evil grin is still plastered on his face, his hands are still wet with the blood of a beautiful young American girl's GI. He scans the camp for the hero, sees him almost immediately. He, too, stands before the dramatic background of fire and burning frameworks.
The bastard grabs a gun from one of his dead men that happens to lie close, shoots a bit at our hero and rolls off to a side.
The hero suddenly disappears, leaving the sergeant puzzled but unaware of the consequences, to appear behind the Vietcong man a little while later. The hero is a very fair man. He coughs politely, enabling the Vietcong officer to turn around and aim his automatic at him.
Gallons and gallons of blood explode from the body of the evil Vietcong bastard as his lifeless body is hurled to the ground, maimed by round after round of lead that is shot from the smoking barrel of the hero's M-16. A look of satisfaction arrives at the proud soldier's face. Mission accomplished.
He takes out a cigar, lights a match on his boot and starts smoking.
Someone puts on a record of violin music as the hero walks to the cages, slowly but full of purpose, and breaks open the locks with his powerful, muscular arms. Grateful anorexic American POWs stumble out of the shacks, muttering their thanks and caressing their wrists as ropes are untied. One or two of them scream screams of gladness.
The music is pumped up as a helicopter seems to appear from virtual nothingness. Dust is whipped up, long unkempt hair is flung in brave soldiers' faces. Light beams pry to and fro through the darkness.
The hero stands tall, directing his recently gained friends into the chopper, on their way back home. He supports a few. They look up at him utterly respectfully. They go back to the loving embrace of their spouses or girlfriends. Back to where they might see their own children for the first time.
Home. A place where people think they've been busy killing babies, where spouses or girlfriends have run off with drug-crazed hippies, where their children have joined peace movemements and are heavily into flower power, free love, and give peace a chance.
The hero walks off in the sunset, M-16 slung aesthetically yet casually across his broad shoulder, totally unaware of what he has done.
And the bad thing is that he'll do it again in the sequel.
Original written early 1992, rehashed September 1993.
It had been a stormy night, and Charles had a headache when he came on deck and started searching for Fitzroy, captain of the warship "Beagle". That darned Henslow had talked him into going on this trip and he had regretted it more than once. As a matter of fact he did now. It was September 15th 1835, and he still hadn't gotten used to the dayly routine aboard this ship that he now had been on for almost four years. Ah, there was Fitzroy.
"Good morning, Robert!" Charles yelled to get the man's attention.
"Good afternoon, I'd almost say, old chum!" Fitzroy replied.
"Been looking at my fossils, again?" Darwin could see the disturbed look in the captain's eyes. Having been brought up on the creational story, it was rather hard for someone like Fitzroy to explain the existence of the fossils they had found in South America.
Fitzroy nodded. "It sure is peculiar that these creatures have once roamed on our earth. I still cannot grasp it, Charles."
Nor could Charles, but he soon was to know everything he needed it. He'd just have to be patient.
The next day, Charles was awake much earlier, and his headache had gone, too. "Today, I'm going to change the world", he thought to himself when he yawned and cursed at his beard that was once again stuck between two planks of his bunk. He could not have known that his careless statement was only all too true.
"Land ahead!" someone screamed. Darwin startled, accidentally and rather instantly loosening his beard to his great agony. Cursing four-lettered words, he went on deck and took a deep breath.
The Galapagos Islandslay before him.
Darwin could already see the extravagant fauna as he approached the isles in his small rowing boat. He had left the others aboard the "Beagle", as he knew that they would only disturb him in his filoso-biologic thoughts and the theories he was trying to match together. It all seemed like a big puzzle to him (he would have thought about "Jigsaw puzzle" if these would have existed back then, but he didn't now). Where did the South American fossils fit in? Could animals change their appearance during the course of centuries or even longer eras?
His eyes were heavily occupied as he saw the diverse animals on these seemingly dead and remote islands. He saw about a dozen finches that he had never seen before. Each had its own peculiar form of bill, and he wondered why they would have such various shapes. He took out his drawing book and started drawing. "I will call them Darwin finches," he thought.
His words were not yet forgotten when the sky became troubled with heavy clouds. Some of the iguanas sought shelter, and the finches flew away.
This strange human had seen enough of them. He would have to think of the puzzle himself, a puzzle to which they had just added a piece.
Charles looked up and knew he was going to be wet if he didn't start doing what the iguanas did pretty soon. To his luck, fate had made sure that there was a small cavern nearby and he decided to run for shelter as heaven opened its taps and started making everything wet all through.
After he had regained his breath, Charles started exploring the back of the small cave. Who knows, he might find some additional fossils! But what he found left him in mere amazement: Hidden behind a boulder and partly covered with sand and dust, he saw a large cube with a glass front, and a smaller flat light-grey thing with smaller cubes on it.
"Q, W, E, R, T, Y", Charles read as he studied the small cubes. He blew away some of the dust and discovered a name on the right of the plank and read again: "Apple...MacIntosh?!". Having had the privilege of seeing a typewriter in his teens, Charles immediately saw the striking resemblance of the plank and the typewriter. "It must be a keyboard, but where must I fit the paper?" he thought.
He investigated further, and found some small quadrangled, flat objects near the device. He took his notepad and wrote down: "September 16th, year of our Lord 1835. I have just sought shelter in a nearby cavern and I have found something utterly weird, accompanied by a large cube with a glass front and several small and flat objects that seem to be..." he did an estimated guess "...3.5 inches wide. I will investigate further!" He closed his notebook and did what he had just written down.
He touched the glass of the cube, and tried to look in it. Nothing could be recognized; it was just pitch black. Suddenly, lightning and thunder roared across the sky. Charles jumped back as the glass front just as sudden went white and a small red light started glowing on the device that he concluded to have been made by a member called Apple of an ancient civilisation. After a few seconds, Charles heard music.
He closed his eyes and thought, "Is this heaven? Am I dead? Is this music of angels?" When he opened his eyes he could not see Saint Peter, nor any angels, and not even his deceased stephmother, but he did see the cave and an image that had appeared on the monitor.
"ECO," he read, "...the contest of evolution...a game of survival...survival of the fittest..." He did not dare to touch anything and wrote down what he saw; "Is this wizardry? Is this some spell of old that tries to help me to complete my puzzle?" He closed his book in mere amazement as the screen switched and the cube started emitting sounds and showing an animated sequence.
It seems he had stumbled into some kind of futuristic machine running a gene manipulation system of sorts. He saw a spider feeding, multiplying itself and grow different by means of gene manipulation.
"That's it!" Charles exclaimed, "Species can manipulate their genes by pure coincidence...bla bla bla " (I will not let you be witness of the whole speech he gave, but it included terms like 'evolution', 'mutation', 'survival' and the like).
Charles rushed back to his rowing boat, just in time to escape the lightning smashing the cavern to bits. "Damn!", he thought. "Who will now believe me?"
Right he was. Pity he couldn't stay there any longer. If he would have done that, he would also have been able to come with DNA structure theories and the lot, theories for which human civilisation now had to wait some more decades to be found out.
Darwin had to think and contemplate until 1859 before he would get the courage to publish his theories (that's the official reason; well-informed sources told that he needed all that time to formulate everything he was taught by the wizard machine).
He wrote down his findings and called his book "On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection". That was a term pinched from the wizard machine, actually.
Original written somewhere in 1987. Rehashed September 1993.
"BLASPHEMY!" Ignatius yelled at the skinny young man standing in front of him.
"How dare you inflict your hideous views on me! Go on and assault some other innocent bystander. Leave me alone before I have you seized and lashed."
"But I only want to inform you about our view on life", sputtered the young man who was dressed in a robe and had a bald, shining head.
"Why have you chosen me to spill forth your obcene and primitive religious babble? Has your obscure sect chosen me as a victim? Am I to be slaughtered in front of a blood-stained altar to satisfy some ridiculous deity you worship? Get out of my way, I have pressing matters to attend to."
Ignatius pushed the young man aside and headed down the station hall. The young man sighed and tried to get another traveller to buy some of the pamphlets he was carrying. The purpose of these was not exactly clear to him, but he liked the fact that he finally had something to do. It had taken him quite a while, though, to memorize all the things he had to say to people.
Ignatius already regretted the fact that he had entered this station. Myrna had thrown him out of her flat and told him to go stay with her friend for a while. Since he didn't have enough money for a taxi, he had to take the tube to the place. His valve made a strange movement when he saw the masses of people assembled on the platform.
The foul wind coming from the tunnel told him that a train was approaching. The mass of people started moving towards the edge of the platform and Ignatius tried to manoeuvre his bulk safely towards a vacant seat attached to the wall. But the train thundered into the station and he got swept away by the crowd.
"Oh my God!", Ignatius yelled, "I will lose my delicate balance soon. My physique is not prepared for such wild motions."
Some people gave him irate looks. Then he spotted some open train doors and changed course towards them. He heaved himself into the train and noticed to his horror that there were no more empty seats. The doors closed with a whirring sound and the train set itself in motion rather abruptly.
Ignatius was not prepared for this and lost his balance. His arms waved wildly, in search of something to hold on to, but failed to grasp anything steady. He did however, knock the hat off an old lady's head before he dramatically collapsed on the floor.
"Oh my God! I've been paralyzed!" bellowed Ignatius as he lay there. His valve closed with a snap and his left paw landed on a soft and sticky piece of chewing gum that sat stuck to the floor.
Some people started laughing, and in the back of the car, a subway attendant started to make his way through the carriage to see what was going on.
"Don't sit there and mock my misfortune. I've probably crushed some vital organs and will spend the rest of my existence in a hospital bed. Somebody help me before I fall into a state of shock! I need urgent medical attention. Somebody signal for help!"
"All'ight pal, why don't you get up and stop yellin'", the attendant said to Ignatius.
"Who are you? Are you qualified to perform first aid? I refuse to be crippled by some incompetent quack. Now stop stalling and help me up."
Ignatius extended his left paw, forming a rubbery band between the floor and himself. The attendant pulled a face and took a step back.
"What are you doing, you fool? Don't you see I am in severe distress?"
"You got gum allover yaself man.", the attendant commented.
Ignatius noticed the pink mass on his hand now and turned pale.
"Disgusting!", cried Ignatius and slowly pulled himself up.
"Which brainless ruminater has dropped this revolting piece of chemical tartar?" Ignatius hollered while holding his hand in the air like a prosecutor displaying a murder weapon.
"You?" he yelled at a spotty girl whose jaws were moving rhythmically.
"Hey fatso, I ain't dropping no gum in no subway. My momma won't let me," she replied between chews.
"OK mister, why don't you get that stuff off ya hand and keep calm", the attentant ventured. He had always been told to try and keep people calm in situations like these.
"Don't interrupt me while I am interrogating this juvenile jezebel. She's the cause of this outrage..."
"Hey! Ain't nobody callin' me a jezebel!", the girl said and got up. She kicked Ignatius in the knee and headed for the doors. The train was approaching another station.
"Seize her!" Ignatius cried. He was getting very excited now, his head was turning red and the white spots were forming on his hands again.
"She assaulted me in public! Somebody apprehend that teenage barbarian! I will be maimed for life!"
The train entered the station and grinded to a halt. Again, the momentum surprised Ignatius and he crashed into the attendant, who was not built for this kind of onslaught, causing the two of them to go reeling through the carriage.
They were stopped by a post, and the attendant quickly escaped through the opening doors. Ignatius was left, panting and wheezing, leaning against the post.
"What more do you have up you sleeve, Fortuna, you vicious trollop of destiny," Ignatius mumbled as he sat down heavily on two empty seats. He looked out of the window and saw a billboard on the tunnel wall of a young girl dressed in a bikini, advertising some sort of sun tan oil. His blue and yellow eyes closed to shut out this demoralizing display of decadency and revolt.
"Prostitutes" he mumbled as he slipped away into a state of slumber.
Written autumn 1990. Slightly rehashed September 1993.
"Ssshhhiiiittttt", groaned Alpha to himself as he felt his bowels release and the urgent mass escape his bodily prison. With a wry smile he thought to himself how true that word was - literally. After such a long journey it was good to be back on the ground, and he was looking forward to relaxing for a few days while work didn't need him.
Alpha decided that he was going to become a completely apathetic slob while he was home - have a long wash, consume until he could do so no more, then shut the door and sleep the rest of the time off, until work called him in again.
He felt the exodus from his bowels slow to a trickle and then stop completely, and he headed off to the shower room for a well deserved, thorough cleaning - he'd make sure that he got off all of the crusty bits. Re-emerging into the sunlight after a blissful shower he headed over for a feed, the food here wasn't the best - a bit too oily - but he was much too tired to go anywhere else. Luckily for Alpha the food had improved, and he was able to enjoy an enormous feast - at his employers expense - before he slowly cruised home and slept.
"Ssshhhiiiittttt", thought Alpha, "WHY ME???"
It was hot and Alpha wasn't terribly impressed at being called back to work after only one day of apathetic bliss. He was really sure this trip was going to suck in a big way, so sure, that he was thinking of quitting right now, even before he went anywhere.
"Nah", he resolved himself, "There's nothing else that I could do for a living, I'll just have to put up with it - it won't kill me."
Then it was too late for second thoughts, and they were off on another trip.
A half hour later Alpha was still lamenting his lost days of apathy, when an unfamiliar feeling stirred in the pit of his stomach.
"Ssshhhiiiittttt", thought Alpha, "Don't tell me I'm getting a stomach bug - bloody hell - Life really is like that."
Ryan was a completely mindless, moronic arsehole. And he loved it. He thrived on it. It was what he lived his excuse of a life for. He was the sort of person to jump a six foot fence - because a sign on the other side said "Keep off the grass." He was the sort of person that throws their rubbish on the ground - next to the bin. He was the sort of person that asked for extra pickles on his macdonalds. He was that kind of person. He was also the kind of person that gets lucky, which is probably why he had just boarded the plane for an around the world tour.
The first thing that Ryan noticed inside the plane was the plethora of big, bright red, "No Smoking" symbols on the walls. And to a completely mindless, moronic arsehole like Ryan, it was like putting a chiahuaua in front of a pit-bull.
Even with all the bright red signs around, it still took Ryans' brain approximatly 45 minutes to come to the conclusion that it would be hysterically funny to have a cigarette on the plane, and off he went to do so.
He wandered around for 10 minutes before deciding that the only place to have a smoke would be in the toilet, and in he went. Laughing all the while, he brought the smoke to his lips, flicked his lighter and inhaled deeply. When he'd finished the first one, he decided that that had been so funny that he was going to do it again.
The unfamiliar feeling in Alpha's stomach was now becoming a real worry as it just kept intensifying, he wriggled and wriggled but it had no effect and he soon began to feel a strange tingling sensation in his nose.
Ryan was in hysterics by now, which quickly ceased as the plane rocked madly for a few moments, but then resumed as he brought the third cigarette to his lips.
Alpha couldn't control himself any longer and a huge series of racking coughs burst from his air passages, then before he could recover his composure a huge grey object reared directly in front of him....
EXCERPT FROM THE DAILY NEWS (13/11/1993)
Townsville - A horrific plane crash occured here yesterday with all 211 passengers killed instantly. Authorities have no idea as to the cause of the crash and are awaiting the discovery of the black box for clues. Eyewitnesses say the plane, Alpha 151 Charlie, seemed to crumple in the midsection and straighten out before smashing into the side of Mt Stuart....
Written summer 1993.
Some days, nothing goes your way. The weather is that of a sunny early-autumn day, and although it's a bank holiday your diary tells you that you swapped it in exchange for an additional day off around Christmas. The light outside is that very odd shade of what it normally is, which tells you today is actually not a day like any other. Your Great Love is far away from you but you know you can't reach her by phone since she is at some kind of obscure children's village teaching tiny kids how to take care of their pets. A few of your colleagues that also work at a day like that suddenly find ways of doing things that do not happen to include you. Outside, everybody is happy and celebrating some kind of Great Unity. You know that the most gorgeous girls in town, the ones that are miraculously hidden from sight on all other days of the year no matter how hard you look, walk around on a nearby fun fair. You know they are, for you saw some of them for a brief instant as you went to get your post from your mail address (which only consisted of unsollicited stuff and a traffic ticket). On top of that, you notice that the ache in your throat, a first sign of a heavy flu coming up, gets worse by every drop of de-carbonated lukewarm Cola you swallow. You know you should go and have a bite to eat since you haven't had anything all day, but you're not hungry. Then you spill the last glass of Cola, de-carbonated and lukewarm as it is. You see the fluid disappearing in the carpet but you feel powerless and too futile to do anything against it.
In short: Everybody seems to be having not too bad a time. Everybody, that is, but you.
On a day like this, Wednesday, October 3rd 1990, this story was written.
The Beast had one of these days, too.
It had started as it had gathered the courage to face the challenge of getting out of bed. Some kind of psychological switch in its head had flicked the wrong way that night, and if only it knew why, it would have tried to do something about it. Yet it couldn't for it didn't, and when it looked in the mirror it saw a rather gloomy version of itself, looking astonishingly dreary.
It hadn't quite understood this, for it had gone to bed early the evening before and by the time it had got up it was way past eleven in the morning.
It had growled, and had been startled by the way it looked at itself when doing that.
At least the weather was OK. It was dark and gloomy like the Beast itself - the perfect day for the rather dark and gloomy job that it considered appropriate to do about once every year: Kidnapping a newborn human child.
Not only was it gloomy and dark, but the ultimate darkness of the night was also approaching - as were some rather impressive thunderclouds that foretold heavy weather.
As it closed the door of its dark abode in the back of a concealed cave in the mountains, it felt positively gloomy - even though it felt in his throbbing veins that on that very day a young boy had been born in the nearby valley where mortals roam, something that would normally have made it feel very glad and strangely warm inside.
Everything was perfect except for its state of mind, yet there was nothing in its considerable power that could change that.
The valley started at about a three hours' walk from its cave. Since it was a Beast, however, it had means of transport at its disposal that really didn't make it necessary for one to walk any more, not even when going for a bit of groceries just around the corner.
It jumped on its Harley and headed south, down to Nocilis Valley where it would satiate its immeasurable and inexplicable chronic desire to kidnap a human nursling.
The thunderclouds had held their promise, and now and again some heavy rolling, thunderous sounds...er....rolled through Nocilis Valley, accompanied by flashes of lightning and ghusts of violent rain the earth had but rarely seen before.
Deep down in the valley, a small solitary house lay. Some smoke managed to arise from the chimney, climbing as it were against the severe downpour that shuddered the very tiles on the roof under which its fire burned.
To the north of the valley, a dark silhouette of a creature stood poised, crouching on the corner of a ledge's edge. It waited eagerly, its red eyes gleaming with fire and torment gazing towards the frenzied souls in the shadows of the valley below.
A crack of thunder broke the sound of rain.
The creature was unmoved by the commotion of what seemed to be unnatural pandemoneum of the elements. It stood proudly, inhaling deeply, each muscle flexing as if in the stance of a great dimensional deity.
As if in an immense state of rage, it suddenly spread its wings and dropped down towards the small, solitary house.
If it had to be done today, then it might as well be done now - for the sake of suspense and all.
In the house, a woman sat in a rocking chair. Her beautiful voice sang a soft song, and she looked very happy. Now and again she would pause her singing, sigh a deep sigh of contentness, and then continue with an even softer, more gentle song.
Would she have been named Susanne Vega and would she have lived in our time, she would have had no problem making a hit record singing about a dull every-day afternoon in some kind of coffee shop.
But, apart from the fact that she wouldn't know what a coffee shop was, she wasn't and she wasn't, so she had and therefore didn't.
In her arms lay a baby boy. It slept peacefully on the soft silken skin of her arms, seemingly unaffected by all the violence of nature that was going on outside.
A cosy hearth fire threw the disembodied shadow of a gently rocking figure at the wall.
A bat-like shape descended from the ledge's edge, and its goal was obvious: It aimed to land directly on the roof of the small, solitary house in the valley.
Shit. Wasn't thunder and lightning enough nowadays? Why did it have to rain like this? He liked cats and dogs, but not when they were raining.
The Beast hoped it wouldn't slide off on all those slippery wet roof tiles when landing.
The woman still sang softly, yet a slight tremor in her voice hinted at sudden subconscious unrest deep inside her - as if she felt that great peril was drawing nigh.
The baby woke up, as if triggered by the hint of a tremor in the woman's tender voice. A light touch of her fingers on the baby's forehead, however, made it close its eyes again.
Would this have been a movie, now would have been the moment for some rather heavy music to fade in. No saxophones but lotsa violins and associated instruments. Possibly a bit of percussion during the vital bits.
A sound as if a hundred crows had suddenly crash-landed on the roof tore the friendly silence in the house to shreds. The woman instantly stopped singing and looked up, covering the baby which immediately started to cry.
The roof seemed to bulge inside as if some kind of enormous thing was standing on it.
Part of the roof got torn off by savage hands, creating an opening through which two fiery red eyes peered in towards the frightened woman and her child.
The Beast felt really pleased with itself.
"GIVE THE CHILD TO ME, WOMAN," it intoned.
The woman froze as a beastly hand was stretched in through the hole in the roof. It was a big, hairy hand; a hand with menacing claws that glittered in a treacherous way in the light of the small fire in the hearth.
"GIVE THE CHILD TO ME, WOMAN," the Beast repeated. Nothing had actually changed in its voice, yet something made it sound almost infinitely more hideous than before.
The hand extended itself further, deep enough to allow the woman to put her baby in its enormous palm.
"No," she replied.
Her voice was very soft yet, peculiarly, very strong.
The Beast had already felt strangely uncomfortable all day, and when it had got up from bed that morning it swore that that would have been the first and last challenge of the day.
Now it stood aghast. Simply abashed.
"NO?" it simply said. Its voice had lost all of its hideousness and it was starting to wonder why it had actually set out to kidnap this baby boy in the first place.
"No," the woman confirmed in her soft yet peculiarly strong voice.
"WELL..." the Beast sighed, "I GUESS I'D BETTER BE OFF THEN. I THINK I LEFT THE GAS ON, ANYWAY."
The woman nodded appreciatively. The baby stopped crying and now seemed to look up at the Beast in a rather accusing way, defiant and bold.
The hand retreated.
"TODAY IS DEFINITELY NOT MY DAY," the Beast muttered to itself as it flapped out its wings and flew back to its mysterious, dark hiding place deep in the mountains to the north.
Original written October 3rd 1990 (German Unification Day). Rehashed October 4th 1993.
The loud cheering of the stadium audience silenced as the speakers bellowed.
"Yeah, ladies and gentlemen! With quite considerable pride we hereby present to you the Superball competition of the century: Craterhead BC against Brainmanglers United. This might just be the most exciting Ballistix match ever, as these two giants battle against each other for the New Universal Trophy!"
"Yeah, Derek!" another voice now shouted agitatedly through the speakers, "On your left, playing from left to right, you will notice the blockbusters of Brainmanglers United; on your right you will have noticed the raw dudes of the host team, Craterhead BC. It might be interesting to know that these teams only once stood opposed to each other before - in July 2137. The Brainmanglers then beat their opponents by 23-19!"
"Well, Vince, that sure was a fight, wasn't it?"
As the speakers silenced, the audience started to sheer, yelling assorted yells at people that didn't support their team.
The noise was deafening when both teams actually entered the arena.
"YEAH! Here they are!" the speakers burst forth again, "The match of the century is about the start. I see that the Brainmanglers are looking pretty mean tonight, don't you agree, Vince?"
"Sure thing, Derek," the other voice proceeded, "I couldn't agree more! It looks like those stooges are set to win again, whatever the cost! And what about these..."
"Wow, Vince! Do you see who's the umpire here?" Derek interrupted, "It's good old Tom 'Stubbly-cheeks' Johnson! Didn't he do the previous engagement, too?"
"Betcha, Derek!" Vince replied.
Both teams were out in the Arena after a few moments. They all wore special Ballistix suits, mostly made up of steel garments to protect their vital parts and thick clothing everywhere to absorb shocks and ricochet.
Where had Cronos Warchild - mercenary, hired gun, former trapeze artist, ex-member of the Salvation Army and toilet cleaner of the alien loo at the Ambulor Eight Thai Boxing Club, got himself into this time? Hardly had he been released from the Ambulor Eight Hospital for the Very Very Splattered when he was forcefully recruited to become a member of the Craterhead Ballistix Club.
Well, anyway, it was a sure way of getting his hands on vicious amounts of dough - if he survived, that was. The recruiting officer - who had actually looked more like a goon - had told him that it was a pretty dangerous sports discipline, but his fellow players had told him stories that exceeded the crimp's stories by miles (if pain and suffering can at all be measured that way).
He looked from under his helmet into the Arena and up into the audience. It made him remember drawings he had once seen of ancient Rome. He could only see people that had a distinct look in their eyes. They all wanted to see blood.
But who cares, he thought to himself, he had been in far worse and far hotter situations. He'd just have to survive this game and then he would at least have enough money to return to his home planet and leave this Godforsaken planet and head for Earth to get his payment for a recent liquidation he had done.
And he still hadn't managed to get back his American Express Traveller's Cheques.
The umpire, the aforementioned Tom Johnson with the stubbly cheeks, was now hovering above the Arena, just out of reach of both ricochet and flying parts of human bodies. He put a small metal thing in his mouth that seemed to look very much like a whistle. When he blew it, however, a sound came out that could only be compared with the noise you hear when a Monk who thinks the world is pink is dropped from 1932.23 metres height into a bath of sulphuric acid.
Anyway, it was the signal that made all players run around the Arena, aiming their shooters at a large ball that had mysteriously appeared in the middle of the playfield.
The game had begun.
Only seconds after the game had started, Cronos had been trampled on, shot three times, hit by the large ball twice, and spitted on at dozens of occasions. The audience also threw things in the Arena that hit him - he didn't dare to spend time thinking about what they threw in, but instead looked forward to the after-match shower. If there was ever going to be any.
"Eh, Cronos!" someone cried.
He looked at where the voice seemed to come from, only to receive a foul blow right in the face. He spitted out a tooth - one of the preciously few real ones he still had left.
A huge bloke with a bloated face, a bloated body, bloated hands, yes, even a bloaetd mouth spoke to him, threateningly, "Eh, Cronos, sucker! Sissy! Get lost, wimp! This is a game for men, not for dodos!"
"Count to ten," Cronos thought to himself, "or you will lose control over yourself."
A fact of considerable disfortune to the bloated man was that Cronos could not restrain himself and instead separated the man's bloated head from the rest of his bloated body, deftly using his infamous Killer Finger Nail before he had even proceeded to counting to 10 to the power of -9.
The audience now came alive and was aroar with anticipation of what might happen now. Bashing was OK, shooting was permitted. But it was rather unheard of for virgin Ballistic rookies to go around killing seasoned veterans. The big metal ball that was supposed to be the centre of the game was pretty soon left in an unheeded Arena corner. Instead, all attention now seemed to concentrate on Cronos Warchild. All players were now grinding their teeth, looking pretty destructively. Cronos had obviously done something that they didn't like. Unaware of having done anything out of the ordinary, a fear struck him that he might have forgotten to use his breath spray this morning.
It wasn't the only thing to strike him that evening.
More and more fellers now came near him, as well as some rather zealous members of the audience that had found ways to get into the playfield, eager for a thrill.
Warchild didn't have much time to think (it's hard to think when someone is using your head to make a dent in a concrete floor), and before long at least twohundredandsixtyseven sturdy players and audience members were located around and on top of his torso. He was beginning to experience slight troubles breathing, and an old war injury in his left leg was also playing tricks on him again.
"It's about time for some defensive transactions!" he murmured.
He arose. He lethally injured at least two dozen men with assorted parts of his body. He yelled one of those ominous yells that you would only know if you had ever seen a triumphant Bugblatter Beast of Traal discovering (and devouring) your mother-in-law. He began to systematically kill every human being (and assorted other creatures) stacked atop him.
Within seconds, he was covered by limbs, guts, glooloos (part of the metabolic system of a Klaxos Nine Great Bear), blood, pus, ripped-out entrails, torn-off bone tissue and tattered rags of skin, all logically intertwined in a giant, lustful orgy of anatomical anarchism, the visual equivalent of cacophony. His fists, fingernails, elbows, teeth and feet had already butchered an enormous number of creatures when the tide seemed to turn and they were about to get ther upper hand.
Another Klaxos Nine Great Bear was gnawing fervently at his shin bone, a Home-Cultivated Mini Tyrannosaur was munching at his left upper arm and a player of Brainmanglers United was busy removing the upper part of his skull as a means to grab hold of Cronos' hypothalamus.
Warchild was beginning to lose his mind, which might have had something to do with the aforementioned player of Brainmanglers United, for this person had indeed succeeded in lifting off part of the mercenary's cranium and was now ineptly fingering through some lesser brain coils.
Cronos looked around, frightened. After opening his eyes, he noticed that his bed was all torn apart and a nurse was lying in the corner, parts of her clothes torn as well.
A doctor came rushing in, a hypodermic syringe filled with .44 gallons of thorazine in his hands. He turned around Warchild before the patient could do anything to prevent it, pulled down Cronos' pyjama pants and stuck it up some flesh at Warchild's rear end.
After Cronos lost consciousness, the doctor helped the shocked nurse to her feet again, gently stroking through her hair and whispering that it wasn't her fault. She couldn't do anything about the fact that she had to watch this utterly deranged lunatic from this pathetic little blue planet called earth.
They left the room. On the backs of their coats, one could read in one of those letter types generally used only in horror film pamphlets: "Ambulor Eight Hospital for the Very Very Splattered".
Original written early 1989. Rehashed October 1993.