Sourswirls

Sourswirls

The land of Sourswirls was no longer the rich, lush community it had once been. Since the hydra came, the people lived in fear and many starved. The beast ate many crops and just as many inhabitants. The stocks were down and many feared the worst.

Once, the hydra wanted a child sacrifice. When the people presented a watermelon dressed in children’s clothing, she whipped all the children in town with her massive tail, scarring them for life. She ate two of them, as the other five heads weren’t hungry.

The community rallied for a hero, so they sent a letter for one to the Knight’s Guild in Quireton. The knight the Guild chose was Orrick the Ready, who was ready to have his first battle with a serpent. The Guild corrected him, saying a hydra is a hydra, not a serpent, but Orrick just rolled his eyes. “Still ready to fight this creature,” he muttered.

He rode for six hours on the back of an ostrich, until he parked it over at The Ole Ales, a favorite of Orrick’s. Six more hours and he was ready to leave. The ostrich started to flail wildly.

“Sire, this isn’t even the right way to Sourswirls. Must we make this detour each time?”

Orrick laughed heartily. “Trust me, a good ale is what ails me!”

“Ails means it troubles you. Does the drink trouble you?”

“Shut up, steed. Just ride me to Sourswirls.”

The ostrich sighed. “We’ve lost 12 hours and we went in the opposing direction. Get it together, sire.”

“Mmm.”

They rode back and came upon a cliff.

“Okay, steed. FLY!”

“I can’t fly.”

“Just flap those wings.”

“I can’t fly.”

“Run back and–”

“I can’t fly!”

They waited for an idea to form.

“I’m climbing down. Toss down my armor.”

“Sire! It’ll get damaged like that!”

“Do you have a better idea?!” he snapped.

“No, sire. I’ll toss it down first so it doesn’t hit you.” He wanted to hit Orrick.

An hour later, Orrick was on the ground, picking up his helmet, cape, sword, and various pieces of armor.

“The people of Sourswirls need us, steed. We can’t be concerned with ourselves.”

The ostrich raised an eyebrow, if it had them. “What about the detour with the ale?”

“That was confidence-boosting alcohol, steed. I’m… nervous, yes? I don’t know how to defeat the hydra.”

The wind rustled. The ostrich was at a loss for words.

“Let’s get some shut-eye, steed.”

They rested.

In the morning, a swarm of bees loomed overhead.

“Did we sleep under a beehive, steed?”

“I think so.”

A woman wearing yellow and black leggings danced over to them.

“I am the Bee Queen!~” she sang. “I know how to kill a hydra!~”

The companions looked at each other in excitement. “What do you want for this information, your highness?” asked Orrick, gleefully.

“Oh, I didn’t even think about a reward!~ But now that you mention it, I’d like The Flute of Bees!~ It summons bees at your beck and toot!~”

“Where do we find this flute?” asked the ostrich.

“My stupid sister has it.~ She won’t let me have it!~ Find my sister, find the flute.~”

The ostrich whispered to Orrick, “How are we supposed to find this person?”

“Wait, steed. Doesn’t it look like she already has a flute?”

The Bee Queen began shaking wildly. Hair covered her eyes.

“I’m the sister you seek. Malinda’s the name. I will give you the flute in exchange for something.”

“Multiple personalities,” said Orrick, and his steed nodded. “What do you want, Malinda?”

“I want the head of a hydra,” she said. “Bring me one and I’ll give you the flute.”

The companions wandered off.

In the village of Persolia, Orrick asked around if anyone knew how to kill a hydra. No luck, no kindness. Some children made fun of Orrick’s stance and one threw a rock at the ostrich. They left quickly.

The outskirts of Persolia had renegade knights loitering in alleys. “Hey, you been askin’ around about hydras?”

“Yes! Do you know how to kill one?”

“What? You don’t know? Wotta loser!” They laughed at him.

“Thank goodness we don’t have to save this town. Let’s never look back,” said Orrick.

As they stepped outside the town boundary, the entire village of Persolia sank into the ground.

“What was–”

“No looking back, steed.”

Finally, Sourswirls was in view. The hydra’s back was also in view. She was quite large and in charge.

“Time to battle. My sword.” The steed handed him his sword.

“Sire, is this wise? We don’t know how to kill it. And cutting off one head grows two more in its place!”

Orrick laughed. “What a fairy tale, steed. Two more heads. I’ll cut off all the heads and we’ll see–”

“See what?” said the hydra.

The hydra’s body was giant. Giant, yellow, scaly, and each of the seven heads looked exactly like Paget Brewster, but no one in the world could have known that. The heads grinned menacingly at Orrick.

“So, they hired a hero. Tell me hero, do you want to die?” Each of her seven heads spoke in perfect unison. Orrick trembled internally, stood resolutely externally.

“I’m not going to die. You are!” He ran up to her second head and sliced it off. Two more grew in its place. “In a couple of hours. Wait here.” He picked up the head, mounted the ostrich and fled.

“What are we doing, sire… no, not sire. You idiot! She’s bound to take her rage on those townspeople!” He flapped wildly.

“I have the head. See, we give it to Malinda, who gives us the flute. The Bee Queen then tells us how to kill the hydra.”

The ostrich thought about this. “Brilliant.”

“I know,” he smugly beamed.

As they passed through the wasteland of Persolia, confused, the steed gained newfound respect for his master. Finally, they found Malinda.

“You have the flute?~” asked the Bee Queen.

“Where’s Malinda?”

“I’ve never seen her, actually. ~ She just leaves me notes.~ Nice head.~”

“Oh, great. We don’t know when she turns into Malinda.”

“And then we have to wait for her to turn back.”

The Bee Queen looked at the head. “It’s very pretty.~ I’ll tell you the secret for the head instead.~”

“Yes!” they said together.

“Bees.~ A swarm of bees stinging the hydra.~”

“Oh great,” moped Orrick. “Where are we supposed to get and control…”

“The flute!” shouted the ostrich. “May we borrow it?”

“Oh, well…~ You mean this yellow and black flute?~ Sure.~”

They rode back to Sourswirls and Orrick whipped out his sword.

“Attack!”

He then remembered the flute.

“Bees, listen to this!”

He played a jaunty tune as the bees began to swarm the hydra.

“What are you doing, human?”

“Bees are your weakness, right?”

“No. Cut off my middle head and I go down. And I’m only telling you this because you’ll never manage it. I think you’re pathetic. Small. Weak.”

“Heroic!” He screamed, and jumped off the ostrich, diving into the center of the hydra. He split her middle head in two, down the center. The beast collapsed.

The people of Sourswirls cheered. The brave hero had done it! The two were lifted in the air. The priestess approached them.

“Brave sir Orrick, you have saved this land. However, we heard that the Guild also lends aid to devastated towns by supplying them with clean food and water, medical aid, clothes…”

“Oh, uh. That’s not really my department. You have to talk to someone in HR about all that, okay?”

“I see. Well, thank you again, Sir Orrick and his ostrich steed.”

As they walked back to the Bee Queen, Orrick whispered to his ostrich.

“Can you believe the nerve of that lady, putting me on the spot like that?”

“She doesn’t know our ways. We need to put out a Q&A or a handbook.”

They angrily returned the flute to the Bee Queen and headed home.

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The Seven Pizza Soldiers And Frank

The Seven Pizza Soldiers And Frank

Today was the day. The Pizza Brothers of Pizza Soldier were ready to retire after 45 years of cheese, tomato sauce, and garlic. You know how pizza works.

It was up to the brothers to decide on a successor. But who could lead the store to victory over all the other fast food joints?

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There was Gina, a classy woman with a high IQ who made the best olive slice money could buy. Tony vouched for her, but Giovanni twirled his cliche mustache and claimed she was a bit “y’know, feminist-y.”

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The Blue Chef, Jeff, made grade-A fries and made customers feel welcome. He wore blue after hearing about a woman who couldn’t see the color. It definitely made him stand out, said Tony, but Giovanni twirled his mustache and said he was a “bit of a poofy guy.”

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Luciano was a pizza chef who studied the dark arts of pizza. Using Gouda cheese. Kneeling the dough into a pentagram. Anchovies. The pizzas always came out fine, but Tony had reservations about letting such a man run his operation. Giovanni twirled his mustache and reminded him that he was a straight white man, which would look good on the pizza box, so why ya gotta argue?

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Frieda was what Giovanni called “a double problem, am I right?” as he twirled his mustache. A black woman, she was never the younger boss’s favorite. Tony chimed in that she was punctual, tidy, and never dropped pizza off the peel. “Yeah maybe she’s alright,” said Giovanni. “She’s not up ‘er own butt about gender crap and whatnot.”

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Louie was great at tossing pizza. As chief tosser, he made the dough stretch for what seemed like miles. “We can’t promote a guy based on tossing! And asides, he’s from that Middle East! They’re all–” Tony twirled his brother’s mustache to shut him up. He agreed, however, with the first part of the statement. No promotion for Louie.

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Finally, there was Frank. The brothers looked at each other and laughed hysterically. The delivery guy? No way. Not in a bajillion years.

A large trench coat waltzed up to the counter.

“Welcome to Pizza Soldier. How may I help you today?” asked Jeff, charming as ever.

“PI-ZZA.” said the coat. “MUST A-QCUI-RE PI-ZZA.”

“Frank, I think this individual would like their pizza to go,” sweated Jeff.

“PI-ZZA.”

“Is there a problem?” asked Gina, taking charge of the situation as usual.

“PI-ZZA.”

“Sir, you need to specify the type of pizza you want.”

The trench coat paused. “ANCH-O-VY.”

“Sounds like a job for me,” said Luciano.

“YOU WILL ALL MAKE ANCH-O-VY PI-ZZA. NOW.” It held up a gun.

Louie threw dough at the customer. “Not today, leatherman!”

“Trench coats aren’t made of leather,” said Frieda.

“I imagine some could be,” corrected Gina.

“Good work, Louie!” said Jeff.

Luciano cracked a grin. “Not bad for the chief tosser.”

“And soon to be owner of Pizza Soldier!” deluded Louie.

“What’s going on?” asked Tony.

“Did the girl break something?” assumed Giovanni.

Frank whimpered. “So… no delivery right now?”

“THERE WILL BE A DEL-IVE-RY: THE SE-VEN OF YOU!”

At that, a beam of light came down on the seven chefs and Frank.

When they woke up, they discovered themselves on a red landscape with rocks as far as the eye can see.

“Where is this?”

“Are we on…”

“Mars! It’s Mars!”

“To think, I’m the first woman on Mars!”

“Um, Gina, there’s two of us here.”

“Right, sorry, not sorry.”

“Aren’t we going to suffocate?”

“We haven’t yet, so we probably won’t.”

“Where’s my dough? I need my dough!”

“Stop holding your breath, Frank. You won’t suffocate.”

“So there’s air on Mars?”

“NO. I IMP-LANT-ED SOME BREATH-ING CAPS-ULES IN YOUR RECT-UMS. COME. THE QUEEN WISH-ES TO MEET YOU.” The trench coat fell and revealed a small robot.

“That’s a dumb wish,” muttered Luciano.

“I AGR-EE, BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO?”

Into the underground traversed the eight companions and the robot. There was a lot of slow walking, and it’s not worth repeating what they discussed. Mostly stuff about how their butt capsules itched.

“PRES-ENT-ING THE QUEEN OF MARS.”

“Robot slave,” said the worm-like giant, “where’s my pizza?”

“Yer freakin robot attacked us, lady! We can’t feel safe in our own store!”

“I do apologize, Super Mario. But as queen, I demand an anchovy pie.”

“But we don’t have any ingredients!” groused Luciano.

“Too bad. No pizza, no home.” She cackled madly.

“Wait, I…” Frank pulled his hat off to reveal a list. “Gina, don’t you always have anchovies on you?”

Gina snapped her fingers. “Yes, yes… because I throw them at men who sexually harass me! Nice thinking, Frank!”

“I know my main man Louie has enough dough on him that we can make a pie.”

“But I lost…” he paused. “No, wait. It’s on my back! Ha ha!”

“Luciano, you have a can of sauce, right?”

“It looks like blood… here you go.”

“That leaves Jeff with the garlic and Frieda with the cheese.”

“I like people, but I breath garlic sometimes to ward off chattier people.”

“I just like to snack on cheese,” said Frieda.

“Let’s make a pie, guys!”

Five minutes later, the pie was done. The queen swallowed it in one gulp.

“Delicious! I must have it again next dinner. Expect us in a week. You may go.”

Back home, Tony and Giovanni gathered the Pizza Soldiers and Frank around the table. “You all showed tremendous teamwork out there today. What can I say but,” Tony paused. “You’re all getting the promotion! You’re all the heads of Pizza Soldier!”

Everyone got quiet and shuffled their feet. “But…” offered Luciano, “won’t that cause even more arguments than you two had?”

“It was a joke, dumbass,” sputtered Giovanni. “Obviously we can’t make you all the boss. That’s stupid. No, we gotta hire the best employee who showed us little things do count: Frank Wilder!”

Everyone applauded uneasily. Frank? The delivery guy?

“This is a huge opportunity and I won’t let you down!” beamed Frank.

“You ain’t gettin’ the job neither. That was one of my trademark jokes. No, we’re hiring Luci–”

“Gina. We’re hiring Gina. Make us proud like the strong person you are!”

“…Right. Gina. Congrats, Gigi.”

Everyone applauded sincerely and gratefully this time. She was the clear choice.

After work, Gina and Luciano came up to Frank. Gina put her hand on Frank’s shoulder. “You really saved us today,” she said. “Thank you. And you deserve better than this.”

“Much better,” said Luciano. “Have you considered being an assistant to an executive? You clearly have the skill.”

“Thanks, really… but now’s not the time. I really just enjoy your company, you know? And I get to bring home free pizza! My siblings love it!”

With that, he wandered home.

A Night To Knight

A Night To Knight

“Miss Lewis… Emily Lewis… time to wake up…”

Drool was dripping down the side of her mouth. She licked it up and swallowed the glob of spit in her mouth. She’d be embarrassed if shame had her number.

She lived for sleep, not Biology. Not boys, but cheesy snacks made her so happy. Her nap was vague yet again. Blurry. Her classmates (for she had no friends) would talk about dreaming of horses or storms or the jungle. Her dreams were always unclear. Blurry… so blurry. Why couldn’t she have dreams?

At home, her parents were nowhere to be seen. Likely still working and overworking. Emily peeled off her stinky, sticky, sweaty shoes and sat in front of the TV with a bowl of cheesy nacho chips.

She spotted some cheese on her fingers. Reaching towards her shirt, she recalled her mother complaining about cheese-stained shirts. She brushed the cheese onto the soles of her feet instead.

Then she wiped the cheese off her soles. Then she licked it. “Mmm… all the oil on my feet made the cheese extra-zesty!”

As if by some divine intervention on behalf of the vomiting ants watching her, Emily Lewis fell asleep. Her snoring alarmed some fireflies mating outside. She gagged a little on some drool. Emily digested the drool, which caused her to belch loudly.

Emily dreamed clearly for the first time. She was in a forest with mushrooms so large that they seemed to have held hands with the sky. Two figures walked up to her, still snoring.

“This fourteen-year-old is the key to our survival?” The statement came from a dark-skinned man holding a crystal ball. “Why are her feet covered in dairy products?” Fortunately, Emily just snored loudly in response.

A pale woman with black energy surrounding her knelt down next to Emily. “Doc Argo, this cheese-soled girl is our salvation.” She rose. “And you mustn’t wake her. If she were to awake, our whole world would vanish. It’s happened many times before, and she never recalls our existence.”

“Duchess of Darkness… aren’t you also fourteen? You look quite mature for your age. Especially next to her.”

She glowered, her dark aura spiking upward. “Call me Natalia. Come, wheel her. We’re almost at Longrus the Wizard’s fortress.”

Doc Argo used his sphere to telepathically move Emily Lewis in her chair.

The trio walked into the Field of Waves, the wet grass bobbing up and down at their knees. Occasionally, Natalia would crush a rat’s head with her boot.

“Doc Argo, do you think Emily is sort of… special?”

The magician scoffed, choking on his own laughter. “No. No I do not.”

“Oh… I don’t know. She’s so sloppy, it’s astounding our sterile world could have been created by her subconscious.”

“Well… strange things always happen. I once saw an orange pumpkin.” In this world, pumpkins are blue and cause diabetes.

Natalia wiped a rat head off her boot. “I’d like to go to the human world, if possible. I bet it has pumpkins of all different colors. I could be as gross as I want without father punishing me for putting my feet on the table or picking my earwax.” She paused. “I think this girl is my new hero.”

Doc Argo stroked his chin. “Do you think we’re here because her subconscious wants her to be clean? I’ve heard of dust, but never seen it. We have brooms, but they’re just used for flying. And what’s the deal with mops?”

The Duchess of Darkness looked at the sky. “Yeah, maybe.”

Finally, they reached the home of Longrus the Wizard. “This is the man who stole the Rock of Permanency. Once we return it to the palace, we can remain tangible without Emily’s aid.” Emily snored at the thought.

A pillar of smoke rose before them and spoke thus, “This is no place for two girls and a black ass-hat. With the Stone of Permanency, I shall be the sole survivor of this world, go to the human world and conquer it!”

Is that possible, wondered Natalia. She didn’t like Longrus one bit, but she admired his know-how. She almost asked how she could be with Emily.

Emily snored and drooled, drooled and snored. Meanwhile, Longrus zapped Natalia’s leg off. At that moment, Doc Argo realized mops could be used to clean up blood.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Natalia undaintily screamed. That was her favorite leg. Had she known it was going to get torn off, she wouldn’t have spent an hour wiping the rats off of it.

Longrus simply slapped Doc Argo and he fell to the ground.

“You magic users and your auras and crystals. True magic comes from the fingers.” He lifted the Stone of Permanency. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a world to destroy.”

Walking towards Emily, he dropped to his knees and began to tickle Emily’s feet. She chuckled.

“NO! You’ll kill us all!” screamed Doc Argo. The Duchess was also screaming, but at the loss of her leg.

Tickling her cheesy feet and drooly chin, Longrus started to shout in the hopes of waking her up. The only issue was the cloud of dirt surrounding Emily Lewis.

Emily’s dirt cloud rapidly spun around and then suddenly fell on Longrus as he dissolved into dust. He was too sterile to handle it.

Natalia crawled towards the stone. She handed it to Doc Argo. “Take this stone to my father at the palace. I’ll stay here with Emily and make sure she never wakes up.”

Doc Argo was taken aback. “Never?”

Duchess Natalia caught herself. “Doesn’t! Doesn’t wake up!”

“She has to go home sometime,” he said softly.

“But… I think I love her. And she doesn’t even know I exist.”

The magician rubbed her back. “She knows. In here.” He tapped his head. Then he went.

Emily woke up. How strange! Her whole night was spent asleep, but she remembered everything. Doc Argo, the forest, Longrus, the stone and… Natalia. It was her first dream and would always be her greatest.

The next Biology class was spent awake. Emily couldn’t fall asleep after what had happened. What if she did make a world in her mind, and it got wiped over and over?

“Class, we have a new student today… Bobby Jones.”

Bobby walked to the seat behind Emily’s and sat down. “Psst,” he said. “Check it out.” He rolled up his pant leg to reveal a wooden leg. “It’s me, Natalia! Look, I really like you, and I want to marry you some day, so I’m dressed like a boy!”

“Um…” whispered Emily, “Actually, girls can marry girls here. Oh, and pumpkins are orange and don’t cause diabetes.” She chuckled at Natalia’s shocked face. “But let’s take it slow, okay?” Drool dripped from her mouth and she wiped it onto Natalia’s lips. “There’s an indirect kiss for ya.”

Mountain Trail

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“Are we almost there yet?”

The rough shadows took a moment to converse, silent in their furious mimic, perfectly following the wild gestures of their physical companions. It was a near-perfect autumnal Thursday on the side of the mountain. The only deterrent to go outside would be the volatile grousing of the woman.

“We’ve been walking all day. I’m exhausted. We should’ve gone to the public rest stop like I wanted.”

Her figure said Embrace me; her face said Try it and die. Her mouth said more than enough to believe her. She was a striking auburn-haired lady, hips that moved to a symphony, and a henpecked manservant who once agreed to live together, even getting her a gemstone to commemorate a once-considered happy occasion.

“My back hurts. Did you bring enough bullets? Wipe that look of nostalgia off your face.”

He needed her to shut up. Cowering worked well, but it was his wife’s birthday. He wanted to bring her out of it, like every year. Yet for the past five years, he failed again and more. Once, he had been a young man of sixteen, but her nagging lips (which had brought him to fall for her) aged him prematurely. His once flowing brown hair turned ashen, his eyes no longer sparkled with buoyancy, the smoothest skin in high school looked even worse than Jeremy Finklemeyer on picture day.

“There’s only six bullets in here. What more could I expect of you?”

Worst above his other grievances, no one would believe him when he said he was only twenty-five. If he were to be reborn (and he prayed he wouldn’t), he hoped he’d remember to never marry his high school sweetheart.

“You need to do it. My eyes hurt too much.”

“Yes’m.”

She pulled out a soothing lotion and rubbed it on her feisty yet milk-kissed arms.

“Augh. I’m beat.”

She brushed aside her hair and pressed more lotion into her skin. She opened her mouth; rather, she finally closed her mouth and immediately opened it, only for nothing to escape.

“What?”

“What what?”

“You wanted to say something?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

It had to be something. She was loud (though never a screamer) and honest and never one to shut up. This was a breakthrough. A kind emotion might be hiding. He couldn’t press her, lest she bottle it up entirely.

“If you say so. At any rate, we should reach its campground in an hour or so. Then I can shoot it for you.”

“It what?”

She was seriously asking? Was she being coy? No, flirtatiousness and facetiousness were far behind her. They’ve been doing this for five years. Did she somehow forget mid-trek?

“You know… it?”

“Just say werewolf. Seriously, there’s no need to use pronouns. It’s just us.”

He felt dumb but relieved. Yet also enthusiastic. Her harsh and hoarse voice wavered a little when she said “werewolf.” He would wait for further developments.

“Yes, the werewolf. I’ll shoot it, cook it, and, well…”

“DON’T EVEN SAY IT.”

Her voice reached too high a decibel and rebelled on itself. He stuck a green bottle in her mouth. She calmed down, allowing him to press it against her lips for three minutes. When the bottle was emptied, she shoved him off. She shook and wobbled and cleared her throat. Cold tears streamed down her face.

“Don’t you say it. Every time we try this, you say it and I get my hopes up. Let’s just go and never say it.”

“It what?”

He was oddly defiant towards her tonight. Perhaps the annual journey gave him resolve.

“That… I can be cured of it.”

That was enough for him. He couldn’t consider hurting himself by asking her “It what?” again.

“Okay. We’ll find out sooner if we head out now.”

He was almost positive that she’d never return to how he remembered her. It hurt to remember her, but it was worse to forget.

“Don’t forget to turn the safety off this time.”

She was his Biology teacher when he was a sophomore.

“I’ll get it, I’ll get it.”

His friends said that she wasn’t calling him out in class because she wanted him; he was just stupid.

“You did manage to forget two years already, so let’s not make it three.”

When she held him after school one night, he never trusted his friends’ judgement again.

“You know, it’s a nice night out. Full moon. Your birthday.”

Everyone disapproved.

“No.”

His family shut him out.

“Just checking.”

The school fired her.

“You knew it was no.”

The legal system imprisoned her, but she was eventually on the street again with a ring on her finger and a husband in her pants.

“Sue me for asking.”

She tried giving him a nasty glare, but she started wobbling again. He forgot the woman he loved again. He bent over his wife and picked her up.

“Do we have anything left to drink?”

“It’s all gone. I’m sorry.”

She coughed bitterly. He wept like a boy.

“This curse ruined your life. I’m, I’m sorry.”

Her voice rumbled within.

“It’s my fault. I should have let you live a normal high school life, not force you from your ways because I wanted you.”

At that, her body went limp. Her pale fingers twitched slightly, the rust-colored liquid working its way back up and falling from her mouth.

Everything went silent. Then everything in the trees made a cacophonous turmoil. The skirmish of the animals left two people and one creature the only remaining members of the mountain trail.

Still in an uncontrollable fit of loss, he laid her across their gear. He reached his gun and aimed at the werewolf. The darkness didn’t bother his eyesight. He could make out a hairy figure, hunched over and about to die for the woman he still loved.

He pulled the trigger.

The safety was on.

Collapsing onto his knees, he prostrated himself in defeat, nothing new but the sense of regret lingering in his heart.

“Tommy? Tommy Cleavers? What are you doing up here, man?”

Tommy stood up to face the werewolf, oddly taking the form of a man. It hit him.

“Jeremy Finklemeyer? What… why…”

“I live here, man! Also, I go by ‘Jerry’ now. Like, I’ve been hiding here ever since I got turned into a werewolf.”

Jerry had clearer skin than Tommy recalled, but it was buried under mounds of body hair. He was rounder and taller and smelled better than ever, despite living in the wild and technically smelling horrible.

“Who’s she?”

Tommy turned around.

“My wife. She… look, we’ve been trying to get a cure for her curse, and we read on the internet…”

Jerry smirked.

“Let me guess. Werewolf blood, huh? Like, I get it. Some couple’s been trying to kill me for four years to save the woman.”

“Six years, Jeremy.”

The half-conscious croak made Tommy clutch his chest, then look at Jerry, then curl into a fetal position.

“Nah, get up. I said I get it. Like, hold on. Is she… Miss Eden? That’s our bio teach, Gertrude Eden? WOW. Like, no, congrats, but wow.”

“Hello Jeremy. I expected more in this report than cheesy fingerprints.”

“Well, maybe I can get an extension? You know, like the one Tommy got from you in his pants?”

“This was the final…”

“Excuse me, can we not do this now?”

Jerry looked up at the moon.

“Yeah, no problem. Good thing you got the wrong day. The moon is still Waxing Gibbous. Pick up Gertie and follow me.”

After a few minutes, they reached a cabin with a sign blaring “WEREWOLF BLOOD” in red letters.

“Not keen on the name, man, but it brings them here. See, when I got hunted by people like you, looking for a cure, I realized I could help them. I researched various cures and this year I finally feel ready to open shop. So what’s the curse?”

Jerry looked her up and down.

“Pale skin. A muddy-looking drink you need. Youthful features. Haggard partner. You have something on your skin. Lotion? Also, you’re crankier than I recall. I’m guessing you were bitten by something beginning with a V…”

“It’s not vampires.”

“What? Of course not, man. They don’t exist. I was going to say, like, vegan.”

Tommy nodded. Gertrude remained nonfunctional.

“People mistake the two a lot, so it’s cool you get it. When a vegan gets too hungry, they’ll bite a human because they won’t hurt animals. That drink has to be a protein drink, right? And the lotion is just her pale, meat-deprived skin acting up. But what’s with you?”

“Stress.”

“Well, like, werewolf meat works, but so does gorilla meat, whale meat, I do have shark meat. Anything with strong meat.”

“I’ll take the shark brain for 400, Jeremy.”

“I’m doing this for free, Miss Eden.”

“I think she’s doing a bit.”

“Ah. Eat up.”

“Thanks, Jeremy. And that’s Mrs. Cleavers to you.”

——————————

Tommy was overjoyed. His wife has bright tanned skin again, her voice cleared up, and her heart found him once more.

“Tommy, thank you for sticking with me. I think I would’ve shriveled up if you weren’t with me.”

Looking at the mirror, Tommy saw his features brightening up. In a few days, he figured he’s be hot again.

“Well, you know, I love you, so I stayed. And Jerry, how can we repay you?”

Jerry leered at a visibly annoyed Gertrude.

“I want you to fix my grade. When you got fired, the perma-sub teach hated me and I flunked. It still bugs me, y’know?”

Gertrude smacked the wall.

“Not only do I not have the authority to do that or the permission to be within thirty feet of the school, but I can’t believe you didn’t even ask to do things to me!”

“Ask your husband to do that, man! I have a lover already!”

Jerry pet a raccoon.

Gertrude looked down at her hiking boots.

“We have a lot of lost time to make up, Thomas.”

Tommy smiled.

“Yeah… a lot. Since you’ve been distant, I’ve been looking up videos of–”

Jerry and the raccoon howled, but for different reasons.

“Okay, nice catching up, guys! See about that grade, Gert!”

As the couple walked off the trail, they heard the shrieking sounds of questionable love.

“I didn’t mean just our love-making, you know. I think I’m ready for you to meet my parents. I want to see yours too.”

Tommy imitated the raccoon.

“Gertrude, it’s been almost a decade. We can’t go see them now!”

“That’s exactly why. I don’t want any regrets if something were to happen to you.”

Tommy giggled to himself, then burst out laughing, followed by Gertrude laughing heartily, the two of them going to the roads of the future.

“By the way, what did you want to ask me earlier right before we were talking about the werewolf?”

“Oh, that? I wanted to know if you had any tampons. Then I realized it was a dumb question.”

“Oh. Okay then.”

The Beautiful Monster

 

 

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Most stories happen once upon a time. This story takes place twice upon a time, since the first time ended badly, so time travel was used to fix it.

Twice upon a time, there was a sad monster who was very beautiful. His name was Thomo Wellby, and nobody wanted to rescue him from the fluorescent pink and green tower he was kept in. The totally wicked wizard surfer, Longrus, had kept him there for at least seventeen years.

Thomo longed for the day his savior would come, but he had no idea when that could be. A duck once came into his room, but it only quacked loudly and gave him a feather.

Meanwhile, in the center of the Reunion Kingdom, a knight found a Monster In Distress ad on the town billboard. The ad was for one Thomo Wellby. Fortunately, the knight often found herself turned on by beautiful monsters. So she set forth to save Mr. Thomo Wellby from his captivity and maybe get a little something-something for her trouble.

While carelessly examining her provisions, she came upon a bridge guarded by a bearded demon. However, the demon was either apathetic or distracted, and let the knight cross unharmed. The knight shrugged and went on her way.

The outskirts of the Reunion Kingdom was known hither and yonder for its bizarre perils that usually increased in intensity. Typical as it was, the knight knew that the next obstacle was not quite as easy.

A giant cauldron prevented further access to the road, so the knight attempted going around it. The cauldron, stubborn as most kitchenware, cobbled just enough to confound her. Hopelessness loomed overhead. She tried reasoning with it.

“O lovely cauldron!” Flattery usually won them over to her side. “Why do you cease progress? Hath some wretched Wiccan enchanted you to passive-aggressively get over a poor date?”

The cauldron screamed. “YOU’RE BLACK!”

This was half true. She herself was born in the East, a light-skinned people as they go. But her armor, naturally dark, had suffered many scrapes and bruises that made the metal appear black.

“Cauldron, why must we argue? I wish you no harm.”

“YOU’RE BLACK!”

“Pot, you test my patience. Is the color of my armor the cause of this? If I remove my armor, will you let me pass?”

“YOU’RE BLACK!”

“You tested my patience and hacked it from my core! Pot, you yourself are, in the plainest of terms, black!”

The pot examined its own flesh.

I was black the whole time… Is my bias borne from shame? The pot got too existential to be semi-motionless and walked away on its stubby little penguin feet. The knight ventured forth.

For about seventeen weeks, the knight traveled unhindered, despite the occasional jester throwing pies at her. She didn’t care for this practice at all, even though the pies were her favorite flavor: Spam. When she was about to assault the jesters, the King of Jesters approached her.

“HARK!” he bellowed, “Thou mayst only pass if thou canst solve the riddle!”

“Proceed,” the knight neutrally responded.

“What,” asked the King of Jesters, “is the reason my people have been throwing pies at you?”

The knight sincerely considered the riddle for a moment, then flicked the King of Jesters on the forehead, which lead to a pratfall into a pile of mud.

“I know not, but I believe you likely instructed them to.” With that, she went on her way.

The King of Jesters was subsequently mauled to death by a napping muddy jaguar. He was reincarnated as a chipmunk.

Another month passed by, and the knight was beginning to get hungry. She found a nest with eggs in it, opting to cook up a delicious scrambled egg souffle.

An angry bard approached her. “FORSOOTH! FORSOOTH! THOSE WERE MY EGGS, THOU HARLOT!” The bard’s blind rage intensified until his face turned blood red.

“Hold your wrath, sir,” asked the knight. “Were these your offspring or nourishment?”

The angry bard took a moment to respond with the greatest use of language possible. After fifteen moments, he exclaimed the following: “YES.”

“Were they both?”

The angry bard took a magic wand from his pocket and gave it to her. “That will show thee, thou hopefully promiscuous wench!”

He glared at the knight and waited for her to become uncomfortable. She chewed on a mint leaf. Late for his shift at Grill Jester, the angry bard walked away.

Curiously examining the gift, the knight lazily shook the wand. Nothing happened. She threw it away in the nearest recycling bin. The wand, combined with nineteen other wands in the bin, began to glow. After a few moments of the recycling bin stretching, wobbling, crumpling, and praying, it ceased. The recycling bin turned into an enormous lamb.

The knight decided to keep the lamb and name it Bisley. For two days, she and Bisley were inseparable, taking turns riding on each other’s backs. On the third day, tragedy struck. Despite the knight yelling loudly at her lamb to stay still while she took a pee break, Bisley ate some poison mushrooms and died. The knight mourned over Bisley’s corpse, while the angry bard appeared before the distraught adventurer.

“FORSOOTH! Now you know my suffering!” That’s what the angry bard would have said, if the knight hadn’t pushed him to the ground and stomped his head in. The angry bard was lucky to survive, but not quite as lucky to have been rescued by a bear that forced him to marry her.

Bisley’s death deeply affected the knight’s heart, and she felt as though she couldn’t move forward without her companion. She transmuted the sorrow she felt into purpose, and hoisted Bisley onto her shoulders, taking his rotting corpse with her.

An old crone jumped out at the knight, nearly startling her. The crone wiggly-waggled her finger and made a disapproving clicking noise. “FOOL! Do you not know that you can revive your grotesquely-large lamb for a piece of gold?”

The knight begged the crone to tell her more.

“I have an enchanted map that can lead you to a reviving well. Throw in your gold piece, and your wish will be granted. And you can have the map for seven and three shillings!”

The knight knew a scam when she heard one, and threw hay at the crone. The knight pressed onward.

Nearby in a fluorescent pink and green tower, Thomo Wellby was finding himself growing somewhat depressed. All he had in the world was a duck feather, which couldn’t even grant wishes, which he realized that it would have been odd if it could.

Thomo heard a grunting noise out his window. A woman carrying an enormous lamb was approaching the tower. Thomo was to be saved!

The knight knocked gently on the door. Longrus mellowly questioned the intruder. “Chuh! Who is is, bruh?”

“It is I, the beautiful monster’s savior!”

“Nuh-uh, bruh! That monster is, like, all mine, bruh!” Longrus accidentally opened up the drawbridge. “Whuh-uh, bruh!”

The knight stormed the tower, killing about thirty lingerie models. Finally, the knight found Thomo’s room.

“I’m here to save you, you beautiful monster!” With fiery loins and almost satisfactory passion, the knight picked up the beautiful monster and ran out of the poorly-painted tower. Longrus wasn’t willing to lose Thomo, specifically because having a monster around allowed him certain tax breaks. Longrus flapped his unusually long ears and…

POOF! The knight turned into a potato peel.

“Now, come back, Monster-Man. Like, we can’t end it like this, bruh.”

Thomo clutched his duck feather tightly, and a single tear orange fell from his eye. The tear burned up the feather, exploding into thirty thousand ghosts.

The thirty thousand ghosts spoke as one. “What is your wish?”

The furious vision of the ghosts horrified Thomo into making the wrong wish. “What… what choo…” He meant to say “What are you, exactly?” A small copper watch manifested before him anyway.

Longrus caught Thomo and locked him up in the tower again. Thomo banged his head against the wall for forty-seven years, wishing he had a chance to do it over again. Alas, for forty-seven years, that wish did not come true.

One snowy Wednesday, the battery on his watch died. So Longrus, losing his grasp on evil in his old age, gave him a new battery. The battery had magical properties, and would turn the machine it was placed inside into a terrible pun. So the watch became a time machine.

Thomo reset his watch, which flung him back to the moment when the duck feather started granting his wish. This time, Thomo would enunciate.

Thomo said, “I wish I had a way to save the knight and myself!”

The ghosts melted like fine butter, and covered themselves all over Bisley. The dead lamb rose.

“MAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” said the enormous zombie lamb. With one swift movement and forty-seven non-swift movements, Bisley ate Longrus and used the power of love and casual indifference to restore the knight back to normal.

The knight seemed to be a tad peeved. “Mister Wellby, it seems you never needed my help at all! If only you knew of my mistrials!” The monster looked so forlorn and sexy to the knight that she was no longer in control of her desires. The knight longingly embraced Thomo.

Afterward a wonderful time for two lonely individuals, the knight with Thomo in her arms and Bisley as her steed rode off back to the Reunion Kingdom.

A group of monks turned Longrus’s tower into a discotheque, but the idea was centuries ahead of its time and only worthwhile for ten years in all of history.