Alice tried to remember who had given her the key. She closed her eyes, scanning her memory for an image or at least someone saying "room 213". She leaned her head back against the gold flecked glass and sighed deeply...
Alice tried to remember who had given her the key. She closed her eyes, scanning her memory for an image or at least someone saying "room 213". She leaned her head back against the gold flecked glass and sighed deeply...
They found Bart Haskins this morning at the bottom of an old well. Called it an accidental death, but I know better. Third death this week too. They weren't no accidents. It was the Martians that done it...
He was tired.
He'd been travelling too long without a decent bed. Just after lunch, he crossed the California-Nevada line and as he saw it, was headed towards Las Vegas.
He hitched a ride with an Indian native to the state. He asked the Indian what tribe he was from and the Indian welcomed the opportunity to speak of his land and people. As they drove past the Hoover Dam, the Indian told him that the state was thriving and that all the new gaming halls, kept everyone busy and employed...
Applause thundered through Carnegie Hall. Everybody in the audience sprang to their feet. The conductor turned towards the audience to take a bow as the pianist - Andrew Borchevsky - took a small bow and strode off stage. The applause continued as the conductor graciously accepted the applause, at times gesturing with his hand towards the wings and clapping. One minute passed. Two minutes. After three minutes, the conductor bowed again and walked off stage. Borchevsky lurked next to the curtain...
THE SCRAPYARD DIARIES
On A Foggy Night
Al Bruno III
We live in a world of surveillance, of cameras, code numbers and background checks. Our every purchase and infraction is recorded by mindless computers and soulless bureaucrats. Our births, our lives and our deaths are nothing more than information to be filed away.
It was after I had quit the University that I found myself a part of that never-ending process. I had secured steady and good paying employment in the field of medical billing, cross referencing information for eight hours a day. The process was mindless enough, a call would come in from an insurer and I would find the correct records and pass the information along. No names were part of the transactions, only numbers curtly passed from one disinterested voice to another. From what I understood my fellow employees and I were merely there to correct database errors and investigate irregularities.
I worked in a wide room that was nothing more than a grid of half-cubicles and desks, I wore a headset and kept myself hunched over a computer. I had long ago forgotten that each of the numbers that passed from my lips was a life encapsulated.
The morning of the impossibly heavy fog I walked in to the building to find myself one of the few employees that had risked the drive. That meant a crushing workload and mandatory overtime but I didn’t mind; I lived alone in a studio apartment that might have been a cell, I never went out on weeknights and slept though most of my Saturdays. Sometimes I would treat myself to a movie on a Sunday afternoon but I always took great care to sit in the back row of the theater for if I spied a single blemish on the fabric of the screen it would be all I could focus on for the rest of the show.
The first few hours of my shift passed slowly; the diminished staff had created long hold times that left every caller with a litany of complaints and a waspish tone. I kept my tone apologetic and respectful.
Somewhere to my right a coworker was coughing endlessly, behind me another was banging his mouse on his desk in frustration. Their voices hissed with frustration. When I excused myself to the restroom I realized to my discomfort that someone was crying in the bathroom stall.
My lunch hour was quiet and lonely, I spent some of it outside smoking one cigarette after an other until the sight of the fog began to play tricks on my eyes. It left me with a strange feeling of vertigo, as though I was slowly spiraling into emptiness.
The second part of my shift is when it began. The call was ordinary enough at first, a frustrated voice that cut me off in mid-greeting with a request for information. I did my best to comply but I had to ask the caller to repeat himself several times.
The numbers he gave me were wrong, completely wrong. Please understand me that I am not talking about faulty account information or transposed digits.
I mean to say that the numbers themselves were wrong. They did not exist.
They were integers that existed outside the zero though nine that I had been taught and lived with for all of my years; but I knew these were numbers I was hearing nonetheless. I could almost see them in my mind, lost and impossible symbols that no human hand had ever drawn.
The caller made an impatient sound as I stared at my keyboard in dismay. Could any key express the characters the caller was describing? Though my college education was incomplete I had studied enough to understand the concept of imaginary numbers but this was something more than that. These were alien numbers, blasphemous numbers and every time the caller repeated them I felt an ache in my head.
“I don’t understand,” I finally admitted.
The caller simply repeated himself again and again, the numbers sounded like a prayer in an unknown language. I disconnected the call and pulled off my headset. Shudders worked their way though my body. I looked to the windows, the fog had blunted the late morning light casting everything into shades of gray.
I heard the numbers again, I looked to my headset but it as silent. Standing I heard that those terrible syllables coming from the mouths of my coworkers, they murmured them with easy familiarity. I cried in alarm but no one looked up from their work. I ran to find a supervisor but he was on the phone as well, speaking facts and figures that made no sense at all. He didn’t look up when I called his name, even when I touched his shoulder he did not react and his flesh was clammy with sweat. I could see the veins in his forehead throbbing as he spoke.
There was a loud crack and the lights flickered and went out. Something similar had happened the previous year, a fog-blinded truck had crashed into a telephone pole, snapping power lines and leaving us with nothing more to do but while away the remainder of our shifts with small talk and gossip.
Despite the dead phones and darkened screens my coworkers continued to talk, in fact they spoke louder and faster, their voices finding a chaotic rhythm.
I fled from the madness, leaving my job, my apartment and even my possessions behind.
As I said before, the modern world has reduced us to numbers but what if the numbers we chose to do that with were the wrong ones? What if we have unknowingly reduced ourselves to nonsense?
All must pass through the Realm of Dusk before they can reach their final destination, be that the fair Evenlands or the pits of the Abyss. All must come here, at the mercy of the Guardians as to which of the Gates will be opened to them. So came I, but here I remain though an age has surely passed in the lands of the living. Neither of the Gates will let me pass; even the Guardians cannot force me through...
click here to read the rest
Thanks to TWITCHFILM for whatever the Hell this is...
Abner Deggent had seen war and torture and been unmoved, which was why fainting at his nephew's bris was so embarrassing.
The calls were monitored for quality assurance- no one knew who was listening. Just that co-workers would occasionally disappear.
The Local Heroes were ecstatic to learn that Amazing Ed had gotten a real costume- then horrified to discover it had nipples.
Magwier knew that shouting "Oh snap!" after reading one of the Psalms aloud created more metaphysical questions than it answered.
He realized that stealing and smashing open piggy banks was a bad habit but it was too late for change.
The Mage, Warrior and Thief entered the tavern- it was ladies night and they were looking to score.
As far as Karl was concerned all panties were edible- some just needed more chewing than others.
Judges for wet t-shirt contests must be willing to work late hours for no pay, despite that many men still answer the call.
he invention of the first suit of hi-tech battle armor was the result of Texans trying to create larger and larger belt buckles.
Budget cuts forced the starship's councilor to also act as the starship's bartender- she usually advised her patients to drink more
Horthgar the Viking really hated ninjas, some suspected he had a case of katana envy.
"It doesn't matter if you're a space knight, a super hero or a mystical warrior- you're wearing someone's idea of fetish gear.
One of the bloodied executives looked up from the dismembered body and asked, "Tell me again how this serves our core values?"
If anything Sir Grundle's hemorrhoids only increased his fury as he rode in to battle.
At last the aviary was complete! Now she could spend as much time as she wanted holding her boobies and stroking her tits.
Movement caught his eye. He stopped, absently rubbed his aching elbow, and pushed the Panama hat back on his head...
"I think there should be a fancy term for gratuitous nudity or incongruous sex scenes- Deus Ex Whackinov."
It turned him on to dress up as a fly. He had a shoo fetish.
Cyborg superhero Rusty Johnson accidentaly swollowed bullets and then spent the night projectile vomiting projectiles.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, unless of course you're a vampire.
He owed his career as a proctologist to his brilliant mind. He owed several lawsuits to his lack of depth perception.
Whenever Captain Hero crossed paths with the evil chef Julia Infant he mocked her half-baked schemes.
Was he just egging her on?
In her sermon she explained that the savior was actually made from vegitable matter.
Then she said "Lettuce pray."
One kingdom was controled by Lord Murphy, the other by Sir Layman. Peasants had to chose between Murphy's rule or Layman's terms.
Karl learned early on that there was no cologne in the world that could mask the scent of horny desperation.
Chorus girls, chorus girls, chorus girls. There were thousands, no ~ make that hundreds of thousands at all the auditions. Office floozies and drug store dames countering fame. The top types that came from the steno pool and those down on the farm fielding dreams. "Glorifying the American Girl" was the dream theme for his showmanship scheme...
...If Jefferson were alive today, I think he would quickly come to one unavoidable conclusion: We have a problem. A big problem...
As he was waiting, the boy sang the Killing Song to himself. It always made him feel better. It was a quiet song, with no drum solos or fuckin awesome guitar. It was quiet, and it was just his own voice. He didn't sing out loud, of course, even though Daddy wasn't home. He never sang out loud because that made Daddy angry. It was just his own voice where Daddy couldn't hear...
In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Sixty Four
BY AL BRUNO III
Friday December 3rd 1996
Everyone went about making preparations, Isobel gave most of the cash back to Sig, she didn't think she would need would it all and she didn't want a reward for this.
While Hao was packing food and first aid supplies into a backpack and Zeth was pocketing a few of the kitchen's more sinister looking knives, Isobel tried to find Galen. She wanted to talk, she needed to talk but he wasn't in her room or his. She checked the solarium and the library but there was no sign of him. She had half a mind to scream his name from room to room until he showed his face but that would be as crazy as it was humiliating.
They all began to congregate near the front door- Magwier and Sig were waiting for Isobel and her two bodyguards when they arrived. Bodivar and Jack quickly followed, their arms heavy with winter clothes. Jack had been true to his word and he had everything they needed; heavy coats, gloves and sturdy hiking boots. Hao, Zeth and Isobel got ready to go, everything fit perfectly. Warren wondered aloud why everyone had the right sizes now when he'd had to wear castoffs earlier.
“It took the house a little time to get used to you.” Jack said.
With that said the eight of them stood in the vestibule, looking at each other in awkward silence.
Warren was the first to speak, he tugged the hood of Isobel's parka up and tied it, “Christ, you all look like Eskimos.”
Hao smiled, Zeth rolled his eyes, Isobel was still looking to the stairway hoping that Galen would change his mind and come with them, Or at the very least say goodbye.
“I can never thank you enough for this,” Sig hugged each of them but his embraces were halting and uncomfortable, “you're more honorable than I ever was.”
Hao looked up from pulling on her gloves, “Us refugees have to stick together.”
“No sense putting it off,” Jack opened the door and held it for them. Cold air rushed in, bringing a few flakes of snow with it.
“Oh great,” Warren said.
Grinning like a lunatic Magwier rushed outside and began trying to catch snow on his tongue. Bodivar patted Isobel on the back, “You'll be just fine, everything will be just fine.”
“Here's hoping,” Isobel walked out of the door; Warren followed them, the rest stayed behind. Magwier had already wandered off.
The late afternoon light was blunted by the low-hanging, precipitation-heavy clouds. The heavy snowflakes spattered on their coats like raindrops. The shadow of Laurel House stretched to the treeline and Isobel realized for the first time that she hadn't heard the sound of windchimes all day. She didn't like that, not one bit.
“Get back inside,” Hao said to her lover “you're not wearing a coat. And you're in your slippers.”
Warren's ruined fingers clenched into fists and he stepped forward kissing Hao on the mouth with such force that she staggered back. The kiss was long and noisy and it left Zeth and Isobel staring anywhere else in embarrassment.
The kiss broke and Warren's voice was almost a whisper, “Hurry back.”
Hao smiled from ear to ear and gave him a wink.
And with that they started walking but Isobel had to turn back one last time to see her brother watching after them and shivering.
But there was no sign of Galen, not even a glimpse.
This collection of 13 stories transports you to a world where both dreams and monsters lurk in the shadows, where love and forgotten rituals fight for control of the human heart, and where the madness of eternity can be glimpsed in a single segmented eye. This anthology collects some of the best stories from Al Bruno III's website and includes the novellas 'Chad's Oracles', 'Fully Vested' and 'The Mask Collector', available for the first time anywhere.
To all outward appearances John Sig is just an old man living a quietly in an empty old house. His one pleasure is when he heads down to the local diner and visits with his favorite waitress Angie. When Angie disappears, John sets out to find her. For an ordinary old man that might seem like a foolish idea but John Sig isn't human, he's a monster living in the shadow of a nightmare thirty -five years old.
This is the comic book I wrote, that sadly it never made it past the first issue. Too bad I had envisioned a fantastic tale of serial killers, Canadian pro wrestlers and exploding toilets. Still though I think you might enjoying reading the first issue, it is still available as a PDF file. There are also some preview pages at the sight below. Order away and weep for what might have been. Some of my best work is available from the fine folks at Eden Studios. My contribution to their game lines has been mainly in the area of fiction. The rules and setting information was written by other very capable folks like Richard Dakan, CJ Carella, Jack Emmert, George Vasilakos and M. Alexander Jurkat. Believe me, they did all the hard work. If you are a fan of role-playing games or a fan of zombie movies then the books below are going to be right up your alley.
Enter the dark world of survival horror. The Dead walk among us. This role-playing game allows you to play in a world infested by the walking dead. The main rulebook includes rules for character creation, combat and everything else you need to play in a world of survival horror. Also detailed are the multiple campaign settings so you can customize the type of "deadworld" you wish to explore.232 pages.Hardcover.Cover Art by Christopher Shy. Click here for ordering information
A must-have reference for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Zombie Master's Screen is filled with charts and tables. From fear to weapons to outcomes, every reference that a prepared Zombie Master needs is packed onto a four-panel screen. The flip side of the screen scares and delights the players with full-color zombie images. The Screen is packed with a 48-page booklet, including a ready-to-run adventure introducing the Cast Member to the horrors of a zombie plague, and pregenerated characters with complete bios, statistics and resource information. Cover Art by Christopher Shy and George Vasilakos. Click here for ordering information
Written by Richard DakanThe first supplement to All Flesh Must Be Eaten opens whole new vistas for a walking dead campaign. This tome brings together the thrills of Hong Kong action films and the excitement of flesh-craving horror. The match of these two genres may not have seemed obvious at first, but the pleasures that arise from it are undeniable. After all, zombies and Hong Kong style action make a perfect fit. What better match is there for a relentless series of lightning kicks and a hurricane of bullets than a target that can't die? The pulse-pounding danger just never stops. Besides, what martial arts master worth his salt doesn't ache for the ability to use his own intestines as a deadly whip? For the undead, no problem!Softcover.Cover Art by Christopher Shy. Click here for ordering information
Written by Al Bruno III, CJ Carella, David F. Chapman, Patrick SweenyBased on the original concept by George Vasilakos and Ross IsaacsEdited by M. Alexander Jurkat, David F. ChapmanCover art by Jeff ReitzInterior Art by Storn Cook, Thomas Denmark, Talon Dunning, DW Gross, Jon Hodgson, Chris Keefe, Jason Millet, Matt Morrow, James Powers, Gregory Price, George Vasilakos From the creators of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, similar in style but this time . . . with apes! Terra Primate has no specific setting. The only constant is the concept of intelligent apes. Planet of the Apes is a movie about intelligent apes, but then again so is Congo. As long as the characters are interacting with intelligent apes -- or are intelligent apes themselves! -- the game could be set in the pulp era of adventure, on a post-apocalyptic Earth, on a faraway alien planet, or downtown on Main Street. The main rulebook includes rules for character creation, combat and everything else you need to play in a world where man is the missing link! Also detailed are the multiple campaign settings so you can customize the type of "Apeworld" you wish to explore. Click here for ordering information
Price Breaks and Heartaches
a journal of retail and failed romance
The Fries And The Fury
It was going to take a few months for me to save up enough money to repair my car. I got to work via the bus and just stayed at work after closing and started my maintenance work immediately after everyone had left. No matter how fast I worked I always missed the last bus of the night and had to walk home. The worst part was walking past the gas station; the terrified gaze of the cashier shadowed my every footstep. I went through the next few weeks in a fugue; it was work, walk, and bed over and over until one of my irregularly scheduled days off gave me time to really rest.
Those free days were spent playing role playing games and trying to figure out excuses to call up Lilly. I think the hole in the ozone layer was pushing it. The only real lasting relationship I had that year was with a Christy Canyon video.
Meanwhile my sister had run away from home at fourteen to get married and my brother at age sixteen was nailing anything with big hair and acid washed jeans.
Hey it was the eighties that was the look.
I would continue to be amazed that while my experiments in reverse crashing were the source of much amusement around the house my brother’s escapades barely raised an eyebrow. When he set off stink bombs in the house? He was just playing a prank. When he bought an Ak-47 from a friend and carried it around the house at random moments? He was just exercising his second amendment rights. When he engaged in underage drinking? At least he was sowing wild oats instead of locking himself in a room with a video playing and the sound turned down.
In my defense I pretty well knew the dialogue to that video anyways.
It was on one of those long walks home on a cold, rainy March night that a Ford Escort with faded blue paint slowed down beside me, “Hey Al. Need a ride home?”
I looked to the familiar face leaning out the passenger side window, “Natalie?”
“You must be freezing.” She pushed the passenger door open, it squealed, “Get in.”
The tires were bald, the rear windshield was cracked, the dashboard was ominously dark and the driver of the car was legally blind in three states; but it was practically sleeting and I couldn’t feel my toes. The choice was obvious, I got in and made damn sure my seatbelt was buckled.
“What are your doing out at this hour of night?” My teeth chattered as I spoke, she had the AM radio tuned to a light rock station and damn if ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’ wasn’t playing gently in the background.
“Oh I was just out driving.” She said, “Here hold the flashlight.”
I held the flashlight, “Flashlight?”
“The dashboard lights are dead. The only way I can see how fast I’m going is if I shine a light on it. Usually I hold it in one hand as I steer but since you’re here…”
I shined the light at the speedometer, “Always glad to help.”
“We haven’t talked much anymore.” She said, “Are you still watching Doctor Who?”
“Is there anything else?”
“The local PBS is having a pledge drive. The rest of the Doctor Who fan club is going to work the phones while they play some of the new seventh Doctor episodes.”
I frowned, “Well I’m not much of a fan- fan has too many bad connotations. I’m an enthusiast.”
“Oh really?” She grinned, “What was the name of the Captain’s spaceship in ‘The Pirate Planet’?”
“The Vantarialis.” I said without thinking, then hit myself in the forehead “Oh my God, I am such a nerd.”
“Flashlight!” She said.
“You should really come. It might be a good time.” The glare from the flashlight glinted off the dashboard glass back into the prism of her glasses, “Are you going to spend the rest of your life waiting for what’s-her-name?”
“If I have to.” I said with more than a bit of pride.
“I thought you said she was seeing someone else?”
“They’re just bit players in our love story,” I explained. “Lilly just hasn’t realized that I’m her true love yet. Eventually, if I’m persistent enough, she’ll figure it out.”
Natalie’s knuckles whitened on the steering wheel, I was sure it was because of the slushy conditions, “But what if she doesn’t see you that way? What if she never sees you that way?”
“This is what I stand for- writing and Lilly. If I don’t get her than I failed, I failed at my dreams I failed at my life. If I don’t get published then it will be like I never existed, like I never mattered.”
“Don’t talk like that. You matter to a lot of people.”
I sneered, “Yeah where would the broiler be without me?”
“You just don’t understand do you?” We reached a stoplight, she turned to look at me, “Can’t you see where I’m going here?”
“Yeah.” I said, “The next street up ahead is mine.”
Natalie and I never talked much after that, at the time I didn’t much care. Now I wonder what was might have been.
You deserved better Natalie and I hope you found it, I really do.
After I accidentally bleached the floor I was switched to an afternoon schedule where I could do less damage. It was really a lot of fun with bustling, busy customers in front of the counter and elderly, slow moving employees it. I kept the burgers flowing and the buns toasting, they even let me train a few of the new hires. Two heart attacks and one stoke later I was moved from the broiler to the front counter. I took orders and handed out the correct change, mostly in that order.
I found that I had a talent for customer service, I wasn’t perfect but I managed to sustain an overall pleasant demeanor and keep up with the pace of work. There was always something new to deal with, be it a movie tie-in promotion, or new product or hopelessly out of date fry coupons.
It was in April I finally got something at the register I couldn’t deal with.