Friday, July 16, 2010

So, this is what going insane feels like...

(Insane News) "Woman urinates in yard, slaps child, police say..."

WICHITA — A woman was arrested and two young children taken into protective custody after residents of west Wichita reported bizarre behavior by a driver Wednesday night. 

Police said the woman reportedly pulled into the driveway of a house in the 5000 block of West Douglas at about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday. She got out, urinated in the yard and then slapped a 3-year-old child in the face a number of times...

 

click here to read the rest

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Six

As he watched another one of his airships crash and burn Professor Lindquist realized that blimpin' ain't easy.

Like a cinematic BP the SyFy Channel continues to spew crap onto the airwaves...

I swear to God that movies like SHARKTOPUS might be retroactively ruining the Cthulhu Mythos.

 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TALES FROM THE ODDSIDE: Precious Machine


Precious Machine


by


Al Bruno III


(for Ray Garton)



A rusted electric fence surrounds the walled facility and the facility itself is a series of squat single story buildings connected by hallways. Every window is barred, every door is bolted, every surface is gray or blue. In this way the Kaydeross Asylum keeps the murderous nightmares of its prisoners tucked away from the world of ordinary madness.


Orderlies move through the hallways and buildings like ants, jaded boredom has rendered them faceless and emotionless. They go through their routines but have long ago stopped seeing their charges as human beings. The physicians and psychiatrists assigned to this place are no better, any thoughts of rehabilitating their patients have long been ground away by the never-ending crush of State-required paperwork.


Only Dr. Annabelle Masters truly cared about what went on here. Despite being the director of the facility she still made it a point to oversee the progress of the women remanded to the Kaydeross Asylum. There is a framed photograph she kept on the wall of her office, it shows her standing within the center of a crowd of women wearing faded hospital gowns and slippers; she is smiling despite the fact she is standing with a group of convicted murderers.


As I went through Dr. Masters's office my gaze returned to the picture again and again. There was something about the patients that haunted me- despite their smiling faces their eyes seemed to be screaming.


I was just a temporary administrator sent in to replace Dr. Masters while the investigation into her disappearance moved forward. It was my job to restore some semblance of order to the facility but I already knew it would be no easy task.


A tall bookcase occupied one side of the room, some of the texts shelved there were the standards of our profession but others had fallen out of print after being dismissed as bald faced quackery.


After this I turned my attention to her desk. It was ugly, gray and metallic. It reminded me of the sort of desk a schoolteacher might have. I searched through the drawer and found one had been locked. It took some effort but I was able to break the lock and found seven files that were thick with handwritten notes and EEG readouts.


Dr. Masters's notes were written on cheap onionskin paper, her handwriting script was cramped and strange, reading it was hard going. There was one folder for each of the Kaydeross Asylum's more infamous charges. She had been interviewing and treating these murderesses secretly.


No it was more than that, she had been experimenting on them.


Even now I can recall some of her notes almost perfectly-


...the Precious Machine continues to perform better than expected on Leslie Knapp but she resists treatment. She claws at the air and calls the names of her children. The modified styluses titter and scratch at the paper, there is something beautiful about the patterns they make. When I playback the audio tapes it almost sounds like an animal is skittering in the background like a rat gone wild with the urge to gnaw...


A search of Dr. Masters's office revealed no audio tapes or electroencephalogram, and her notes were maddeningly vague as to what exactly she was trying to accomplish.


Exhaustion, confusion and the murky February afternoon conspired to make me drowsy. I sat down in Dr. Masters' leather-backed chair and leaned back. I meant only to rest my eyes but I was soon asleep.


The dream that came was at first very literal, I was sitting in the office with the cryptic files spread out before me. There was a hollow rapping at the door and I called for the visitor to enter not looking up from my work. Once the visitor stood on the opposite side of the desk I became gripped with a childlike terror. I did not want to look up but my head moved of its own volition and I found myself staring at a figure from my long-abandoned faith. I knew that frail, beatific gaze and those stigmatic hands. But the crown of thorns he wore was metallic and it sparked. My breath caught in my throat as the figure opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a faint scraping sound like a record that had reached the end of its song.


I awoke then, choking and gasping like a nearly drowned man, but the scratching sound continued. Once the dream had faded away and I was calm, I realized where the strange noise was coming from.


Initially the orderlies balked at my request insisting that the moving of furniture was a job for maintenance but I insisted. Once the heavy mahogany bookcase had been moved a doorway was revealed.


We forced the door open and found what must have once been a storage closet. The so-called 'Precious Machine' was there and it was, as I had thought, a strangely modified EEG machine. A tangle of wires led to a web of sensors that resembled the crown I had seen in my dreams. The EEG had long run out of paper and the styluses scraped and scratched on the bare rollers.


And beneath that crown of sensors was a desiccated figure, she had only been missing for a little over a week but the flesh had an almost mummified look to it. We could only identify the body because of the name badge clipped to the lab coat, and by the eyes, the perfectly preserved eyes that stared back at us.


Oh how Dr. Masters's eyes screamed.


(Insane News) Psychotic assclowns from Westboro Baptist Church will be protesting at the San Diego Comic Con

Why you wonder? Well let's let Fred Phelps explain...

"Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it. The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry..."

click here to read the rest at TOPLESS ROBOT

 

And I'll see you in Hell fellow nerds.

(Recommended Reads) "Necrofiche" by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith

Albert walked up to the funeral parlour feeling happier than he had in a long time. For the last few years he had been performing his mortician duties listlessly, but today he felt that he had a purpose. He was about to enter using the front door, when he saw that the funeral director was in the reception area with clients. He decided to access the mortuary via the side entrance...

 

click here to read the rest

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

(Recommended Review) AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A SCIENTIST! examines and explicates the film ORCA

One of the golden rules of exploitation film-making is always to include a scene that no-one who sees your film ever forgets. When Orca first played TV here it was, for reasons that escape me at this distance – never mind what distance! – the film that everyone was planning on watching. The next day, my school was full to overflowing with distressed adolescent girls thoroughly traumatised by the scene of Mrs Orca’s miscarriage. I’m willing to bet that none of them have ever forgotten that scene. In fact, I’d bet that no-one who has seen Orca has ever forgotten that scene. On that level, Orca is a great success. On most others, well....


And if you haven't made yourself acquainted with Elizabeth A. Kingsley's work you should, she is a fantastic writer, thoughtful and witty.

THE NIGHTCRAFTER has honored me with ' the Versatile Blogger Award'


I want to thank THE NIGHTCRAFTER aka Joanie M. Rich for recognizing and enjoying my work.

Here are the award rules...

I am also supposed to tell you seven things about myself... So here goes...

1.) My wife and I were not supposed to be able to have kids but we had one anyway. Go figure.

2.) I hate movies with talking animals that talk to people. They just bother me... I don't mind cartoons that do it but things like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS or G-FORCE creep me out. Even MR. ED bothered me when I was a kid.

3.) I tried for about twenty years to make my living as a writer, now I just give my stories away and to be honest this is the most fun I've ever had behind the keyboard. I'm not say that YOU dear reader won't make the big time but some artists perform at Carnegie Hall and others perform on the streetcorner. I like my street corner just fine these days.

4.) I make iPod playlists for each project I work on. Back in the good old days I did the same thing with mix tapes. Sometimes I can look at an old story and think of the song that inspired it.

5.) The epilogue for my serial novel IN THE SHADOW OF HIS NEMESIS was written first, then the entire manuscript followed. The entire middle of the story had to be revised when the characters went off script.

6.) My second serial novel is already finished. THE COLD INSIDE will have about 170 weekly installments and should start in the 2011 and complete in 2015. (Assuming of course that I do not die , that you dear reader don't find anything better to do or that Prince isn't right about the Internet being 'over')

7.) It terrifies me to realize that I may be one of the most mature adults I know... yes me. How did that happen?

Well I hope those revelations didn't scare you all away for good!

I should be passing this award along to other deserving souls soon...

(Recommended Article) ALL THINGS HORROR reviews the utterly awesome LAKE MUNGO

Each year the After Dark horror fest unleashes eight films onto a dwindling and skeptical public. The majority of films released by the imprint fall somewhere between inept and SyFy's Movie of the Week. The problem is so many of the films have been terrible; the proverbial diamond in a lump of coal can go unheralded. This year's Australian import Lake Mungo is such a film. It's been one of the best films no one has seen this year. Trust me, don't let the fact that it's an After Dark film frighten you (or in the case of AD NOT frighten you) from seeing it). Normally I pride myself in writing fairly non-spoiler filled reviews, but for some reason, despite writing a few drafts of this post, I find myself unable to talk about it without giving too much away. Don't worry; I've posted tags in order to provide fair warning. Better yet, feel free to watch the film first, then head back and see if you agree, or go on and tell me I've got cottage cheese for brains...

click here to read the rest of the review

(and if you have not seen LAKE MUNGO then for God's sake do it NOW!)

(Recommended Reads) Kate Sherrod's Poetic Farewell To HARVEY PEKAR

There's nothing words and pictures cannot do,

Is what he taught us, long ago. Pekar,
Quotidian and wry, your work is through
And now it's left to us to keep your star
A-shining brightly, just as you have done
For my beloved Turkel; I can't wait
To get your adaptation of his fun
And moving opus, WORKING, though I'm late
In asking for it. What a perfect pair,
The two of you, both lost to this plane now.
The real world may seem dull, but those who care
To give an artist's eye to it see how
It truly is a splendor. Harvey, thanks
Among my saints, you'll e'er be in the ranks.


(Recommended Reads)*AT THE BIJOU* Most Proudly Presents J. DANE TYLER's 'In Short Order'

He drags on the cigarette and lets the smoke out through his nostrils in a gray-blue plume. It clashes with the red vinyl of the stools, chairs and pocked countertop. A lump of adobe which used to be a pile of donuts fossilizes under a glass cover at the L-turn. A waitress is smacking her gum and flipping through pages of a bright magazine with tattered corners and a permanent crease in the center...

 

click here to read the rest

(Recommended Reads) "Caretaker" by Louise Dragon

"You're treating the street people like pets," Everett said as he watched his new girlfriend pack squares of leftover lasagna into a foil lined cardboard box...

click here to read the rest

A scene from MST3k that had me laughing so loudly that the neighbors called the police

Monday, July 12, 2010

(Recommended Reads) "Fundo" by Donald Conrad

Matthew Fundo wanted to die. His internal thought processes had become external mutterings and people were giving him space as he walked away from his burning car...

 

 click here to read the rest

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis chapter seventy two

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis


Chapter Seventy Two


By AL BRUNO III




Saturday, December 4th 1996





Someone was shouting his name and slapping his face. The shouts sounded far away but the slaps were up close and personal. Warren awoke, uncertain for a terrifying moment of where he was, of whose eyes he was looking through. He got ahold of himself, realizing that he was somehow still alive, somehow back in Laurel House’s chilly wine cellar and in Jack’s arms.


“What the Hell were you thinking?” he asked.


Warren struggled out of the man’s beefy arms and got to his feet, “I thought you said there was no afterlife.”


“What are you talking about?”


“Those things down there...” he pointed at the floor, “they were ghosts....they were damned souls...”


“Now calm down,” Jack said, “you don’t know what you saw.”


“Contrary to popular belief,” Warren turned back around until he found a bare spot on the wall, he pressed his face to it and shivered, “I’m not an idiot. Those people, somehow this place is killing them.”


“I think Hao wanted to tell you herself,” Jack paused, “but it’s a little late for that isn’t it?”


“You think?”


Those faces, those stones locked in eternal screams, Warren saw them every time he closed his eyes. Each death he had experienced played over and over again in his head. His mouth tasted like bile.


Jack said, “Lets go back upstairs to the library.”


“I’m not going anywhere until I get some explanations.”


“All right, but you’re not going to-”


“Tell me!” Warren turned away from the wall, his shout surprised both of them.


Jack asked, “What do you know about the dark gods?”


“Hao showed me some books,” Warren said. He thought of Kriely Fragments;


There are creatures that come from beyond reality. From beyond the realms of time and space. Beware them for their purposes are unfathomable.”


Warren said, “I think I remember some of their names.”


“Then you know they’re in hiding. The Monarchs crushed them, banished them to the lost places of the world.”


“And there’s one of them down there,” Warren said, “am I right?”


“Damiea,” Jack grabbed a wine bottle at random. He pulled the cork and drank, “The goddess clothed in worms.”


“Oh Jesus...” Warren took the bottle when it was offered.


“She-it’s barely alive...” Jack couldn’t look Warren in the eye, “if a thing like her can truly be considered alive. She can’t feed herself unless she has something to focus through, a living mortal-or semi-mortal mind.”


“A Castellan.”


“Yes.”


“And in return she hides this place and makes it nice and cosy with all the comforts of home,” Warren handed the bottle back, his hands were starting to shake and wine spilled everywhere, “oh my God. Each of those faces, the wind chimes... They’re like trophies.”


“No,” Jack said, “it’s not like that. It’s...it’s what’s left over.”


“Do they suffer? Those people?”


“They’re dead Warren and dead is dead.” Jack explained, “What you and other’s think of as a soul is just a kind of remnant. A spiritual corpse made of memories. There’s no mind there, no feeling. They’re not just dead, there’s no suffering.”


“That makes it worse then, they lose everything and we’re responsible. How many does it take? How often?”


“A dozen or so each day.”


“Jesus!”


“300,000 people die every day no matter what we do. Who’s to say that it wouldn’t have always been them? Maybe Damiea just takes advantage of that.”


“Is that what you tell yourself so you can sleep at night?”


Jack didn’t answer.


“I knew a monster,” Warren said, “an honest to God monster hidding in the body of my friend. I won’t be like him,” Warren slid down the wall and sat on the chilly floor, “I won’t be a monster.”










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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Panties Half Off part six

Price Breaks and Heartaches

A journal of retail and failed romance

Chapter Three

Panties Half Off

part six






I still couldn’t believe I had to take a lie detector test, my only comfort was that I knew the experience would make a great subject for a story and with any luck that story could be one of the most important in Western Literature!


Ahem.


Moving right along...



*



It took some doing and a bus transfer but I found the lie detector place; it was a cramped little office building in a cramped little building. It was called ‘Rabitski Investigations’ and it brought to mind images of moderately competent detectives having soft boiled adventures. The office door was unlocked and the waiting room was empty save for three chairs and a roll top desk. I sat there and waited for a few minutes wondering if I would be the only person coming by from work today.


There were two doors on either side of the room, both were firmly closed. I spent a few minutes wondering if I should wait or pick a door and knock. Before I could settle on an option one of the doors creaked open and a gray haired man shuffled in. “I’m Carl Rabitski,” he was white haired and unshaven. “You must be Jan.”


“No.” I said, “I’m Al …Al Bruno?”


“Good Lord. You’re a man?” He fumbled in his breast pocket for a pair of glasses.


I deepened my voice, “All man sir.”


He nodded curtly, “Well we’ll get to the bottom of these and other questions.”


“I’m here from the Julia Shop.”


“Of course,” he retrieved a manila folder from the desk and waved it in the air. “They sent your file. The term dawdling was used several times.”


“I thought this was about shoplifting?”


“Shoplifting?” He cocked a grizzled eyebrow at me, “Is there something you need to get off your chest?”


“You mean aside from a nagging suspicion that God is picking on me?”


He patted me on the shoulder and directed me to the next room. There was another man running wires from a lie detector to the arm of an office chair. Mr. Rabitski guided me into the chair while his assistant rolled up my sleeve and started attaching wires and straps to my arm. “Have you ever had a lie detector test before?”


“I can’t say that I have,” I tried to keep eye contact with him, after all isn’t that what an honest person would do?


“A lie detector measures your pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration and skin conductivity. The machine records its findings here on this paper as it scrolls by. Just be honest with yourself and us and everything will be all right.” Mr. Rabitski headed back for the door, “My assistant will establish your baselines and then we’ll start the questioning.”


Mr. Rabitski walked past me and I heard the door open and click shut. I listened to his assistant fussing around behind me until finally I heard the scratch-scratch-scratch of the lie detector’s styluses coming to life.


“Now,” the assistant stood in front of me. “I am going to ask you a few questions. Answer honestly.”


A tiny cry escaped my throat, the entire world seemed to pitch sideways and right itself again. When I spoke my voice was quivering with recognition, “Orville?”


“Long time no see Al.”


Oh yes it was Orville. He and I had a history. I tried to get out of the chair but my one arm was still strapped in place.


“What are you doing?” He asked.


“I am not dealing with you.”


“If you walk out without finishing you’re fired. Do you want to be fired?”


I thought of my car, so close to being fixed, and settled back down, “Fine but none of your shenanigans.”


“Shenanigans?” He grinned, “Perish the thought. I’m just trying to do my job.”


“And how did this end up with this being your job?”


“This is my grandpa’s business. He’s grooming me.”


“Well that explains the haircut…” I mumbled.


“What?”


“Oh nothing, just mumbling to myself.”


“You need to answer clearly for the next part,” Orville wheeled the cart holding the lie detector apparatus to the side of us, just outside of my peripheral vision. “I’m going to show you a series of cards, answer truthfully so I can gauge your responses. Please confine all your answers to yes and no.”


“Ok,” I sighed with resignation. “Let’s get this over with.”


Orville held up a card, “Is this a red card?”


“Yes,” I replied as I wondered to myself if this day could get any more surreal.


When would I learn never ever to think things like that?


He made a mark on the scrolling paper; then continued, “Is this a yellow card?”


“Yes.”


Another mark, a fresh draw from his strange little deck, “Is this a red card?”


I narrowed my eyes, “It’s a yellow card with a red dot.”


“Please confined your answers to yes or no.”


“Yes…. I mean no!”


“Hmmmmmm,” Orville made a fresh mark on the paper.


“What? What was that?” I tried to turn in my seat.


“Please look straight ahead,” Orville said. “Watching the tape can skew the results.”


“Fine. Sorry,” I tried to clear my head, but I was uncomfortable being scrutinized. “Is it me or is it warm in here?”


Orville raised half his unibrow, “Something getting you hot?”


“Look idiot,” I said, the lie detector’s styluses began scratching like a cat trapped in a cardboard box. “Get Barnaby Jones in here and let’s wrap this up.”


“No reason to be rude,” he pocketed his cards and left the room.


I sat there like strapped in like a man awaiting execution. “Something getting you hot?” I grumbled sarcastically.


It was still a mystery to me how Orville had gotten Lilly to go out with him at all much less the senior prom. That whole damn prom would have been a soul crushing disaster if I hadn’t gotten the last dance of the night with Lilly. I held on to that memory pretty tightly, actually I held on to most of my memories of her pretty tightly.


High School hadn’t been an easy time for me, bad enough I was a nerd but I was a nerd that had failed ninth grade. It always gave my friends something to be snide about and it was so weird to watch the kids I had gone to grade school graduate a year before I did. Every day I felt like a failure, every day I felt like I didn’t belong. Sometimes I just wanted to give up.


That was where Lilly came into the picture, I first noticed her in the A-V Club. Being a teenage boy with blood made of 75% hormones I noticed a lot of girls in high school, but Lilly was different. When I first saw her I was dazed; I think an incurable romantic would describe me as being lovestruck, how ever a trained psychiatrist would most likely describe me as obsessed.


It didn’t take us long to become friends, it amazed me really. Most girls tended react to me with a combination of distain and creeping horror. Lilly and I spent a lot of our freshman year talking and joking around. I wanted to ask her out but I was terrified of being rejected. Things got a little more complex in my sophomore year when all of my so-called friends decided that since I wasn’t making a move on her they would.


Things got ugly pretty darn fast; it was like a remake of ‘Enter the Dragon’ starring guys with bad skin and asthma puffers.


No matter how had things got though I didn’t let it get me down. Whenever I got pantsed or food was thrown at me or when it seemed like everyone from enemies, to friends, to teachers was ridiculing me I would remember Lilly- her smile, her light brown hair, her ice blue eyes- and I would tell myself to hang on tight because I was almost there.


And for a few months of my junior year I got her but bad luck and my spectacular ineptitude mad our time together as brief as it was sweet.


This is what went through my head as I wanted and waited for the lie detector test to start. I heard the door to the room open up again and then caught the unmistakable sound of Maddie yelling at someone. It didn’t take much for me to realize that she was demanding that Mr. Rabitski give her a do over.


“Interesting…” I smirked to myself.


Orville closed the door behind himself saying, “Grandpa’s going to be busy for a bit.”


“Does this mean I can leave?”


A warm hand fluttered to my shoulder; I shuddered with memories to Nice Shopper’s loading dock, “He told me to administer the test.”


“I don’t know about that,” I shifted in the chair. “I can just reschedule.”


“No. No.” Orville stood beside the lie detector reducing himself to a shadow in the corner of my eye. “Like you said, lets get this over with. Are you ready?”


“Look I shouldn’t have called you an…”


“Question one. Have you ever stolen merchandise from the Julia Shop?”


Remember how I said I sighed with resignation before? Let me correct myself, this was a sigh of resignation, “Sigh.”


“Please contain your answers to yes or no. Do you understand?”


“No.”


“You don’t understand?”


Several very Italian-American gestures came to mind but my gesturing arm was strapped down, “No. I mean I never stole. No.”


“Have you ever thought about stealing merchandise from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Has a friend ever asked you to steal merchandise from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Has a relative ever asked you to steal merchandise from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Have you ever had a dream where you’re in your underwear trapped in a giant spider web and three Vikings are trying to free you by rubbing canola oil all over your body?”


My voice cracked as though my entire body was trying to retreat back through puberty, “What?”


“I said…”


“I heard what you said, that’s not a work related question.”


“It’s on the clipboard,” Orville said with a dismissive snort.


“Can I see the clipboard?” I did my best to turn in my seat and glare at him.


“No.”


“Then next question please- next real question.”


“Have you ever stolen money from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Have you ever thought about stealing money from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Has a friend ever asked you to steal money from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


“Has a relative ever asked you to steal money from the Julia Shop?”


“No.”


He stepped in front of me, “Did you really think you had a chance with her?”


“You know…” I said with a sigh. “…in comedy the punch line comes with the third repetition of the premise.”


“I saw you in the talent show, what do you know about comedy?”


“The lighting guys were heckling me, it threw me off.”


“Everyone was heckling you,” Orville said, “Your family was heckling you.”


“Grandma was drunk,” I spoke through gritted teeth. “Am I done now? Can I go?”


“You didn’t answer my last question.”


“I love her.”


He paused to check the machine, “Well at least you’re telling the truth there but it doesn’t mean anything. She’s not for you.”


“Oh and you are the one for me?” My teeth were aching now, “Is that why you used to keep grabbing my ass? Because you wanted Captain Al’s Wild Ride all for yourself?”


“What the Hell is Captain Al’s Wild Ride?”


“I have no idea!” I was shouting now.


“The only reason I grabbed your ass was to get rid of you,” Orville roughly pulled the wires and sensors from my arm, “I couldn’t stand watching you moon over her all day at school then have to see you at work. No matter what I did you stuck around, even when I put those pictures of naked men on your locker.”


“That was you?” I shook my head. “I beat up Kevin K. Hanson for nothing…”




*



Much to my surprise I passed the lie detector test. I was even more surprised to learn that Maddie had passed her do-over. Within a matter of a few days life at the Julia Shop had returned to a semblance of normality; in other words I was constantly behind and the management was at each others throats.





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