Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): The Spy Who Bugged Me

The Nick Of Time
(and other abrasions)
The Spy Who Bugged Me

Al Bruno III

Lorelei had been waiting for fifteen minutes and she was furious. Jason Magwier had promised her a visit to what was left of the Gardens of Anzon but he had insisted on one little stop along the way- to visit one of his spies...


And of course Magwier had waited until they were there before he told her that Degmoor wouldn't allow women into his
Sanctum Sanctorum.
Sanctum Sanctorum? Looks like a bungalow in the middle of nowhere to me. She grumbled and ran her fingers through her hair, well what she had left of her hair; she had shaved all of it off save for a single extravagant lock in the front that she had dyed black and kept swept back across the top of her head.
“I need to speak to this man," Magwier had explained, “he has made an exhausting study of the Monarchs. He could be invaluable to the Cause.”

Invaluable to the cause or not Lorelei was tired of freezing her ass of and with a growl of annoyance she barged into Degmoor's Sanctum Sanctorum.

Only to find herself in the middle of a nightmare.

The walls were coated with a sticky substance she'd rather not think about and the floor was gone, replaced by a gaping tunnel that angled downwards. The walls of the tunnel resembled soft pink flesh and as she drew closer Lorelei felt heat radiating upwards. She walked cautiously into the tunnel entrance.

A few minutes later the tunnel opened up into a cavern. The illumination that filled it was uncertain and tinted red. The roof towered, cathedral-like above her; shapes littered the walls, human shapes wrapped in layer after layer of white filament. Bloated insect-like creatures crawled over and around the cocoons. The uneven light kept Lorelei from discerning if they were tending the imprisoned captives, or feeding from them.

"Jason?" she called. Oh he better not be dead, that was the last thing she needed.

"Lorelei?" fifteen feet up the wall a shape struggled in its gossamer prison.

“Who did this to you?”

The insect-like creatures began to notice her and abandoned their immobile charges.

“Run!” he called to her, “Get out of here!”

A man stepped forward, carefully threading his way through the carpet of multi-legged creatures. He was naked except for the dark jewel laced about his throat, the source of the chamber's wavering light. "Woman...” His voice rang with contempt, “foul thing you do not belong here.”

Lorelei tried to think of a spell any spell but she felt herself starting to panic, “Tough talk from a guy living at the bottom of a giant vagina.”

Jason Magwier deepened his voice, "Leave her alone Degmoor!"

"Leave her alone Degmoor!" the man cawed. He was close to Lorelei now, close enough for her to see that thin veins of black stone fused the ruby to his neck, cutting paths down his chest and over his face. Dark, thin, hair-like strands of filament leaked from his pores, "Do as we say Degmoor! Don't eat the sacred eggs Degmoor! Don't touch the black ruby Degmoor! Degmoor is the one who is obeyed."

There was a faint tearing sound, Degmoor's abdomen swelled and split open. Four spidery appendages blossomed from the wound, he fell forward, catching his weight on his unsteady new legs.

Forcing herself to stand her ground Lorelei scanned the cavern for something to use as a weapon. Preferably something that wasn't disgusting.

"Degmoor is beautiful!" he ran his hands over his new limbs, the bristly hairs rasping against his palms. Then he turned his attention back to Lorelei, "Now for you woman.."

The insect like creatures advanced on her, scurrying up her feet and over her legs up leaving pale sticky thread in their wake. Lorelei shuddered with disgust.
No spells for something like this. she thought to herself. Time to get back to basics.

Lorelei ran at Degmoor and lashed out with a kick. The toe of her klunky shoe with his exposed groin.

The six legged man doubled over his eight limbs drawing him up into a little ball.

The insectoid creatures began attacking Lorelei, biting and stinging like a squadron of angry wasps.

"The ruby!" Jason Magwier cried from his prison, "Get the ruby!"

For a moment she had no idea what he was talking about, then she grabbed for the dark jewel.

Degmoor screeched, all his limbs thrashing. The creatures on Lorelei’s body went into a frenzy, she could feel a maddening itch where they had begun burrowing into her flesh.

The jewel wriggled in her grip but would not tear free, the crust of stone that had formed around it clung to Degmoor like a second skin.

"Let go!!" he cried, "Let go!"

Wedging her fingernails between the stone and skin she began to pry.

More and more of the insect-like creatures were swarming over her. The walls began to shake, loosing shards of hard clay to shatter on the floor. Degmoor screamed, his voice losing all trace of humanity.

With a tremendous, six-legged shove Degmoor sent her flying. He laughed, his voice carrying above the din, "Failed you did! Failed! Punishment comes to you now!"

The tremors shaking the floor increased, The multi-legged creatures began to stumble and curl up like dead leaves. Degmoor looked around in confusion, then his eyes settled on Lorelei.

She waved the black ruby in her hands, with her other hand she gave him the finger.

Degmoor collapsed, he lay a few feet from her, trying to scoop the four long coils of intestine back into his burst abdomen.

The webbing like its weavers had lost all strength. Jason Magwier himself free and rushed to Lorelei's side. “Oh my darling sweet,” he said, “Oh my sweet.”

“If I was sweet...” she said as she slumped in his arms, “we'd both be dead now.”

More Awesomeness From MY SUPA LIFE!

Give Fran a visit and a pat on the back!

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Ninety Two

The Executioner's equipment was paid for by a fee levied on the peasants. In other words all his axes came from taxes.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Ninety One

They were both ugly but when they made love it was a beautiful thing, unless you were watching.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Ninety

It wasn't the first time MightyWoman visited River City, but it was the last time she parked her car on the street.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Nine

Virtual reality technology allowed users to experience life as a large breasted woman and everyone loves First Person Hooters.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Eight

The Great Fashion Implosion was caused by someone wearing a Members Only Jacket and an Old Navy sweatshirt AT THE SAME TIME!

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Seven

Many people gained super powers from accidents but only the Amazing Flambe got his from mistakes made while deep frying a turkey.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Six

Judy had two talents magic and dirty limericks; she vowed someday to combine the two and conquer the world.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Five

Doomsday Girl returned from the dead with renewed strength, purpose and, much to Captain Hero's delight, improved muscle control.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Four

Most starships gained a unique odor during their 5-year missions, the Persea smelled like urine and sweetened breakfast cereal.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Three

“One thing's for sure,” she thought as her soul reached the deepest pit of Hell, “I have nowhere to go but up.”

Cold Steel And Warm Pizza: A Novel Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from one of my longer works and is pretty much what inspired my rants.

I planned to publish this as a serial novel in 2010 or so but consider this teaser a thank you for your support...


“The pizza’s on me.” Tristam said opening his wallet, “Well my Mom really.”

Drew peered cautiously inside, “How much did she give you?

Tristam pulled out a crisp bill “Fifty Bucks”

They had gathered, as they did every Saturday, in the living room of Greg’s house. With a couch, a love seat and two folding chairs there was just enough room for the whole gang. Their papers, pencils and dice crowded the coffee table. Greg sat in a swiveling office chair, a milk crate of D&D books to one side of him, a portable CD player thrumming out the soundtrack from the movie Conan the Barbarian on the other.

Everyone except for Rich was in their casual clothes, Rich he had come straight over from work still wearing his Burger Clown uniform. He still reeked of sweat and secret spices. He smiled appreciatively at the fifty. “Behold the power of guilt.”

From her place on the couch between them Drew snatched it away “The ink is still wet on this!”

More care than money had been spent on the adornment of the room, the furniture was mismatched but comfortable. The walls were decorated with framed photographs of the Fletcher family and luxurious paintings of religious scenes. The Dali print was Tristam’s favorite, there was just something about it that kept drawing his attention back. The curtains were drawn back from the bay windows bathing the room in light, setting the gilded edges of the picture frames glimmering.

Tristam glared half-heartedly at Drew, “You give that back this minute young lady or sometime during the game, when you least expect it, I will give you a wet wobbie the likes of which you have never seen.”

Warren bristled from his place on the love seat. “Just freakin try it.”

Everyone froze. Warren glanced from them to the mayonnaise jar full of dollar bills on the mantle. “I said freakin’.”

“Keep it up Warren,” Adelphos said, “You and that Swear Jar are going to put Greg through divinity school.”

The Swear Jar had been the idea of Greg’s Dad, mainly because the boys tended to cuss up a storm when they failed an important die roll. In Tristam’s opinion Greg’s Dad was a pretty laid back guy for a minister. He’d always thought that Baptists were against violent games and rock and roll but Greg’s dad seemed to not mind either. Sometimes they could hear him in his den working on a sermon with Iron Maiden playing on his stereo.

Drew gave the fifty back, “Gotta love it when the parents are wrong.”

“Your parents are frequently wrong?” Yusuf leaned forward in his chair.

“And yours aren’t?” Adelphos gave him a funny look.

Yusuf shook his head “Never.”

Tristam pocketed the bill and went back to looking over his character sheet. He’d only been playing with them since October and he sometimes had a hard time keeping track of it all. The different stats, the modifiers and all the charts relating to said stat and its modifier. And the dice! How could one game need so many different kinds? Dice with four sides, six sides, eight sides and even twenty sides - couldn’t they just flip a coin?

“What did your Mother do that was wrong?” Yusuf asked.

“She punished me for something I didn’t do. She thought I cut the assembly but I didn’t I was innocent.”

Warren snorted and grumbled under his breath.

“I wouldn’t be here now if Greg hadn’t vouched for me.”

“All in a day’s work.” Greg looked up from his dog-eared Monster Manual “My next project will be world peace.”

“Oh I see.” Adelphos leaned back in the love seat, lacing his fingers behind his head, “And what are you going to do with the rest of your weekend?”

Greg thought a moment then smiled, “Marry Gillian Anderson.”

Rich gave him a hurt look, “Hey now I had dibs.”

“Tristam,” Warren leaned forward, “Do you honestly mean to tell me that you didn’t do something worthy of a grounding last week?”

Tristam narrowed his eyes “What is your problem?”

“You have the temerity to sit there and say you‘re innocent.” Warren said, “You’re not innocent of anything. They only thing you are innocent of is not being caught yet.”

Drew buried her face in her hands, “Here we go again.”

Yusuf said “I would like to say at this point that we are all sinful in the eyes of God and only through his divine grace-”

“Wait.” Rich interrupted, “Where does that leave me? I’m agnostic.”

Yusuf frowned sadly, “Your goose is pretty much cooked.”

Rich pounded his fist into his hand “Nuts!”

“Yes you are.” Yusuf managed to say before starting to laugh.

Adelphos shook his head sadly “Well those impure thoughts would have done you in anyhow.”

“But-” There were tears in Rich’s eyes he was laughing so hard, “But they were about you...”

Adelphos stood his face full of mock anger, “Hey!”

“All right!” Greg waved a hand in the air to restore order, “There are no impure thoughts allowed in my house. If you must have impure thoughts please go outside.”

“He’s stern but fair, I like that.” Drew said admiringly.

Adelphos agreed “And he’s fair but stern.”

“Sternly fair?” Rich started laughing again.

“Fairly stern?” Yusuf added and then they were all off again. They only sour faces were Warren’s and Tristam’s

Warren asked “What I want to know is how long is it going to be before you sell us out?”

“What?” Tristam almost dropped his dice.

“When are you going to do something to us to get you back in the good graces of the Pretty Boys?”

“I can’t believe you used to call us the Pretty Boys and I can’t believe you’re obsessing over this when you should be obsessing over... you know... pies.”

“Cocksucker!” Warren grabbed a book from the coffee table and threw it at him.

Tristam ducked the book and was on his feet his arm already drawing back. Greg and Yusuf got between them. Drew and Rich looked to stunned to move. Rich just stared at the copy of The Dancers at the End of Time lying on the floor, “ book...”

When the pizza arrived they took a break from the game. Tristam paid for everything, he insisted. That seemed to make Warren even madder and he cursed a few more times just so he could put his pizza money in the Swear Jar. “I tell you,” Rich said through a mouthful of cheese, “I’m finally gonna go up a level this session.”

Drew sipped from a can of diet soda, “You’d have gone up a level months ago if you weren’t muliclassed all to Hell.”

Everyone froze. Shaking her head Drew got up and put a dollar into the Swear Jar. When she sat back down Rich said “Multiclassed works for me. Elroy the Albino is a one man army.”

Warren threw a pizza crust back into the box and got another slice, “Elroy the Albino is a one man copyright lawsuit.”

Yusuf said “A one man army that was nearly killed by a beggar with a stick.”

“A leper with a stick.” Greg corrected

Rich frowned “That was one tough leper.”

Adelphos laughed at the memory “And those were some terrible rolls.”

Tristam took another bite of pizza and tried to make eye contact with Warren “Sorry my fighter almost killed your paladin.”

“That’s all right. It was a fumble, couldn’t be helped. He’ll recover.” Warren threw another wedge of pizza crust into the box and grabbed another slice.

“Well, what’s a groin injury between friends?” Yusuf said.

Adelphos winced “Quite a lot I think.”

Warren said, “Luther’s a Psionicist, he's beyond the needs of the flesh. He didn’t even scream.”

"I screamed."

Drew wadded up a napkin and tossed it at Greg “Those weapon fumble tables were written by a sadist.”

It was almost five o’clock and pitch black outside. They had had drawn the curtains to keep in the warmth. Books and papers surrounded them, stacked on the armrests of the seats and piled on the coffee table. Dice and pencils were scattered on every flat surface. Greg’s Mom was home early from choir practice and was baking cookies, the smell was almost maddening. The portable CD player was now tuned to the local rock music station, when they got back to playing Greg would start the soundtracks up again.

Finishing off his soda with a gulp and a belch Tristam looked around the parlor. It occurred to him that he was having more fun here than he’d ever had at one of Linda Kaspary’s parties.

Maybe I’m just a geek at heart. He thought.

Greg made eye contact with him, “Something on your mind?”

“Kinda.” Tristam began, “Look I know I’m the new guy here and I’m enjoying the game but why exactly are our characters exploring this dungeon? This place is a deathtrap. Wouldn’t it make more sense to become mercenaries or joined the king’s army?”

Rich raised a defiant and pizza stained fist “Elroy the Albino bows down before no man!”

“Unless its a beggar with a stick.” Drew rolled her eyes.

Greg corrected her again “It was a leper.”

Rich lowered his fist, “That was a badass leper.”

“Oh.” Adelphos laughed, “The swear jar claims another victim.”

“Badass isn’t a swear word.”

Greg’s Mom called in from the kitchen “Yes it is and you just said it twice. That’s two bucks.”

“Busted!” Warren laughed as Rich walked over to the mantle and dropped in a handful of quarters.

“But to answer your question,” Rich grabbed another slice of pizza and sat back down, “We are in this dungeon because at the heart of it is a black dragon-”

“Are those the ones that breathe fire?” Tristam asked.

Warren threw another pizza crust into the box “You wish. They spit acid.”


Rich started talking again, “As I was saying at the very bottom of this dungeon is a black dragon- very old and very evil.”

“But the dungeon didn’t used to be a dungeon.” Yusuf interrupted, “A thousand years ago it was an underground fortress and the forces of good kept the dragon imprisoned there.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Tristam said “Why didn’t they just kill him?”

Warren laced his fingers behind his head “It’s one of Greg’s dungeons, it doesn’t have to make sense.”

“You wound me sir.” Greg said.

Drew explained “Because as long as the dragon was alive they had a ready made supply of dragon scales for their armor and dragon blood for their spells.”

“Smart girl.” Rich gave her unmarked cheek a pinch, “But of course eventually the forces of good got hosed and the goblins came in and took over the underground fortress. Thing was they weren’t smart enough to figure out a way to untrap the dragon, all they could do was feed it and worship it.”

Adelphos nodded “And since the dragon is mad smart he’s been giving them tactical advice. Now the goblins, the biggest wussies since the orks, are actually a threat to the humans.”

Yusuf smiled “It is pretty cool. The dragon is trapped but he might just enslave every human in the region.”

“Of course it’s only a matter of time before the goblin army captures some dwarves and enslaves them.” Rich concluded, “And since the dwarven elders built this prison they’re the only ones that can set the big bad boy free.”

Tristam snagged the last piece of pizza for himself, “So we want to kill the dragon before this can happen.”

“Yes.” Warren said, “Each character has his own reason, Luther was called upon by his god, Drew’s thief-acrobat is looking for treasure and experience. Elroy is out for vengeance.”


Rich opened his trapper-keeper and pulled out a wrinkled character sheet, “Behold the glory that was Corwin of the Golden Codpiece. Anti-Paladin- Illusionist- Bard.”

“Oh God him!” Drew feigned retching.

Tristam looked over the character sheet, not understanding what half of the things written on it meant, “So he died fighting the dragon?”

“Nah, he died fighting one of the dragon’s henchmen.” Rich took the character sheet back and returned it to its place of reverence in his folder. “A very tough, non-leprous Ogre Magi.”

“It was an awesome fight.” Adelphos grinned, “The whole party was droppin’ like flies. I got a crit on the Ogre Magi and chopped off his arm.”

Greg tsked under his breath “Not his arm, his hand.”

“Whatever. So the Ogre Magi zaps us with a cone of cold, everyone dies but Corwin-”

“But I’m pretty low on hit points too.” Rich added. “So I go charging after him and run him right through with my sword. He’s almost dead and so am I.”

Warren smiled evilly, “Then the next round you blew your initiative roll.”

“Yeah.” Rich said, “So the Ogre Magi goes first and he centers a disintegration spell on Corwin’s Golden Codpiece.”

“Ouch!” Tristam wondered why there were so many groin injuries in this game, “Well at least he died with his boots on.”

“Yes.” Yusuf said “His boots were all that was left.” ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another awesome best of the year list... THIS ONE FROM ALL THINGS HORROR

read and enjoy.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty Two

Not unlike small businesses most super hero teams fail within the first year.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty One

Hrothgar the Viking had lost his sword in a card game, his heart to a mermaid and his virginity to a centaur. All on the same day.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Eighty

“Not many people can appreciate the subtle eroticism of wargaming, mostly because there isn't any.”

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Seventy Nine

Disagreements about how to coordinate the non-violent protest resulted in a fistfight.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Seventy Eight

“No one gets everything they want for Christmas because most people don't know what they really want.”

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven

He never used hashtags because he wanted to live in a place where the Tweets have no name.

5 Second Fiction Seven Hundred and Seventy Six

No matter where he went he smelled gravy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

(Recommended Reads) "One Christmas Eve" by Chris Chartrand

“Hey, Tommy, you seen my mitt?” I ask as I poke my head into the little room we’ve been sharing.

“Yeah, it’s in the garage, but I don’t want to play right now.”

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly to steady myself for the news I’m about to give.

“You might as well know, I’m leaving tonight.”

click here to continue