Thursday, December 30, 2010
(an excerpt for In The Shadow Of His Nemesis)
Al Bruno III
Shirtless in spite of the cold morning they stood on Laurel House’s front lawn. The stared at each other, fencing foils at their sides. At an unspoken signal they saluted and stepped forward; Zeth was muscular but beginning to soften with middle age, his skin was so dark it was almost purple He had his graying dreadlocks pulled back and tied with a ribbon. They sized each other up and tensed. Jack smiled, his hair hanging lose and wild. Zeth thrust with his foil.
Jack swiped the blow aside and retreated from a second attack.
Zeth's breath hissed out from between his clenched teeth as his opponent became more aggressive. He parried a trio of blows. Their foils rasped and clinked as they dueled beneath purple sunrise. Jack tried to strike low but Zeth evaded the glinting metal with a leap and followed with a counter-thrust.
Looking down at the red-tipped foil poking his chest Jack laughed "Oh. Very good.”
“Hell yes.” They stepped back and saluted.
They returned to their starting positions, "Engarde!"
Jack drove Zeth back a dozen steps with as many blows. The attacks blocked more by blind instinct than skill. "Two can play at that." Zeth grunted and launched a wild attack of his own, realizing only too late that he'd fallen into a trap. Jack's foil tapped his forehead, "We're one for one."
"Keeping score are we?”
Again they returned to their starting positions. “By the way, are you having fun?"
Zeth smiled, "Yes, I am. You know when you invited me I almost turned you down."
“Lots of reasons.” Their blades clashed once more, this time each man was cautious and cagey, their blades glancing.
"Is he coming today?"
"God willing." Zeth replied his eyes darkening, "This place is a bit to… sedate for my tastes.”
“I thought as much.” Jack thrust and blocked, "I think that’s why I was surprised to find a man like you on our doorstep.”
“Magwier asked me to keep an eye on Galen.”
“Do you always do what Jason Magwier says?”
Zeth's guard dropped at that, letting Jack land another blow. "Oh, I’m sorry. That wasn't fair, we'll start over."
"I believe in what he’s doing. The Cause is more than what the name implies. We can save the world.”
“I think that the world can take care of itself.” Jack said, “It always has.”
Zeth smiled, “An optimist.”
“What about Isobel and her brother?” Jack asked.
“What about them?” Zeth said.
Sig stepped out the front door. He was wearing a light jacket, jeans, boots and a flannel shirt. He had a knapsack over one shoulder and a cane in the other.
“Heading into town?” Jack asked.
Sig nodded, “Angie needs more pills. Do either of you want anything?”
Zeth said, “A few newspapers and a TIME magazine.”
“Of course.” Sig turned to go.
“I have to ask you something.” Zeth said.
Sig stopped but didn’t turn, “Yes?”
“Aren’t you afraid to go into town? You haven’t been forgotten you know.”
“Let them come.” Sig’s laugh was almost a growl.
Both men watched him disappear into the tree line; then they returned to their stances.
“Engarde!” Jack said.
They danced back and forth, steel flashing, their faces livid with exertion. “Those trips of his are dangerous.” Zeth said.
“He knows what he’s doing.” Jack delivered a savage riposte, “Besides Angie needs that medication.”
Zeth’s foil caught his opponent in the stomach, “All that means to me is that you’ve got two liabilities.”
They stepped back and saluted, the duel continued.
Abner Deggent was captured by a band of pirates that only wore soft fabrics but he vowed to escape the Cotton Swabs.
With its vibrating controller and interactive storyline the video game 'Action Masseuse' kept people playing for the happy ending.
On a dare she ate a DVD of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, 8 hours later she became the first person to die from 'Going Commando'.
Chuck had never been to dinner party hosted by a porn actress before. He had to admit she had quite a spread.
John tripped, stumbled and fell the dalmatian he was walking. He always was Johnny on the spot.
The worst blow to his self esteem was when he was spied skinny dipping and people left him extra clothes.
“Some people think creating an Anti-Flatulence Defamation League was a great idea, others think it stinks.”
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Ninety Six
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
The crash was followed by more gunfire, it sounded as though the entire forest had become a battle zone. Which Isobel supposed was all too true.
The figure moving out of the doorway of the Great House looked like her brother, it wore his face but the muscles were slack and empty like those of an embalmed corpse. Hao had called the creature she was summoning the Dread Lord Chayot. A being born of sacrifice and vengeance.
Isobel’s brother’s clothes hung in tatters that had almost become shroud-like in their ruination. The wounds his body had suffered, both before and after death, were still visible but had become filled in with a kind of watery solidity that refracted and churned.
No matter how much she stared Isobel couldn’t place the color of the substance occupying the body It reminded her of something chemical- like liquid mercury.
“Warren?” Isobel said. She knew it wasn’t him but she couldn’t help herself.
Dread Lord Chayot stopped in front of Isobel and regarded her indifferently; regarded her with eyes thick with veins the color of tarnished silver.
“This is Isobel,” Hao explained as she joined them, “you must protect her.”
“I am not a protector,” Chayot said.
Hao shook a finger, “Her survival is part of my revenge. You will rescue the Monarchs’ prisoners and then you will kill the one called Piers Sauno. The one born of persuasion.”
Chayot nodded with understanding.
More gunfire, growing closer. A thin buzzing had filled the air, a sound that reminded Isobel of a summer afternoon thick with the songs of cicadas. Hao turned her gaze to the old Vlodek, her one eye was familiar, the other the color of moonlight.
Everyone’s eyes have changed. Isobel thought, Everyone but mine. Unless being bloodshot counts.
“And you Sig,” Hao said, “you know what you have to do.”
At that the wounded Vlodek turned and bounded away.
“Just us now,” Hao said.
The buzzing sound was growing closer. Isobel felt her gut twist, the automatic pistol felt heavy and cold in her hand.
The Dread Lord Chayot stepped in front of the women, tendrils of the strange tarnished silver substance began to drip from its hands.
Isobel asked, “What is that?”
“It’s me,” the Dread Lord answered plainly.
“Let’s get moving,” Hao started walking. Chayot followed.
For a crazy moment Isobel was sure she wouldn’t be able to move, that all she would be able to do was fall to her knees.
But then she thought, Galen needs me, and that was enough..
Friday, December 24, 2010
“LOOK,” I said, cutting across yet another plea, “You’re dead. You need to accept that.”
“No. Stop pretending to be alive. It’s stupid. It’s creepy. Now GO. THE. HELL. AWAY.”
She crossed her arms and stared at me.
I rolled my eyes. Women! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t escape even by killing ‘em...
Marianne huddles in the corner. Only her hands and nose are visible beneath the heap of moth-eaten blankets in which she swathes herself. The December chill seeps through the old fabric, sinking into her bones. A stub remains of her last candle, and she holds her hands either side of the flickering flame, anxious for warmth...
I'm a drifter, a squatter. I have no life of my own. I hear it happens sometimes; a soul gets displaced, and is able to wander about between realities to see every possible life he or she could have had. If it sounds glamorous, I can tell you that it's most certainly not. You never feel... comfortable, in a life. Or maybe it's just me, because I found love and searched through so many lives to find my happy ending. I'm still searching...
East London - A drunk motorist was arrested near Queenstown in the Eastern Cape after allegedly being found to be 32 times over the alcohol limit, the department of transport said on Thursday... Five boys and a woman, who were also in the vehicle with 15 sheep allegedly stolen from nearby farms, were also arrested.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Today we have for you a brief but very cool little video from the talented folks over at 39 Degrees North, a motion graphics studio from Beijing. The short is a video Christmas card adaptation of the Neil Gaiman poem, Nicholas Was…, and it mixes his dark words with equally dark yet truly beautiful animations...
On the 12th day of Christmas her true love gave her twelve drummers drumming. Now it was just getting weird.
You better watch out, you better not cry you better not pout I'm telling you why, because we'll put you on Prozac.
On the 11th day of Christmas her true love gave her eleven pipers piping. It gave the four calling birds feelings of inadequacy.
The angel showed Karl what the world would be if he had never existed The only difference was Justin Beiber worked at Burger King.
On the 10th day of Christmas her true love gave her ten lords a leaping. A must for any DOCTOR WHO fan.
Little Joey wondered why every day couldn't be Christmas. “Because,” Dad said, “I'd be broke.
On the 9th day of Christmas her true love gave her nine ladies dancing. Not the kind of thing you want in a studio apartment.
Santa brought granddad some natural male enhancement drugs and Viagra to help him through the long hard winter.
On the 8th day of Christmas her true love gave her eight maids a milking. Not really, he just gave her a DVD of German porn.
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games. So he sued their discriminating asses.
On the 7th day of Christmas her true love gave her seven swans a swimming. Now things were moving into Hoarders territory.
Strange magic brought a centurion to the modern age and gifted him with ice powers. Soon all would learn to fear Frosty the Roman.
On the 6th day of Christmas her true love gave her six geese a laying. Again with the birds!
On December eve after falling asleep in a brothel, Abner Deggent was visited by the ghosts of Syphilis past, present and future.
On the 5th day of Christmas her true love gave her five gold rings. He'd found all kinds of bargains at Mr. T's garage sale.
Taking a hint from Bruce Wayne, Jolly St. Nick created Santa Incorporated so he could spend more time romancing sexy cat burglars.
On the 4th day of Christmas her true love gave her four calling birds. But then the neighbors complained about the noise.
The Muse opened her gift from Captain Hero. “Underwear?” she asked. “Take the hint,” he replied. She blushed and crossed her legs
On the 3rd day of Christmas her true love gave her three French hens. They were delicious.
Captain Mendelbaum and his Kosher Commandos drew their laser guns, it was time to show these aliens a real festival of lights.
On the 2nd day of Christmas her true love gave her two turtle doves, making it clear who was behind the recent pet store robberies.
Christmas... Kwanzaa... Hanukkah... the Winter Solstice- just to be fair Larry drank through all of them.
On the 1st day of Christmas her true love gave her a partridge in a pear tree. The sicko had stapled it to one of the branches!
“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus- and you really don't want to know what Uncle Roy was doing with that elf.”
a tale from the Binder Of Shame
Al Bruno III
(The following is a mostly true story)
2010 has been a rough year. 2010 has seen setbacks financial and personal. In 2010 my wife and daughter became seriously ill (they’re better now). In 2010 my place of employment shifted its focus from customer service to issuing increasingly bizarre and conflicting directives to its employees. It was a year that our cars regularly broke down and we frequently found ourselves trying to decide between the power bill and the food bill.
Yeah, 2010 was a real bastard of a year and the week before Christmas it delivered the roughest blow yet.
It was a Friday evening, my missus was scrap booking and my daughter was playing video games. I naturally was updating my blog in the hopes that people are still reading this nonsense.
Around eleven o’clock my daughter asked me if we could do something together. She’s ten now and I think we are both becoming aware that time and adolescence would soon come between us. I knew she wanted to go to see the new Yogi Bear movie but I really hate movies of its kind. In many ways I am still recovering from my viewing of Alvin And The Chipmunks 2, a film I can only describe as the cinematic equivalent of being beaten with a club made from stale frosting.
“Hey,” I said, “instead of the movies why don’t we go out for ice cream? Heck we can even bring the dogs along for fun and give them some French fries.”
My daughter loved the idea for its fun and spontaneity. My wife loved the idea for the peace and quiet.
We all piled into the car; my daughter was in the front seat, my two dogs were in the back. Yours truly was in the driver’s seat. I allowed my daughter to choose the radio station and as we headed out for the local Sonic I pondered what the sensation of feeling ‘Like a G6’ might be like.
Since I was a middle aged nerd I assumed I never would know and contented myself to know what it was like to play Dungeons & Dragons and feel ‘Like a D6’.
Before we could reach our destination flashing blue lights filled my rearview mirror. For a moment I hoped it might be a UFO filled with green skinned women looking for good breeding stock but sadly it was only a police car.
I pulled over into a nearby parking lot and waited. My daughter was full of worries and questions but I assured her everything was all right. The officer that approached my car was tall, he reminded me of a cross between country music singer Travis Tritt and futuristic killing machine The Terminator. The dogs barked and whined as he drew closer.
The conversation we had was a variation of one I had shared with police officers many times over the years.
He asked, “Do you know you have a headlight out?”
I replied, “Uhm...”
He nodded, “And your registration expired four months ago.”
“Uh... whoops?” Despite the cool December weather I suddenly began to feel very warm.
My daughter must have realized I was floundering so she chimed in, “It’s not my Daddy’s fault. He’s bi-polar!”
Ah, the insanity defense. A clever move but it was a little too early in the game for that. The police officer asked me for my drivers license and I gave it to him. He paused for a moment to make sure that the chunky ragged looking man before him matched the chunky ragged looking man in the picture. Then he went back to his car.
We waited for what seemed like a very long time. My daughter and I talked about what was happening and why there was nothing to be scared about.
Then the police officer asked me to step out of the vehicle so we could talk privately. I wondered if he might be one of my 100+ blog subscribers, if he was I promised myself I would graciously give him the requested autographs.
He looked me in the eye and said, “Mr. Bruno you have an outstanding arrest warrant.”
“Outstanding?” I croaked. An arrest warrant didn’t sound very outstanding at all; in fact it sounded pretty Goddamn upsetting. I couldn’t think of a single solitary thing I had done to earn an arrest warrant. I wondered if he had me confused with another Al Bruno. A Google search of my name finds a mobster, a porn star and my Dad. Suspicious characters one and all.
“I don’t have the complete information yet but it has to do with a worthless check you wrote,” he explained, “apparently the debt was never addressed and the matter was brought to the magistrate.”
I looked back to my car, to my daughter and my dogs, none of them were going to take this very well. “So what happens now?”
“Before I arrest you is there anyone that can pick up your child and pets?”
“Sure, my wife.”
“You can call her if you like.”
“I don’t have a cell phone,” I blushed at the admission. As our finances had gone into the toilet the cell phones had been the first thing to go.
The officer called my wife for me and my missus and her best friend got there shortly. My daughter began to freak out as she realized her father was about to be taken away in the back of a police car. The dogs started to freak out as they realized they weren’t going to be getting any fries.
I told my missus to stay calm and take care of our little one. I promised to call her as soon as this was over.
The police officer waited until my wife and daughter were gone before he put the handcuffs on me, something I will always be grateful to him for. He also carefully frisked me, something I will always have mixed feelings about.
Then it was into the back of the car and off to the county courthouse/ police station.
It all became very real at that point, a kind of cold feeling settled into my stomach. Much like getting one of my novels published, this arrest was not something I had ever anticipated happening in my lifetime.
Once we got to the courthouse slash police station I was placed in a holding cell roughly the size of the cubicle I occupied at work. A desperate wondering of what in the Hell had gone wrong with my life filled my mind. Oddly enough this was also what went through my mind when I was in my cubicle at work.
After a short time my arresting officer came to retrieve me. “Wow, those things really do smell like pee,” I joked.
The look I got told me that this was a joke that should never be made in situations like this but there has always been a part of my mind that makes me say just the wrong thing.
Mug shots followed, then after that it was explained to me that this was all over a hundred dollar check that had been written a little over a year ago. To a veterinarian of all things. Apparently my warrantt had fallen through the cracks when the county had gone from paper records to computerized records.
Once the paperwork was done it was off to the magistrate where I enjoyed more waiting and paperwork. Then I was free to go.
It was roughly 1 AM when I called home.
Well actually I tried to call home but all there was for me to use was pay phones and I had no change and no way to get change.
I was all alone, in front of the county courthouse/ police station, it was a cold December night and I was nine miles from home. I started walking.
I really didn’t plan to walk all the way home but I couldn’t find a pay phone or sympathetic late night business to help me out. So I kept on walking. I thought about my court date for the check and then my next court date for the expired registration. It looked like I wouldn’t be buying much Doctor Who merchandise this January either.
About two-thirds of the way home my wife found me, rather than wait for my call she had headed out for the courthouse as soon as she had gotten her best friend to watch my daughter.
Then she had gotten lost and I was gone by the time she had found the place.
I climbed in her car and we started heading home. When I explained to my missus about the check in question she started crying a little. She remembered the check in question even though I didn’t, and she blamed herself because she had asked me to write it.
My missus was really worried that this was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, that I was going to leave her.
I laughed reassuringly, “Honey. I was only imprisoned for twenty minutes, after eighteen years of marriage to you that’s nothing.”
Then she really started crying. See what I mean about always saying the wrong thing?
I will leave the rest of the story to your imagination; the tearful reunion with my very worried daughter, the angry glares from my French fry denied pets and the futon I ended up sleeping on thanks to my smart mouth.
It is just a few days before the end of the year now and I am worried there is one more disaster waiting for me in the wings. I am worried 2011 will be even crueler than the year before. The one thing I am not worried about is the supposed Mayan Apocalypse coming in 2012.
At this point I say bring it on.
In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Ninety Five
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
One of his eyes had swollen shut, there was blood running from his nose, ears and scalp but the agony of his broken knee overwhelmed all.
Things certainly aren’t panning out the way I had hoped. Jason Magwier thought. If things don’t start going my way soon it could be the end of everything. And not in a good way.
The sound of the approaching helicopter was almost as loud as the ringing in Jason Magwier’s ears. He watched the sky with his good eye then let his glance flick to Mr. Sauno and Miss McGlade. She was watching everything, her attention darting here and there like a bird in strange territory, Mr. Sauno’s was waiting calmly but every once in a while he cast a sidelong glance towards his prisoners. His expression wasn't smug merely anticipatory.
Jason couldn’t see a way out of this, at least not yet.
His gift of remembering what the future might be had brought him here to a tomb of the dark gods. Laurel House was where Damiea rested in seclusion, not truly dead and not truly alive.
The dark gods loved doing things like that.
Jason had seen the fall of Laurel House coming but he had seen Galen as well. He had hoped to convince the turncoat prince to join the war against the Monarchs but it had soon become obvious that the man was only interested in saving his own hide.
I should have left then, Zeth had almost demanded it.
But by the night after the dinner party Magwier had started to sense something else coming, something as powerful as it was fragile.
Something that could change everything.
A cough rose up from Magwier’s gut, it brought a foul taste into his mouth. Internal bleeding? He wondered. Not good.
Still though he’d been worse, Hell he’d been dead more times than he cared to remember.
The helicopter lowered out of the clouds sending squalls of snow flying everywhere. An image filled Magwier’s mind, he saw himself hopping through the snow looking gruesome and ridiculous all at once.
Oh my. He realized. Oh my my my my.
He gave Galen a nudge and whispered, “When I say run, run.”
The turncoat prince stayed silent.
A single shot rang out. The rotor on the helicopter's tail section literally fell apart sending the craft into a lurching spin. Some of the donnrup panicked and took to the air but most of them, as well as all the drones, were caught in the path of the falling helicopter.
It hit the ground with a squealing crash, the main rotor went flying. Magwier screamed at Galen to run and then made a break for the treeline. Every few hops he landed on his wounded leg and his face was going gray from the pain of it.
Jason Magwier heard the sounds of gunfire and pursuit.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
"Sorry I'm late."
"It wasn't unexpected. Shall we initiate our offensive? The malefactors have already appeared on the scene."
"Our targets are in the shopping enclosure."
"The shopping enclosure."
"Ok. USA. Mall. Teamed up with a stiff board to kill crazy bastards. Got it."
"Marvelous. Now, can we begin?"
"Sure. Just one thing."
"What was your name again?"...
The cry still rung in his ears.
Alone in the half light, he stared down at the tiny form between his boots. Its mouth was frozen in mid hiss, its almond shaped eyes were cold and accusing. Raindrops matted its sleek, black fur; its front paws were stretched out, the muscles locked in mid rake. Somewhere, a few blocks away, a band began to play the pounding of drums and blare of trumpets counter-pointing the incessant rhythm of the rainstorm.
He thought again of the sound that had brought him here – so terrified, so human.
Flicking wet hair from his face, he knelt. Bad enough the poor thing had to die here among garbage; he would make certain that it was not disposed of as garbage. He tried to take the tiny corpse in his hands but the kitten crumbled into nothing at a touch...
Some superheroes patrolled the River city by leaping from rooftop to snowy rooftop, others flew and some just sat by a police scanner and waited; Captain Hero kept River City safe from behind the wheel of his specially modified taxicab. The red and white taxi made its way through the snowy streets, its headlights glinting off the Christmas decorations that marked every lamppost and window front...
Friday, December 17, 2010
After losing his treasure in the Valley of the Wolf Men Abner Deggent was barking mad.
Bob started carrying a change of underwear in his valise, upgrading it to a brief case.
Just because her store sold used shrimp he didn't think of it as a some kind of a Prawn Shop.
Now everyone knew who was naughty or nice. Santa shook his mittened fist in the air, “Damn you Wikileaks! DAMN YOUUUU!”
When her vampire lover watched her sleep she found it romantic. When he spied on her using the toilet? Not so much.
Jonno’s leaving do was declared a resounding success. Lots of tequila, a £50 fruit machine win which bought more tequila, a minor scuffle with some townies, and even a slap from a stripper – administered to Jonno himself no less, which was the icing on the cake. The rest of the lads piled into taxis and Jonno, Richard and I set off for my flat. I had some cans of beer stashed away there which would help take us down gently from the tequila buzz. After all, Jonno had to be at his folks’ in a couple of hours for his farewell breakfast, so we had to sober him up a bit...