Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Manly Adventures of Abner Deggent: Island of the Toroga


Island of the Toroga


Al Bruno III

The decade after the second world war was a period of unlimited prosperity. For a rugged few individuals it was also a time of unlimited adventure and the manliest of those adventurers was the mercenary, treasure hunter and unlicensed electrician named Abner Deggent.

It would be fair to say that he fascinated me from the very first. As an amateur writer I had become an avid observer of humanity and I knew from the very first glance that this was a man that lived life on the edge.

It began in the summer of 1947, once I had been one of the most decorated chefs in the navy but I had recently been dishonorably discharged. You might think a man like General McArthur would be more forgiving of a few tapeworms but you would be wrong.

My aimless wanderings had brought me to a bar in Singapore that was owned by a retired trainer of fighting chickens, which was why he had named his establishment ‘The Brutal Cock.’ This was an establishment that catered to the jaded desires of soldiers of fortune and modern day pirates.

Everyone looked up when the man strode into the bar; some noticed his whipcord muscles, others noticed his steely eyed expression, many more noticed that when he kicked the door open it hit a waitress and knocked her unconscious.

He walked up to the bar and began talking to the owner, his mastery of the Malay language was clumsy but he spoke with the kind of confidence only a man that doesn’t realize he’s accidentally ordered a Shirley Temple with Tabasco sauce can have.

I left my table and introduced myself.

“Deggent’s the name,” he shook my hand with crushing force. His was as deep and rich as a good souffle, “Abner Deggent.”

I introduced myself, “Ralph Brooks.”

The owner brought over his drink, Deggent sipped from it contemplatively, then coughed for a few minutes.

When his eyes had stopped watering I ordered him an expensive beer.

He smiled thinly “Much obliged Brooks.”

“Please, you may call me Ralph,” I paid for our drinks, “and if you don’t mind my saying so it looks as though you are either coming back from an adventure or are about to set out on one.”

“Everyday is an adventure for me Brooks,” he took a long swig of beer. If the mustache of dripping foam bothered him he gave no sign.

“Really? I’d like to hear more.” I said.

Deggent explained to me that he had recently undertaken a mission to help recover the twin idols from the natives of Togora Island.

“I’m sorry if I’m a bit confused,” I interrupted, “but you said you were recovering these idols.”

“Yes,” he grunted, “those artifacts were solid gold, they were priceless. Better to have them in a museum than to have them being worshiped by a bunch of savages for another two hundred years.”

I nodded with understanding and he continued his story. The expedition, he explained, had been organized by Professor Eisenhart working from the notes of a previous expedition that had disappeared without a trace. Other men might have been scared off knowing something like that but not Deggent!

Besides, no one told him anything about it until they were already on the island of the Toroga The expedition consisted of Deggent, Professor Eisenhart and their translator, a lovely native girl named Weena. They lacked the funds for native bearers and bodyguards but the Professor got around that by recruiting a small force of unpaid interns.

Occasionally Deggent would pause in the telling of his tale to place another drink order on my tab and try to entice our waitress into having sex with him for money. He started out by waving a ten dollar bill under her nose and worked his way up in increments of five.

My narrative skills could never fully capture the tale of their journey through that savage land. They encountered quicksand and ravenous beasts, clever deathtraps and rock slides, the crossed swords with another group of treasure hunters and wandering Toroga warriors. Our heroes braved it all, venturing deeper and deeper into the jungle leaving nothing but a trail of mutilated unpaid interns in their wake.

When they reached the village of the Toroga they were immediately set upon and captured, their translator having betrayed them. Deggent could only speculate to her reasons but he suspected that the check he had prepaid her with bouncing had something to do with it.

The chief of the Toroga spoke perfect English and he explained that his people were weary of one group of adventurers after another raiding their quiet village. He meant to make an example of our heroes by subjecting them to the Death Of A Thousand Screams.

Abner Deggent laughed fearlessly at this causing the chief of the Toroga to re-sentence him to the Death Of One Really Big Scream but before that could happen Deggent challenged the man, infact he challenged the honor of the entire Toroga people.

“I told him that we would have our champion fight theirs, if we won we would go free, if they won they would go forward with the executions,” Deggent explained, “luckily he fell for it.”

“Well, what happened?” I asked.

Deggent shrugged, “Damned if I know, we told them the last surviving intern was our champion and we made our escape as he battled the tribal champion in a pit full of flaming vipers.”

Of course there was more to the story? Did they ever find the treasure? How did they escape the island?

Before I could ask the owner of the bar appeared before us waving a rusty machete. It was only then that Abner Deggent discovered he had been propositioning the man’s daughter for sexual favors all night.

What happened then? That is a story for another time.

(Recommended Article) J. Timothy King says some very nice things about one of my tales at BE THE STORY

I love character stories. In fact, I rarely enjoy a story unless it has a character-driven component.

So I was naturally surprised that I so enjoyed Al Bruno's latest #FridayFlash story. It's not really a character story, per se. Or is it?

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(Recommended Reads) "When In Rome" by Marisa Birns

Louis emerged from the Men's Room in the restaurant to hear his mother exchanging private telephone numbers with someone she met only scant hours ago...


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"Are you sure about this Krista?" Sam asked, his brow furrowed, looking down at the scrawny girl standing on the other side of the counter, a determined expression on her face...


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(Recommended Reads) "Ghost Host" by Carrie Clevenger

The check-in desk was polished and immense. One clerk worked at this unholy hour. I signed my name, collected the key, and declined help with my bags. The elevator worked slowly, creeping skyward at a snail's pace. I had a business conference in less than seven hours and was hoping for a bath before bed...

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SCREAMIN' DEMON shows us the trailer for LET ME IN (the American remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN)


If they screw this up as bad as THE WICKER MAN remake I'm gonna kick someone in the junk...

click here to visit THE SCREAMIN' DEMON

Don't forget to keep circulating the blog!

Maybe someday I can quit my day job!


That's for all your Al Bruno III needs

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


...For instance, I don't know whether, as Attila the Hun's army rampaged across Asia, the Emperor of China sent his daughter and a small squadron of warriors to forge an alliance with the Vikings in order to kidnap Attila's daughter from her home village in Turkey. I don't know whether the Vikings of that era built huge castles on the Mediterranean, complete with iron-barred dungeons, spring-loaded portcullises, and Roman-style marble baths. I don't know if Vikings had the knowledge of marine biology necessary to domesticate a giant octopus and use it to get rid of their enemies. I don't know whether the Vikings invented the bikini brief. And I've got no idea whether ancient Norway had a huge population of wild Muppets, the skins of which the Vikings used to decorate their armor, drums, weaponry, and just about everything else...

click here to read the rest

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Five

The spy division made one of her breasts implants into a fully automated camera, or as they called it- a photographic mammary.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Four

The question remained, if a plane full of zombies crashed on the American-Canadian border where would they bury the survivors?

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Three

"Nobody cares when a new super heroine fights crime wearing tiny shorts," Amazing Ed stated,"but if I do it everyone gets upset."

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty Two

They don't let just anyone join the International Society of Nearsighted Pornographers, you have to have the right contacts.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty One

World Wrestling Entertainment created a greeting card line. The advertisements said- "When you care enough to send sweaty men."

Monday, June 28, 2010

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis chapter seventy

In The Shadow Of His Nemesis

Chapter Seventy


Saturday, December 4th 1996

...John Fry was driving home from work, feeling relived to have reached the end of another disaster free eight hour shift, if this kept up he might start moving up the management ladder again. While he might not be as dedicated or clever as the other guys he had a good sense of when to keep his head down and keep quiet. That counted for a lot in the corporate world and it wasn’t something they taught you in business school.

When the first twinge of unease struck him. It was just a feeling of being suddenly conscious of being noticed. His first thought was that he had made some minor infraction and there was a police car behind him but there was just an ordinary car behind him.

Another half mile along South Main Street and the feeling became a physical sensation, an itch that seemed to travel up and down under the skin of his arms. Now he started to truly worry. Was this a stroke? He was too young for that wasn’t he? He debated pulling over to the side of the road but he worried he was panicking over nothing. A muscle spasm, he was sure that was all it was.

He switched on the radio to distract himself and that was when he noticed the flesh of his hand was writhing and twisting as though the muscles and tendons beneath the skin had begun to wriggle independently of each other.

The squirming sensation began to spread, moving up his arms and through his body. John Fry felt the muscles under the skin of his face fluttering as though it was a mask that was about to crumple and fall away.

When the sensation reached his legs he stamped down on the gas propelling his car into oncoming traffic...

It had only taken a moment for Warren to experience that other man’s final moments but the horror of it was enough to drive him to his knees.

Half swooning he looked at the chamber he had blundered into, the great secret kept behind a stone doorway hidden deep beneath Laurel House.

Well, he had wanted to know hadn’t he? He sure as Hell knew now.

The chamber was cavernous. Warren would have thought of it as a cavern but caverns are natural formations and there was nothing natural about this place. Pale illumination that seemed to come from nowhere, there were no stalactites or stalagmites and instead of subterranean cold there cloying heat. The walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber were smooth and curved, like a lava flow that had long cooled. Parts of stone swelled out like half-formed bubbles but these were not bubbles, they were faces.

Faces of stone grew everywhere, out of the walls, floor and ceiling, they crowded and swarmed over each other, each one trapped in an expression of eternal agony.

...It had been hours since Charlotte Galloway had turned in for the night and she was fast asleep. Her husband was still puttering away in his office. Over the years their sleep schedules had begun to grow apart and both of them would say it meant nothing but they both knew it was more than that, it was that they were growing apart. Charlotte still enjoyed her husband’s company but she had begun to find herself wanting more, she had begun to find herself wondering about the other guys she had dated in college. Sometimes she dreamed about them and woke to found she had been crying in her sleep.

It wasn’t crying that awoke her tonight, it was shivering. She was shivering despite the fact she was warm and toasty under a blanket and a comforter. She was shivering even through she didn’t feel the slightest bit feverish and didn’t chills and shaking seem to work their way out from your insides?

These shivers were working their way into her, tickling and burrowing down into her insides.

At least that was what it felt like. Charlotte blinked awake, her bedroom was dark save for the sliver of light that came from her husband’s office. She wished he was in the bed beside her now but she knew that damn stamp collection could hold his attention for hours and now that he’d had cable TV installed in there, all bets were off.

She opened her mouth to call him but it was Novocain-numb, even her tongue wouldn’t obey her. She could only groan feebly.

Beginning to panic Charlotte twisted her head around, looking for something she could throw to get his attention but then she glimpsed the writhing shape looming above her...

Warren reeled, he couldn’t breathe, the stolen memories and horrors were too much. The taste of their sufferings made his stomach churn. He was on all fours now as he retched bile onto the silently screaming stone face beneath him. It spattered all over his bathrobe.

There were so many faces. The entire cavern was made of them, one growing over the other like barnacles. How deep did they go? How many were they? He knew now that each one was a life cut short in horror a life claimed by the secret engine of Laurel House.

They were sacrifices, long distance sacrifices all so he and the others could live in comfort and seclusion.

...Amanda was only nine and she lived with her mother in a modest little house on the outskirts of Marseille. Her parents had been divorced for so long that she barely remembered her father as anything more than a friendly stranger that visited her on the holidays with his arms full of presents. Amanda never felt fully comfortable around him, but she liked the presents just fine.

Today was a school day and she was on the playground enjoying recess. She and the other fourth grade girls were swarming over the child-safe structures of slides, ladders and swings. It reminded her and her friends of a castle so they all played at being Queens and Princesses. The made sure to stay clear of the boys because they liked to rough house and insisted that the royal castle was a pirate ship.

All around her were clomping footsteps, laughter and the occasional scream. Amanda was by herself now, hunkered down beneath in the little playhouse beneath the tallest of the slides. She had been banished her by the other Princesses because she had forgotten to feed the royal ponies. The Queen of the afternoon would send for her soon so she could make her apologies, Amanda just hoped it would be soon, there wasn’t much recess left.

In the meantime Amanda amused herself by drawing in the dirt with a stick. She made busy with letters, numbers and the occasional house. It was shortly after she had spelled out her name that she saw something shift under the dirt, shapeless and wriggling like a worm but it was longer than any worm she had ever seen. Was it some kind of snake?

She screamed at the though, blundering backward drawing in a breath for a loud scream. Something cold curled around her ankle and pulled. She fell, smacking her head on the lowest of the steps that led up and out to the slides.

Sparks flashed before her eyes, she tasted blood. The thing was still wrapped around her ankle. It was joined by another.

Now Amanda did scream but more of the wormy shapes were rising up out of the ground lashing themselves around her and squeezed the breath from her.

“Mommy!” she choked, “Mommy!” but her Mommy was at work, too far away to hear her daughter’s final moments of existence...

Warren didn’t have the luxury of calling for his mother, even when they had lived in the same house together she had been lost to him.

His heartbeat roared in his ears. He realized that the thing that dwelt here, the dark and ravenous presence that he felt digging through his mind, could only take these victims, these sacrifices, if it was given permission. If it was given a conduit.

Now that conduit was him. Warren felt deaths flowing through him knowing that each one was a murder he was responsible for-albeit accidentally.

What about the others? They had to know, or at least suspect. And Hao? She was the Castellan; that meant that she came down here every day to oversee this...this horror.

His sanity felt like it was about to give way, Warren almost welcomed it. Better madness than having to live with this.

He slumped to the floor, his agonized expression coming to rest against one of the eternally screaming faces.

5 Second Fiction One Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty

"This isn't a call center!" he cried, "This is LORD OF THE FLIES with headsets!"

(Recommended Reads) "The Death Of A Living Mug Shot" by Anthony Venutolo

Looking at the body, I'd give anything to be in my bed watching stupid re-runs of "The Bachelor" with my wife.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Panties Half Off part four

Price Breaks and Heartaches

A journal of retail and failed romance

Chapter Three

Panties Half Off

part four

I even had a friend working at the mall; it was Gordon, a gamer buddy, AV Club Alumni, and class of 1986 alumni. He had landed his dream job at the local arcade.

Now for those of my readers who still have their lives ahead of them I should mention that video arcades of the 1980's were very different from the video arcades of today. The games were only a quarter each but for that quarter you had the thrill of pitting your poorly defined graphics blob against a host of other poorly defined graphics blobs that were out to kill it. It was an era when Mario was just a supporting player for Donkey Kong, an era when martial arts combats were as bloodless as they were blocky and movie tie in games were even worse than they are now.

Colonie Center's arcade was called 'Arthur's Castle' and it was obvious to everyone that the owners had intended to base their designs upon on the mythology of Camelot. However a tragic miscommunication had resulted in all the relevant signage being of actor Dudley Moore.


Since I had eaten my lunch during my fifteen minute break I decided to play a few rounds of Sinistar to pass the time. Before I could do that however I needed change for a five so I made my way to the uniformed man vigilantly leaning on the Skee-ball prize counter.

“Hey Gordon.” I said.

He turned to give me a grin and a wave. As always he was wearing two coin belts in bandoleer fashion, he always did this with belts because he considered Chewbacca his personal savior. “Al!” he gave my hand a rough shaking. “How go things with the panty patrol?”

“How go things with the change rangers?” I handed him a five, he handed me a handful of tokens.

He made a sweeping gesture with his arm, knocking an unwary 13 year old headfirst into a Galaxian machine. “This is my domain. I have the keys to all the machines and get unlimited replays. My whole life has been leading up to this!”

“I'm happy for you.”

“Then why don't you look happy?”

“I just wish some of my dreams would come true,” I stared at my sneakers, “I can't get published. My love life is a disaster... I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels.”

A group of kids ran up to Gordon with reams of Skee-ball tickets, he kept talking as he handed out one cheap looking prize after another. “Are you still hung up on that girl? What's her name?”

“Lilly? Yeah.”

“It’s been four years hasn’t it, she must be some girl.”

But Lilly was more than just some girl to me, she was my dream girl and those dreams sometimes involved jacuzzis filled with strawberry Jell-O.

“What happened anyway?” Gordon asked, “You guys were going out for a while back in the 11th grade weren’t you?”

“It didn’t quite work out,” my hand tightened around the plastic tokens. Didn’t quite work out was an understatement; I had pursued her all through 9th and 10th, won her at the beginning of my junior year only to lose her just in time for the prom. She was my first real girlfriend, my first slow dance and my first kiss; of course she was also my first real heartbreak. “I still can’t believe she went to the prom with Orville.”

“Well you’ve got to admit he sure has a certain something,” Gordon said.

“Something all right.”

“You know she's not with Orville anymore.”

“I know.”

“She's with that Jessie dude.”

“I know.”

Gordon said, “I hear they're like living together now.”

“Wha-what?” I suddenly felt dizzy. I slumped against a nearby Pac Man game.

“I think you need to move on,” he patted my shoulder.

“To where?”

“Well who was that girl that kept trying to hug you on the last day of school?”

“Joanna?” I rolled my eyes, “Don't even think about it. That girl is just annoying.”

“She's kinda cute.”

I snorted dismissively “She's fat.”

Gordon gave me a disbelieving look, “You're fat.”

“I'm burly.”

One of the kids came back to the counter with their Skee-ball prize, it had already fallen apart. Gordon laughed mockingly at his request to replace it. Realizing that my lunch break was almost over I turned my attention to Sinistar.


The boxes continued to pile up I kept working as hard and as fast as I could but every time Maddie got the chance she distracted me from my goals. She had me cleaning toilets, shelving dresses and replacing florescent bulbs, when she wasn't doing that she was complaining to Beverly about how slow I was. Soon we were rounding into the last week of April but I was still checking in dresses from the third week of March.

When I brought these problems up to Beverly she said that she understood but there wasn't much she could do about it because she and Maddie weren't on speaking terms.

Somehow my mother and stepfather had gotten my sister to move back home. I remember getting home from work and welcoming her back, we sat there drinking sodas and talking about her plans. I promised her that once my car was fixed I would help by driving her too and from GED classes, assuming that were what she wanted to do. She asked me how I was doing and I unburdened myself about everything I was feeling I even told her about that recurring nightmare I kept having about going to a porno theater with Captain Picard.

The next morning we discovered she had run away again, no one really knew why but I vowed never to bring up the Captain Picard thing again.

Oh damn. Sorry.

Anyway, things kept getting worse. My cousin George was in the hospital. His car had gotten wrecked but I couldn't say it was an accident. You see he and his pals liked to drive through the black neighborhoods and shout racial epithets. They thought it was pretty darn funny, at least until the day the car's battery failed. It took two hours for the paramedics to unimpale him from the gearshift.

And most awful of all one dreary evening I fell asleep on the bus ride home and when I awoke to find the lunch box holding my Walkman, books and mix tapes had been stolen. I was devastated.

I was even more devastated when I found the mix tapes sitting back in my seat the next day. Didn't anyone like my taste in music?


One night Maddie had me vacuuming and I was annoyed enough to be trying to do as much damage to the vacuum cleaner as I could.

WHAM! Into the wall.

WHAM! Into one of the displays.

WHAM into Maddie's bony ankle.

She howled with pain, I couldn't apologize fast enough. She shouted, “Do you want to have to pay for a new vacuum cleaner?”

“Well maybe from petty cash, there are some good prices over at Sears...”

“Shut. Up!”


“I said shut up!”

“I did.”

Her voice was getting louder again. The salesgirls were running for cover, “You're. Still. TALKING!”

I was about to apologize again, then caught myself.

She handed me a business card with an address on it, “The store has a shrinkage problem and policy states that each employee must take a lie detector test.”


“It's in your employee handbook.”

“There's an employee handbook?”

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