Saturday, October 18, 2014

Uncle Al's Halloween Hoedown Day Eighteen: ANGEL HAIR AND BABY'S BREATH

Angel Hair And Baby’s Breath
Al Bruno III

“What are we doing here?” Lorelei asked as she crawled through the second story window. She was nineteen years old. Her hair was dyed fuchsia and she wore mostly black.
“We’re- WUFF- We’re- WUFF-” Jason Magwier leapt up, his fingers just catching on the windowsill then slipping away, “-WUFF-I mean to say...”
The next time he jumped Lorelei grabbed his wrists and pulled him inside, “Talk.”
“I just need some angel hair,” Magwier fell on the hardwood floor. Even though he smiled his eyes were sad. His close-cropped hair was dark. He wore jeans, a battered leather jacket and a t-shirt for the long lost rock band White Brains On Toast.
The house they were in had been recently abandoned, Magwier had a thing for abandoned houses. Lorelei didn’t; when you lived in a world of secrets and magic life was cheap and real estate was at a premium.
Magwier put a finger to his lips and made a shushing sound. Lorelei pulled a long-empty Zippo lighter from her jacket pocket and flicked the tumblewheel. Reddish flame haloed out around them.
“Angel hair...” she quietly scoffed. There were no such things as angels so finding bits of their hair was next to impossible. “Sometimes,” Lorelei hissed, “I can’t believe we’re friends.”
“We’re a lot more than friends,” he said affectionately.
“Well... sometimes I can’t believe that either.”
They made their way up the stairs to the fourth floor. All along the walls were pale rectangles marking where pictures had once been hung. Lorelei wondered what had been there. Paintings? Photographs? One hundred year old framed erotic woodcarvings?
“What are you snickering at?” Magwier asked softly.
“Private joke.”
He raised an eyebrow, the crimson light from her haunted Zippo made him look demonic. What am I doing with this man? Lorelei wondered. I like him but he loves me...

“Oh!” Magwier said suddenly, “Excuse us...”
There was a woman at the end of the hallway; her figure was swollen and ugly, she wore a short, ill-fitting apron of red leather. At first Lorelei thought her face was locked in an idiot gape but then she realized the woman was wearing the mangled head of an inflatable sex doll over her face.
Lorelei asked, “Who are you?”
“Baby’s...” the grotesque figure’s voice was small and frail, “...Breath.”
“We don’t want any trouble,” Lorelei said.
Baby’s Breath cocked her head, “...are you angels?”
Lorelei didn’t answer, she didn’t dare. Theology and lunatics were always a volatile mix.
“There was an angel. His touch was like glass,” the masked woman whispered.
Magwier eye’s brightened with interest, “What do you-”
A tearing sound interrupted them. Something wet and gleaming dropped from between the legs of Baby’s Breath. It hit the floor with a splat and began to mewl. It tried to creep away, dragging itself turtle-like by its wings.
“Oh sweet holy fuck,” Lorelei said.
Baby’s Breath ignored the crawling thing and said, “You want the hair... they always want the hair...”
“Oh no,” Magwier said, “I have plenty of hair. I mean you should see my back. Am I right Lorelei?”
Lorelei didn’t speak, she just watched the grotesque figure drop to her knees looking like an animal getting ready to attack. “Magwier...” she said softly, “I think we should get ready to split up.”

He was incredulous,“You want to talk about our relationship now?”
Baby’s Breath charged at them.
Magwier pushed Lorelei aside and ran for one of the fourth floor’s empty rooms, the figure in red leather hot on his heels.
The impact with the floor momentarily dazed Lorelei. She heard a crash and Jason Magwier making a gurgling sound. Her Zippo was on the floor near her feet. She grabbed it and made a run for the doorway she had seen her lover disappear into.
Baby’s Breath was strangling him. He clawed at the hands around his throat but his eyes were starting to roll back.
Lorelei saw that Baby’s Breath was naked save for her ridiculous mask and red leather apron. Another squealing thing dropped out from between her legs and plopped onto the floor. Lorelei darted forward and flicked her haunted lighter scorching the madwoman’s exposed backside.
She screamed and dropped Magwier. Now it was Lorelei’s turn to run. She made it all the way to the top of the stairs before thick fingers tangled in her hair.
This is it. She thought, I’m going to die and in an appropriately ridiculous manner.
“WAIT!” Magwier shouted in a croaking voice.
Baby’s Breath turned in place, dragging Lorelei with her. The grotesque woman snarled a challenge.
There was an strange glint in Jason Magwier’s eyes. He extended one arm and hooked the other on his hip. Then he began to sing, “I’m a little teapot short and stout. This is my arm and this is my spout...”
Baby’s Breath drew back in confusion, her grip loosened and Lorelei pulled free.
Once she had blundered two steps back Lorelei spun around with and caught the other woman in the chest with a clumsy kick.
Clumsy but effective. Lorelei thought.
Baby’s Breath clawed at empty air as she tipped backwards and went crashing down the four flights of stairs. She hit the bottom landing face first and her stomach split open like a rotten melon. Tiny figures, wet misshapen and half squashed, crawled free.
Jason Magwier put his arm around Lorelei, she leaned her head on his shoulder. “What were those things?”
“Little messiahs,” He said, “come on, lets get that hair and go home. We can stop by the frozen custard stand if you like.”
They turned to leave, then Lorelei paused and punched him in the arm.
“What was that for?” Magwier asked.
When she spoke her voice was full of annoyed disbelief, “I’m a Little Teapot?”

Friday, October 17, 2014

We will be going quiet here for the next three days or so...

...moving day is tomorrow but there will be no Internet service until Monday.

I have a few auto posts set to go but otherwise have a good weekend folks!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Uncle Al's Halloween Hoedown Day Sixteen: A SON'S DUTY

A Son's Duty
Al Bruno III

All through the long drive Sidney kept thinking, This is a mistake. He thought it as he parked his car on a side street, he thought it as he made his way up the walk, he thought it as he rang the bell. Every moment of the journey he had felt like a man trapped in a dream, fighting every step but unable to turn away from the jaws of the nightmare.

The sound of footsteps moving through the house made Sidney’s mouth go dry.

Sidney thought, Too late to run now.

The door swung open and his older brother David looked at him with a combination of surprise and relief.

“You’re here.”

Sidney nodded, feeling self conscious in his worn out jeans and flannel shirt. David, as always was neat as a pin.

Was it a touch of reluctance Sidney saw in the way his brother stepped aside to let him in? The inside of the house hadn’t changed but it felt so much smaller.

“Where is he?” Sidney asked.

David nodded, “Upstairs, in his room.”

In his room. Sidney’s parents had slept in separate rooms for as long as he could remember. Whatever love they might have shared had dwindled away by the time he was old enough to notice. He had grown up in a world of icy silences and sudden outbursts. The experience had left him angry and haunted but somehow his brother had learned to survive, developing the skills he had used to become a successful local politician.

“How is he?” Sidney asked as he started up the stairs.

“He’s been asking for you,” was David’s only answer.

Sidney made his way up the steps wondering why. Why would Father want to see him now? Reconciliation wasn’t part of the old man’s repertoire.

The first room at the top of the stairs had belonged to Sidney’s mother. It had been kept locked and empty for years. There had been no funeral when she passed, Father had buried her hastily and without a trace of mourning.

The next room was the one Sidney had shared with his brother for 18 years. The door was open and Sidney had no doubt his brother had been going through old mementos, his pennants, awards and trophies. Sidney wondered if the hollowed out copy of Moby Dick he had stored his pot in was still there. He had left in such a hurry he had left it behind, he wasn’t sure but he might have left a roach behind. Probably not, but it amused Sidney to imagine it had been there for years right under the old man’s nose.

Next was Father’s room, the smell of antiseptic and shit flooded Sidney’s nostrils. He barely recognized the figure on the bed. There was an uncomfortable-looking chair at the bedside, Sidney slowly sat down.

He dreaded his next words but he knew they needed to be said, “Dad? It’s me.”

“Took your time didn’t you?” Father’s eyes snapped open, “I would have thought this was something you wanted to see.”

Sidney kept silent, wondering to himself how his old man’s body could be dying when his eyes were so very alive. He felt himself shrinking under their gaze.

“You think I’m a bastard don’t you?”

“Please don’t be like this,” Sidney said, “not now.”

“Your Momma was lucky. She was dead before she hit the ground.”

“I’m sorry,” Sidney shifted in the chair, not even sure what he was apologizing for.

“I was so proud of you, but you changed on me. You got weak.”

“Maybe...” Sidney looked away, “Maybe you're the one who changed.”

Father laughed just a little at that.

“You used to be my whole world,” Sidney said, “you were my hero but suddenly I wasn’t good enough.”

“Still whining, like an old woman. Like your Momma.”

Suddenly Sidney was on his feet, the chair clattered over. He expected his brother to shout and come running but where ever David might be he was keeping silent. “What do you want from me? Is this why you called me here?”

“Close the door,” Father said, “close the door and come closer.”

He wasn't sure if it was some last vestige of a child's blind obedience or a kind of morbid curiosity but Sidney did as he was told. He leaned in close and realized again how bad his old man smelled.

“I'm dying,” he spoke quietly, “I'm rotting away.”

“I know,” Sidney said, but a lot worse replies had come to mind.

“It hurts. You can't imagine how bad it hurts.”

“The doctors can give you-”

Father shook his head, “The doctors are assholes. They don't care.”

“What do you want me to do about it?” Sidney asked, “What do you want from me?”

“I need you to do...” the old man's hands spidered back behind his head and pulled out one of the pillows, “...what you've always wanted to do.”

When the warm pillow was pressed into his hands Sidney almost dropped it. It wasn't a soft, his father had never been a man for soft anything.

“Do it...”

Was this really what I always wanted? Sidney thought but he already knew the answer. He pressed the pillow down over his old man's face.

Sidney had expected more of a struggle, but Father stayed still until the very end, until some involuntary response set his arms flailing. A ragged yellow fingernail cut Sidney right below the eye.

Is he having second thoughts?

If he was it didn't matter, Sidney was determined to be strong enough for the both of them.
Just this once he was going to make his father proud.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GoFundMe update

Saturday is the big day! I am still not sure how we are going to get all this stuff from the old place to the new place but I suppose everyone feels that way as they get ready to move. 

How is Ness? She's doing much better, still sore but less so. 

How are our finances? Still a disaster but less so. 

I am still plugging away at the overtime and still getting almost no writing done but that's having a day job for you. 

Thanks again for tagging along on this journey, any support you can give is really appreciated.

Uncle Al's Halloween Hoedown Day Fifteen: GRANNY PANTIES

Granny Panties
Al Bruno III 

Shapeless, white, trimmed with lace and roughly the size of his head.

Brett couldn't believe he had forgotten them but there was nothing he could do about it now; the funeral was over and Great Aunt Jill was in the ground. All that was left for him to do now was pack up her two lifetime's worth of clothes and knickknacks for goodwill or eBay, the house was his, finally his.

Still though he felt guilty about the whole underwear thing, near the end Great Aunt Jill had been worried to the point of paranoia about being buried in respectable undergarments. “Please be sure they bury me in my blue church dress and my own underwear. Sometimes the undertakers don't bother and leave you nude under your clothes.” 

She had actually said “Nude under your clothes.” And without a drop of irony. More than once Brett had found himself burying his face to make sure she didn't see him roll his eyes.

Still though, Great Aunt Jill was gone, her blue dress was gone and being dragged to church every Sunday at 8 in the morning was over. Brett decided he needed a little fresh air and walked on to the porch. His porch. It was still crowded with colorful plants and drab decorations; it would all go soon in favor of something a little more bachelor-y. It would all be going, the doilies, the precious moments’ figurines the paintings and statuettes depicting the suffering of Christ. He often wondered why there weren't any pictures of Jesus hanging out with his buds- of course he never wondered it aloud, Great Aunt Jill would have had a conniption.

Once he felt refreshed enough and the smell of mothballs was gone from his nose Brett headed back inside. He thought to himself that his life shouldn't have been this way, that at 24 he should have been out and on his own- and hopefully been knee deep in pussy.

But his parents had thrown him under the bus at 12 years old and all just because he had shoplifted, gotten into a few fights and been caught with marijuana at school that one time. Brett barely escaped juvenile detention or boot camp but for the grace of God and his parents' lawyer. When it had all blown over Mom and Dad had shipped him off to his Great Aunt Jill in Elmira certain that she would be able to 'straighten him out'.

He now in retrospect felt that he should have taken his chances in juvie; after all they would have had to let him go at 18. Great Aunt Jill was under no such restrictions.

It took him a little a little while longer to clear out the last of the clothes, for a woman that only seemed to wear six seven outfits her whole life Great Aunt Jill sure had a lot of clothes stuffed into bureaus, dressers and most of the closets. Once that was done Brett started to break down her bed, he was done sleeping in the attic but there was no way he was sharing a mattress with her, even after the fact.

Soon enough the room would be empty and he could put in a waterbed or a widescreen TV, anything he wanted, he could afford it now. Brett remembered his parents dropping him off here to leave him in the care of a relative he only saw at holidays and funerals. A relative he only remembered because of her bell- like shape and dry kisses. As soon as he’d finished waving goodbye to Mom and Dad his new guardian laid down the house rules - no loud radios, no TV but educational programming, no videogames, lights out was at 10 PM and there was no lock on the bathroom door so if she caught him pleasuring himself he would find himself doing Hail Mary's for an hour.

That was when Brett made the mistake of asking her what a Hail Mary was.

A baker’s dozen of Hail Mary’s later she took him to his new room… it wasn’t much more than a bed a lamp and a chest of drawers in the attic. He could hear the wind whistling through the cracks in the attic windowsill and shivered a little in anticipation. His parents weren’t really going to go through with this were they?

Once Great Aunt Jill’s bed was broken down and waiting out on the curb for the trash man Brett made sure all the closets and drawers had been fully emptied. He found a black and white photograph in the top drawer of the nightstand table. It was of his Great Uncle John, who had apparently died a few years after his marriage. Everyone said it was a tragic accident but Brett now suspected it had all been an elaborate escape attempt gone wrong.

Brett tossed the photo and the bible into the kitchen trash, already making plans for his Monday visit with the estate lawyer. Did he want all the money at once? Or did he want it put in some kind of trust that would invest for him and dole out cash like a paycheck.

A really big paycheck. Brett thought as he decided to make a sandwich and have a beer. That’s right Jill, a beer. 

He tripped over something on his way to the refrigerator, something tangled around the heel of his shoe. It was Great Aunt Jill’s forgotten funeral underwear, Brett laughed to himself he tossed the handful of cloth into the trash and got to work on that sandwich and beer.

And he didn’t use a single coaster or napkin; it made the meal taste even better.


From the ages 12 to 24 learned a great many things beyond the basic necessities of survival, like keeping the house neat, his manners perfect and how to sneak down into the basement laundry room at 1 AM so he could masturbate. Brett also learned that his parents weren’t coming back for him, that he’d been written off.

No, not written off… sold off.

Brett had found out that for all her frugal living and unwillingness to upgrade to cable TV Great Aunt Jill was rich, not super rich but rich enough to never need anything- rich enough to have family members coming to her with their hands out morning, noon and night. However since she was stingy Great Aunt Jill stayed rich and got richer.

And as far as Brett could figure it that was why he was stranded in Elmira because his parents were trying to win Great Aunt Jill’s heart and cash by giving here the one thing she never had.

A son of her own to take care of, and dote on and emasculate

It didn’t matter how many times he begged to come home. It didn’t matter that at every family gathering he felt himself drifting further and further from the emotional orbit of his parents and siblings until they started to treat him with the same kind of cool affection they’d reserve for a third cousin.

Or a Great Aunt.


Now that she was gone relatives were less reluctant to visit Great Aunt Jill’s house and they were all amazed and alarmed at how much the place had changed in the three months since her death. 1940’s era wallpaper and linoleum? Gone. Religious iconography? Gone. Threadbare non-leather furniture? Gone. Cool bachelor lifestyle?

Well he was working on that.

Of course when his relatives did come to call, the conversations always ended up reaching the subject of Great Aunt Jill’s fortune. How much did she leave? What was he going to do with it? Could they borrow five hundred dollars to get their car out of the impound lot?

Brett quickly discovered that the only thing better than having relatives beg you for money was saying no- especially his parents. He wondered sometimes what left them more stunned, that Great Aunt Jill had managed to live for as long as she had or that boy they had given to her had somehow managed to wheedle his way into the entire inheritance.


“Do you want to come up for a while?” she asked.

The question sent Brett’s pulse rate soaring, her name was Melanie and she was an assistant librarian. Which Brett assumed meant that she hadn’t quite mastered the Dewey Decimal system yet. Although personally he didn’t care if she had a job gelding horses because she was cute, easy to talk to and interested in him.

It was only their first date but somewhere between dinner and the show they’d gone from hand holding to kissing. He hadn’t planned to take things too quickly but Melanie had plans of her own. Once they were alone in her apartment they wasted no time in finding their way to her bedroom. Shoes off, their bodies rubbed together, they panted nonsense words to each other between the kisses.

Melanie wasn’t his first, but this was the first time when he had been alone with a woman and it hadn’t felt furtive or clumsy. Brett peeled her clothes away, slowly, savoring every moment of it. Her blouse and bra landed on the floor, he nuzzled the nape of her neck his hands exploring.

This girl was something, really something but he couldn’t quite imagine himself spending the rest of his life with her. But what as that old saying? That every girl was practice until the right girl came along?

Well as far as Brett was concerned he was going to practice the shit out of this girl.

Once he had exhausted himself with the possibilities of her exposed breasts Brett reached down and undid the zipper of Melanie’s skirt. By the time he had it off her she was cooing his name. Brett felt his body begin to tremble with anticipation, this was it. He hooked his fingers in the waistband of her panties; they were exactly the kind of panties he would have expected to see an assistant librarian wearing- shapeless, white, trimmed with lace.

That thought was like a splash of cold water in all the wrong places. He looked back up the length of her hoping it was a trick of the light but no.

She was wearing panties just like Great Aunt Jill’s, a thick asexual square of fabric that covered her from crotch to navel.

“What’s wrong?” Melanie asked.

“I don’t feel so…” He dressed clumsily, jamming his feet back into his shoes and throwing on his jacket, “…I’ll call you.”

“What’s wrong?” she called after him but he was already halfway down the stairs.

What’s the matter with me? Brett thought as he sped home, You blew it, and over what? Some underwear that she was going to let you take off her anyway? 

But it was more than that, seeing that underwear had made him suddenly conscious of the woman again, of all the restrictions, stress and head games. He had spent the last six years of his life taking care of her and waiting for her to die. There was no way he was going to let Great Aunt Jill go to a nursing home so her estate could be nickel and dimned away to nothing so he had played nursemaid- but playing nursemaid had left him with images of the woman’s anatomy floating in his subconscious.

The sight of those panties had brought one too many clumsy bedpan cleanups to mind.

All Brett wanted now was to get home and get blind stinking drunk- he would have gone to a strip club but the closest one he knew of was in Utica. Police lights flared to life behind him. Oh what the Hell is this? Just because I have a red sports car and I’m going… He checked the speedometer …40 miles an hour above the speed limit. 

“Shit.” Brett pulled over to the side of the road and tried to remind himself that he had a clean record. This was nothing. He would look back at all this someday and laugh.

The officer asked, “Sir do you know how fast you were going back there?”

Brett shrugged, “Pretty fast? Sorry?”

“Could I get your license and registration please?”

The license was in his wallet, the registration was in his glove compartment buried under the old Burger Clown paper napkins, owners manual and CDs. He pawed through them, tossing Night Ranger and Limp Bizkit’s greatest hits onto the seat beside him.

The napkins were all stuck together somehow and they all came out at once when he pulled at them. They were so old that they had become smooth to the touch and shapeless…

…and white.

…and trimmed with lace.

Brett screamed.


It took one ticket, field sobriety test and car search before the police let him go home. He wasn’t sure how the panties had gotten there but Brett figured he must have pulled them off Melanie when he ran from her place.

The gentlemanly thing would have been to keep them to return to her but Brett couldn’t bear to have the things near him. He tossed them out the window of his car as he made his way home at a safe and reasonable speed.


A month later Brett was a jittery and teary eyed every moment of the day. His newly swinging bachelor pad was had become a slovenly ruin… even by the low standards set by bachelor pads.

Wherever he went he found them. He found them when he was folding laundry, when he was reaching for something to towel off with and even that one time when he was in the psychiatrist’s office they had fallen out of a magazine along with all those subscription cards!

Great Aunt Jill’s panties hounded him at every turn.

No. He thought, No just her panties… it’s her, she’s haunting me. 

And Brett thought he knew why.

“Please be sure they bury me in my blue church dress and my own underwear. Sometimes the undertakers don't bother and leave you nude under your clothes.” 

So she wanted her damn granny panties did she? Well he would see to it she got the damn things. Brett was sure he had everything he needed; flashlight, shovel and a crowbar.

He would have preferred not to go on such a dark and stormy night but he’d caught the panties lounging insolently on the dish rack and knew it was now or never.

It was a little after 1 AM when he reached the cemetery, a half an hour later he found an out of the way spot that he could use to sneak in. The cold rain soaked him to the skin, the thunder and lightning disoriented but he found Great Aunt Jill tombstone soon enough.

The storm had left the ground soft for digging but it was still a long backbreaking process. Every time he thought he was making progress one side of the grave would fall in and he would have to start again.

When the coffin was uncovered he took a moment to rest, the parts of his body that weren’t clammy and cold were sore and aching. He wondered to himself if it would be enough to just leave the granny panties in the coffin with her or if Great Aunt Jill really expected him to slip them on her.

Well I’m here. I may as well go all the way. He grabbed the crowbar and started to pry open the coffin lid. He cursed himself for getting such an expensive casket but eventually his persistence was rewarded with the sound of wood cracking. Brett opened the coffin.

The stench was worse than he could ever imagine both rancid and stale, bile filled his mouth, his eyes water. He forced himself to finish the job, there was no turning back now.

He reached into his jacket pocket but the panties weren’t there.

He tried the other. Still nothing.

“No.” Brett said as he checked each pocket a second and third time, “Oh no no no no…”

They were gone.

Did they… escape? 

Scrambling out of the grave Brett looked all around the open Great Aunt Jill’s final resting place for the scrap of cloth.

Nothing. Nothing at all. He thought, Are they back at the car? Did I leave them home? What am I going to do? 

Then Brett realized and he started tearing at himself, the crack of thunder swallowing his choking cries.


The next morning the cemetery caretaker ran into his office and dialed 911, “I need the police down at Morningside Cemetery. Someone dug up one of the graves and there’s this young man lying dead just a few feet away. Yes he’s dead. I know a dead man when I see one but you wouldn’t believe what he’s wearing…”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Still getting ready for the big surprise move from Hell...

...but I am working on getting new material ready for you.

Just ever so sloooooowly!

Thanks for sticking with me!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Uncle Al's Halloween Hoedown Day Thirteen: CADAVEROTICA

Al Bruno III
Dedicated to George Vasilakos
The following story was originally published by Eden Studios

It's the golden rule of Hollywood. The writer always gets the shaft. The producers make all the money, the actors get all the fame, the director gets to put his vision on the screen, the rest of the crew get paid and get to go home; but the writer? The writer pours his guts out onto the page and if he's lucky he sees 20% of what he wrote make it through the grinder. If he's really lucky, he gets paid what he's worth.
That's my story in a nutshell. Two weeks ago, I was in a mansion, sipping margaritas and making love to one of the most desired women in the world. Now I'm alone, locked in a toolshed on some godforsaken island in the South Pacific waiting to die. I'm writing this in ballpoint pen on forty-something year old army stationary. I'm trying to get it all down while there's still sunlight streaming in through the shed's grimy windows.

When the sun sets they're going to come for me. They're going to --

No wait. Let me begin at the beginning.

When I came here, I had already sold a pair of spec scripts and a few short stories to some literary magazines. I was a young man out to make his fortune and while my sales were steady and I was getting good reviews for my work I wasn't making nearly enough to cover my expenses. So I started looking for other ways to use my writing talent to make cash. You know, greeting cards, ad copy, non-fiction articles for in-flight magazines, that kind of thing. That led to the mistake that torpedoed my budding career. I wrote some material for an obscure roleplaying game company. I needed the money and I figured no one would ever see the half-assed crap I was churning out so what was the harm?

Well, they put some of that half-assed crap on their web page, crowing about the big time author they've got working for them. Just like that my legitimate writing career was over. I mean I couldn't get arrested in this town after my work on The Alien Empires Roleplaying Game's Space Angel Sourcebook came out.
After that the only offers I had coming in where to work on more roleplaying games or churning out scripts for Lurid Video -- the adult film company. Given the choice between Dungeons and Dragons and Spanking Lesbians Unchained I took the better paying choice.

And yes my smart-ass reader, there are scripts for adult films. You just happen to fast forward through all my best work.
Of course, there's more to the story about how I got involved in the business but let me speed ahead and set the scene where the real story takes place. I'll fill in the background as I go.

The Lurid Video film crew arrived here three days ago by chartered boat -- the SS Polaris. The ship was manned by three smarmy characters who asked no questions and charged little. Their cargo for this little excursion was a complete Lurid Video film crew. Said crew consisted of two cameramen, one lighting guy, one sound guy, six "performers," one tired, sunburnt writer and a producer who was also one of the performers.
The island was some little flyspeck of a place, too unimportant to be claimed by anyone. It was half jungle and half beach and not much of anything else. It was only notable because of the strange little statues that dotted the landscape. They were a little bit Easter Island, a little bit Aztec and a whole lot of H.R. Geiger. Their bestial features were half-lost to erosion. The damn things looked like something out of arts and crafts night at the Ritalin Ward. If there was a pattern to the way the things were placed I couldn't see it.
Despite the expense of location filming, the producer had insisted we use this island. This was to be Lurid Video's magnum opus, a porno adaptation of Lord of the Flies.
That was also the producer's idea, not mine. She was very specific about how she wanted this film to be made and she was painfully specific about the script. I'd just finished re-re-rewriting the damn thing an hour before we dropped anchor.
A few words of background about our producer, perhaps you've heard of her? Vanessa Summerisle. I see you have, at the mere mention of her name sends blood rushing to thousands of male organs. Well unbeknownst to most people, the lovely raven-haired Miss Summerisle is also the owner of Lurid Video and has a hand if not a featured role in most of their productions. She is also in charge of their pay website, she writes the Java code for it and everything. She was also responsible for plucking yours truly from twenty-sided die obscurity and making me Lurid Video's wordsmith of choice. Vanessa Summerisle was beautiful, smart, limber and utterly ruthless.

And truth be told, I was a little smitten with her.

Yeah, yeah -- I know I'm a sap. Yeah, yeah -- I know Miss Summerisle's been hit with more oversized loads than an industrial laundry machine, but there was this certain something about her.

Maybe it's because she thought I was a genius.

When she approached me to become one of her scriptwriters, she said she knew my work. She even had one of the literary magazines one of my stories had appeared in. What can I say? I was impressed and flattered, mostly flattered.
Anyway, from the moment we set foot on the beach we were filming, I stood there, trying not to cringe as the pretty young, pierced and tattooed "actresses" mangled my precious dialogue.

The plot was simple enough. A group of stewardesses are marooned on a strange island with only one man. They revert to sapphic savagery as they battle for exclusive rights to him. It sounds stupid I know, but I promise you it had a very happy ending.

As the skinny-dipping/lesbian six-way scene began, I excused myself to go and explore the island. You m ay find it hard to believe but watching people film other people having sex is about as exciting as taking class on dentistry. Besides I was having a hard time watching Vanessa work.

The island was strange. I know I said this before but I don't think I've quite gotten across to you how strange. First of all, the place was totally silent, no birds chirping, no nothing. It was like the whole jungle was holding its breath waiting for something. The only sign of life were the clouds of bloated black flies that seemed to linger around the statues. The air was filled with this faint, sickly-sweet smell, just strong enough to tickle your gag reflex but not strong enough to be recognizable. I wandered around for an hour or so when I spied a figure crouching up ahead. It was perfectly still, staring at me. I froze my breath catching in my throat before I realized that it was another one of those weird statues.

It was about three-feet tall, almost child-like in proportion. Like I said before, the details were washed away with age but what I could see of the face was enough to give me the willies. The head was bulbous and misshapen, like one of those potatoes you find at the bottom of the bag. The eyes were too close to its forehead and too far apart, the mouth was too far down on the chin and too small. Despite of the dry weather, the stone was clammy to the touch. Yes, I touched the thing, don't ask me why.

"It's a headstone." someone purred softly behind me. I nearly jumped out of my skin until I recognized Vanessa's voice. I turned to see her in her hiking boots, cutoff shorts and Smashing Pumpkin's T-shirt.

I smiled, "Shouldn't you be working?"

"Geoff is doing the action close ups of the other girls," she said, approaching the statue with a kind of awe, "I wanted to explore a little."

"You know more about this island than you're telling, don't you?"

"There are stories, rumors, and legends." She ran her soft hands along the length of the statue, "Some say the island is haunted."

"So . . ." this is how I liked her best, dressed like a normal girl. I could almost fall in love with her when she looks like that, then I remember what she does for a living and the affection I feel becomes a kind of queasiness. ". . . we're making a porno film on a haunted island?"

"Scared? I thought you didn't believe in the afterlife." With a mischievous grin she patted the statue on the head and started trudging deeper into the jungle.

I followed her, swatting at the sickly, low-hanging branches, "I'm an agnostic, not an atheist."

"Yeah you don't know what you believe. At least I've committed myself to not believing in something." she led me deeper into the jungle.

"Have you been here before?"

"Are we talking about reincarnation or the island?"

I rolled my eyes, "The island."

"No. I read all about it though -- it has an interesting story to it."

"Do tell--" I slipped on a mossy cluster of stones and fell on my face, "Damnit!"

"Preston!" she was at my side, helping me to sit up.

"Damnit." I said again, this time with a mouthful of dirt.

"You are so clumsy." She laughed, brushing off my face.

I hoped the dirt would hide my blushing, "Only when you're around."

"Flatterer." she kissed my cheek. "Come on, not much further. There's something I want you to see."

Not much further turned out to be an hour of walking, mostly uphill. It was pretty darn hot too, and there wasn't even the slightest trace of a breeze to take an edge off the heat. In case you hadn't already guessed, us writer types usually aren't in the best of shape. Oh sure, there are exceptions, but for every Ernest Hemmingway you have about twenty other vaguely gourd-shaped men like me. Like I said before though, I was pretty well smitten with my silicone-enhanced tour guide. You know I can't even really explain to you why I came here, except that she asked me to.

Of course, she asked me to join the shoot after she had screwed my brains out in her hot tub. How the Hell was I supposed to say no after that?

Yes you heard me, I had sex with Vanessa Summerisle.


I'm not making this up.

Believe me or don't believe me, see if I care. I'll be just as dead by the time someone finds this.

This is how it happened. She invited me over to her place to discuss some last minute project she had in mind. A little fuck-fest filmed on location on an exotic little island in the south Pacific. Vanessa told me that she, a film crew and a handful of performers were heading out in forty-eight hours but they had no script. Would I be willing to bring along my laptop and bang out a script on the way there?

At first I'd said no. I hate flying, I hate going on location and I was planning on devoting some more time to my novel in progress The Black Rider. It was a western epic in the tradition of Lonesome Dove; I'd been working on it for almost seven years. It was about halfway done, maybe.
Vanessa and I talked about the book some more, the conversation drifted to our hopes and plans, she plied me with margaritas and complements and asked me where I wanted to be twenty-five years from now. The next thing you know, she pounces on me, her lips her hands everywhere. Suddenly I was doing something most men can only dream about.
There were other scriptwriters she could have called over that night but she chose me, but in that one moment that one night she'd wanted me for something more.

I'll pause so you can finish retching.

Hmmm. Now where was I going with this? Oh yes, the island.

After passing by another dozen or so of those strange little statues, each one of them different yet just like the others, she led me to a clearing. In that clearing was a rusted old Quonset hut and a handful of rotting olive-colored tents. It looked like the exterior set from M.A.S.H gone to Hell.

There was even a jeep, its tires flat, its body half-eaten by time and corrosion, parked in front of the dilapidated tool shed that would become my prison. "What is this doing here?"

Even though the place was obviously long abandoned, we spoke in hushed tones. "It was an army base during Second World War. An entire platoon of men where stationed here. They all disappeared without a trace."

"Charming." I said a cold tremor of worry settling into my stomach. "Are you sure you want to use this island?"

"Oh yes. Its got terrific atmosphere."

I sniffed the air, "Its got atmosphere all right."

"I want this film to have an undercurrent of danger. I want this to be the one they remember me by."

"They'll remember this one all right." I said, thinking of the script she had outlined for me; scene after scene of crude couplings and how the statues figured prominently into most of them.

"Come on then." she started walking again, "The best part is up ahead."

I swung my arms in a sweeping gesture, "Better than all this?"

She laughed, "Shut up and march."

"Yes ma'am!" I caught up with her. To my surprise, she took my hand as she led me back into the jungle. "You said something about headstones?"

"Each one of these is a grave marker." She paused before on of the grotesque effigies, "The people of this island was the last strong hold of the Tcho-Tcho culture."

"And what does that mean in English?"

"Let's just say they had some very strange religious beliefs."

"Human sacrifice?"

She flashed me that grin of hers again, "Much worse than that. These guys were mummified and buried while they where still alive."

"You're sure this island is deserted right?" I stared back the way we had come.

"Very sure."

"So this is like their cemetery island?"

"In a way. You see the only ones that got the fancy treatment and the ugly statue were their high priests. They where chosen at birth and lived like kings until their thirty-fifth year. Then," she patted the clammy stone, "they surrendered themselves to their god knowing that they would not truly die but would instead sleep under the Earth until they where summoned back to life by their god."

"Where did you come up with this?"

"Not all the books I read are about Java code and the stock market."

"Ever thought about hunkering down with a Jane Austen novel?"

"Read'em all." Another hour of walking brought us to another clearing. The pale-green grass was knee high. It undulated slowly back and forth. The grass surrounded the squat stone rim of a well. It was made from the same material as those ugly-ass statues. There were these little hieroglyphics all along the side; it bothered me if I looked at them for too long.

Trembling with either terror or excitement, Vanessa approached it, "It's here. I knew it!"

"Shame we didn't bring a camera." I let her lead me to the well, this is where that nauseating smell as coming from. It was a cloying fetid odor, hard to describe. Imagine the smell of a butcher shop, mixed with the stink of an open sewer and add a dash of the scent of your grandma's house. By the time we actually got up to the thing, my eyes were watering.

"This is where their god came to them," her voice was muffled, she had her hand over her mouth and nose, "Delphanos the Mad God."

She was peering down into the depths of the well, the beckoned me to join her. I risked a glimpse down into the murky depths. The air wafting up the stone shaft was hot and putrid. There was this thick, sloshing noise down there, like water slopping up against the edge of a solid surface. Something glistened in the shadows. My heart started to pound, I felt like I was being stared back at. I thought I saw --

No. I didn't see anything. There was nothing down there but decade's worth of stagnant water and worse. I bet those GI's had used it for a latrine. I remembered saying, "We should be getting back now."

Vanessa was quiet after that. She got me back to the boat just as it started to rain. That pissed the director off mightily, apparently he had fallen behind shooting the anal sex scene.

His words, not mine.

We called it a day and retired to the Polaris' cramped quarters. Vanessa turned in early, the rest of us whiled away the night, swapping stories, smoking cigarettes, snacking on breakfast bars and drinking pop. I used to eat pretty healthy but a few months in this business and you never want to see another spoon full of yogurt again.
I remember asking Vanessa why she got into the porn industry, with her smarts she could have done anything. She smiled and explained to me that this was the one place where women were truly empowered. That led to a pretty enjoyable debate until she pointed out to me that I was asking pretty much asking my boss if she thought she was being exploited.
Ah the sweet sting of irony.

The sun set with no sign of the rain letting up so I decided to turn in as well. Vanessa had a little cabin all to herself I thought of knocking on her door to wish her good night but I thought better of it. The gentle rocking of the boat quickly lulled me to sleep.
The dream I had that night was just plain fucked up. In it, I was standing in the middle of the street in a ruined city; it was like something out of Mad Max. The stink from Delphanos' Well was thick in the air. Then I heard this marching sound, and what I mean is that it was like marching but it wasn't. The steps were all in unison but there was this strange broken quality to them. Curious I followed the noise and found myself at a crumbling intersection.

There was an army moving down the street, a sea of figures clad from head to toe in glistening black leather, their faces were concealed by blunt, snout-like masks. Their every step was uneven and loping, but somehow they managed to move unsteadily in perfect unison with one another.

In the midst of the dark shambling mass, they carried an elaborate, jewel encrusted palanquin. It pitched and yawed with the dark-clad things' movements.
The figure riding in the litter wore a frayed ivory-yellow cloak around his shoulders. A mask concealed all his features save for his cool, dusky eyes. The mask hugged his face like a second skin and was the color of bone.
I could hear him singing.
It ain't no sin
To take off your skin
And dance around in your bones
It ain't no sin
To take off your skin
And dance around in your bones
Those nonsensical words hounded me, they chased me back the way I had come where I found myself face to face with another freakish army. They might have been human once, but their features, their bodies, where withered and blackened with the passage of aeons. They limped and they hissed, carrying upon their twisted backs a fleshy crucifix that boiled with maggots. The woman nailed to the cross, was naked and oiled, her ebony hair hid her face. I could hear her singing as well, her voice familiar as the telltale sting of a paper cut.
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun'
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Oh, hear the word of the Lord.
The head bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the foot bone,
Oh, hear the word of the Lord!
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun',
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Oh, hear the word of the Lord.
The head bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the foot bone,
Oh, hear the word of the Lord!
I awoke just as both armies were drawing closer together, preparing to clash. My pillowcase was soaked with sweat; I spent a few panicked moments trying to remember where I was and why I was there. The gentle rumble of my cabin-mate, porno's own Bobby Burns snoring gently helped me get my bearings.
It was almost 3AM. I tried to relax and go back to sleep but when I closed my eyes all I could hear was Dry Bones whirling though my head. So, I got on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and headed up onto the deck. It had stopped raining and the sky was cloudless. The full moon looked swollen and was tinged with green. It was bright enough to read by. Leaning on the aft railing I stared at it for a while. I ran the events of the nightmare over and over in my head, examining and interpolating them until they had lost their disturbing qualities. The nightmare obviously had something to do with the feelings I was starting to develop for Vanessa, coupled with the stress of being away from home and those creepy statues . . . not to mention that thing I thought I saw at the bottom of the well when I damn well know I didn't see anything at all.
I started to notice this thumping, sloshing noise. It was coming from right below me. Visions of The Creature from the Black Lagoon started bubbling to the surface of my mind. I got this sudden urge to run, but where the Hell was I going to run? I was on a friggin' boat for pity's sake! Looking down. I saw one of the two army surplus rafts the Polaris' crew was using to shuttle us back and forth to the island.

Now, where is the other one? I remember thinking idly as I returned to contemplating the moon. I was trying to remember if a moon like that at this hour meant good weather or bad weather. I didn't relish the thought of spending a few extra days here. I half suspected that when we got back to the island the statues would be all in different places.

Ha. If that had happened, I'd have swam back to LA.
At this point I wish I had swam back to LA. My chances would've been better.
After a few minutes, that missing boat began to worry me. How long would it take for us to get the talent and equipment with just one boat? I took a stroll from one end of the boat to another in hopes of finding the thing. No such luck though. I decided to head up to the bridge and let the captain know.

Halfway there I had the first officer waving a machete under my nose. "What you do here? Bridge for crew only."

This wasn't the first time I'd had a sharp object waved threateningly in my face. I'd been mugged at knifepoint a few years ago. Taking in a deep breath, I thought to myself Don't burst into tears this time. Don't you dare burst into tears.
"Crew only! You not crew!" his breath was rank with alcohol, and the something else I couldn't place. Something vaguely unsavory.
"Yeah I get the idea crew only. Listen one of your boats is missing . . ."

"We know." he said with a sneer, "You go back to sleep, we take care of everything."

"You know? What are you doing about it?"

With a wave of his hand he dismissed me and retreated back up the steps to the bridge, "We take care of everything. Go back to sleep."

"And how did it get loose anyway?" I called after him, "Aren't you sailors supposed to be good with knots or something?"

"Watch your mouth fatboy. You be sorry later."

Fatboy. Great.
You be sorry later. Even better, it was high school all over again.
I headed straight for Vanessa's room. I was gonna do my best to talk her into dropping all this nonsense and heading home. I didn't like the island and I didn't like the crew . . . I didn't like any of this. I knocked on her door. There was no answer.
Now I was really getting worried. I tried the handle, the door creaked open and I stepped inside. She had a cabin all to herself, she's the producer after all. All her clothes and things were still in her suitcase. There were papers strewn about the bed and an old book lying face down on the pillow. I glanced at the title, The Prehistoric Pacific in the Light of the Ponape Scripture by H.H. Copeland.
I guess that's where she heard about the island. Casually glancing at the papers, I saw that it was printed off a web page of some sort. The first paragraph to catch my eye read like this -- now remember I'm paraphrasing here.
There are CREATURES that come from beyond reality, from beyond the realms of TIME and SPACE. Beware THEM for THEIR purposes are unfathomable. The ancient people had a name for THEIR kind -- the Mad Gods, the Beings from Outside. Know THEM as BODGE LOYAR -- the harlequin in the ice; ANZON -- the bloodless whisperer; DELPHANOS -- the fallen angel of longing; ELDRAD -- the dismembered warrior; NOGGAR-DALLIEON -- the formless lurker; DAMIEA -- the goddess clad in worms; KRESSOR -- the walker through worlds --
The papers slipped from my hands. I knew what this was . . . well at the very least I had a strong suspicion what it was -- the Carella Manuscript.
You have no idea what I'm talking about do you? Okay, let me explain.
There was this professor of archeology, or ancient religions, or something in that vein; he'd already published several books on secret cults and obscure belief systems. He's gotten some good reviews too, his books are all the rage in the intellectual circuit, and they're calling him the new Joseph Campbell.

And by the way, if you don't know who Joseph Campbell, there's nothing I can do for you. Just skim ahead five paragraphs to the part where I get laid for the last time of my life and I'll catch up with you. For the rest of you -- our successful young Professor Carella decides its time to write his masterwork. He goes on an extended sabbatical that turns into job abandonment. He spends the next ten years travelling the world, researching all kinds of esoteric stuff. By now his other books have fallen out of print bu t he doesn't care because he's on the hot on the trail of something big.

Twelve years after beginning the work, he hands in a huge manuscript. And in this manuscript he reveals all the big secrets, he blurts out all the information that man was not meant to know. He reveals the existence of the "Mad Gods" and explains the inescapable logic of their victory over us.

Of course that's what we all think the book is about because after Carella's editor read the manuscript he went mad. He killed Carella, strangled him I think, then he set fire to the house they were in -- supposedly destroying all copies of the dreaded manuscript in the process.

After all that, the manuscript became something of an urban legend. Reading it was supposed to drive you mad, if you read every fifth word you could invoke the Mad Gods in all their strange glory, it predicted the end of the world, the government supposedly had copies hidden away for use in World War Three.

All of it bullshit of course.

But here was an approximation some clever little webmaster had cooked up and it looked as though Vanessa was buying in to it. I remember thinking, Agnostic my ass.
"What are you doing in here?"
My breath caught, my hand flew to my chest, "Having a heart attack thank you very much. Haven't you ever heard of knocking?"

"Preston. You're in my room." She brushed past me. Her sneakers and jeans were caked with mud, one of her fingernails was cracked.


Heedless of my presence she began to get undressed, slipping the light blouse over her head. She was braless as always, "Was there something wrong?"

"No, its just that I was -- I am worried about you." It all seemed so stupid now. Was I really going to tell her that I got spooked because I had a bad dream? "I don't trust the crew of this boat. I think they're up to no good."

She kicked off her shoes, "You're being paranoid."

"One of them waved a machete at me!"

"Well what did you do to piss him off?"

"And he called me fatboy!"

Groaning with exasperation she sat me down on the bed with a good hard shove, "I know what's really bothering you."

I tried to keep eye contact but my eyes kept wandering, "Vanessa, this is serious. Those guys are --"

"This is really about what happened back at my place isn't it?" She strolled over and closed the door to her cabin, shucking her stained jeans on the way back. "You think I only slept with you to get you to help me out."

"Yes. I mean no. I mean that's not what I'm worried about."

"Preston . . . " she caressed my face, ". . . I like you, I like you a lot and I'm not using you."

"Can't we just --" she shut me up with a kiss. She was on me like an attacking lioness. My clothes just seemed to melt away, The Prehistoric Pacific in the Light of the Ponape Scripture by H.H. Copeland and the Carella manuscript ended up on the floor, along with the comforter and the sheets. If I close my eyes, I can still remember how her nails felt on my skin, the way one broken one hurt just little, how it made me shiver. Think what you will but in that moment we weren't the porno actress and her pet writer, we were just a man and a woman and it was bliss.
When it all ends I want to try and keep that moment in my mind, use it to block out the screaming horror I know I'm going to face.
After it was over and we lay spent on the cramped bed, she spoke in a husky whisper, "I'll tell you something I haven't told anyone else. This is my last movie. After this I'm done."

It goes without saying that I slept peacefully for the rest of the night.

The morning found the missing boat back where it belonged. I guess the captain had gone out fishing. The day's filming went pretty well. The statues where right where we'd left them, the sun kept the clouds at bay and Bobby Burns managed to come five times before succumbing to exhaustion. When it was Vanessa's turn to "perform" with him I had to walk away. My skin crawling, I wandered through the jungle until I found another one of the statues.

For some reason, the face of it was covered with black flies. They buzzed away as I approached. Someone had painted a symbol on the things misshapen forehead. I traced a finger through the dark gummy ruby-colored, substance. Was it dried blood? I couldn't be sure.

By the time I got back to the others Vanessa's scene was over, it was Claudia Tate's turn now. She'd had so many augmentations done to her chest that she looked like a cartoon character. The fans seemed to like her though.

The rest of the day went by at a fairly monotonous pace, until one of the lighting guys happened to glance out onto the horizon and ask, "Hey! Where the Hell is the boat?"

That's right kids, the Polaris had set off without us. I heard a mocking voice in my head, "Watch your mouth fatboy. You be sorry later."
As the sun began to set, things degenerated into a full-scale panic. Hardly anyone knew we were here, those who knew we were here probably weren't sure where here was. We had no shelter, no supplies, no food.
Heh . . . like Robinson Crusoe, its primitive as can be.

Before things degenerated into total chaos, Vanessa took charge and led us through the jungle to the abandoned military base. At the very least, it was a roof over our heads, after some brief discus sions about signal fires and searching for food we turned in for the night. Not a one of the twelve of us gave even the slightest thought to post someone on watch duty.

After all this is a deserted island right?

I woke up having to take a whiz some time later. I wasn't sure where Vanessa was, for some reason she'd felt funny about us snuggling up in front of the others. The moon was hanging swollen and low in the sky again. It looked like a bad special effect. I stumbled over jutting roots and prickly brambles.

It seemed like a good idea to do my business some distance from camp. I walked what seemed like an appropriate distance and did what comes natural. It wasn't until I was finished that I noticed the toppled statue.

Half concealed by a mound of freshly disturbed Earth, it lay on its back, gaping at the stars. I drew closer, wondering if I should try to set it right. I touched the stone. It was warm, clammy. Not cold like before. I wondered if one of the crew had done this, or if this thing had toppled over on its own.

I thought I heard twigs snapping behind me. A sudden creeping sensation up the back of my neck alerted me to the fact I wasn't alone. I turned, "Vanessa will you please stop sneaking up on --"

The shape behind me was human but emaciated, its leathery-looking skin was a muddy gray, and its teeth were the color of ashes. When it moved there was a sound like fall leaves crunching underfoot.

In the moment before I started running and screaming, all Vanessa's words came tumbling back to me, "Each on of these is a grave marker . . . These guys were mummified and buried while they where still alive . . . They where chosen at birth and lived like kings until their thirty-fifth year . . . they surrendered themselves to their god knowing that they would not truly die but would instead sleep under the Earth until they where summoned back to life by their god."
Then I was running through the woods, fumbling blindly through the trees and bushes. Every statue I came across was askew or toppled over. I almost tripped over one of the dead shamans as it clawed its way out of the muddy earth. I didn't know how many were after me -- Fuck, I didn't even know if any of them were after me but I kept running knowing deep in my heart of hearts that there weren't too many places you could run to on an island.
Somehow my wild flight brought me to the clearing with the Well of Delphanos. The stench was worse now, the air was filled with a thick sloshing. I risked a glance backwards, a pair of dead men where shambling after me. The only noise they made was the crackle of their dead joints flexing.
All sense of direction gone, I tried to double back, feinting around my pursuers and barreling back into the jungle. This time I found my way back to the others easily. I just followed the screams.

Damn that full moon. How I wish it had been cloudy that night, that the shadows had been dark and long enough to hide the carnage.

What I saw made me stop dead in my tracks.

There was Claudia Tate, her flesh hanging torn and loose as she staggered and swayed with the animal urge to survive. A corpse shuffled after her. Another stood nearby, gnawing confusedly on one of her implants.

Claudia was so proud of them, they were the new kind made with soy. I guess that means she made her own gravy.

High-pitched screaming drew my attention to Bobby Burns. They swarmed over where he had fallen, pawing at him like he was a wrap party buffet.

The director was swinging one of the boom mikes wildly, trying to hold off his attackers. He never saw the one he backed into.

Someone was crawling pitifully, their torn intestines dragging in the dirt behind them like streamers.

Blood. Howls of terror. The dead men were relentless in their hunger. When the spidery hands grasped at me I was almost resigned to my fate.

"No!" I heard Vanessa shout.

I spun on my heel to see her standing in the clearing, the captain and his machete-wielding mates flanked her. She was nude save for the strange sigils painted on her in what I now know to be blood.

"He isn't for you." She said, and with that the dead shamans shambled past me, looking for fresh prey.

"Vanessa --" I tried to find words but my mind and my body where too exhausted.

She nodded to the Captain, "Lock him in the toolshed. Treat him gently."

I didn't resist as he marched me to the toolshed and secured the door with a brand new padlock. I curled into a ball on the floor and tried to shut out the sound of the feast.

The next morning Vanessa came to see me. She was still wearing nothing but dried blood. She had a handful of breakfast bars in her hand. They must have come from Bobby's knapsack.

"Hungry?" she asked.

"No." I doubted I'd ever be hungry again. "What's going on here?"

She knelt beside me, instinctively I withdrew from her proximity. "Delphonos is real, Preston. He made me promises."

"You planned all this?"

"He spoke to me in my dreams. He knew my desperation and revealed to me his need."
"Stop talking like that!" I flashed with anger, "You're a fucking porno actress, not Anton LeVey."

"Things are changing, the war between the Mad Gods will soon spill over to our 
world. When they do the dead will rise to consume the flesh of the living." She closed her eyes and shuddered, "As was prophesied."

I wanted to tell her she was crazy, but after spending half the night running from zombies it didn't seem appropriate.

"Each of the Mad Gods will choose a viceroy to serve in the war. They alone will have the power to control the dead."

"And you want to be one of these viceroys?" I wondered if I could overpower her and escape.

But how would I get past the zombies? And where would I go? Was I supposed to storm onto the boat and sail to safety? That might work in a Bruce Willis movie but not in real life.

My only hope was to reason with her. "Why are you doing this?"

"I have ovarian cancer." she frowned, "I found out three months ago."

"But --"

"It's too far gone for the doctors to do anything. It's not too far gone for the fallen angel of longing."

"Then why am I here?" Was it tears I saw in her eyes? "Am I going to be your official biographer?"

"No." she kissed my forehead and stood, "There is a special ceremony that must be undertaken before I can truly become a viceroy of the Mad Gods. Anzon demands that the petitioner voluntarily mutilate his own vocal chords. To gain the favor of Kressor, you must wander the face of the Earth for no less then seven years -- never sleeping in the same place twice . . . That's why the high priests were awoken, to conduct the ceremony."

"What kind of ceremony?" There was an acid taste in my mouth.

"You will be taken to the well . . . you see Delphanos demands the sacrifice . . . the sacrifice of a person you truly love." The door slammed to a close behind her. There was a rustle as the padlock was put back into place.

It's dusk now. Not m uch longer. When she comes for me, I know she won't be alone, but I'm going to try and reason with her one last time. I'm not holding out much hope for a last minute change of heart though.

Like I said before, the writer always gets the shaft.