Pork Pie Hat by Frank Westworth

Fiction, Frank Westworth, Halloween, Horror, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

pork pie hat 2

Something suitably sinister for All Hallow’s Eve…

The door slipped silently closed behind the last happy customer. She left singing, her departing tune humming on the condensing air, her own take on the last verse of the last song she’d heard. The last song she’d hear; the last song she’d sing.

The Chimp left his post behind the bar, took a turn towards the stage and leaned with dramatic effect against an invisible wall while the members of the band stretched, flicked amplifiers from power-on to standby, grinned at each other, wondering whether there’d be an after-hours sit-in that night. Faces drifted from the shadows, from the more intimate seats, and approached the stage. Quiet compliments filled the air, more hum, more buzz. Clicks and ticks from the amps, at least from the few which still lit heated valves to get their own tones. A cymbal or several fizzed softly. A saxophone sighed, a lady in waiting. Eyes turned to Chimp, the barkeep, the man of that moment.

He looked down at his feet. The floor looked almost clean. No layer of ash, no pools of drink or worse. A man could take pride in the state of his bar floor. He smiled slowly.

‘One for the road; one from the house, then.’

The air sang relaxation. A piano – a real natural piano with metal not electronic strings and a real natural player playing it – staggered out the opening bars to something honky-tonk. Everyone was smiling.

‘Played good, you did.’ The piano player called across the stage. A bassist smiled in reply, threw back her curls and dropped a few discordant bass notes into his honky-tonk jangle. Lights stayed low. A deep quiet voice strolled out from the darkest of the dark corners and silenced the crowd.

‘Nice. Nice evening. Nice to hear the blues played by you young white folk. Well done, y’all.’

Deep burned black American tones – noteworthy in a small English city – clear diction, quiet and calm. Bass register, whiskey and gravel. Everyone turned. Everyone stared at the shape in the gloom. A man arose. A very black man viewed against a very dark background.

‘Drinks for y’all, huh? My call.’

He towered across the room to the bar, spreading a little dark and a little quiet in his wake. Placed a nigh denomination bill on the counter. Then another. Then another.

‘No need for change.’

And across the room, through the tables. All eyes followed him as he left the bar and his banknotes, and returned, shedding a peace-filled darkness in his wake, and approached the stage.

Puis-je? May I?’

The room agreed that he may. He did, nodding and walking up the few steps to the stage with the gait of a heavy man, which he appeared to be in the dim heated light, and approached the piano.

Puis-je, ami noir?’

This time to Stretch, whose honky-tonk had fallen silent and who stepped aside, allowing the dark man to sit. He rested dark, long hands on the keyboard. Sighed.

‘So it begins…’ the open microphone caught the quiet words as long black fingers picked out the opening triplet to Goodbye Porkpie Hat. G, followed by C, followed by E-flat. The big black man, evident wearer of an old shiny pork pie hat, muted the strings; the notes cut off before they could fade, echo away. Everyone stared, glances were shared, feet shuffled. Those fingers played those notes again, somehow louder, and this time the piano did its best to sustain them. The next phrase followed, hard suddenly, and emotional. He let them drop into the hush.

As the notes faded to black there came a loud report, an impact against the main door. A hammering of hands. Followed by a scream. A loud cry. A shot. More hammering, fading in time with the piano’s notes.

Chimp flew from his bar, unlatched locks, pulled handles and flung the doors open with such violence that they broke against the walls, dislodging dust and flaking paint. That last happy customer to leave fell back through the doorway, missed Chimp’s embrace, landed face first at his feet, sighing, crying and, while he stared, bleeding around a buried blade across the floorboards. His floorboards.

‘At least it’s not the carpet. Christ!’

JJ Stoner, the night’s guitar player, sprinted into the semi-dark outside the doors to the Blue Cube, ran for the shadows along the enclosing walls and moved fast and silent to the street. Turned and returned, pausing to pick up a gun, a small gun, from the porch. Held it by the muzzle, which smoked, but only a little.

Chimp stood and stared at the woman at his feet. Motionless now, crumpling and fading before him. Stoner reached down, fingers against her neck. Stood. Looked down at her. No expression on his face. None at all.

‘Get an ambulance!’ Loud advice from within the club.

‘No rush.’ Stoner appeared at a loss.

‘Bring her here.’ An instruction more than a request. From the stage, from the black man with the suddenly huge hands and the misshapen pork pie hat. The man with the piano. Those huge hands replayed the last line from that old tune. C. E-flat. F, E-flat.

‘Do not take out the knife. Save the blade for me.’

Worried hands carried the white woman, the faded white woman, and laid her on her back at the edge of the stage. The black man did not even glance her way, but played more of the ancient tune. Slowly, developing it as a bluesman can and as a jazzman will into something greater. The stunned quiet in the club was at first diminished, then destroyed by the one-man music show at the piano.

The saxophonist raised her instrument to her lips and looked to the black man. He shook his head, eyes closed but aware of her. She silently replaced the sax on its stand. Stood still and listened, watched, like all the others.

The song reached its climax and moved to its close. The piano flowed notes under the pressure of those big hands, the broad fingers which no longer pressed the keys, floating somehow above them.

‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,’ intoned the big black man in the tall black hat. The white woman coughed. She shook. She raised a forearm and its pale hand grasped at nothing. The killing blade, the long knife was resting on the keys of the piano. The player had not moved. The white woman pulled the trigger of the pistol she no longer held. Again and again.

Chimp reached her first. Her eyes were open, staring. Her dry pale lips moved, he leaned in to her.

‘My gun. Where’s my gun?’

Her voice creaked and strained, her breathing was arrhythmic and harsh. And she held Chimp’s hand with ferocity. She pulled herself towards him, dragging the rest of her, pulled by the single hand and powered by her stare.

‘Here.’

Stoner dangled the weapon from its trigger guard. Well away, well out of reach. She groaned.

‘I ache.’

A statement. And abruptly she sat up. Stared around her. Soaked both hands into the blood on her blouse, on her jeans, ripped apart the blouse and rubbed the blood from her side, revealing an angry red line below her left breast. A line filled with pain, but a shining dry line all the same.

‘What the fuck just happened?’ she shouted with sudden force. ‘And who the fuck are you?’ to the black man, as he left the stage, moving smoothly, silently and implacably to the door, suddenly diminished, attenuated, luminous, drifting, translucent.

Stoner stood aside, cleared his path and stared at him in sharp recognition. The pork pie had was gone, replaced by something taller, something shiny and worn – a top hat, frayed a little. The face below it was gaunt, wide-eyed, smiling through too many teeth – too many, yellow, and too long.

Rend-moi Samedi. Count your Saturdays, monsieur. Et puis, Dimanche.’

He’d paused by Stoner for a moment, leaned to him, spoke softly, and was gone into the strangeness of the night.

‘Who was that? What did he say?’

Stoner stood in silence for several long slow heartbeats.

‘He said he’d see me again. On a Saturday. Always on a Saturday. He is Samedi.’ His voice was lost, cold. Fading. And he followed the shade of the black man into the night. There was no one there. Only a soft darkness. Rain fell, silently.

 

<<oOo>>

 

The Blue Cube nightclub and its shady inhabitants form the backdrop for Frank Westworth’s Killing Sisters trilogy and the JJ Stoner quick thrillers.

All are available at Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Westworth/e/B001K89ITA/

You can follow Frank’s exploits on Facebook: www.facebook.com/killingsisters

Or at the MMM site: www.murdermayhemandmore.net

Frank Westworth

 

GODAN: BLOOD HARMONY by Garret Schuelke (Part Three)

Crime Fiction, Fiction, Garret Schuelke, Horror, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

Lord Ruthven ran into the bathroom and vomited. He nearly missed the toilet, and dropped to his knees.

 

“Your slave didn’t succeed, Varney?” Mysta asked, leaning against the door frame.

 

“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” Lord Ruthven yelled. He leaned up against the tub, took some deep breaths, and passed out.

 

Mysta shook her head and snapped her fingers. Upton entered the bathroom, picked the vampire up, and took him back to the bed.

 

“I’ve made up my mind,” Mysta said, opening up the window. “Go back to my office, and retrieve my Anti-Radical serum.”

 

Upton nodded and walked over to the window.

 

“You should know where it is—call me if you have any trouble.”

 

Upton nodded his head again. He then jumped out the window, initiated his jet pack, and began flying to Chicago.

 

Mysta closed the window. She turned around and looked at Lord Ruthven, who was hugging one of pillows.

 

“I’ll give you one more chance tomorrow,” she mumbled, closing the curtains.

 

***

 

Floyd put the pitcher and three glasses on the table.

 

“What’s this?” Joseph asked.

 

Gareth smiled. “PBR.”

 

Joseph looked confused. “PBR?”

 

“Pabst Blue Ribbon!” Floyd said, filling up a glass and handing it to Joseph. “I’ve gotten into it since I’ve moved here. All the kids in the Vine Neighborhood drink it!”

 

“I see,” Joseph accepted the drink and looked it over. “I really wanted to try out this ‘Oberon’ though.”

 

“Oh, my bad! I’ll go get you one.”

 

“I’m good for now, thanks.”

 

Floyd patted him on the shoulder. “My treat, don’t worry about.”

 

Joseph tried to give Floyd a five dollar bill. Floyd put his hand up, repeated “My treat”, grinned, and walked across Waldo’s Campus Tavern to the bar.

 

“He’s really cute,” Joseph said, watching Floyd swagger up to the line. “Is he always this energetic?”

 

“I just met him earlier today, so maybe?” Gareth said, filling a glass for himself. “He seems pretty hammered already.”

 

Joseph nodded. “If I hadn’t recently gotten into a relationship with possibly the most handsome man ever, I’d try to seduce him.”

 

“Don’t let something like a loving relationship stop you,” Gareth downed half his beer. “ ‘What goes on in America’, etcetra etcetra.”

 

“You’re finally smiling,” Joseph said, resting his head in his hand.

 

Gareth realized that he was smiling, and dropped it. “It’s the beer. It’s good, though I’ve become more of an Old Style guy since I moved to Chicago.”

 

“Okay, so what’s been bugging you? Is it this ‘Lord Ruthven’ guy?”

 

“That’s at the forefront right now,” Gareth finished his drink, “but these past few weeks have just been really, really fucking shitty. I almost think I shouldn’t have taken this trip.”

 

“So, what happened?”

 

Gareth sunk into the booth’s cushion. “Don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Really? You’re seriously gonna leave your cousin hanging like that?”

 

Gareth glared at him. “Yes, you’re the second person I’m gonna leave hanging today.” He sat up. “Why did you just call me cousin?”

 

Joseph hummed while taking a sip of his beer. “I think I know why you’re able to hold my rapier.” He put down his drink. “Wanna take a wild guess?”

 

Gareth rolled his eyes. “Is it because I’m ‘pure hearted’, ‘worthy’, or something,” He poured himself another drink. “Cause I’m neither of those things.”

 

Joseph laughed. “No, it’s because we’re probably related somehow.”

 

Gareth stared at him. “Is that so?”

 

“Yeah. Basically, the guy I got the rapier from told me that no one, in recorded history, has been able to wield it until I came along.”

 

“If no one could ‘wield it’, then how were they able to move it around until it got to you?”

 

“I mean, hold it with your actual hands. You know, grip it, swing it around…they found ways to move it until now.”

 

Gareth sipped his beer. “Okay, I think I’m getting what you mean now. That’s why Floyd said his hands felt like he had put it on top of stove after he held it for a few seconds.”

 

“Yep, I guess that’s the swords self-defense mechanism, you could say.”

 

“So how is it a requirement that only people related to you can wield it though?”

 

Joseph thought it over and shrugged his shoulder. “I just kind of came up with it while we were fighting that monster earlier. It makes sense to me!”

 

Gareth hummed. “Okay, and who exactly was this guy you got this sword from? Some kind of historian? Archaeologist?”

 

Joseph shook his head. “No, he was a mad scientist.”

 

Gareth stared at Joseph.

 

“What?” Joseph asked.

 

“A mad scientist?”

 

“Yep.”

 

Gareth held up his glass. “The most reliable of sources!” He took a big swig.

 

Joseph cringed. “Too true.”

 

“YO!” Floyd yelled, suddenly appearing at the table, surprising the two superheroes. “Bartender said that they’re out of Oberon, but they still got Two Hearted, the other beer Bell’s makes, on tap. Still interested?”

 

Joseph composed himself. “Yeah, that’ll be great!”

 

Floyd winked at Joseph, gave him a thumbs up, and walked back to the bar.

 

“Ain’t he a sweetie?” Joseph asked Gareth.

 

“Yeah, he’s letting me stay overnight in his campus apartment even though I got blood all over his work area, so he’s cool.”

 

Joseph took another sip of his beer. “So, this Lord Ruthven situation,” he looked Gareth directly in the eye, “I’ll help you take him down.”

 

Gareth shook his head. “No, dude, I gotta take care of this myself.”

 

“Why not? We made a pretty good team against that monster. You said it was one of his minions—how hard can he be?”

 

Gareth glared at him. “I barely beat him on the train here. And I took on his other subordinates—they weren’t a joke like this one was.”

 

“All the more reason why you’ll need me around.” Joseph pointed at himself. “Hell, if you weren’t around, I’d be going after him myself!”

 

Gareth shook his head. “He’d waste you in a sec.”

 

“And you just admitted to ‘barely’ beating him. You need my help.”

 

Gareth growled as he stared down at the table.

 

“Oh, I get it—you’re the “Lone Wolf” type. I bet you’ve never even teamed up with another superhuman before now.”

 

“I’ve worked with plenty of other superhumans.” Gareth shot him a glare. “What about you?”

 

Joseph shook his head. “I haven’t until now—it’s why I’m so excited!”

 

Gareth groaned, and rolled his eyes.

 

“Look, I’ll follow your lead,” Joseph said. “After we do our radio interview tomorrow, you’re entirely in charge.”

 

“Who said I was gonna take part in this interview?”

 

Joseph snorted. “You did, after I bugged the shit out of you.” He pointed at Gareth. “No backing down now!”

 

They hear yelling coming from the bar. They looked over and saw Floyd arguing with two fraternity brothers about him cutting in line.

 

“Just what I need,” Gareth said, cracking his knuckles as he stood up.

 

Joseph slipped past him. “Let me take care of this. I think my way will lead to a more peaceful resolution.”

 

Gareth snorted, and sat back down. He was about to refill his glass, but then noticed that the pitcher was nearly empty. Jeez, he thought, draining the rest while watching Joseph get between Floyd and the fraternity brothers.

 

***

 

“I see that you ordered room service while I was gone,” Mysta said as she entered the room.

 

Lord Ruthven ignored her as he ate his steak.

 

“Did you just wake up?” Mysta asked, taking off her wind breaker.

 

Lord Ruthven continued to ignore her, finishing his steak and picking up his bottle of wine.

 

Mysta glared. “How are you feeling?”

 

Lord Ruthven closed his eyes as he chugged the wine.

 

Mysta walked up to him. “ANSWER ME!” she yelled, slapping him alongside the head.

 

The wine spilled onto the bed. Lord Ruthven shot up. He wound back the bottle and brought it down towards Mysta’s face. Upton instantly got between them, blocking the bottle with his hand, shattering it to pieces.

 

“I’M FINE!” Lord Ruthven yelled.

 

“Appears so,” Mysta said, looking over the now fully closed hole that Godan had put through the vampires chest. “I take it that you’re just about ready to start hunting again?”

 

“You damn right!” Lord Ruthven grabbed the blanket and began wiping the wine off his arms, stomach, and chest. “I still have his scent, so even if he took off yesterday after battling my spawn, I can still track him easily…”

 

“Funny you should mention that,” Mysta took out her phone, “because he’s still in the area, along with his new friend.”

 

“New friend?” Lord Ruthven then remembered Wolf Savage from the demons memories. “Oh yeah. Well, that pussy won’t be a problem.”

 

“As a matter of fact, they’re about to go on air in a few minutes.”

 

“On air? What are you going on about?”

 

Mysta handed Lord Ruthven her phone. He looked at it and saw that it was a from WIDR’s official website, detailing Godan and Wolf Savage’s appearance on one of their shows later that day.

“Oh, you have got to be shitting me,” Lord Ruthven said, scrolling.

 

“Nope, seems like your spawn just made them more famous.”

 

“Whatever,” Lord Ruthven grumbled, handing Mysta back her phone, “this just makes it easier to hunt them down—and cause some more carnage!”

 

Lord Ruthven walked to the window and whipped open the curtains.

 

“Leaving already?” Mysta asked.

 

“Not yet,” Lord Ruthven opened the window. “I’m going to lure them to me.”

 

Mysta realized what he was about to do. “DON’T WASTE YOUR STAMINA ON THAT!”

 

Lord Ruthven grinned, closed his eyes, and clenched his fists. He grunted, and his back began to expand.

 

“DAMN YOU!” Mysta looked over at Upton . “Go help him—”

 

Lord Ruthven held up a hand. “I CAN DO THIS MYSELF!”

 

A woman emerged, gasping for air, her hair flowing down Lord Ruthven’s back. He grunted again, pushing her out of him and onto the floor.

 

“She isn’t as powerful as the last spawn,” Lord Ruthven said, standing up straight and stretching. “But she’ll get the job done.”

 

The spawn stood up. Mysta looked her over and became angry.

 

“How dare you,” Mysta’s voice was shaking, “you little shit.”

 

“What, you don’t like it?” Lord Ruthven put his arm around his spawn and parted her hair, reveling her to be a duplicate of Mysta. “How can you not be flattered that I patterned one of my monsters after your beautiful looks?”

 

“Change her look, NOW.”

 

Lord Ruthven turned them around. “Just shut up, Mom.”

 

Mysta snapped her fingers. Upton opened up the compartment in his chest that contained the briefcase he was sent to retrieve. As Lord Ruthven explained his orders to his spawn, Mysta opened up the briefcase to reveal a syringe containing a black serum. She picked it up, examined it, and nodded approvingly towards Upton.

 

“…then we’ll take them together.” Lord Ruthven rubbed his spawns shoulder. “Is that understood?”

 

The doppelganger nodded. Wings spouted from her back.

 

“Good. Remember, don’t engage if you can—LEAD.” The doppelganger nodded again. Lord Ruthven grinned, and pointed out the window. “GO!”

 

The doppelganger flew away towards WMU’s campus. “Now, I just have to wait,” Lord Ruthven said to himself as he shut the window.

 

He heard a snap behind him. Suddenly, he was ensnared by Upton’s tentacles.

 

“WHAT’RE YOU DOING?!” Lord Ruthven yelled. Before he could break free, Upton stunned him with an electric shock, and pulled him into a bear hug.

 

“You’ve disrespected me for the last time, Varney,” Mysta said, holding up the syringe, “it’s about time you got a proper punishment.”

 

Lord Ruthven’s eyes widened. He screamed ‘STOP’ as Mysta jammed the syringe into his neck and injected him. The vampire struggled, but stopped as he felt his heart become numb.

 

Mysta stepped back and put the syringe on the table. “This serum is something I whipped up shortly after I perfected the formula for Alkaline Radicals.”

 

Lord Ruthven screamed as his skin started to wither. Upton let him fall to the floor.

 

“It was a simple idea: if Alkaline Radicals can enhance someones abilities, then there should be an Anti-Radical that can take them away.”

 

Lord Ruthven held his stomach as he felt his insides crush together.

 

“And then some.” Mysta bent down on one knee and watched her son suffer. “I found out through my experiments on the Rudkus’s that it’s perfect for controlling superhumans like you.”

 

Lord Ruthven made a weak leap towards her, mouth wide open. Upton stepped between them. The vampire bit down on the androids leg. He felt his teeth crack.

 

Mysta stood up. “Like Alkaline Radicals, it only lasts for a short time though. The question is, do you think you’ll survive that long?”

 

Lord Ruthven curled into himself on the floor, holding his mouth, screaming.

 

Mysta stepped on his neck. “Only a few gangbangers survived until it wore off, though I obviously expect you to outlast it, with the power you have.” Mysta smiled. “It’s a shame that you won’t get your chance to get revenge on Godan, though.”

 

Lord Ruthven’s eyes widened, and he became still. He felt the intense pain begin to dampen as his rage intensified.

 

“Next time, watch your big mouth.”

 

Lord Ruthven shot upward, sending Mysta stumbling on the floor. He let out a screech so loud and obscene that it made Mysta covered her ears.

 

“STOP IT!” she yelled as Upton covered her. “EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE DAMN TOWN WILL HEAR YOU!”

 

Lord Ruthven’s wings shot out of his back. He stopped screeching and breathed heavily.

 

“I can’t believe it…”

 

Lord Ruthven glared at Mysta, growled, and ran to the window. He smashed through it and flew off.

 

“He is amazing,” Mysta mumbled.

 

A loud banging came from the door, with a hotel clerk on the other side asking if everything was all right.

 

Mysta sighed as Upton helped her to her feet. “Now’s the time to really put my bullshitting skills to the test.”

 

***

 

“This the right place?” Wolf Savage asked as they landed in front of the Faunce Student Services Building.

 

“You tell me,” Godan said, letting go of his hand.

 

“Come on, Gar, don’t be like that!”

 

Godan rolled his eyes. He pointed at the door, which had a sign indicating that WIDR studios was inside.

 

“Yep, we’re here!” Wolf Savage laughed. “Sorry, I’m kinda giddy and nervous and excited, all at the same time, I think, being my first radio interview, and—”

 

“Okay, I get it!” Godan crossed his arms. “Relax, will ya?”

 

Wolf Savage put his hand on Godan’s shoulder. “Thanks for accompanying me.” He gave Godan a sincere look. “I will help you track down this Lord Ruthven guy after this.” Wolf Savage started walking towards the entrance. “After all, what are cousins for?”

 

Godan sighed, and followed Wolf Savage. They went down the hall and found the studio, where Imogene McDonald was hosting her show.

 

“…by Days N’ Daze, and ‘New Mexico Song’ by the legendary Johnny Hobo.” Imogene said, listing the previously played songs as she shuffled through her papers. “You know what the best thing about running this show folks? It’s having to go through these songs and censor out all those explicit, naughty bits, and hope to God that it pleases the FCC.”

 

Wolf Savage knocked on the window. Imogene looked over, saw Wolf Savage waving, and smiled.

 

“Oh my God, folks, it’s that time already! As I announced on my blog post on WIDR’s official website, the canine duo that saved all us students from the monster attack at the Renaissance Festival yesterday, Wolf Savage and Godan, agreed to be interviewed today—and they literally just showed up! Please hold on a sec as I let them in.”

 

Imogene took off her headphones and ran to the door. “Hi guys!”

 

“Hi, Imogene,” Wolf Savage said, extending his hand, smiling.

 

“I am SO glad you two actually showed up,” she said, shaking Wolf Savages hand.

 

“You seriously doubted us?”

 

“Somewhat,” Imogene laughed. “I always raise my expectations too high.”

 

“Well, we’re gonna bring your expectations to that level,” Wolf Savage put his hands on his hips, “and beyond!”

 

Oh, Jesus Christ, Godan thought, rolling his eyes.

 

“Come in and sit down,” Imogene led them inside. “Put on the headphones, and we’ll get to the interview as soon as I finish these announcements.”

 

They sat down and put on said headphones as Imogene began detailing upcoming shows and community events. Godan noticed that Wolf Savage was having trouble putting his headphones on due to his wolf’s head mask. Godan scooted the chair over and adjusted them. Wolf Savage whispered ‘Thanks, cousin!’, and gave him a thumbs up.

 

The doppelganger landed on campus and began looking around. Nearby students saw the naked spawn and began chatting eagerly amongst each other and taking pictures.

 

“…and finally, Shonen Knife is performing this Sunday night at The Strutt, eight o’clock. I’m pretty sure y’all already know about my most favorite venue in town, so check out their official website, Facebook page, or Shonen Knife’s official website for more info.” Imogene shuffled her papers again until she found the questions she wanted to ask the superheroes in her studio. “Now that that’s all been said, today’s show has transformed into a VERY special episode of The Crack House, your hour of all things Folk Punk, hosted by ya girl, DJ Ragged Woman, here at 89.1 FM, W-I-D-R Kalamazoo—your only source for Radio Evolution.”

 

“Deep breaths, ‘Gene,” Wolf Savage said, “deep breaths.”

 

Imogene laughed. “Believe me, I’m used to doing long monologues like that.” She composed herself. “That, folks, is the voice of one of my guests. If you were lucky slash unlucky—depending on your perspective—to have been around the Sangren Pedestrian Mall yesterday, you may have noticed that we were being attacked by a LITERAL monster.”

 

“Looked more like a demon to me,” Wolf Savage said, grinning.

 

Godan nudged him. “Shut up and let her finish,” he mumbled, his hand covering the microphone.

 

Wolf Savage rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry, sorry.”

 

A custodian came out of the Faunce Building and noticed the doppelganger walking towards him. He stopped dead in his tracks. “Uh, ma’am?” he said, not knowing how to react to the beautiful, naked woman in front of him. “Are you all right?”

 

The doppelganger ignored him, staring ahead, unblinking. The custodian moved to the side and the doppelganger entered the building.

 

“College kids,” he mumbled, getting out his phone and dialing the number of campus security.

 

“So let’s welcome to The Crack House, all the way from beautiful Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Wolf Savage!” Imogene started clapping. Wolf Savage did the say. “As well as The Gray Wolf of Chicago—no real introductions needed, I believe, since you have all undoubtedly heard about his feats in the Windy City one way or another—, Godan!” Imogene noticed Godan’s sour look. “Who I can tell is just absolutely enthused to be on the program today.”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Wolf Savage said. “He’ll come around.”

 

“So, before we began some formal interviewing,” Imogene took out her phone and began taking pictures, “I just want to say, Mr. Savage, that I think your uniform is absolutely fabulous—though I do think the wolf’s head does look a bit clunky.”

 

Wolf Savage laughed. “I’ve gotten that critique a lot, actually. I assure you though that it’s quite comfortable—I wouldn’t be wearing it otherwise.”

 

“Very nice.” Imogene swirled her chair around towards Godan. “No offense, Mr. Gray Wolf, but your uniform, in comparison, is pretty casual and, from what I’ve observed, pretty ragged.”

 

Godan raised an eyebrow. “The lady who calls herself ‘DJ Ragged Woman’ is ragging on me for wearing shitty clothing?”

 

“Nice unintended pun,” Imogene laughed, “but what was that you said? ‘Shifty Clothing’? Wink, wink.”

 

Godan realized what he said. “Oh, yes, ‘shifty clothing.’ That’s totally what I said, FCC.”

 

“That’s what I thought,” Imogene gave him a thumbs up. “For real though, that’s just my observation of your style choice, no offense intended.” She sniffled. “By the way, does anyone else notice that smell?”

 

Godan smiled. “Well, I like to keep it fairly simple.” He rested his head on his hand. “I’m not a flashy person in general, it saves me money—”

 

Imogene held her nose. “Indeed, it does.”

 

Wolf Savage laughed. Godan grinned, and shook his head.

 

“I can assure all the folks listening at home,” Godan tapped his nose, “that my sense of smell tells me that DJ Ragged Woman stinks just as much as I do.” They all broke out in laughter.

 

“See, I told you he would come around,” Wolf Savage said.

 

“No offense, fellow punker,” Godan said.

 

“Why would I ever get offended by something so controversial, yet so true, Gray Wolf?” Imogene replied.

 

The doppelganger finally found the studio. She looked in through the window.

 

Imogene had turned her attention back to Wolf Savage, asking him about his ”origins”. Godan relaxed in the chair—the first time he felt as such in the past couple of days.

 

There was a loud tapping on the studios door window.

 

“Oh, come on!” Imogene looked over. “Am I really being interrupted while conducting my first major radio interview?”

 

Wolf Savage and Godan turned their chairs around. The doppelganger continued tapping the glass.

 

“Who’s that?” Wolf Savage asked, turning to Imogene. “You know her?”

 

Imogene shrugged her shoulders. “No clue. You know her, Godan?”

 

Godan clenched his chair’s arm rests. Shit, he thought, sniffing rapidly.

 

“Uh, Godan,” Imogene got up and tapped his shoulder. “You still with us, hero?”

 

Wolf Savage noticed the look in Godan’s eyes. “Who is she?” he asked, getting up. “Is that ‘Lord Ruthven’?”

 

“Who?” Imogene asked.

 

Godan bolted from the chair and slammed into the door, breaking it off its hinges, and smashing the doppelganger into the wall.

 

“OH, SHIT!” Imogene yelled. She covered her mouth, realizing that she swore on air.

 

Wolf Savage summoned his rapier into his hand. Mist emerged from behind the door and floated down the hall.

 

“GET HER!” Godan yelled, running down the hall.

 

“Just my luck,” Wolf Savage looked at Imogene apologetically, said ‘Sorry!’ and followed Godan and the doppelganger

 

Imogene fell back into her chair. “I’m so fired for this.” She looked at the mic, and sighed. “Okay folks, we’re going to a break, so I can process what has just happened, and probably cry.” She pressed a button. “Here’s a song by Defiance, Ohio.”

 

Godan and Wolf Savage burst through the door. They watched as the doppelganger materialized—with wings—and flew away.

 

“That’s Lord Ruthven?” Wolf Savage asked.

 

“No, but it smells just like him, and that monster we fought yesterday.” He extended his hand. “Let’s go!”

 

Wolf Savage nodded, grabbed onto Godan, and flew off.

Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke

Godan4Sketch

GODAN: BLOOD HARMONY by Garret Schuelke (Part Two)

Fiction, Garret Schuelke, Horror, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine

Godan4Sketch

Floyd Spicer entered the laundry room and leaned his broom against the wall. His small radio started to emit static.

 

“This is what I get for thrifting a three dollar radio,” Floyd sighed . He placed it on the window still and adjusted the antenna until WIDR, the student radio station of Western Michigan University, came in perfectly.

 

He looked around and saw that someone had once again removed the detergent dispensers from the washing machine. He rolled his eyes, sighed again, and put them back in.

 

Floyd examined the rest of the room. His eyes zeroed in on red splotches that covered the floor. His anger grew.

 

“That’s it—I’m requesting that this room get shut down for a bit!” He opened up the door and pulled in the mop and bucket he had left outside. “I knew this vandalism-warning sign bullshit wouldn’t work!”

 

The red splotches disappeared after two swipes. He took care of the rest of the floor. His mop bumped up against the storage room door. It slightly opened. Floyd then noticed that doorknob was busted.

 

“OH…kay,” Floyd said, standing still. He looked down and saw the same red splotches on the floor leading into the storage room.

 

He looked through the crack. Sunlight beamed through the storage room window, illuminating some leftover bedposts from previous tenets, cleaning supplies, and a mattress on the floor.

 

Floyd leaned against the door in order to get a better look. He saw a person curled up on the mattress.

 

“Huh?” Floyd muttered.

 

The door began to creek loudly. The person instantly sat up and glared. Floyd slammed the door, and ran out of the laundry room.

 

“Ah, fuck me,” the person said, rubbing his eyes.

 

“WHERE THE FUCK IS THAT NUMBER?!” Floyd yelled, scrolling through his phone contacts for campus security as he sprinted across the second floor. He said ‘Fuck it’ and dialed his supervisors number. He looked behind him and saw that the person wasn’t following him. The phone began to ring. He calmed down, and walked down the stairs.

 

“Not getting paid enough for this shit,” Floyd muttered, listening to the phone ring.

 

At the bottom of the stairs stood Gareth. His mask hung around his neck, and his entire front was covered in blood.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry for scaring you like that,” Gareth said, adjusting his backpack, “and for the mess. I’m leaving now.”

 

They stared at each other. Floyd’s supervisor’s phone stopped ringing and went to voicemail.

 

***

 

Lord Ruthven felt someone shaking him. He opened his eyes and saw light coming through the sides of the window curtains. The figure gripped his shoulder, and turned him over onto his back.

 

Lord Ruthven swung. The figure caught his wrist.

 

“Calm down, son,” another figure, sitting in an office chair across the room, said.

 

Lord Ruthven pulled his arm away and got out of the bed. “Where am I, Mom? he asked , pulling back the curtains. He looked out the window and saw Michigan Avenue.

 

“At the Raddison, located in beautiful downtown Kalamazoo!” The figure leaned back in the office chair, allowing her long, black hair to flow down. “This is my first time staying here, and I’m actually liking it. It’s much quieter than Chicago.”

 

“What a hole,” Lord Ruthven muttered, turning around.

 

“And you used to say that I was spoiled.” Mysta Avon, Chicago entrepreneur and head of Mysta Industries, said as she crossed her legs. “Now get back to bed before the hole in your chest—and the holes in your head—open back up.”

 

Lord Ruthven looked down and saw that his torso was wrapped in bandages. He touched his head and felt the bandage that surround his skull. He flinched.

 

“Careful now, boy—you’re not even close to being healed up. You’ll probably have scars too. You might want to consider growing your hair out again.”

 

Lord Ruthven growled. “How did you recover me?”

 

Mysta thumbed towards the bed “I had him monitoring you since you left all of a sudden. As always, my instincts were correct about you being in trouble—near death this time.”

 

Lord Ruthven looked over and saw a large, flat-faced android with square eyes, mouth, and long, dreaded hair standing obediently, waiting for orders. Lord Ruthven recognized him as the former leader of The Rudkus’s.

 

“So, you finally got the boy toy you wanted,” Lord Ruthven did not hide his disgust. “Bet that feels good.”

 

“I always try to relish in my goals being accomplished.” Mysta snapped her fingers. “Upton here retrieved you from the ambulance as I took care of these accommodations.”

 

Upton walked up Lord Ruthven and stood in front of him.

 

“What is he doing?” Lord Ruthven asked.

 

“Oh, he just waiting on my command to force you back into bed if you don’t do so on your own.” Mysta replied, chewing at her nail.

 

Lord Ruthven glared. “Excuse me?”

 

“You need your rest,” Mysta stood up. “Cause you certainly can’t face the Gray Wolf of Chicago again in your current state.”

 

“Fuck off! You don’t tell me what to do!”

 

Mysta shook her head, snapped her fingers, picked up a bag, and walked into the bathroom. Metal tentacles shot out of Upton’s back and, before Lord Ruthven could react, he was enveloped in them.

 

“LET ME GO!” Lord Ruthven yelled as he struggled. Upton lifted him off the floor.

 

“MOTHER KNOWS BEST, DEAR!” Mysta yelled from the bathroom.

 

She made him stronger, Lord Ruthven thought as he glared at Upton. He tried to summon fire from his hands, but he could not feel anything come up. Upton walked him over to the bed and laid him down, severing his own tentacles.

 

“This may be hard for you to believe right now,” Mysta said, coming out of the bathroom, “but you’ll thank me for this later.”

 

Lord Ruthven calmed down. He looked at his mother and noticed that she had changed out of her business attire. “What’s with the track suit?” he asked.

 

“I’m going out for a little run around the town,” Mysta said, stretching. “You just lay back and heal, Varney.”

 

Lord Ruthven’s rage exploded. “DON’T CALL ME THAT!” He started struggling to break out of the tentacles wrapped around him. “LET. ME. GO!”

 

Mysta put her hands on her hips. “You’re not gonna let this go, are you?”

 

Lord Ruthven glared.

 

“Then we got no time to waste.” Mysta bent down near her luggage and picked up a briefcase. “His healing factor is vastly superior to yours.” She put the briefcase on the desk and opened it. “But I don’t think I need to tell you that.”

 

Lord Ruthven growled.

 

“He’ll either come for you, or he’ll be making a run for it.” She took a syringe out of the briefcase. “And based on how you fought last time, it might be the former—since I don’t see any reason he has to fear you—”

 

Lord Ruthven’s eyes widened. “OH, FUCK NO!” he yelled, beginning to struggle again.

“Sad but true, son.” Mysta said, examining the syringe.

 

“There’s no way in hell you’re shooting me up with your Alkaline Radicals!”

 

Mysta rolled her eyes. “You want to heal up right now? Cause this is the only way to do so!”

 

Lord Ruthven stopped struggling. “Just give me a day or two, I’ll be ready by then.”

 

“Now you change your mind,” Mysta sighed. “I never understood your opposition to my serum.”

 

“I’m not going to explain it to you AGAIN why I don’t like that shit.” He looked up at Upton. “It worked really well for him and rest of his gangbangers, didn’t it?”

 

Mysta walked up to Lord Ruthven and pressed her hand down on his forehead. “I think you’ll change your mind once you actually experience it for yourself,” she said, lowering the syringe towards his neck.

 

Lord Ruthven’s eyes bulged. He screamed, and an arm broke through the tentacles, swatting away the syringe, which smashed against the wall.

 

“NO RADICALS!” Lord Ruthven yelled, freeing his other arm and sitting up.

 

“Better calm yourself,” Mysta said, pointing towards Upton, who had his open palm next to Lord Ruthven’s head, ready to fire an energy blast.

 

Mother and son glared at each other. Mysta, while angry, kept her composure. Lord Ruthven breathed heavily as he sat up.

 

“I told you to calm down,” Mysta said.

 

Lord Ruthven grinned. He closed his eyes and grunted. Two arms suddenly shot out of his back.

“NO!” Mysta yelled. “YOU’LL KILL YOURSELF!”

 

Lord Ruthven screamed in agony. The arms grew claws. Upton got between Mysta and Lord Ruthven just as a demonic monstrosity shot halfway out of his body. It immediately grew long, drooping horns and wings.

 

“UPTON!” Mysta smacked the androids arms. “GO PULL THE REST OUT OF HIM!”

Upton nodded, and got behind Lord Ruthven. He grabbed the demon by the arms and pulled. Lord Ruthven screamed as the rest of it came out of him.

 

“TASE AND RESTRAIN!” Mysta yelled. Upton nodded again, wrapped the demon in his tentacles, and shocked it, bringing it to its knees.

 

“Let him go,” Lord Ruthven said, getting out of bed.

 

“You’re insane for doing that,” Mysta said.

 

 

“I’m way stronger than you’ll ever give me credit for.” Lord Ruthven walked up to Upton and glared. Upton unwrapped the demon and backed away.

 

“Come here,” Lord Ruthven said to the demon. The demon got up and looked him over. “Look into my eyes.”

 

The demon did so. Lord Ruthven and his spawn communicated in a way that only they were capable of.

 

“So fucking stupid,” Mysta muttered.

 

Lord Ruthven smiled, patted the demon on the shoulder, and led him towards the window. He opened it up, ripped out the screen, and the demon flew off.

 

“You could have done yourself in,” Mysta picked up the broken syringe, “pulling a stunt like that.”

 

“But I didn’t, now did I?,” Lord Ruthven said, laying down on the bed.

 

“Where exactly is he going?”

 

“Hunting for wolves,” Lord Ruthven grinned.

 

Mysta put the broken syringe on the desk and walked over to the window. “And how exactly am I supposed to explain this to the staff?” she asked, closing the window.

 

Lord Ruthven rolled his eyes. “Cut them a check or something,” he said, grabbing a pillow and putting it on top of his head.

 

Mysta growled. She looked at her android. “Upton, guard duty. I’m going for a run.”

 

Upton nodded. Mysta glared at Lord Ruthven, who she could already tell was back asleep. “Moron,” she muttered, leaving the room.

 

Upton stepped in front of the closed door, turned to face the room, and stood guard as demanded by his mistress.

 

***

 

Joseph Crowfoot looked at the campus map again. He scanned the dining hall, and threw the map into the air

 

“You look very frustrated,” Floyd said.

 

“OH!” Joseph said, surprised by Floyd seemingly appearing in the booth he was standing next to. The map landed on the table, between Floyd and Gareth, on top of their food.

 

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Joseph said, trying to compose himself. Gareth glared at Joseph, and growled. Joseph laughed nervously.

 

“No prob,” Floyd handed Joseph his map. “What are you looking for?”

 

“I’m here for the Renaissance Festival. Do you know which way it is to the Sangren Pedestrian Mall?”

 

Floyd nodded. “Yeah, it’s right across campus that way,” Floyd pointed towards wall. “Go outside, take a right—you can’t miss it.”

 

“Joseph smiled. “Thanks much!” he folded up his map, and noticed the pizza sauce coating the bottom. “Sorry about the freakout.”

 

“It happens to all of us,” Floyd said.

 

Joseph looked at Gareth. “Sorry, friend.”

 

Gareth grunted. He took another slice of pizza and bit into it.

 

“For real, I’m sorry—”

 

“He’s been grumpy all day,” Floyd said. “Even getting a free meal hasn’t made him crack a smile.”

 

“I see.” Joseph looked at his phone. “I gotta get going—I’m nearly late!”

 

“All right, best of luck.”

 

Joseph gave them a quick wave and ran out of the dining hall. Floyd watched him leave. He the turned his attention back to Gareth, who was licking his lips.

 

“As I was asking,” Floyd held up that days issue of the Kalamazoo Gazette. “You did this?”

 

Gareth picked up another slice of pizza. “Yep.”

 

The front page, which had the headline “UNKNOWN CREATURE BROUGHT DOWN BY MASKED VIGILANTEE, POLICE”, featured a photo of Lord Ruthven, in his demon form, laying underneath a white sheet surrounded by members of the Kalamazoo Police Department.

 

“How?”

 

“Cause I was stronger than him.” Gareth took a bite out of the pizza.

 

“Really?” Floyd looked at the photo. “He looks way bigger than you.”

 

“He was, but that didn’t mean shit.”

 

“But he did get you pretty good, with all the blood you shed,”

 

Gareth swallowed. “Yeah, but I was too distracted to manually heal myself and—”

 

 

“ ‘Manually heal yourself’?” Floyd looked confused. “Like a healing factor, or something.”

 

“Yeah, I can heal myself if I concentrate, or, as when we met, it goes into affect over time.”

 

“Why didn’t you heal yourself right after you took him down?”

 

Gareth glared. “I was preoccupied.”

 

“With what?”

 

“Getting away.”

 

Floyd snorted. “That’s it?”

 

Gareth growled. “It’s been a hard couple of days for me.”

 

“Oh.” Floyd looked concerned. “What happened?”

 

Gareth grabbed a slice of pizza. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

 

“HEY! THAT WAS THE LAST ONE YOU PIG!”

 

For the first time that day, Gareth smiled.

 

Joseph ran through the Renaissance Festival crowd. He bumped into a punker with dreads that nearly went down to her waist. Joseph apologized, and kept running. The woman called him a dick, and returned her attention to her subject, introducing herself as Imogene McDonald, DJ and intern at WIDR.

 

On top of the Bernard Center, Lord Ruthven’s demon spawn landed, and started scanning the area.

 

Joseph stopped to catch his breath. Okay, now where’s my group at, he thought. He put his hands up in frustration. Seeing a bench, he walked up to it and sat down to rest next to someone dressed as a warlock.

 

“So, you said earlier that you were coming from up north?” Floyd asked.

 

Gareth took a sip of his water. “That also falls under ‘I don’t wanna talk about it’ category.”

 

“Hey, you brought it up earlier when we first met.”

 

Gareth glared. “I was just trying to make conversation so you wouldn’t freak your shit.”

 

“Okay, let me guess then: Traverse City?”

 

Gareth cringed. “No,” he muttered, wiping his hands off with some napkins.

 

Floyd hummed. “Alpena?”

 

Gareth cringed again. Floyd’s eyes widened. “Damn, I guessed right?” He clapped his hands together. “I’m from Alpena!”

 

Gareth tossed the napkins to the side. “Good for you.”

 

The demon spotted a student holding her corgi. The corgi barked, put its two front legs on the students shoulder, and licked her ear.

 

“Are you originally from there?” Floyd said, following Gareth

 

“Yeah,” Gareth muttered, walking faster as they left the dining hall.

 

“Oh! What year did you graduate high school?” Floyd kept up with him. “You look about my age—I graduated in 2006!”

 

“No, I didn’t mean that!” Gareth exited the Bernard Center. “Leave me alone!”

 

“Wait, what?” Floyd got in front of him. “Why the hostility?”

 

“Look, I’m sorry for being a dick, but I already told you enough.” Gareth pushed past him. “I have a secret identity to maintain, and I gotta get back to Chicago.”

 

Floyd narrowed his eyes. “Dude, you told me your real name.”

 

“Shit,” Gareth thought it over. “Well…that’s not really my name!”

 

Floyd grinned. “Then what is it?”

 

“Niles Standish.”

 

“Okay, now I know both your real AND fake name.”

 

Gareth realized that Floyd had unknowingly tricked him. His anger grew.

 

The demon dove towards the student, claws outstretched.

 

Gareth caught a faint scent that he recognized as Lord Ruthven’s. “He’s still alive?” he said, looking around and sniffing rapidly.

 

“What?” Floyd asked.

 

The demon reappeared into their view, shooting back up into the air, holding both the student and her dog.

 

Gareth saw it, cursed, and dashed into some nearby bushes. Floyd followed him.

 

“Is that the same thing you fought last night?!” Floyd asking, crouching besides Gareth.

 

Gareth put on his mask. He then transformed—his hair instantly turned gray, and his finger nails grew into claws.

 

“Guess it is,” Floyd said, speechless.

 

At the same time, Joseph shot up from his resting spot. He watched the student scream into the demon’s face. The demon roared back. The corgi barked at it and attempted to attack, though it was unable to escape its owners grasp.

 

“So much for a peaceful class vacation in the U.S.,” Joseph muttered.

 

The demon roared again, and bit down onto the Corgi’s head. The student screamed louder, and thrashed about, as it tore the dog’s head off its body.

 

Joseph looked around desperately. He noticed some of the students were running into a building called The Peace Center. He followed them inside and immediately saw a sign indicating that the bathroom was downstairs.

 

“OUTTA MY WAY!” Joseph yelled, pushing the students aside. “I’M GOING TO BE SICK! LET ME THROUGH!”

 

The students did so, and Joseph entered the bathroom and went into one of the stalls. He locked the door, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and concentrated. His entire body became enveloped by a red aura. The aura swirled around him, and suddenly disappeared.

 

Joseph now wore a black spandex suit, bearing a red wolf’s head on his chest. He also had red gloves, red boots, a red cape, and a wolf’s head mask. He held out his hand.

 

“Looks like Kalamazoo will be the first American city,” a rapier materialized into his hand, “that Wolf Savage will make an appearance in!”

 

Godan sped through the fleeing students, knocking some of them over. Fuck this, he thought, crouching down. He leapt into the air, heading towards the demon.

 

“This is so fucking cool!” Imogene, one of the few students who did not run away, said to herself as she recorded Godan flying through the air with her phone.

 

Godan grabbed onto the demon’s legs. He immediately climbed up to the demon’s shoulder and punched it in the face. It’s not him, Godan thought. It then dawned on him that someone was screaming in his ear. He turned his head and saw the student, covered in her dogs blood, still clutching it while crying. The demon roared.

 

“Sorry about this,” he said, grabbing the headless carcass out of the students arms and shoving it into the demons mouth. The demon released the student. Godan dove off, grabbed the student, and held her close as they landed.

 

“OKAY! OKAY!” Godan yelled, pushing the screaming student away from him. “YOU MADE ME DEAF!”

 

Wolf Savage flew out of the Peace Center and went straight up. He extended his rapier, and stabbed the demon from behind. He demon coughed up the dog carcass and wailed. Wolf Savage poured his energy into his sword, causing red energy blasts to erupt out of the demon from various points.

 

“Fast and easy,” Wolf Savage said, grinning.

 

The demon suddenly turned around, causing Wolf Savage to lose his hold on his rapier, and swatted him away.

 

That’s usually a one-hit take down, Wolf Savage thought, regaining his composure. He looked down at his uniform and noticed that it was splattered with blood. “Ugh! Really?”

 

The demon roared, and flew at Wolf Savage.

 

“Pretty good call on my part,” Wolf Savage raised his fists, “not going with that snow white variation of the suit.”

 

Who the hell is that, Godan thought as he watched Wolf Savage and the demon trade blows. He clenched his fists. At least he’s giving me a good opportunity!

 

Godan jumped back up. He landed on the demon’s back and put him into a headlock.

 

“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!” Wolf Savage yelled, backing away.

 

“None of your business!’ Godan said, tightening his grip. He turned his head towards the demons ear. “Where’s Ruthven at?”

 

“Ruthven?” Wolf Savage asked.

 

The demon shot upwards, and began flying around erratically, trying to get Godan off.

 

“ANSWER ME!” Godan yelled, raking his claws across the demons chest. It flew backwards and smashed Godan into a building.

 

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Wolf Savage yelled, driving his fist into the demons stomach. The demon coughed up blood. Wolf Savage winced as the blood splattered his mask. He then started rapidly punching it in the stomach.

 

“SHIT!” Godan yelled as Wolf Savage’s blows caused him to be crushed even harder between the demon and the building. “STOP IT, YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKER!”

 

“WHO ARE YOU CALLING ‘DUMB’?!” Wolf Savage then saw some pieces of the building fall to the ground and realized what he was doing. “Oh, no,” he backed away. “Sorry!”

 

The demon shot upwards, causing Godan to lose his grip. He grabbed the handle of the rapier, pulling it out of the demon’s back.

 

Just what I need, Godan thought, looking at the sword that he thought would stop his fall, more pain.

 

Godan looked over at Wolf Savage as he passed by. Wolf Savage looked flabbergasted.

 

“HELLO?!” Godan yelled, waiving his arms around. “YOU GONNA SAVE ME, OR WHAT?!”

Wolf Savage snapped to attention. “Right!” he yelled, swooping down and catching him. “How the hell are you holding that?!”

 

“Huh?” Godan looked at the rapier. “Why can’t I hold your sword?”

 

“I’m the only person that can wield it without getting burnt!”

 

“Burnt? Doesn’t feel that hot to me.”

 

They heard screeching. They looked up, and Wolf Savage move just in time to dodge the demon’s slash.

 

“THROW ME AT HIM!” Godan yelled.

 

Wolf Savage nodded. He twirled around, and let go of Godan’s hand. The demon turned around. Godan then thrust the rapier through the middle of the its face, destroying its nose. Godan held onto the hilt, put his feet against the demons chest, and braced himself as they crashed into the pavement.

 

“BLAST HIM LIKE I DID!” Wolf Savage yelled as he flew down.

 

“Do what?” Godan replied, standing up, shaking from the impact.

 

Wolf Savage landed. He pushed Godan to the side, grabbed the hilt of the rapier, and sent a surge of energy through it. The demon’s head exploded.

 

“That,” Wolf Savage said, bring the rapier up and twirling it around. “I should have put more power into it when I first attacked.” Wolf Savage put the rapier in his holster, placed his hands on his hips, and smiled. “He was tougher than I imagined!”

 

“More likely, you’re not as tough as you think you are,” Godan said, glaring at Wolf Savage as he wiped the chunks of demon off himself. He sniffed at Wolf Savage rapidly.

 

“Is there a problem?” Wolf Savage asked.

 

“Plenty,” Godan looked him over. “You smell really familiar.”

 

They heard a commotion behind them. They turned around, and saw a woman pushing her way through the slowly emerging crowd of students.

 

“Looks like the student we saved is coming to thank us!” Wolf Savage said.

 

Godan cringed. “I think you’ll be surprised.”

 

The woman emerged, notepad in hand.

 

“That’s not the chick we saved,” Godan said, sighing in relief.

 

“HEY, GUYS!” the woman said, reaching them. She took a deep breath.

 

“Hey yourself,” Godan said, rubbing the inside of his ear. “Don’t shout, will ya? My ears are still ringing from all the screaming and roaring.”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” the woman composed herself. “I’m Imogene McDonald, DJ and intern at WIDR. Can I interview you two?”

 

“Interview?” Wolf Savage’s eyes widened.

 

“No,” Godan said, “me and this guy have to ta—”

 

“I’d love to chat!” Wolf Savage said, getting in front of Godan. “Ignore him—he’s grumpy.”

 

Imogene grinned. “Great! Who are you?” she asked, pointing her pen at them.

 

Wolf Savage pounded his chest. “I’m Wolf Savage, guardian of Windsor, and Canada’s most well know superhero!”

 

“Really?” Imogene wrote it down, “so does that mean you’re with the Ontario student group that traveled here for the Renaissance Festival?”

 

“Yes, I am!”

 

Imogene looked him directly in the eyes. “So you must be student then? What school do you attend? What year?”

 

Wolf Savages smile disappeared.

 

Nice, Godan thought, grinning.

 

Wolf Savage smiled again. “No, I’m not a student! I just heard about this trip and, going on some information that I got from my contacts, thought it would be good idea to shadow them.”

 

“Your contacts?” Imogene stopped writing. “So you knew this was going to happen?” She pointed at the headless demon. “Did you tell anyone in the group? Anyone here at WMU?”

 

Godan covered his mouth, trying to contain his laughter.

 

“No, because I didn’t want to needlessly alert anyone in case my contacts were wrong!”

 

He’s got an answer for everything, Godan thought.

 

Imogene tried to ask another question, but was interrupted by Wolf Savage. “I’m just glad I was here to help before anyone got hurt. Did I mention that this is my first time visiting the United States?”

 

Imogene shook her head.

 

“It is! I’m glad to say that I’ve helped out here!”

 

“That’s awesome,” Imogene said, writing down in her notes. “And how long have you known The Gray Wolf of Chicago,” she asked, pointing her pen at Godan.

 

Wolf Savage suddenly looked at Godan, wide-eyed. “THAT’S THE GRAY—” Wolf Savage then pretended to cough, and composed himself.“A long time, in fact!” he put his arm around Godan’s shoulder. “Ol’ Gray and I are longtime buddies.”

 

Godan glared at him. “I never even knew you existed until today.”

 

Wolf Savage bit his lip and looked at Imogene, who was giggling. He then noticed various flashes, and saw the students gathering closer, taking pictures with their cameras and phones.

 

“How about you, Godan?” Imogene said. “Why so far from Chicago?”

 

Godan waved his hand. “No comment.”

 

“Oh, come on!” Imogene got closer. “Can I get at least one comment, pretty please?”

 

The crowd had completely surrounded the trio—most of them praising Godan and asking him for an autograph or a picture.

 

“Godan is just a little anxious being around this many people after a hard battle,” Wolf Savage said. “If you would like, Miss McDonald, I can fly us to someplace where we can give you a more in-depth interview.”

 

Imogene perked up. “I have a better idea.” She flipped over the paper in her notepad. “Want to be on my radio show? You two can be my first ever interviewees on it!”

 

No,” Godan mumbled.

 

“We’ll do it!” Wolf Savage said. “What the time and place?”

 

Imogene wrote down the time and location of WIDR’s offices, ripped the page out of her notepad, and handed it to Wolf Savage, who assured them that they would be there.

 

“Cool, I’ll see you guys then!” she said,

 

Godan pinched Wolf Savage’s arm. “Fly us out of here, now.”

 

Wolf Savage looked at his arm. “You better not have ripped my suit!” he muttered.

 

“Or what, you’ll blow me up?”

 

“That’s one possibility.”

 

“You couldn’t even find your way here with a map, asshole,” Godan pointed at him. “You expect me to think you’ll—”

 

Wolf Savage put his arm around Godan’s waist. “Fine, let’s talk.”

 

Wolf Savage flew them away from campus. The crowd cheered, chanting both of their names. Imogene pumped her fist and congratulated herself.

Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke

Godan Blood Harmony by Garret Schuelke (Part One)

Fiction, Garret Schuelke, Horror, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine

Godan4Sketch.jpg

Pain shot through Gareth’s face. He screamed, turned to the side, and covered his cheek.

“You really have been pounding the bottle hard,” he heard someone above him say. He heard some slurping. “I could probably get drunk on your blood.”

Gareth pulled his hand away. In the moonlight, he saw blood cover his palm. He turned around, looked up, and saw a muscular figure wearing a sleeveless undershirt and jeans standing over him, licking his nail.

“That’s my sweatshirt you’re wearing,” the figure said, leaning forward. “Mind giving it back before we begin?”

Gareth growled. “Begin what? Making out?”

The figure punched Gareth in the face, making his head bounce against the gondola. Gareth caught the second blow, and pushed him back. He tried to stand up, but the trains movement made him stumble back down onto his backpack.

“Never mind,” the figure said, brushing his hand through his buzz cut, “it’s just a sweatshirt. You can wear it in your grave.”

Gareth felt his hand brush the neck of his whiskey bottle. He grabbed it, and threw it at the figure.

“Pathetic,” the figure said as he swatted the bottle away. “I’m starting to think I got the wrong guy.”

The figure noticed that Gareth was no longer in front of him. He looked down the gondola and sw Gareth tying on his mask.

“Nope, it’s you.” The figure hummed. “Wait, don’t you have…”

Gareth’s hair turned gray, and his claws grew, as he transformed.

“Yep, my assassins weren’t imagining things.”

“WHAT ARE YOU BABBLING ABOUT?!” Godan yelled, getting into a battle stance. “WHO ARE YOU?!”

“Take a good look, dog,” the figure said, crossing his arms. “You spent all that time in my house—surely you saw a picture or two of me hanging about.”

Godan glared. “What house?”

“Come on, really?” He suddenly glared at Godan and bared his teeth, revealing fangs. “The one you just burnt down, asshole!”

Godan’s eyes widened. His thoughts immediately went to the portrait he first saw in the hallway of the house when he broke into it, which featured a man wearing a suit and a woman in a lab coat wearing some sort of crown.

“You’re him,” Godan stiffened, “You’re Dia’s lover— ”

“See? I knew you were just playing dumb.”

“You’re that Lord Ruthven guy!

He rolled his eyes. “It’s just ‘Lord Ruthven’, okay?”

Godan took a deep breath. “How did you find me?”

“That was easy enough.” Lord Ruthven tapped his temple. “Just as my assassins were mentally linked to one another, I’m connected to them as well. I saw everything they saw—what you did to them, what Dia did—”

Godan’s anger grew. “So, you’re here for revenge?!”

“Revenge? Yes, I…wait, what do you think I’m here for?”

Godan raised an eyebrow. “Because I was fucking Dia while you weren’t around, then she up and died?”

“Jesus, Christ,” Lord Ruthven mumbled as he face palmed himself. “No, I don’t give a fuck about that werewolf freak!”

“Okay, then why are you here. I’m stumped.”

“Like I said,” Lord Ruthven took his hand away and balled it into a fist, “ you burnt down MY. FUCKING. HOUSE!”

Godan stared at him.

Lord Ruthven’s anger grew. “What are you staring at?”

“You’re coming after me for burning down your house?”

“Yes, you stupid canine! Just how thick is your goddamn skull?!”

Godan shook with rage. “FUCK YOU!” he yelled, pointing at the vampire. “FUCK YOUR HOUSE, FUCK DIA…”

Lord Ruthven began to turn into mist.

“FUCK TRAVERSE CITY, AND AGAIN, FUCK…”

Godan watched as Lord Ruthven disappeared.

“You…” Godan trailed off. He looked around rapidly. Where he go, he thought, getting back into a battle stance.

Lord Ruthven materialized behind Godan and put him in a headlock. “Before I pop your head off, I’ll tell you how I found you, since I kind of just went ahead and change the subject there,” Lord Ruthven squeezed Godan’s neck as he leaned into his ear. “I followed my noise—which was an easy way to track you, since you stink!”

Godan swung his neck to the side, and flung it back, bashing Lord Ruthven in the face. The vampire released him. Godan jumped back, then rushed at him, smashing Lord Ruthven in the chest with his elbow, ramming him against the wall.

“Exposing your neck like that,” Lord Ruthven coughed, “pretty ballsy move to do in the clutches of a vampire!”

“If those weirdo ‘assassins’ of yours are any indication, then I don’t have anything to worry about.”

Lord Ruthven noticed the scratch he made on Godan’s cheek closing up.

“Nice healing factor,” he said, grabbing Godan’s arm. “Let’s see how well it fares against a true king of the undead!”

Godan swiped at his face. Lord Ruthven instantly turned into mist. Godan’s claws went through the air, spinning him around. He looked around for and saw Lord Ruthven on the other side of the gondola.

“DAMMIT!” Godan yelled.

Lord Ruthven held his hand out and grunted. Godan felt something wrap around his body, and he was propelled forward. Before he could break free, he fell into Lord Ruthven’s arms, and was put into a bear hug.

“Too easy!” the vampire said, biting into his neck.

Godan gritted his teeth. He tried pulling his head away. Lord Ruthven tightened his embrace and sucked harder. Godan screamed as he tried to head butt with no luck.

Godan stopped struggling. It worked once, he thought. Godan opened his mouth, threw his head down, and bit into Lord Ruthven’s shoulder.

“SHIT!” Lord Ruthven yelled, releasing Godan and pushing him to the ground. “YOU FILTHY ANIMAL!”

“Just like your ‘assassins’,” Godan spit Lord Ruthven’s blood out of his mouth. “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it!”

“Oh yeah, you did bite one of them,” Lord Ruthven put his hand up again. This time, Godan felt a force smash into him, sending him flying across the train. “Absolutely disgusting!”

Godan stood up. He noticed Lord Ruthven’s arm begin to bulge.

“Remember this, wolf boy?!” Lord Ruthven yelled as his palm opened. Bats burst forth and went straight towards the Gray Wolf.

Godan charged at the bats. He slashed at them rapidly, making his way towards Lord Ruthven.

Well, damn, Lord Ruthven thought, he’s actually deflecting them. He concentrated his power, shooting more bats at a higher velocity.

Godan slashed faster. Seeing Lord Ruthven’s smiling face between the bats filled him with rage. He launched himself forward. The bats sunk their teeth and claws into his skin. He grabbed Lord Ruthven’s hand and pinned it against the wall.

“Your slave tried that already!” Godan yelled. “It didn’t work.”

Lord Ruthven laughed. “Oh, dog,” he said, shaking his head. He used his other hand to flick off a bat that was chomping on Godan’s shoulder, “ Dia’s memory says differently.”

Godan threw a punch. Lord Ruthven turned into mist and reappeared behind him. Godan tried kicking him. Lord Ruthven hopped back.

“What, did Dia keep you updated on how her brainwashing of me was going?!” Godan asked, ripping the other bats off of himself.

Lord Ruthven put his hands on his hips. “I extracted the entire adventure you two had when I was draining her corpse. Her psychic abilities come from me, so of course I could search her mind like I could my assassins.”

Godan tore off the last bat. “She would have been just as rotten without your ‘powers’.”

“Agreed. She thought of me only as her ticket out of the woods—”

“Well, you’re right about that.” Godan crushed the last bat.

Lord Ruthven sighed. “Indeed. But I learned after taking her in—the first time sleeping together, in fact—that you can’t take the beast out of the forest.” Lord Ruthven grinned. “By the way, how was your visit to Alpena? Was it a nice homecoming, hick?

Godan threw the bat at Lord Ruthven, who swatted it away, and leapt at him. Lord Ruthven once again turned to mist as Godan slashed through him.

Vanilla, Godan thought, picking up the scent as he turned around. He continued trying to attack Lord Ruthven, who kept turning into mist. It’s the same smell that was in the air when I first met Dia!

Godan stopped, closed his eyes, and concentrated on the scent. He caught it directly above him. He opened his eyes, and launched himself upward.

Lord Ruthven reformed himself. He looked down and saw Godan’s knuckles. Godan uppercuted him. WHAT?!, he thought as his head snapped back.

He fell onto the tracks. Godan landed and grabbed his leg before he could react. He spun Lord Ruthven around, and threw him towards the woods.

Godan heard a large tree fall. He slid down the track and ran towards the continued cracking sounds. He looked saw a leg and arm of Lord Ruthven’s sticking out from under a tree. He walked up and kicked his foot. Lord Ruthven did not move.

“Asshole,” Godan muttered, spitting on Lord Ruthven’s hand. He ran up onto the track and sped back towards the train.

The spit ran down Lord Ruthven’s hand. Suddenly, it became clenched, and shook until blood began to drip.

“CANINE BASTARD!” Lord Ruthven yelled. He closed his eyes. No more holding back, he thought.

Wings shot out of his back. They grew in size as Lord Ruthven’s muscles began to bulge. His nails extended, and he grunted as he became taller.

“FUCKING MUTT!” Lord Ruthven shouted. A blast of fire erupted, destroying the tree that was on top of him and scorching the area around him.

Lord Ruthven stood up. Horns grew out of his forehead. He let out an howl, and took flight.

Godan sat down on one of the mounds. He stretched. Doing so revealed the damage he took during the battle. It dawned on him that, despite the pain he was in, he did not care to heal himself.

He went over the fight in his head, and thought about how Lord Ruthven gave off a vanilla scent when he turned to mist. He remembered that Dia had the same scent, and began tearing up.

“Goddammit,” he said, wiping his eyes as a heaviness expanded in his chest.

He heard a howl. No, Godan thought, standing up. He heard the howl again, closer this time. He got into a battle stance.

Lord Ruthven landed in the gondola . He stretched himself out, and roared at the Gray Wolf.

He looks like the second assassin, Godan thought, recalling his battle with the vampire assassin in the Grand Traverse Mall, who also transformed.

They stared at each other. Godan growled, and Lord Ruthven did the same. They inched closer to each other.

“So, are you going to try frying me, or what?” Godan asked, breaking the silence.

Fire engulfed Lord Ruthven’s fists. Godan braced himself. The fires then disappeared.

“No,” Lord Ruthven said, his voice considerably deeper. “Beating you to death will be more rewarding!”

Godan charged at Lord Ruthven, his fist cocked back. Lord Ruthven did the same. They threw their punches, their fists connecting, Godan flew back into the wall.

“Wow, he got stuck,” Lord Ruthven said as he watched Godan struggle to free himself from the indentation his body made in the wall.

The train halted. Lord Ruthven tripped, slamming his face into a mound. The train began moving again. Godan popped out of the wall.

“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Lord Ruthven yelled, leaping at him. Godan dodged the vampires claws, and slashed at his shoulder. Lord Ruthven grunted, and shot into the air. Godan jumped after him.

“YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T TAKE ME IN THE AIR!” Lord Ruthven yelled, extending his palm.

Godan knew that a fire ball was coming. When he was at level with Lord Ruthven’s chest, he threw a punch at it.

Lord Ruthven recoiled, spitting up blood that splashed onto Godan’s face. The Gray Wolf shook his head, grabbed a hold of his shoulder, and threw another punch at his chest. This time, Godan’s fist went through.

They fell back into the gondola, which was starting to slow down. Godan pulled his arm out and backed off. Lord Ruthven held his chest, wailing and twisting about.

The train stopped. Godan grabbed his backpack and jumped over the wall. He landed on the tracks, put his backpack on, and ran down the street. He noticed a sign that said ‘Kalamazoo Transportation Center’.

“HEY, YOU!” a cop yelled, running towards Godan, drawing his taser

“Shit,” Godan muttered, raising his hands.

“ON THE GROUND—NOW!”

A loud roar came from the train. The civilians around the area froze. Lord Ruthven rose above the gondola. Blood flowed freely from the hole in his chest, dripping down onto the street. His hands erupted into flames. He roared again, and flew towards Godan.

Godan prepared himself. Lord Ruthven put both of his arms in front of him. The flames became thicker, concealing his face from view.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” the cop yelled while backing away. He took out his gun and tried to draw a bead on the vampire.

Godan ran towards Lord Ruthven. Before they could collide, Godan slid underneath him and grabbed him by the leg. Using all his strength as he was dragged along the concrete, Godan whipped Lord Ruthven to the side. The vampire flew across the station and smashed into a bus. Godan jumped on top of him as he hit the ground.

“BLAST HIM!” Godan yelled, holding Lord Ruthven’s arms down, hoping that his weight would restrain him.

The cop came up, violently shaking. Godan yelled at him again to shoot the vampire. The cop asked what it was. Lord Ruthven’s hands started to become enflamed again.

“JUST SHOOT HIM THE HEAD, ASSHOLE!” Godan shouted.

The cop put the gun to the top of Lord Ruthven’s head and fired until he was empty. Flames ceased to form on Lord Ruthven’s hands, and he became still.

“Took you long enough,” Godan said, letting go of Lord Ruthven’s arms. “I thought you pigs were supposed to instantly kill anything you deemed a threat?”

The cop called in for backup. Godan got up, flipped the him off, and sprinted down the street. He head the cop yell at him as he made his way towards downtown.

Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke

Garrett Sch

LITTLE PRETTY DEATHS BY LARAMORE BLACK

Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Laramore Black, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine

Whiskey is the only sweetener for the coffee in the kitchen. A drink of the person with nerves returning from an edge, but not quite ready to be absorbed by sleep. They think back to earlier in the evening, about how the shadows switched places with the light repeatedly. As if there were no measurable barrier separating the two. Panic almost set in at the thought, out of fear of the darkness and light trading places for good. And maybe, it did. But the light was extinguished before any dread for possible repercussions of such a reality could sink in.

Then skin.

So much skin. Some soft. Some more rugged and hairy. Masculine or feminine, some in-between and even neither. It doesn’t matter to the entity seen in everything. Bonobos returning to Eden. Candy-flipping done in the right settings removes sin, just as easily as clothing. Sometimes awareness comes to the surface beyond the feelings, only to be entranced into bliss by the rhythm of heartbeats and breathing in near unison. Hours can feel like orgasms or maybe something more in the feeling of so many feelings instead of the incessant thinking that rules us during the daily struggles of being.

So sticky.

Massage oils and fluids. Sweat soaked in every fabric and shared together in every pore. Writhing and whispering nothings like prayers to keep the night moaning. More hours swirl with touching. Stroking. Fingernails lightly dragging. Cuddling and cumming. Kissing miles around bodies, in search of a distance yet to be reached. A high sustained by the next capsules quickly turns to limp limbs and shallow breathing. A her before this storm of unknowing tries to crawl out of the puddle, reaching for a purse to make one final phone call.

They reach out and grab her arm to stop it.

“9…1…1,” she softly says.

They wrap both their arms around her, hugging her body against theirs with one hand gently stroking her shoulder.

“Aren’t they all so beautiful?” They ask, “Why wouldn’t you die so pretty too?”

Flickers of confusion and weak desperation pass over her eyes like clouds only hiding the induced look of absolute love and acceptance in short instance before all together fading. Auras that once wrapped themselves around bodies thicken the air. A spectrum of colors accent the beautiful bodies entangled with one another on the bed as a weak light sneaks in between cracks in the curtains. Less than half an hour is all that can be devoted to admiration with time measured only by the presence of steam rolling off the bitter cup of coffee found left on the burner from days before.

They pull the remaining powder mixed in crystals in a baggie from a pair of jeans thrown on the floor and pour it into one last capsule. Then burn the cellophane into nothing with a lighter and the crisp burnt plastic smell fills the air as they wash the last of the ecstasy down with a sip of lukewarm coffee.  They dial three suggested numbers on a phone from a purse before joining the other bodies in their place on the bed. The room still pulsing with energy is engulfed by sleep.

It seems like the darkness will go on forever and the thinker will cease.

***

Lights pulse from beyond the veil of eyelids, and a voice referring to their body as a she tells them they are going to make it and just how lucky they are to be alive in such a serious case of fentanyl overdose. Glimpses of a reflection in something stainless seem so unfamiliar and animal-like with feelings still only wanting to feel everything without logic or reason, while the darkness and light seem to go on trading places.

 

BIO: Laramore Black is a writer of various styles attached to the noir fiction label. They have been on a traveling hiatus for some years, but recently was accepted into a writing residency at the Osage Arts Community to produce new work.

Little Pretty Deaths -(pixabay.com)

DUST TO DUST BY MARK SLADE

Close To The Bone, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mark Slade, Private Eye, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

 

WITCH FOR HIRE PUBLISHER'S FINAL COVER

Here’s a story for you.

This was about eight or nine years ago, just when I first bought the building which has become my shop/office/place of residency.

Francis and her friend Jan came in my shop by accident. There was a pale blue box sitting on the counter by an old book of Virginia folk songs. They stood at the door, looking about the cluttered place. Francis wasn’t keen on staying. She felt claustrophobic. Dust floated about in the air, which always caused Francis skin to itch, and her nose to twitch. Jan wandered around touching books stacked above her head and different pieces of pottery with missing parts. She found a record trough and immediately began thumbing through them. Francis didn’t move an inch, for fear of catching scurvy or worse.

“Look at this,” Jan said shaking her head. “My mother’s vinyl collection. Nothing worse than Rick Astley.” She looked up at Francis. “Oh no. You’re not having one of your germ fits again.”

“I’m not moving an inch until we leave.” Francis’ face tightened in a frown.

“You’re hopeless.”  Jan went back to flipping through the records.

“You said this was a shoe store.” Francis said in a huff.

Francis looked at the sign that hung above her. Francis stood under the flailing sign and mouthed both names. EVELINA’S CURIOSITY SHOPPE, EVELINA GILES: WITCH. The other side said Haverty’s. She clucked her tongue and shook her head.

“I haven’t had time to buy a proper sign,” I said. “Nor the capitol, for that matter.”

Francis shrugged. “It happens.”

I felt her eyes move up and down on me, and her disapproval. She walked away and went to her friend Jan. They whispered back and forth. I was curious as what they were saying to each other. Because both of them took turns glancing at me and went back whispering. I know what you’re going to say. Who cares what people think? Yeah, right. You do. And so do I!

So I thought of the spell and rewound the tape so to speak. Then I thought of another spell that made their whispers easier to hear.

“Who the hell does she think she is?” Francis said.

Jan looked at me. “She says she owns this place? No way. She’s all of twenty?”

“Mhm,” Francis said. “I thought she was fifteen. She’s a teeny bopper trying to dress like mommy.”

“Oh my God,” Jan muffled a chuckle with the palm of her hand. “That skirt is wayyyyyy too short. Her legs are like a stork.”

“That’s it,” Francis nodded. “Mommy and Daddy actually own this place.”

Those bitches!! My legs are like a stork? Ohhh, fuck you……

 

Jan went back to being preoccupied with the vinyl records, picking one up every few seconds reading the contents on the back of the jacket. “I guess I was wrong, then.”

“This is ridiculous, Jan. I want to leave.” Francis stamped her feet.

“If you want to leave, leave. Wait for me in the car.”

Francis looked at the door, her face fell. She sighed. “You know I can’t do that.” It was true. Francis could only walk through a closed door if someone did it first. A bad habit she developed after her husband Mick left her six months ago. When she and Jan have to work, Jan picks her up in the mornings, Jan has to go out the door first.

Jan walked away from the record trough. “Alright. You really need to see a psychiatrist about this problem. Well, problem among problems—-”

“Wait!” Francis eyes moved to the counter where the cash register was. “What’s that over there,” She pointed at the pale blue box. She rushed to the counter.

“You are too freakin’ weird, Francis Scofeild.!” Jan followed Francis, shaking her head. “It looks like an ordinary cigar box.”

“I don’t think so……” Francis moved to touch the box when a man popped out from behind a curtain that separated the rooms.

“Don’t touch that!” The man cried out in a shrill voice.

Francis and Jan jumped. “Where did you come from?” Jan said, catching her breath. “Wait…what happened to that teeny—young lady?”

The man was taken aback. “What young lady? I’m the only one here.”

Francis asked a more important question. “Why can’t we touch it?” Francis was intrigued by the box. “Is it for sale?”

“You want to buy a cigar box?” Jan cackled.

The man winced.

“You are so weird,” Jan went on to say.

The man wore a pinstripe suit with a white bow tie. He took a comb from his breast pocket, and combed his thick bushy mustache, then placed it back the breast pocket of his pinstripe jacket. “If you touch that box, it becomes attached to you. It will never leave your side.” He retrieved the comb from that breast pocket and ran it through his greasy receding hairline, and put it away again.

Jan cackled again, a noise that could pierce eardrums. The man winced, he turned two evils to Jan, who at once backed away from the counter.

“And yes,” The man said to Francis in a whisper. “For the right price.”

Francis nodded, studying the pale blue box. “What’s inside, “She said after a few moments.

The man shrugged uneasily. “I—I—I don’t know.”

“You don’t know, “Jan said mockingly. “C’mon, Francis. Let’s leave.” Jan took Francis by the arm to lead her out. Francis pulled away, went back to the counter. “Francis. Let’s leave.” She said it in that Motherly tone that Francis always hated.

“Surely you know the contents of this box. You know about every item you sell,” Francis said to the man.

He shook his head. “Not this. The owner, Mr. HAVERTY. He won’t tell me what’s in it. And I’ve learned the hard way not to question him.” The man pulled the sleeve on his coat to reveal a discolored skin and a burn mark of three interlocking circles.

“What happened there?” Francis moved away from the man’s arm, worried it might be catching.

“I lit some candles I was not supposed to.” The man closed his eyes to rid himself of the painful memory. “Only one. Before Mr. HAVERTY stopped me from lighting the rest.”

Jan clucked her tongue. “It just looks like a freaky tattoo to me.”

The man cut his eyes at Jan. “That’s what I get for not listening to Mr. Haverty.”

“Where is Mr. Haverty? Is he in?” Jan said.

“No, he is not,” the man rolled his eyes. “Are you interested in buying this box?” He sniffed. “ It’s two hundred dollars.”

“C’mon Francis, he’s conning you.” Jan tried again to take Francis arm. She shook Jan off.

“I want this,” She told Jan confidentially. “I don’t know why…..I just do……I’m……drawn to it.”

At this point Jan was considering having her friend committed. But she also took pity on her. She had only Jan and the job in the office that was it. Jan let out a deep sigh. She touched her friend’s elbow. “Okay, dear.” Approval is what she needs now, approval she’ll get, Jan thought.

“Give me two hundred dollars, then.” Francis held out her hand with a huge smile on her face.

A sale was made. Jan and Francis left with the box. The man who sold the box to them pocketed the money. He went to a mirror that was perched on an oak table, the wall propping it up. The man vanished, and I reappeared. I turned to the left, then to the right.

“My legs do not look like stork, bitch!”

 

****

Francis was sitting on the couch, just staring at the pale blue box on her coffee table. She hadn’t opened the box at all. She was very curious, but remembered what the man in the gift shop said. Still, she wanted to know what was inside…….

She picked up her cell phone and called Jan. It rang twice, went straight voice mail. Francis closed the lid on her phone and thought a moment. She stood, slowly ambled to the kitchen. She grabbed a bag of chips and turned to head back to the living room when she saw the box sitting on the kitchen table.

“Boy, that guy wasn’t kidding. Touch it, and it won’t leave your side,” Francis shrugged went back to the living room. She sat carelessly on the couch. The box was back on the coffee table. “Good grief,” She said.

She quickly dialed Jan again. This time she answered on the first ring.

“What, Francis? What?” Jan sounded annoyed.

“It follows me wherever I Go, Jan,” Francis retorted in quick succession.

“I thought your cat ran away.” Jan yawned.

“I’m not talking about the cat, Jan.”

“What are you talking about?” Jan yawned again.

“The fucking box!” Francis screamed into her phone.

“My God,” Said Jan. “Do you have to be so loud? Go to sleep, Francis.”

“It’s getting on my nerves. I don’t know what to do,” Francis said frantically.

“Well, I know what I’m going to do,” Jan said.

“What’s that?” Francis had excitement in her voice.

“Get some sleep,” Jan hung up.

Francis tossed her cell phone on the coffee table. “Bitch.”

Jan rang the doorbell of Francis apartment. She heard Francis call out for her to enter. Jan saw Francis sitting on the couch, still in her nightgown.

“What are you doing? We are going to be late for work.” Jan took a few steps inside, closed the door. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Francis staring intently at the pale blue box. “Oh no,” Jan said, sighed. “Francis, you’ve been up all night, staring at that stupid box.” Jan sat next to Francis, letting her fall to the floor.

“I can’t help it. I want so badly to see what’s inside, but I’m afraid of what will happen if I do.” Francis rubbed her eyes, thinking of how much she dreaded going to work.

“This is my fault. I shouldn’t have took you to that place. You better get dressed, Francis. You know how Maggie hates you.  You’re always on her shit- list.”

Maggie Frank was the manager at the call center, and she hated all of the operators.  Their jobs were to answer questions about the insurances HI-LOW sold.  Maggie and her assistants listened to every call. She critiqued everyone. But Francis was always the one she used as an example in every meeting. She was an extremely harsh woman.  Company allowed a 45 percent success rate how good customer service and how well the customers rate you. Maggie’s rate was 80 percent. Her operators mostly had a 65 percent. Francis received a 35 percent over the last 60 days.

They arrived at the office still arguing over being late.  It was only one other person there, as the other three operators had quit last week.  Bill, who sat in cubicle next to them, let them know right away that the dragon lady was at a meeting, they were safe.

“You girls are damn lucky the dragon lady is out. Out partying late?” Bill leered at them. Once, at lunch, he mentioned in passing of inviting both of them to his place later that night and having a few drinks. Well….if that might lead to something between the three of them…..

Needless to say, Jan, who was driving, left him stranded downtown at the cafe they were.

“Shut-up, Bill.”  Jan said. “Your Mother still dressing you, I see.”

Francis giggled.  “I bet he still keeps her in the basement with the other stiffs he dates.”

Jan cackled. Bill winced, his face looked as if he ate a lemon. Jan placed her headset on her head, started up her computer. She saw the pale blue box sitting on Francis desk.

“You’re kidding me,” Jan said. “Francis, you brought that box with you?”

Francis made a face. “I told you. That thing follows me wherever I go. I can’t get rid of it.”

Bill looked at around the corner from his cubicle.  “Smoking cigars now, Francis. How butch of you.”

Francis crumpled a sheet of typing paper into a ball and threw it at Bill. It nearly missed him.

“My headset isn’t working,” Francis rose from her desk.

Her elbow brushed the pale blue box. It fell from her desk and fell on its side. During the fall, the lid on the box opened. Francis looked on in horror, her hand covering her gaping mouth. Her eyes cut to Jan, then to the box. Her hand covered her mouth.

“Oh GOD! Oh, good GOD! Oh, God. Oh, God, oh, God, God, God, God, God, God, God………Goddddddddddd!” Francis trembled.

Jan went to her side. She looked on, with that I told you so expression. Jan picked up the box, dumped out whatever was supposed to have been in it.

“Nothing,” Jan said. Then she cackled. “Nothing in that stupid box.”

“What’s going to happen now?” Francis was still trembling.

“Nothing, you stupid woman!” Jan shook her friend violently. Haverty ripped you off! Wait,” She thought a moment. “He ripped me off!”

“Haverty?” Bill spoke in a whisper.

“What, Bill? You been there?” Jan said. “The whole time?”

Bill shook his head yes. He looked up at Jan. Francis knelt beside the box and reached out to touch it. Suddenly, her nose began to twitch. Her face contorted. She buried her head in her hands and sneezed.

Bill was lost in his thoughts. “He sold some candles to my sister.”

“So?” Jan shrugged, started back to her cubicle.

“He told her not to light the candles. They found her body burned beyond recognition. Her house wasn’t touched by the fire.” He said, looked at both of them incredulously. “Not one flame burned anything in that house.”

At this point, Jan heard a strange, low grumble from behind her. She cocked her head, heard it again. No, it wasn’t a grumble, but growling. Like a dog or a wolf…..

Bill let out a shrill cry as Jan turned to find Francis face to face with her. Francis eyes had turned a weird milky white. The pupils were almost non-existent, and long purple veins were pulsating throughout her yellow-skinned face.

Francis threw back her head and several panic-stricken screams pierced Bill and Jan’s ears.

Bill began sobbing, crawled underneath his desk. He whispered a prayer he learned in Sunday school as a child over and over.

Francis grabbed Jan by her blouse and tossed her to the floor. Jan felt a stinging pain rise up through her body. Jan tried to get up but fell back. She looked up and saw Francis chasing Bill around the office, knocking the flimsy plastic cubicles over in her trek. Bill was screaming, calling out for help. Jan managed pick herself up and rushed towards Bill. She saw the stationary closet door open. She waited for Bill to lead Francis to it. Just as he turned the corner, Jan pushed Francis inside. She slammed the door shut and tried to hold the door in place. Jan called for Bill. He ran to her and helped hold the door. Francis was getting angrier and angrier, pushing, scratching, and bumping the door as hard as she could. They heard her cry out like a wounded animal, followed by several more inhuman screams.

“Push a desk in front of the door!” Jan commanded.

“He’ll do no such thing,” they heard a voice. The two of them turned and saw Maggie standing behind them. She was alone. Unusual. She always had an assistant at her side.  The tall, dark haired woman in her late forties stepped closer to them, her heels sounding like a round of bullets fired from a machine gun. Maggie was the ever consummate businesswoman. Business suits that obviously cost more than she could afford with her paycheck.

“I leave you three alone for twenty minutes and look……what the hell is going on——wait…….where is Francis?”

The three of them listened. A growl came from the stationary closet, nails clawing at the door.

“Is she in there?”  Maggie said.

Jan and Bill were silent. Scared out of their wits of Maggie, knowing their jobs were over. Maggie ushered them out of the way.  Bill and Jan gingerly moved from the door. Maggie stepped up and slung the door open. Before Francis could let out another round of screams, she sneezed.

A line of white stringy snot covered the top of Maggie’s lips and right cheek.

Maggie was flabbergasted. .Francis was confused. She slowly moved out of the closet. She saw the mess in the office. She walked toward Jan and Bill, they immediately backed away from her. Maggie wiped the snot from her face with a hand. She turned on her heels and screamed.

“You filthy animal!” Maggie was furious and embarrassed. “I’ll have all of your jobs for this disgusting joke!” She stormed into her office. The echo from the door slammed shut could be hear throughout the office building.

“What—-what—–happened here?” Francis pointed to the office.

“You don’t remember anything?” Jan looked her over, making sure her friend was back to normal.

Francis shrugged. “No,” she said. “What’s wrong with Bill?”

Bill was sitting in a corner, his thumb in his mouth. He was mumbling a prayer and rocking back and forth.

At the end of the day, they had calmed Bill and cleaned up the office. Maggie hadn’t stepped out of her office all day. Jan and Francis were getting ready to go home when Bill reminded them of the pale blue box under Francis desk.

Jan reached down and picked it up. With much joy and relief, she stuffed the wooden box into a trash can.

Inside her office, Maggie was sitting at her desk, stewing. The purple veins pulsated as they formed long deep creases in her body. Her eyes were a milky white.

The echo of several inhuman screams could be heard all through the empty office building.

Evelina Family Portrait_edited-2

PRE-ORDER MARK SLADE’S ‘WITCH FOR HIRE’ HERE

The Collared Kitten By Robert Alexander And Gabriella McCarthy

Horror, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Alexander And Gabriella McCarthy

kitty

Synopsis  

Crystal a twenty something escapee from a section arrives in London and is taken in by The Collared Kitten – a prestige club for discerning and a secret clientele.

Picked by Robert Alexander to be his particular Kitten – over the space of 48 hours her life goes from penury to luxury.

Both her and Robert Alexander have deep dark terrifying secrets that are shockingly revealed in this beautifully brutal and erotic horrific interlude.

Erotic Horror though thought of as a new emerging genre has actually been traversed historically through literature since dot. Books such as Bramstoker’s Dracula have always been popular in all forms.

Writing this book, myself and my co author – Robert Alexander, were always mindful that there were lines never to cross but also were liberated and thoroughly engrossed in the taboos that ensued and the excitement of broaching difficult subjects.

The book we created is both highly sexual but also brutally horrific and strangely from the first word, this was our intention.

We knew we had to write the story but it developed naturally and we bounced off each other so easily that erotic horror was always the way forward.

The publishing industry are now taking a keen interest in this forgotten genre where at first they seemed reticent – as if scared to be the first to embrace the underworld of authors who were creating such pieces and seeking out platforms to be heard.

It’s heartening to see such talent being rewarded and hopefully it shall continue –  as the results are often fantastically unique and a treat for both the authors and the readers.

Recommended Read: Isidora’s Pawn by Erik Hofstatter

Erik Hofstatte, Horror, Indie, International Noir, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Short Stories

 

i pawn

‘Orrin is desperate to escape life’s crushing banalities. Enter Dores, a charismatic Spanish librarian he befriends on Instagram. With a gratuitous job offer on the cards, he travels to León and begins a night shift in a place where the broken and weary congregate in healing silence. The medieval library is painted with images of raw and deformed beauty, rivers of anguish, self-torment, lonely exile, and unexplained sorrows. As Orrin explores blackest shadows of the library, he discovers further paintings of dozen children riding a giant goat glowing with human vitality. He’s about to become Isidora’s pawn. You’ll see what she wants you to see…’

Erik Hofstatter’s novella Isidora’s Pawn is short and bittersweet. A haunting torch song full of unsettling and rich imagery. Lovely cover too.  Recommended.

Drabble: Swamplands by Paul D. Brazill

Drabble, Elvis, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Music, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine

GWBElvis awoke in a cold, dank sweat, hungover from bourbon and bad dreams. The nightmares had consisted of him being hunted through a swamp by the murderous spectre of Jesse, his stillborn twin. His pounding heartbeat seemed to echo through the mansion. He stumbled into the bathroom, splashed cold water on his face and looked in the mirror, only to be confronted by his own ashen reflection and that of his grinning doppelganger. Jesse tightly wrapped the umbilical cord around Elvis’ throat and pulled it until Elvis breathed no more. The king is dead, long live the king, he muttered.

“Swamplands” was first published at Flashots in 2009.

Paul D. Brazill is here.

Fiction: Carcass by Paul D. Brazill

Blue Collar Noir, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Paul D. Brazill, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive

Ava drove her battered, old Ford Escort to the edge of the forest and parked beneath a pine tree. As she sat and watched the autumn rain batter the windscreen, she listened to the Siouxsie and The Banshees CD that Martin had given her for her birthday. It was a copy of a bootleg LP that his father had owned, apparently.

There were only a few songs on the CD, most of which she could take or leave but there was one that she really liked.  Martin had told her that one of the songs had been banned, for some reason that she couldn’t remember, and that his father had had to go to London’s Kings Road to get a bootleg vinyl version.  Martin talked a lot about old music and ancient bands and while some of it was interesting a lot was a just a dull blur of trivia. When he got together with his friends in the Art College bar it was even worse.

Still, Martin was sweet for the most part and a lot more likeable than most of Ava’s recent boyfriends. They’d had some nice times together, that was for sure. She’d even momentarily considered giving it a real go with him. Having a proper, normal relationship like other girls. It was so tempting but there was, however, as always, the problem of her family and their … ways.

She sighed and turned up the music to drown out the sound of banging that was coming from the car boot.

She was listening to the CD for the third time when she saw two tattooed and scarred behemoths appear out of the forest.  They had long black hair, unkempt beards and carried shotguns. Her father and her brother looked drunk, which was usually the case since her mother had died. Ava heard Ike, her father, howl as he approached the car. Her brother Barry lagged behind, swigging from a bottle of homemade vodka.

Ike banged on the roof of the car.

Ava wound down her window.

‘Fi, fi, fo, fum,’ said Ike.

‘He’s in the boot,’ said Ava.

‘Alive?’ said Barry.

‘Just about,’ said Ava.

She blinked.

Barry grinned and rubbed his stomach. She wound the window back up as they went to the back of the car and opened the boot. Her father howled again and he and Barry hauled Martin from the car. The young man kicked and struggled as Barry hauled him over his shoulders.  Ava turned up the volume again to cover the sound of Martin’s screaming.

Her father waved to her and walked back into the depths of the forest, whistling.  Barry trailed behind.

Ava started up the car and head back to Seatown. As she approached the outskirts of town the rain grew heavier. She noticed a young woman stood by the side of the road, hitchhiking. She was soaked to the skin. Ava felt sorry for her and stopped the car. The young woman got in.

‘Thanks,’ said the woman.

‘No problem,’ said Ava.

She put her backpack in the back seat and sat in the passenger seat.

‘What a night,’ she said, fastening her seat belt. ‘Not fit for man nor beast.’

She took off a baseball cap.

Ava blinked. The woman looked eerily familiar.

‘Hey, I know this music. It’s The Banshees. My brother listens to all this old punk stuff,’ said the woman. ‘He’s a man out of time.’

‘Your brother?’ said Ava, starting up the car.

‘Yeah, my twin brother Martin. I’m going to visit him in Seatown. He’s at art college there.’

Ava blinked quickly.

‘I know a short cut,’ said Ava, making a U-turn and heading back the way she’d come.

She took out her phone and dialled carefully.

‘Dad,’ she said. ‘I think we may have a guest for dinner.’

She switched off her phone as her father howled.

Bio: Paul D. Brazill‘s books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Last Year’s Man, and Kill Me Quick. He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Carcass was first published at the Flash Fiction Offensive.