Flammable Darkness, Interlude

 

Sparks. Find something that makes more sparks. The black slime creature had evaded the sparks sent out by the broken portal generator.  June ran to her kitchen with a crazy idea.

In the kitchen June kept a brown paper bag full of sparklers. They were leftover from last year’s July 4th.  She grabbed the bag and her cigarette lighter and ran back to the utility room.

June smoked, but not in the house. She never let her son see her do it, knowing the risks and all the scary stuff cigs were supposed to do. For once her bad habit could do something to save her life.

A sparkler was lit. The creature’s slick body reflected the light emitted from the sparkler. It slowly backed away toward the wall. June threw the sparklers at the creature. Not good enough. The creature evaded it until the sparks went out. Then it started to advance.

June went for bear and lit all of the sparklers, throwing them at the creature. So many sparks, so much light.

There was an audible wail as the sparks did their damage. It didn’t take much to quickly incinerate the creature until it was all smoldering ash.

FOOM

The creature exploded like one of those puffball fungi, filling the room with black, purple, and blue smoke. The smell of death and rotting flesh and decay washed over the room. June, lightheaded, was covered in the ash and ran out of the room coughing and sick to her stomach.

The ash was filling the house. June had to get out of there. she ran to the kitchen, opened the door, and out of the house. the whole house was filled with the smoke and ash, becoming clearly seen by the neighbors. Someone called the fire department. An ambulance was also sent.

*

“Oh thank God you’re safe,” said June’s mother Carol. Along with June’s mother were Frank and Anne, friends of June. Their children had invited little Eddy to stay over. Eddy was there to visit too.

June had been sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation while fire and rescue personnel searched the house. The entire inside of the house was covered in black soot and it had been determined that the fire started in the utility room.

“What happened?” asked Carol.

“I don’t remember. Electrical shortage maybe,” said June, “I feel fine.”

“No, I mean what happened to your eye?”

There was a bandage on her eye. June touched the gauze lightly.

“It doesn’t hurt. I don’t remember it being here.”

In walked a nurse to check on June. she politely asked friends and family to leave the room. Then a tall man in a black suit with a white overcoat showed up. June assumed he was a doctor.

“Hello, ma’am. I’m Doctor Thomas Phasmid. In addition to your smoke inhalation, we’ve done some tests on the type of smoke. It isn’t anything we’ve ever seen.”

“Why is my eye covered?” asked June.

“Well that’s what baffles us,” said Dr. Phasmid, “It appears the smoke infected that eye, but we were unsure as how to treat it.”

“I feel fine.”

“You’re also on pain killers. The infection was spreading. We  removed the eye.”

 

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

 

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Pork roast & Rice, interlude

Exquisitely blended pork roast, carrots, in gravy over brown rice. Simple and elegant.

–ad for “Spoiled Baby” brand cat food, found in “Mini Lion Zoological Review” magazine, June 1999 issue.

It hungers, interlude

black swampflat

“Maybe I can contain it,” June said to herself, “The police will never believe me.”

The portal generator wasn’t through transporting and its small size meant it wasn’t built for something so massive. The creature in June’s utility room slowly crept toward her. It would never be satisfied with a single meal and viewed June as fair game.

June remembered she kept a gun in her hall closet. How long did she have? The thing wasn’t giving chase so far. June found the box and opened it. The gun was missing.

The portal generator kept processing. The creature’s body flowed through like black honey with various luminescent colors here and there. Perhaps it was a mistake to go this way? The creature was stuck where it was until all of it was through the portal. It turned around and examined the machine. Oh, fairly simple; you just press here to speed it up.

June searched in her room for the gun. It was on her night stand but unloaded. She just liked the security while alone in the house. Now with loaded gun in hand, she ran to the utility room.

The creature was about through the portal. The portal generator was now moving faster. Just a little more.

June saw the creature concentrating on the portal generator.

BLAM BLAM

Two shots were fired and hit the creature in the head and chest. They passed harmlessly through it and into the wall. The creature ignored her, it was so fixed on getting fully out. What if she destroyed the portal generator? Whartleburg would not be able to come home.

BLAM BLAM

The portal generator blew apart and immediately stopped its work. The remainder of the creature would stay on the other side forever. It was like a faucet was turned off. June had the creature’s full attention.  That faceless head slowly turned toward her.

The lights in the hallway flickered and went out. Then the lights in the utility room started to flicker. In the renewed darkness could be seen two points of faint white light from deep within the creature’s face.

June stared at the creature and immediately regretted having destroyed the one thing it that might have saved her life. She could still see the remains of the portal generator spew sparks.

June saw the thing move this way and that to evade any sparks. Sparks. She had an idea and ran for the pantry in the kitchen.

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Black Swamp, interlude

“What if I helped?” asked Victoria, “All we need is a distraction, right?”

“You’re not trained yet,” argued Whartleburg.

“Perhaps I can help,” said Whevelbor, “I happen to know the instructor for Maantisazian school of Enzectozoid marshal arts. I cannot use his instruction myself, but let me pass on what I know.”

* * *

Meanwhile, back on earth, at June’s house, in her utility room, something was stirring.

The investigators who had tracked Victoria’s signature to the dimensional portal machine, located inside June’s house, forgot to turn off the device. It was left on Channel 3, a general, unprotected, public portal. Anything could freely go and come through that device. And it did. And it was hungry.

Ray, the lead investigator, and his two men were in the kitchen with June. He wanted to know where to find Victoria and was getting no where, when they heard the noise in the utility room.

“RRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”

June stayed in the kitchen. Ray and his men went to investigate. June quietly followed.

She saw Ray and company go into the room. They cringed and shot their weapons but it was not phased. June heard loud screaming, then silence.

After a few moments of silence, a white mist started to travel across the ground. June was compelled to enter the room.

It wasn’t fully out of the portal yet. Light was absorbed into its surface as it slowly crawled out of the portal.

It went by many names, as many as the number of cultures it had destroyed. Yet among all the names, there was one that had stuck. Survivors who reported it to authorities simply called it Black Swamp.

It didn’t have a face but June already knew it saw her. Solid black, humanoid, on the ground, more liquid than solid, it used its arms to thrash this way and that to get out of the portal.

Long since had it left its home far away. Constant travel to other dimensions wore its body down to the point where all that was left was sentient black sludge.

It didn’t care what it ate, so long as its prey came in contact, producing exhaust to move it along to its next meal. As it ate, so it grew. Now it was the size of a large house.

June didn’t know it yet, but she had half an hour to get to safety. Rather than try to fight it, should she try to run? Maybe she could contain it. The authorities would never believe her.

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Confession time, interlude 

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be honest with you, my son. There has been…so much to tell you. But I cannot tell you now.

Now you must handle things on your own. Before I go, I will tell you one, just one, element of truth, a truth of the real me. 

I’ve grown to love baked leftover cold salmon. Especially when it’s been marinated. There’s just something about it.

–From the audio book “Thursday Ceramic Cheers” on cassette tape from 1983.