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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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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Beauty and Exoskeletons, Interlude

Victoria Swansoncrop

 

Victoria’s luminescent yellow-green eyes were now curiously staring at Whartleburg. Having recently arrived via Channel Teleporter, thanks to June, she was expecting Whartleburg to take her under his wing.

“Who are you supposed to be?” asked Whartleburg. But he knew already; His instinct told him so.

“I’m June’s sister.”

Whartleburg didn’t know how to handle the revelation.

“I’m Whartleburg.”

The two stared at each other. For ten seconds, the world was frozen in time and nothing else mattered. Whartleburg suddenly could not move. He was transfixed in place, only able to see Victoria’s luminescent green and yellow eyes. Instinct told him it was a common trap that praying mantis type Enzectozoids used to catch their prey.

But then another image entered his mind. Salyria, tall and pale, her lavish gown, a wedding gift from Spider King Ahab, the same color as her sapphire eyes. Her long dark hair danced in the winds that endlessly chase at the height of her window outside the granite prison walls.

Her eyes were saddened, yet strong, determined to wait, knowing in her heart that Whartleburg would save her. At that moment her eyes met his. She saw Whartleburg from afar and her inward gaze was turned outward.

Salyria while in her prison was not helpless. Though not built for combat, she could still encourage the heart. She spoke briefly and the vision was gone:

Remember Salyria. Should Whartleburg give up now, all his efforts to oppose Spider King Ahab would be in vain.

Whatever huntress’ charm Victoria unknowingly had sent out shattered like glass, and Whartleburg was no longer smitten. He no longer saw the great beauty in the exoskeleton of Victoria Swanson, June’s sister. Instead he saw a confused, scared Enzectozoid woman. She needed training.

Whartleburg woke up and sprang to his feet.

“Hey, you’re alive! Thank God you’re alive!” Victoria was saying.

“You thought I was dead?” asked Whartleburg.

Victoria nodded.

“You were unaware of what you did? It’s called a Hunter’s Glare trap.”

“Hunter’s what?!”

“Lady, I cannot train you,” said Whartleburg, “Only a master in the Maantisazian school of Enzectozoid marshal arts can do that now.”

“What’s that?”

“The Maantisazian school is for Enzectozoids who are mantis, wheel bug, or other assassin types.”

“Who, me?” exclaimed Victoria, “I’m no killer.”

“Then show me,” said Whartleburg, “Put your hands up. Like you are praying.”

Victoria reluctantly put her hands up in front of her.

“Now close your eyes.”

At first she refused but Whartleburg convinced her it would be ok.
Whartleburg then picked up a rock and threw it right at Victoria.

Victoria quickly shot out her hand and snatched the rock out of the air. She looked at the stone, amazed she caught it. But then she realized the rock had been perfectly cut into three pieces.

“How’d I do that?”

“Your instincts make you attack anything that comes near. Until you can train, you cannot be yourself without causing violence,” said Whartleburg.

Just then, a swirling blue storm cloud boiled forth out of nothing six feet from the ground. From out of the swirling tempest emerged a giant. Muscular, white beard, light blue skinned and balding, The giant was sent to destroy the stronghold.

“My liege!” ran Whevelbor panting. “Reports have come in. The enemy knows the fortress is taken.”

“That explains why the giant is here,” said Whartleburg.

“My army has provided us transportation,” said Whevelbor.

Close to the fortress were several old military Jeeps.

“All we need to do is not get caught,” said Victoria.

“Can you still fight, my liege?” asked Whevelbor.

“It’s been a long day,” said Whartleburg, “But we must escape.”

Whartleburg raised his arms to summon his battle axes, but he knew already that he still did not have the strength to use them fully. The axes appeared, but then faded and returned whence they came.

“Alas, I need more strength,” said Whartleburg.

“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.”

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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Insurmountable Odds, Interlude

whartleburg

In a rush, the flaming portal closed with finality. Whartleburg was where he needed to be. Though June and her son Eddy wanted to go with him, Whartleburg knew they would only get in the way. Indeed even as he thought about his charges back on earth, in another dimension, the storm was brewing.

This would be the fight Whartleburg had been moving toward. He would do his best, he would push through. And when the dust settled, in a granite tower waited Salyria, his fiance. She had been waiting for him, should never have been waiting, but the Spider King Ahab wanted her. He could not be told no, and to keep her safe locked her up in frozen isolation, so no one could harm her. Whartleburg was the only opposition who had lasted this long. Though he too was caught and banished to an unknown dimension, thanks to Eddy and June here he was again.

From afar could be felt the presence of Spider King Ahab driving forward his armies. First send in the weaker thugs to wear him down, next the tougher ones, then the champions. And should he succeed still, well we’ll just see what happens next. His Arachness Spider King Ahab will not get up unless he must.

In came the bikers, whooping and hollering. Whartleburg brandished his twin giant axes and bared his mandibles. Suddenly something overshadowed him. What’s this? A pincer attack! From behind were more bikers. Among them was a great hulking guy whirling around his head heavy chains.

“This is the end, Whartleburg!” shouted the great biker.

Whartleburg threw his twin axes and looked at the big man.

“What goes around comes around. That includes razor sharp spinning axe blades.”

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

The next chapter: “Reminiscence.”

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Violent Cartoon Based Interlude

wpid-2015-11-02-20.15.09.jpg.jpeg

Whartleburg the Whalloper, part of the “Enzectozoid” toy line, a ripoff generic toy from more popular ones in the past. It was a humanoid beetle-man with purple rippling muscular anatomy, held in it hands a double axe bigger than the figure. The best feature of the toy was a button on the back that when pressed opened and closed a set of functional large pincers where its mouth should be, just under its bulging green eyes, able to firmly grip simple objects. Or, according to the back of the packaging, to crush guns, knives, swords, dino jaws, helicopter blades, or whatever the wicked Spider King Ahab had in mind to send to destroy his most hated nemesis.

Eddy’s mother, June, thought it looked hideous. It exploited violence in an already over active six-year-old boy; he didn’t need it. But Eddy’s pleas had gotten to where his mother dreaded taking her son to the store, simply because she knew that particularly hideous action figure would be there waiting.

Now the wait was over. Eddy could not believe he held Whartleburg the Whalloper in his hands. His whining had ceased, and his expression of awe had not changed since he and his mom had exited the store. He just could not take his eyes off the new toy still in its package. June his mother would not let him open it until after dinner. As Eddy was staring at his new toy, it suddenly looked up at him.

“Hello, Boy,” said the toy.

“Um, hi,” said Eddy in a whisper.

“What do you call yourself?”

“I’m Eddy.”

“Greeting, Eddy,” said the toy. “I am Whartleburg, sole heir to the Mandaublian School of Marshal Arts.”

“Really?” said Eddy, “Mom says I can’t play with you right now.”

“Your mother is wise and you should listen to her,” said Whartleburg, “But you may need to release me sooner. Both you and your mother are in grave danger.”

“Why is that?” asked Eddy.

“Because I’m not really a toy. And Spider King Ahab’s minions have followed me to your universe.”

“Son, what do you want for dinner tonight?” said Eddy’s mother.

Little Eddy was hesitant at first.

“Whartleburg says he’s alive and he needs out.”

“Oh, he did, did he?” said the boy’s mother. “You can play with him after you help me with dinner, ok?”

“No, it isn’t that.”

“Then what is it, son?”

“He says there are dinosaurs following us!”

As soon as Eddy had said it, an unearthly roar was heard. She had been hearing a stomp, stomp for the last few minutes, but thought it had been the stereo in the car in front. In the rear view mirror were three very large bipedal reptilian predators. They were singling out her car and knocking out of the way other cars in their way, roaring as they pursued. This was not computer graphics. And they were at least as big as a house.

To make matters worse, four cyclists raced past the dinos and surrounded the car. They were whooping and hollering as they gunned their engines, which had no muffler. VROOM VROOM!

They were knocking on the door and shouting, “Hey, babe! Pull over! We wanna talk to you! Yeah, we just want the kid’s toy!”

Dinos and bikers. They said they want the toy, after I paid a whopping six dollars? thought June. She dug into her purse, told Eddy to call 911.

“Who are you calling?” asked Whartleburg.

“The police,” said Eddy.

“They will not help you. It will only get worse. I will stop them, but you must first release me.”

“911, how may I direct your call?” said the dispatch.

“We’re being chased by bikers and dinosaurs!” said Eddy.

“Yeah, right. You’re using a cell phone to make this call. If a police officer finds you made this up, then you’re in serious trouble, young man.” The dispatcher hung up.

“They hung up, didn’t they? asked June.

“Whartleburg says to let him out,” said Eddy, “He says he’ll save us, can I let him out?”

“Oh, Eddy, not now. Whoa! Hey!”

Sling BANG sling BANG Whoo hoo!

The bikers were now slinging heavy chains and every now again were banging the roof of the car.

“Please? Can I open him now?” said Eddy.

One more bang from the biker, this one breaking the glass nearest Eddy’s window.

This time Eddy didn’t heed his mother’s advice. He opened the packaging with his teeth, ripping apart the plastic. Once the toy was out, Eddy was disappointed.

“You said you would help us,” he said to the toy.

“You must first shout the words, ‘Up Mandib Inzecto.’ Then I will no longer be a toy.”

“Up Mandib Inzecto!” screamed Eddy at the top of his voice, unnerving his mother.

“What did I tell you about screaming in the car—-ah! Who are you?!”

A full size, extremely muscular man with purple skin now sat in the back seat next to Eddy. He had huge metallic mandibles where a mouth should have been. He had only a stub where a nose should have been, but his antennae above his huge compound eyes were moving franticly. He stared out the window at the bikers. He then looked out the back window at the three T-Rexes who were in hot pursuit.

“My name is Whartleburg. Sorry to have startled you. I will handle your problem right now,” he said as he opened the door and kicked the nearest biker, swinging as he did so onto the roof of the car.

The bikers were jeering now that their target had finally revealed himself. Whartleburg raised both hands and with foreign tongue and clicks of mandible summoned his twin giant axes. But they didn’t stay in his hands long, soon becoming as whirring discs of light, shot into the air, addressed their targets, and in a single instant the dinosaurs fell to pieces. The axes returned to the hands of their master and vanished in a flash of light.

Then Whartleburg addressed the bikers. He jumped off the car onto the median of the road where they focused on him. They rode around and around him, whooping and hollering at what they would do. But though motorcycles are tough, their balance is fragile. One good kick offset one cyclist, but it also offset the balance of all the others. Without their bikes, they were as scared children. Whartleburg dispatched them quick, but did not kill them.

He grabbed the nearest biker.

“What is your master’s plan?” demanded Whartleburg.

“As if I’d tell you,” said the biker, “We’re just the distraction. The real fun was planned when you and your new family got home from the store!”

Whartleburg looked and saw the car was long gone. June had sped away as soon as she was free of trouble. Yet his antennae could detect the car’s heat signature. After examining the bikes, one of them was in good enough shape to ride. Whartleburg rode away toward the house of his now sworn charges.

Up in the distance, were large white puffy clouds. His antennae warned him that those were no ordinary clouds. They would be settling directly over the house of June and Eddy. Once that happened it would be too late. He urged the motorbike faster. Spider King Ahab had really spared no expense in sending his most devastating minion to destroy the people that Whartleburg was sworn to protect, the people who had been predicted would release him from the seventeen year slumber.

It had gotten very stormy by the time Whartleburg arrived at the house of June and Eddy. Unnatural towering cloud cover hovered and rotated directly overhead, while other houses were virtually cloud free. No one could see the personality behind the clouds, but he was there, slowly gathering. The temperature became more humid by the minute, as if someone was taking a great deep breath, getting ready, and at the right time deliver a terrible power that none could survive. Such was the temperament of Balaub, Spider King Ahab’s Storm Liege.

Whartleburg had dealt with Balaub before. It wasn’t easy but could be done. In the past, Balaub would go after the metal in Whartleburg’s mandibles. Climbing to the roof of the house, Whartleburg summoned his axes but with different clicks of his mandibles. This time they had on a rubber padding.

“It’s been a long time, Balaub,” said Whartleburg, “I’m sure you remember our fight last time.”

A giant man turned around where a gray blue storm cloud had been. He appeared like a Greek god, pale white skin, white hair, long beard, but had sunken eyes whose pupils were orbs of ball lightening. He saw his master’s enemy, but remembered his orders. Still, if he could take his enemy out as well as two innocents, perhaps then the reward would be all the greater. Balaub opened his mouth and inhaled audibly, making the wind blow, and the trees around the property start to bend and sway. A great hand was reaching out toward Whartleburg.

Thunder great and terrible erupted that shook the house down to its foundations. To the trained listener, it was the language of Storm Lieges.

“You have been judged. The air finds you guilty. Now ends your existence, you who have released mine enemy.”

“How mighty you forget,” shouted Whartleburg as he threw his axes. The weapons spun around like discs and distracted the lightening that would have struck the house. “You’ve only got one good shot in you. Because lightning never strikes twice, you can no longer destroy the house.”

More thunder. More shaking. Now the massive hands were getting closer. Wind was picking up.

“Oh ye of little faith,” said Balaub, “I’ve become far more vast since we last fought. And because of your slumber, you are the same as when we fought last. Hooow? Oh hooow, dear Whartleburg, will you best me?”

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

Next chapter: “Insurmountable Odds”