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Flash Fiction Friday: Now You’re Trenchman

By John Wayne Comunale

Carrie peered through the curtains of her bedroom window. The man was still there. She didn’t know why she expected anything different, since he had been standing on the sidewalk across the street from her house for the last five days. Every time she looked out, he would hold up his hand, displaying a finger for each day he’d been there. It took her a couple days to figure what the fingers represented, but now it was clear as he held up his hand with all five fingers extended.

The man wore a long trench coat that plunged all the way to the ground, completely covering his feet, and the collar seemed larger than usual. He kept it popped up and pulled close to his face, obscuring his features. The only thing she could make out were his dark eyes, shining like polished onyx from the shadow cast by the collar. Carrie had taken to referring to him as the Trenchman. Since his arrival, things had gotten strange, and she couldn’t help but think he was directly responsible, but she didn’t know how, since all he did was stand there.

First the power had gone out, followed by cellular and landlines and the Internet shortly after. Carrie had no way to contact anyone, and nobody could contact her. Her parents were gone now, the first victims of the Trenchman, on the second day he’d been there. Carrie had told her parents that the man had been standing across the street, staring at her window, for the past two days, so her father strutted across the street while her mother watched from the lawn, Carrie from her window. Her father engaged him politely, as she knew he would. The Trenchman reached out and pulled her father’s face off. He didn’t rip it off like the bloody, gore-filled scenes she’d watched in monster movies. Instead, the Trenchman simply grabbed the skin below her father’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and peeled it off like he was removing a bandage.

The Trenchman opened his coat just enough to slip her father’s face inside. His body swayed before collapsing on the sidewalk. Carrie’s mother screamed from the lawn and dashed across the street. She knelt next to her fallen husband for a moment before standing up to confront the Trenchman. He reached out, grabbed her face in the same manner, peeled it away, and slipped it into his coat. Carrie watched as her mother’s body wobbled for a moment before collapsing next to her father’s.

By the fifth day, bodies piled up on the sidewalk around the Trenchman. Carrie could only watch from her window as he removed the faces of most of her neighbors, the mailman, random passersby, even a few police officers who couldn’t call for backup, since their radios weren’t working either. One by one, the Trenchman peeled their faces off with no noticeable effort and added them to the collection in his coat.

Carrie sat at her window, watching the Trenchman watch her. They watched each other until the sun began to rise, and the Trenchman held up all five fingers of his left hand and one from his right. Carrie stepped away from the window and knew what had to happen next. During the whole fifth day, nobody approached the Trenchman. No one else was coming. Now it was her turn. She was the only one left.

Carrie slipped on her winter coat. She stepped into her boots and pulled the fur that lined the hood of her coat close to her face so she could smell it one last time. Then she stepped outside. The piles of bodies looked much different from this vantage point, like they’d gotten impossibly bigger. Thin wafts of steam rose steadily from the bodies, something she hadn’t noticed from her window. Another thing she didn’t expect was the smell, rather, the lack thereof. Carrie thought the dead bodies would produce an overpowering stench, but she smelled only the crispness of the winter air.

There was a clear path from Carrie’s front door directly to the Trenchman, and she wondered if he did this on purpose, having some kind of power over where the bodies fell. The collar still hid his face, but Carrie could see the floating black orbs still trained on her from the shadow. She pulled her jacket closed and held it tightly against her body as she began to walk towards the Trenchman. He stood frozen; the only movement came from the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed calm and evenly. She studied the bodies as she walked by. They all were faceless, only instead of the bloody, exposed skulls she expected to see, there was only blank and featureless flesh. It sat smooth and flat across the space their faces used to occupy.

Carrie stepped up to the Trenchman and stood confidently, staring into the black eyes of his shadowed face. Several seconds of silence passed between the two, and Carrie thought the way his eyes were jumping around made it look like he was smiling.

“You made it six whole days,” said the Trenchman, finally breaking the silence.

“Yeah,” said Carrie, unsure if he expected her to answer.

“Too bad, I can do that standing on my head,” he said and reached out and tapped her on the shoulder. “You’re it! Oh, and good luck beating twenty-seven faces!”

“What?” asked Carrie. The Trenchman had already run past her, down the path, and into the house. The door slammed behind him.

Carrie stood puzzled, staring at the house as if she expected it to explain to her what had just happened. Suddenly, up in the window, her window, appeared the head of the Trenchman. He pulled down his collar to reveal that he was actually a little girl, a little girl who looked similar to Carrie, except for the eyes. The eyes remained black and continued projecting the ominous vibe. An icy wind blew and Carrie pulled her jacket to her body even tighter, noticing she was now wearing a large trench coat that scraped against the ground at her feet. A chill ran down her neck, and she pulled the oversized collar to cover her face and neck. She looked back to the window. The little girl smiled, waved, and held up a single finger. Carrie mimicked the action back to her to signify the start of day one.

She heard someone call to her and turned to see a man approaching from up the sidewalk, weaving in and out of the bodies without giving them a second look.

“Hey, buddy,” said the man. “What are you doing here? You can’t be here. You understand me?” Carrie sighed, and when the man was within arm’s reach, she grabbed the skin under his chin and peeled.

_______

John Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979. John Wayne Comunale is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative nonfiction for the theatrical art group BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster  johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan and writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.

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Flash Fiction Friday is edited by Eric Hendrixson, who is mostly biodegradable. He is the author of Drunk Driving Champion and Bucket of Face. You can send him bizarro flash fiction stories for this series by pasting them into the body of an email (no attachments or flamboyant formatting) to  FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com. Submissions should be no longer than 1000 words and in the bizarro genre.

Now Available: Puppet Skin

Puppet Skin, the latest book from bizarro humorist Danger Slater, has just been released by Fungasm Press! Fungasm is an imprint of high quality weirdness, and Danger Slater is one of the funniest weirdos in the scene right now. See for yourself by getting a copy right now.

puppetskin

Hannah graduates from middle school on Friday. That’s the day she transforms into a living puppet, like her parents and teachers before her. No longer a human girl made of flesh and feelings, but a perfect wooden new self, whose strings lead up from her limbs into an endless black void above. With no pain. No sorrow. No sickness. No fear.

But Hannah has begun to suspect that something is very, very wrong. And in a world where emotion is treated like a disease, and unknown terrors lurk inside everyone, just keeping your soul alive past childhood might be the greatest challenge of all.

“PUPPET SKIN is a dark, grotesquely-beautiful Bizarro nightmare fable for alienated teens of all ages. If you’ve ever felt lost in this deranged universe, Danger’s book knows exactly what you mean.” – John Skipp, author of THE LIGHT AT THE END and THE ART OF HORRIBLE PEOPLE

“An innovative circus show of all things weird and wonderful…[Puppet Skin is] The Catcher in the Rye meets Saw in a borderline dystopian fairytale gone wrong.” – CULTURED VULTURES

“Bizarro horror at it’s best!” – SPLATTERPUNK ZINE

“Danger Slater is fearless, and should be ashamed of himself. Thank God he’s not.” – JOSH MALERMAN, author of Bird Box

“Slater has taken Bizarro fiction to the next level.” – DIRGE MAGAZINE

Now Available: Grudge Punk 2: Petroleum Precinct

Rooster Republic Press has released a sequel to Grudge Punk, a collection of bizarro noir by author John McNee. Grudge Punk 2: Petroleum Precinct, is available for Kindle and features cover art that moves:

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The King of Eyes is dead. Long live the King.

The Grudge just ain’t what she used to be. In the aftermath of a bloody mob war, the city is without a kingpin, but not short of hoods spoiling to claim the title. Into the fray steps Lieutenant Sternhammer, of the reviled and corrupt Grudgehaven Police Department.

His mission: rebuild the reputation of his fellow cops and re-establish their dominance in the eyes of the public. His target: the cunning and ruthless gangster, Chupa Junior. His battleground: Chupatown, the worst slum in the city.

No easy task, even without all those other little complications, like headless jazz musicians, duplicitous pimps, a serial killer targeting gold-hearted women and whatever strange, powerful mystery lurks within the bowels of…

PETROLEUM PRECINCT

Get it here

Flash Fiction Friday: A Late Start

By John Bruni

My eye cracks open. It’s unusual for me to wake up before my alarm clock goes off. I check my phone and—holy shit! It’s 8:29 am! I have to be at work in one minute!

I don’t have time to eat or brush my teeth. The commute from Elmhurst to Schaumburg can take between twenty to forty minutes. I can’t afford to be so late.

I dress and rush out the door to my car. I drive as fast as I can to the expressway. Thank Christ it looks like traffic is moving swiftly. I get over to the left lane and get up to eighty-five miles per hour. No one’s ahead of me, so I gun it to ninety-five.

I check the dashboard. Still 8:29. Good.

Oh shit. I just passed a cop. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me. Please—

Fuck. He saw me. Lights flash, and he zooms up to my ass. He’s gotta be pissed, but I can’t be late. I press my foot down as far as it can go. I check the time. Still 8:29.

I look up just in time to see that traffic has stopped, and I’m about to crash into the car that has magically appeared in front of me. I scream, twisting the wheel to the left. I veer away from the jam and hit the ditch so hard that my car flips. The roof caves in, and I hang from my seatbelt. The airbag goes off and punches me in the face.

Son of a bitch. I’m not going to make it to work on time. The dashboard is crumpled, so I can’t check the clock.

Someone knocks on the driver’s side window, and I remember the cop car. I’m in serious shit. I see the cop’s legs, and they seem too white for this world.

He opens the door and cuts me free of my seatbelt. He helps me out of the car, and when I straighten out, I see it’s Andy Griffith. Or Andy Taylor, rather.

“You’re in a spot of trouble, son,” he says.

“You’re darned tootin’!”

I look around Andy to see Barney Fife rushing up to me, wagging his finger in my face. Both he and Andy are in glorious black and white.

“Am I going to jail?” I ask. “I need to call my boss if I am.”

“You know what we oughta do, Andy? I think we oughta rape him!”

What. The. Fuck.

“Now, now, Barn. We can’t just go around rapin’ folks. He is going to jail, though. Turn around, son.”

Shit. I comply. He fits the handcuffs on. They’re tight and cold against my skin. He pushes me forward until we reach the cruiser. Barney opens the back, and Andy gently eases me in.

But I’m not in the back of a car. I’m in a castle. I turn around to see a door-shaped hole, but when Andy closes it, reality fills in.

“Good evening.”

I turn back around to see Dracula standing at the top of a staircase. Not Lugosi or Lee or even Langella. It’s Gary Oldman.

“Um,” I say, “do you have the time? I’m going to be late for work.”

“You shall be much later, then. Girls?” He gestures at me.

There are three women suddenly around me. All are incredibly hot, and they wear gauzy see-through gowns. They grin, showing off their fangs.

“Take good care of my guest. Don’t hurt him . . . too much.”

They lead me into the next room, a bedroom. They tie me up to a chair and drag me over to a computer on a table in the corner. They start to bicker over who gets to show me their blog first. They settle on Cauldron of Goth. It’s so bad I kind of wish they’d drain me of blood and be done with it.

Just when I consider chewing my own tongue off to choke myself, the door explodes. I whip my head around to see Alex Jones bearing a cross and holy water. He charges the brides of Dracula, driving them back hissing and glaring.

“That’s right, you undead concubines!” he says. “Stay back! I’ll toast your ass!”

“When did you become a vampire slayer?” I ask.

“Just after I was Bill Hicks. I created Alex Jones as a cover. I’ve been killin’ vamps ever since.”

He makes short work of my bonds—even the handcuffs—so I thank him as I stand.

“I’ll hold ‘em off,” Alex Jones says.

The door he came through is gone, just a brick wall, so the only way out is the window. But we must be a hundred feet up. There’s no way I can do this.

“You have to climb down the wall!” Alex Jones shouts. “Hurry! I can’t hold ‘em off much longer!”

Here goes nothing. I grab a hold of the wall, and I’m shocked by how easy this is. It’s like I’m Spider-Man. I crawl down face-first until I reach the ground.

There! About a block away! I see my office building! I rush across the grassy field and feverishly work at opening the door with my badge. I dart in and slam my ID card against the machine that punches me in.

It beeps.

The time switches from 8:29 to 8:30.

Whew!

________

John Bruni once killed a man and proved it by clipping the toenails of his victim and cloning him. He usually writes some kind of drunken gibberish on his blog, Goodnight, Fuckers. He is the author of several novels and short stories, many of which can be found here.

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Want in on this? Submit up to three bizarro flash fiction stories at a time, pasted into the body of an email (no attachments) to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com and include a brief bio. Put the title of your submission in the subject line of the email.

Weird Movie Watch: Swiss Army Man

Most of “The Weird Stuff” is underground, but every now and then something VERY strange comes along with enough charm and smarts to push through into the mainstream. That’s what we have in Swiss Army Man, just released to theaters this past weekend. It’s a story that seemingly shouldn’t exist, or at least should only exist on the periphery, but thanks to sheer talent and audacity it has become one of this year’s most popular films. It’s basically Cast Away with a rotting corpse instead of a volleyball, and the corpse helps the lonely protagonist with the power of gaseous decomposition. Love through farts.

Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #4 – The Slow Poisoner

by Lee Widener

 

For this installment of Bizarro Music I’d like to introduce you to Andrew Goldfarb, otherwise known as “The Slow Poisoner.” I’d like to- but most of you are probably already familiar with him. For those of you who are not: Andrew Goldfarb is Bizarro’s true Renaissance man. He does it all: writes, draws, paints, and performs as a one man band. He wrote one of the most unapologetically  Bizarro novels – “Ballad of the Slow Poisoner” – BEFORE Bizarro was even defined as a genre, writes and draws a series of Bizarro comic books, is on a singular crusade to revive the art of black velvet painting, AND tours incessantly as the one man band “The Slow Poisoner.”

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To see the Slow Poisoner in concert is to be amazed and enthralled. He presents a carefully curated program of original tunes and well-chosen covers complete with costumes, props and set pieces. And he does this all by himself! One moment he might be wearing a giant mushroom hat much bigger than his head, and another he might be performing from inside the mouth of a hideous monster with wicked looking teeth. One of my personal favorite Slow Poisoner songs is “In the Gloom,” sung with only the sound of a heavy chain being dropped as accompaniment. The use of silence in between the plaintive lyrics and bursts of harsh metallic clanking is masterful.

If you ever have the chance to see the Slow Poisoner live, and don’t, you’re a fool. I posed a few questions to Mr. Goldfarb recently, and here are his answers:

LEE: Can you give me a brief history of your musical career and the creation of The Slow Poisoner as a performing entity?

ANDREW: Almost exactly 20 years ago, I was in Paris and I got the idea to form a band called The Slow Poisoners. In the 18th century, there was an epidemic of poisonings in France – mostly women doing away with their husbands, by a daily sprinkling of arsenic (or diamond powder or even spider bits) on their gentlemen’s meals. It was documented in a book called A Memoir of Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Dr. Charles Mackay. I recorded some demos with my brother Ed (who now does the music for Pokemon) and put together a live band, which was originally a quintet, including two cellos, which sounded terrible. Luckily, the number of members dwindled as time went by, and come ten years later it was just me. I scratched the letter “s” off the end of the name on all the merchandise and carried on as The Slow Poisoner. I also switched from drinking absinthe to drinking whiskey, which led to a more rock ‘n’ roll sound than the first few records which were more of the chamber pop variety.

LEE: Have you always been involved in multiple art forms, or were you an artist first, or writer or musician or what??

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ANDREW: I’ve always done both music and visual art. I started drawing cartoons in 2nd grade; I had a superhero called Toilet Man who faught crime while flying around in a toilet. I drew another one called SuperFunk, whose super power was just being funky (whatever that meant to a seven year old). My first band was in fifth grade – we called ourselves “The Sound Barriers” and we performed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the school talent show. I was on electric piano. Two of the members are now dead.

LEE: How did you discover and then become involved in the Bizarro scene?

ANDREW: In the late 90s there was a pre-Kindle electronic reading device called the Rocket E-Book. A friend of mine was publishing content for it and suggested I write a story based on my song lyrics, which became “Ballad of a Slow Poisoner.” For a brief period, it was outselling both Stephen King and the Bible. Carlton Mellick read it at the time, and a few years later asked if he could re-print it as part of a publishing imprint he was just starting, Eraserhead Press. He wrote me a letter explaining that he was a writer but what he really cared about was promoting this new literary movement called Bizarro. I went to the second BizarroCon and at that point I knew I had found my people.


I’m going to close out this article with three Slow Poisoner videos. The first is a tune called “Macabre” and is a fine example of the Slow Poisoner live:

The next video is animated by Goldfarb himself! Is there anything this guy can’t do??

The last video is the Slow Poisoner’s magnum opus. “Hot Rod Worm” should be playing on every radio station in the country! It’s catchy, it rocks, and it has an important message! Stop Motion Animation by Michael Granberry. Bongos by Bizarro legend John Skipp. Directed by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch.

You can check out Slow Poisoner merchandise of all sorts at his website:

THE SLOW POISONER


Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.

 

The Cat With Hands

We bizarros love weird stuff, and we’re always on the lookout for oddities that the internet has hidden away. Thanks to one of my fellow weirdos I found this little short film from 2001, and since I love weird shit and I LOVE stop-motion animation, I knew I should post it up here at Bizarro Central. So here’s a nice animated short about, well, bad pussy.

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