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Flash Fiction Friday: CD-why

by J. Platz-Halter

“This will help you stay warm,” Michael said as he handed Kate a cup of coffee.

She was staring at the log in the fireplace, watching the embers recede into the wood, the light becoming fainter and fainter. “Sorry,” she took a sip, “a lot has happened today, and I, I don’t know how to process it.”

Michael gathered what paper he could find inside the cabin and threw it into the fire. Safety pamphlets, maps of the park, anything that could burn. “It’s rough,” he said. “You try not to think about everything you’ve lost, but…”

“My sister and my mother, I’ll never see them again. And my coworkers, the good ones at least. I don’t even know if my dog is still alive.”

“I didn’t want to believe it,” Michael sat down next to Kate, “but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll most likely never play the Philips CD-i ever again.”

“And everyone I graduated with last year, did any of them make it out of the city? I wish there was some way to contact- wait, you’re worried about some video game thing?”

“Oh sure, it seems like no big deal at first. What reason would the creatures have to destroy my CD-i? But then I realized that if those last emergency broadcasts were true, and the armed forces have disbanded, leaving the major cities unprotected, it’s more than likely that the people who manage the power stations have all been killed or assimilated.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Whether we live or die here, there’s not going to be any electricity back home! I would need to rig up some sort of battery system to power the console, and god dammit! I don’t have the knowledge or skills to do that.” Michael started to cry. “I’m just a regular guy, I wasn’t made for such trying times. I wish I was playing Mutant Rampage: Bodyslam right now.”

Kate walked to the other side of the cabin. “My best friend was ripped in half and then eaten alive in front of me. I watched my little brother shoot himself in the head. I begged him to just get in the car. Get in the car and we’d go somewhere far away, but he couldn’t cope with what he’d seen. So many people died today, but you lived? A loser obsessed with a stupid video game system no one cares about. What a fucking joke.”

“Hey! I get that you’re emotional, and you can take it out on me all you want, but I won’t sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the Philips CD-i! It was an industry innovator when it was released in 1991, pioneering the compact disc format. And I had its entire software collection. Everything from 1995: All the News and Views to Zombie Dinos From Planet Zeltoid. So don’t tell me I didn’t lose anything or that I don’t know your pain! If anything, it’s you who doesn’t understand what it means to lose something you care about.”

The ensuing argument was preempted by the loud thud of bodies mindlessly throwing themselves against the cabin door. The creatures had followed the two of them into the woods, driven by their insatiable lust for human cytoplasm.

Kate was already moving one of the tables. “Help me make a barricade!”

“This is just like the CD-i version of Tetris,” Michael said as he slid the bookshelf across the room, “except we don’t have the soothing, smooth jazz soundtrack by composer Jim Andron to listen to.” He had positioned it in front of the window but inadvertently left a small gap through which one of the creatures forced its slimy, green tentacle into the room. It struck Michael in his left arm and injected him with goo.

When she saw what was happening, Kate immediately stopped piling things against the door and got the cabin’s emergency fire ax. With one good swing, she severed the tentacle, but it was too late. The transformation had begun.

Michael fell to the floor in pain. All along his arm, his skin turned bright yellow and then curled up, tearing itself and exposing the blackening muscles underneath. “I’m fine, really! I don’t need this arm. With the CD-i’s paddle controller, I can play most of the games one-handed. It really was ahead of its time in terms of accessibility!” The goo hijacked his nervous system and mutated his brain to connect him to the creature hive mind.

“I can see what they see.” Michael stood up with the help of the pair of insectile legs that sprouted from his chest. “My mind, our mind is one. They have my CD-i, Kate. Join us. Join the collective, and we’ll play Hotel Mario…”

She slowly backed away, staying out of his reach until she was up against the wall.

“It has a bad reputation because of its low budget animated sequences,” acid poured out of Michael’s mouth and chewed through the floor, “but at its core it’s a fun action puzzle platformer with simple yet addictive gameplay. Join us! Become one with the overmind!”

Kate swung the ax into what was left of Michael’s head. Aside from the hiss of his body rapidly melting, it was quiet. The creatures outside must have moved on. For the moment. Kate removed the ax and took what supplies she could find. She would head north. There were rumors of a remnant human settlement up north. Half a mile up the mountain trail, and she looked back. The fires in the city were still burning, hazy clouds of alien smoke obscuring all but the largest of buildings. It was a scene familiar to her. It looked just like Cyberia for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer.

________

J. Platz-Halter is an aspiring author who has done nothing of note. Someday soon, though. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. And here, have a twitter account to pad out this bio: @JPlatzHalter.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.

 

Bizarro Events this Weekend!

With all the conventions happening this weekend, Bizarro Central wants to remind you to keep a lookout for our very own weirdos. In Virginia, Scares that Care (the horror con for a good cause) will feature a small army of bizarro creators, including but not limited to: John Skipp, Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Edward Lee, Eric Hendrixson, Scott Cole, CV Hunt, Andersen Prunty, Amber Fallon, and David W. Barbee. Cody Goodfellow can be found lurking amongst the nerds at San Diego Comic Con, and a who even knows how many weirdos will be at NECon in Providence. Get out there and see us!

The Bizarro Encyclopedia of Film (vol. 1) pre-sale event

For the next month, as part of John Skipp’s HOPE IN HELL campaign, he’s offering the Bizarro Encyclopedia of Film (vol. 1) as a stand-alone perk on the film’s indiegogo page! The book was written by Skipp and Heather Drain, with cover and interiors by Paula Rozelle Hanback. It only costs $15 (+ shipping, worldwide).

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Here’s the link to the HOPE IN HELL Indiegogo. You’ll find THE BIZARRO ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM (VOL. I) near the top of the perk selection. It’s officially coming out in Feb. 2018, but your copy will arrive in mid-November. CHECK IT OUT, WEIRD FILM LOVERS!!!

Flash Fiction Friday: That’s My Seat

by John Bruni

“That’s my seat.”

Chuck looked up from his newspaper. A skinny, balding guy with glasses and a sweaty forehead stood over him, looking intently down. He trembled, and judging from the steel in his eyes, it was from rage, not fear.

“First come, first served.” Chuck went back to the sports page.

“I sit here every day,” the stranger said. “There are plenty of empty seats.”

“So take one of ’em.” Chuck didn’t bother to look away from his reading.

“I need you to take one of them so I can have my seat.”

Chuck glanced over the man. A shabby suit covered most of him, but it revealed enough. Just a pencil-neck geek. Chuck, on the other hand, worked construction. At six-two and two hundred and ten pounds of pure muscle, there was no doubt that he could beat the living daylights out of this guy.

“Let’s get something straight,” Chuck said. “I only have to give up this seat if a handicapped person asks for it.” He pointed to the sign near the front of the train car that stated what he’d just said. “The real question here is, how bad do you want this seat?”

The stranger snarled. “Are you threatening to render me handicapable?”

“That’s up to you, pard. I’m not looking to fight, but if you’re that riled up, I ain’t gonna back down.”

“That’s it! Stand up!” The man raised both fists like a boxer ready for action.

Chuck looked him over again. Was this guy serious? Anyone with half a brain—or even less—could tell that Chuck could wipe the walls with him. Maybe a little intimidation would end this without violence. He folded his paper and stood to his full height, pushing out his chest.

The stranger was not fazed. “Shall we take this outside?”

Hell, this guy was crazy. Chuck didn’t like being pushed around, but was it worth cracking this guy’s skull and maybe doing time again?

Nah. He didn’t need to do serious damage. Maybe one punch would be enough to convince this guy that he was out of his depth.

Chuck slapped the paper down on his seat. “After you.”

He followed the stranger down the steps and onto the platform. Pedestrian traffic was light, so they easily found an open space. The man took up his fighting stance again, ready for battle.

“You might want to take your glasses off,” Chuck said.

“Right. Thank you.” The man took them off and placed them safely to the side.

Chuck shrugged out of his denim jacket and dropped it behind him. He watched as the stranger took out a hearing aid from each ear. Odd. He hadn’t noticed those. Good call, though. Then it occurred to him: he’d never seen someone do that before a fight. It struck him as funny. Maybe absurdity could end this before it began.

Chuck started by taking off his shirt. The stranger surprised him by taking off his suit coat, yanking his tie away and removing his own shirt.

Chuck grinned, kicking his boots off. The stranger glared at him and stooped to untie his loafers and set them aside.

Their socks came next. Chuck unbuckled his belt and shoved his pants down. The stranger did the same. Chuck wondered if he would balk at the next step. Chuck had nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe the stranger wouldn’t go so far.

Chuck pulled his boxers down and kicked them away. Now he wore nothing except the exceptional amount of body hair that his genetics had cursed him with.

The stranger didn’t hesitate. He whipped his briefs down and stepped out of them. “Now can we fight?” Holding his fists up.

Jesus Christ! This guy just did not know when to quit. He was barely aware of the other commuters, some stopping to watch, others slowing to get a picture. Most ignored them, rushing to get to their homes.

Chuck was no longer amused by this situation. He felt anger flush his face and neck. The sudden urge to beat this man within an inch of his life nearly overwhelmed him. But no. He couldn’t do a thing like that. No one would see things from his perspective.

“You know what? No, I’m not ready to fight yet.” Chuck forced pressure to build up in his head until his eyes popped out. He caught them and gently placed them among his clothes. “Don’t want those to get damaged.”

He couldn’t see it, but he heard the popping sounds of the stranger removing his own eyes.

“Certainly don’t want this bruised.” Chuck plucked off his genitals, carefully placing them by his eyes.

Another pop from the stranger. Wow, that guy wasn’t afraid of a single thing in the universe.

When Chuck took his ears off, so did the stranger. When he took his legs off one by one, so did the stranger. When he popped his head off, so did the stranger. Finally, he put each hand into his armpits, and at the same time, he disconnected his arms.

So did the stranger.

They floated on the platform, two invisible spirits glaring at each other. Though no one could see it, each felt like their fists were clenched.

“You still wanna fight, pard?”

“It’s my seat.”

Chuck sighed. “Don’t you feel kinda silly? We took off our bodies, and you still wanna dance? Are you nuts?”

“No. I am a man of regular habits. I can’t allow you to disrupt my world.”

“Hell, man. It’s yours. You’re willing to take your body off like that, I guess you earned the seat.”

“Thank you.” No smugness or bad-winner tone.

Just as they started willing their bodies together again, the stranger glanced up and saw someone at the window of the train. Someone in his seat.

“That’s my seat!” he yelled.

Chuck saw the stranger only had his chest and arms on. He ran for the train like a giant, mutated spider. Just before he made it, the door closed. The stranger watched helplessly as the locomotive crawled out of the station.

Chuck got dressed and picked up the stranger’s head. He put it back together and brought it to the chest and arms. He plopped it down on the neck and then patted the man’s shoulders.

“Sorry about that, pard. I’m sure you’ll get that spot on the next train.”

“Yeah, but it won’t be on that train.” Pointing.

“Some things you just can’t control.”

The stranger sighed. “I know. It’s just that I control very few things, and I hold onto those with all my might.”

“Forget it.”

Chuck helped the stranger get together. “Say, you have a name?”

“Len.”

“I’m Chuck. Whaddya say we get a drink while waiting for the next train?”

Len nodded. “Sure. Why not?”

“That’s the spirit, pard.”

________

John Bruni has been known to gnaw the throats out of people who steal his seat on the train, and when he’s not pimping his new book, AND JESUS CAME BACK, he is busy collecting hair samples for science. Yeah, science.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.

 

Weird Movie Watch: Attack of the Adult Babies

We here at Bizarro Central enjoy disturbing sexual fetishes and uniquely executed violence, so Attack of the Adult Babies looks good enough to make us punch a butcher knife.

A NANNY’S NEED by NICHOLAUS PATNAUDE

Nicholaus Patnaude has a strange story up at New Theory called “A Nanny’s Need.” Check it out! This is an exceptionally short blog post, but we’re making up for that with free fiction.

Flash Fiction Friday: Gag Reel 2

by Sean Kelly

The beach was littered with decayed corpses and charred, human-sized loofahs.

Some loofahs were still alive, rolling around on fire. Squealing.

An old man, with a beard down to his feet, stood behind a vintage camera. He sighed, slow panned across the carnage.

Two people stepped up beside him. One wore a gas mask, held a flamethrower. The other wore formal attire, was scrolling through her phone.

“We done here?” The woman asked, sounding annoyed.

“I suppose we are.” The old man slumped his shoulders. “So much time wasted.”

“Yeah well. At least it was the studio’s money.” The woman’s phone vibrated. “Talk to me.” She walked away.

The man shut his camera off and turned to Gas Mask. “Can you give me some privacy?”

Gas Mask said nothing.

The man looked out at the beach. The last of the loofahs were quieting down, going still as the flames burned out. The humans were long gone, skeletal, gross. The man shook his head and started packing his stuff. He reached for the camera. The woman motioned to Gas Mask. Gas Mask grabbed his arm.

“What?” The old man raised an eyebrow.

Gas Mask released him and took the film reel out of the camera.

“Wait! What are you doing!?”

Gas Mask dropped the reel and pointed the flamethrower at it.

“What!? No! You can’t! Why!?”

“Studio’s orders,” the woman said, hanging up her phone.

Gas Mask incinerated the reel. The man dropped to his knees and wept.

“Said the footage would make them look bad. Best to forget this whole thing ever happened.”

“I could have finished it…”

“Yeah? When? How long have you been working on this thing now? I didn’t even exist when you started.”

The man stood and wiped his eyes. “It was almost done.” He glared at her.

“Wasn’t it always? Maybe if you could have controlled your cast. Studio didn’t ask for a gag reel.” She returned to scrolling through her phone. “Don’t beat yourself up over it. You can always go indie.” She snort-laughed and walked away. Gas Mask followed. “We’ll be waiting in the car! Get packed! I’ve got a meeting to get to!”

The man stared down at the smoldering pile.

“I could have finished it.”

***

The man gripped the steering wheel tightly. His eyelids were twitching.

“So are you gonna shave the beard now?” The woman asked from the passenger seat, nose still in her phone.

The man didn’t respond.

“Aw, will you stop being pissy?” She rolled her eyes and put the phone away. “It was just a movie. A stupid movie… about talking loofahs. What were you expecting to accomplish? If you ask me, even forgetting all the screw ups… I’m sorry. They were doomed from the start.”

The man gulped hard. “I could have saved them. I could have finished it.”

“They’re dead, Archie. Accept it.” The woman lit a cigarette and looked out her window.

A finger tapped Archie’s shoulder.

“What!?” Archie snapped. He looked in the rear-view mirror. Gas Mask was pointing at a red convertible barreling towards them. The brights clicked on.

“Hey, who’s the asshole!?” The woman turned around and squinted into the light.

Bam! Car hit them in the rear. Back windshield exploded. Woman slammed her head on the dashboard. Gas Mask wound up in the floor.

“What the hell!?” Archie struggled to maintain control of the car. “Are you alright!?”

A stream of blood ran down her face. She mumbled incoherently.

“Damn it! Don’t die on me! I still need you!” He reached over and shook her shoulder. “Stay with me!”

Gas Mask climbed back up and looked out the shattered windshield.

“What are they doing now?” Archie asked.

Gas Mask ducked. Gunshots. Bullets whizzed through the car.

“Shit!” Archie ducked and swerved. “What do they want!?”

***

Natalie sat in the driver’s seat, hair blowing in the wind. Pop music blasting. Justin stood in the seat next to her, squeezing off shots at the assholes. Natalie hit the accelerator, slammed them again. Justin stumbled and landed in the seat.

“Damn it!” Justin bitched. “Warn me when you’re gonna do that shit! I could have fell out!”

“Yeah, fuck you. Cheating fuck-face.” Natalie replied.

“Cheating!? Natalie, that was a movie! Remember!?”

She thought for a moment. “Oh. Right.”

“I can’t hit the bastards.” Justin reloaded his pistol. “They keep swerving. We gotta get them off the road.”

“What do you think I’m trying to do?” She rammed them. Their bumper fell off. “Now shoot the damn tires!”

Justin stood, fired some shots, sat back down. “I can’t do it! These things are way harder than they look!”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Natalie sped up beside the car, swerved into the back end. The car spun in front of them. T-boned. Justin went flying over the windshield and the other car.

“Damn it, Natalie!” He yelled from the pavement.

Natalie hopped out of the car, whipped out a revolver. She glanced over at Justin who was pulling himself up. Leg was definitely broken. He limped over, spurting blood from his shin.

They stood at each side of the car. Pointed their guns.

“Hello again, Mr. Director sir.” Natalie smiled. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

“Natalie!? Please, you don’t understand.”

“Shut up. Get out of the car. All of you.”

Archie stepped out with his hands in the air.

“Think this one’s unconscious!” Justin said.

“Who the hell is she?” Natalie aimed at Gas Mask hiding on the floorboard. “You too. Out.”

Gas Mask got out and stood next to Archie. Justin dragged the woman over and laid her down, then took aim at Gas Mask. Natalie kept her aim on Archie.

“Natalie. You have to let me explain.”

“Explain why you kept me as your slave? Brainwashed me? Turned me in to a tool for your stupid pro-loofah propaganda bullshit! Yeah, go right the fuck ahead. Explain, Mr. Director.”

“Oh, but before you do!” Justin interjected. POP! He fired a bullet through Gas Mask’s head.

“I don’t even know that person.” Archie replied.

“Oh.” Justin leaned against the wrecked car and yawned.

“Well?” Natalie poked Archie in the chest with her gun. “Go ahead.” She smiled. “Explain. So I can shoot you.”

“Okay,” Archie took a deep breath. “Listen. The loofahs? They were no different than you or I. But the government… They set out to eradicate them all. One loofah assassinates the president, so we have to wipe out their entire race? Everything in the media is bullshit. Lies. I set out to change that. I wanted to show the loofahs in a new light. Show people the truth so that we could band together and save them. What better way to do that than a Hollywood picture? Make them movie stars! People love movie stars!

“Except no one would ever believe me. Not without the film. Loofahs!? They’re murderers! Thieves! Would you have ever willingly agreed to be in my ‘propaganda’ film? I had to brainwash you. And all the others. The studio, the sponsors. Hell, even the loofahs. Everyone. It was the only way…”

A tear ran from Archie’s eye. “But then something went wrong. The brainwashing… It… It turned everyone in to fucking idiots. They couldn’t act worth a shit.” His lip quivered. “Always goofing off. Missing the point entirely! It was supposed to be a serious film! But no! You guys wouldn’t have that! It wasn’t funny! It was stupid! LOOFAH! LOOFAH! LOOFAH! Oh, I loofah you, Justin! Why I loofah you too, Natalie! HA. HA. HA.”

Archie scowled at Natalie. “Now they’re all dead. Every single loofah. Did you know I married one? Yeah, she was brainwashed too, but I loved that broad. Dead. And the footage? That’s gone. Natalie, if you kill me, no one will ever know the truth. You have to forgive me. I used you.” He glanced at Justin. “Both of you. And for that I am truly sorry. But I had a point to make. And I needed you guys to make it.”

Natalie looked at him coldly. “Can’t you see what a hypocrite you are? How is what you did any better than what you claim the government’s doing?”

“Because… I had a good reason.”

“We don’t care about your reason. We don’t exist to make your stupid points.”

“Then what is the point of you, Natalie?” Archie shrugged, wide-eyed. “Do you have a point? What good is existing if you never do a single meaningful thing?”

Natalie grinned. “Well I’m glad you asked. First off, what’s the woman’s name?” She pointed at the unconscious woman on the ground.

“I uh…” Archie thought hard. “I don’t… think she ever had one.”

“Perfect! Justin! Come over here.” Natalie put a hand on her hip. “How about you get to know the real us, Mr. Director, sir? And unlike you, we’re not gonna need a 300 word monologue of bullshit.”

***

The woman awoke, screaming as Natalie buzz-sawed her feet off.

“You getting this, Mr. Director?” Natalie giggled, blood slinging off the spinning blade.

Archie stood next to the camera man. “Keep rolling.”

The camera man nodded and did as he was told.

Justin popped the trunk of Archie’s car. “Woah! They have a fucking flamethrower in here!”

“Well, bring it the fuck over then!” Natalie tossed the saw aside.

The woman attempted to crawl away. “Archie! Please!” She cried, “Don’t let this happen!”

Justin passed the flamethrower to Natalie.

“You have to stop this!” The woman begged. “You can’t let them kill me!”

Archie looked down. Natalie lit a cigarette with the flamethrower.

The woman rolled on to her back and closed her eyes.

“Don’t let me die… Not like this.”

Justin placed the gun against Archie’s head.

Archie sighed.

“Keep rolling.”

Limp Bizkit plays over end credits.

________

Sean Kelly writes Bizarro stories. Read the first Gag Reel here.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.