by: Ben Fitts
Mike spotted the water cube first, which meant that it was his to jump in.
The water cube slithered across the desert towards us where we waited in nothing but our swim trunks, the hot sand stinging the bottoms of our feet. It looked like a big block of fresh marble not yet chiseled away to reveal the masterpiece hidden inside, except it was transparent with schools of fish swimming around and seaweed growing out of its bottom.
As the water cube drew near, Mike charged and dove into it, sending ripples around the spot in its side where he entered. Water cubes might look solid, with their sharp corners and right angles, but don’t let that fool you. They’re nothing but water, scattered remnants of the ocean that used to be here.
Mike swam around inside the water cube, disturbing some fish, then swam out the other end when he ran out breath. He landed on the ground with a thud, sand clinging to his wet body.
We watched as the water cube glided past us and off into the distance, marking its path with a moist trail like a slug.
“Next one is all you, dude,” said Mike.
When the next water cube sailed into view, I held my breath and ran straight into it. The cool water enveloped my body and I swam up towards the top of the cube, passing a squid. Mike liked to thrash around in the heart of the cube until he ran out of breath then dash out the other side, but I liked to float to the top and hang out up there, looking down at the cube and ecosystem inside as it crept through the desert.
I rose to the top and to my surprise saw there was a boat up there that I had somehow not noticed. It was a rowboat, small and crumbling and ancient.
I swam over and hoisted myself up. Once aboard, I saw that there was a woman in the boat as well, presumably the person who had once done the rowing. She was very dead, of course. Her skeletal fingers clasped the oars and empty eye sockets poked out from gray, rotting flesh.
“Hey kid, what are you doing on my boat?” demanded the dead woman.
Embarrassed, I stammered some nonsense.
“You better have a good reason for bothering me, kid. You’ve interrupted me while I was busy decomposing. Decomposing isn’t easy work, you know.”
“I’m very sorry, ma’am,” I pled and hastily dove off her boat, back into the water cube.
I dove with a bit too much force, and the coral-infested floor of the cube raced towards my vision. I pierced through it, breaking through the bottom of the world.
I fell out the other side, as one does in these situations, plummeting from the top of the sky. I was lucky enough to land on a cloud, its velutinous surface breaking my fall.
I peered over the side of the cloud and saw Mike on the ground, tiny and confusedly searching for me.
“Hey Mike, I’m up here!” I called down.
He looked up at me. “Dude, did you fall through the bottom of the world again?”
“You’ve really gotta try to stop doing that.”
“I know,” I admitted.
I felt the cloud growing warm around my feet and gasped as I saw dull red embers swelling on its surface.
“Mike, you have to get away!” I screamed. “I think this is a storm cloud!”
“Oh, shit!” he shouted and began to run, but it was too late. The storm cloud began to rain.
Drops of sizzling magma poured from the cloud, blistering and scorching Mike’s tan skin.
He ran around for a little bit, howling in pain as he burned, but then collapsed onto the ground and didn’t get back up.
I waited until the storm cloud cooled down and stopped raining fire, then I tore off a little chunk of the cloud in my hands and lept off its side.
Gravity wanted me to plummet to Earth, but the celestial nature of the nugget of cloud I held wanted to remain floating in the sky, so the forces worked against each other to create a mild, gentle descent back to the ground. That’s the same way I got down the last time this happened.
I scooped up big handfuls of the desert sand and piled them off to side.
“Hey, what are you doing?” asked Mike from the ground beside me. His flesh was seared red and swollen in the spots where it hadn’t been burned clean off to reveal the naked bone beneath.
“I’m digging you a grave because you’re dead.”
“Oh, thanks. That’s real nice of you.”
I nodded and continued to dig Mike’s grave in the sand.
I was careful not to dig too deep because the last thing I needed was to fall through the bottom of the world again.
When the grave was just the right depth, I rolled Mike’s corpse into it. He stared back up at me with dead, glassy eyes.
“Thanks, Stan. You know, you’ve always been a really good bro to me. Being buried will really help me focus on all the decomposing I have to do now.”
I held back tears as I poured the sand back over my friend and filled in his grave.
Ben Fitts is a writer, musician and zinester from New York. He is the author of over twenty published short stories, and his work has been featured in Weird Mask, Futuristic Fiction, Horror Trash Sleaze and other publications. He is the creator of the zines The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine, A Beginner’s Guide To Bizarro Fiction and Choose Your Own Death. See more of his work at: https://doomgoat666.wixsite.com/benfitts
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by: Ben Fitts
I was excited to be back in New York City. I had grown up there and always thought I would end up living my whole life in the city, but the four years I planned to spend in New England for college had into stretched nine and there was no end in sight.
But my and girlfriend Michelle I were spending the day in the city. We were going to see the stoner metal bands Canabyss and Capra Coven play at Saint Vitus that night, and I was stoked to show her all of my favorite spots.
“I promise Italianame’s Dollar Pizza is the best you’ll ever have,” I told her as we bustled down a crowded street. “And it’s only a dollar! I really hope it’s still there.”
Michelle and I paused outside when we reached the place. There was a big handwritten sign taped to the glass.
Now no longer accepting dollars.
“What does that mean?” asked Michelle.
I had no idea. She shrugged and we headed inside.
A sweaty middle-aged man mulled behind the counter. My jaw dropped when I saw him. He was Italianame himself.
It’d been over ten years and he clearly didn’t recognize me, so I didn’t say anything.
“Excuse me,” asked Michelle, “We saw your sign out front. What does it mean that you’re not accepting dollars anymore?”
“I’ve got too many dollars,” he said. “I don’t need no more, so I don’t take ‘em.”
“What do you mean you have too many dollars?” I asked.
“I’ve been running this dollar pizza place since I was a young man, and I’ve sold more slices now than there are rats in this city. Over time, you just get too many dollars. More than you can do anything with.”
“I still don’t get what you mean though. How can you have too many dollars?”
Italianame snorted. “I’ll show you too many dollars,” he said and swung open a door to a back room behind the counter.
The room was filled from floor to ceiling with stacks and stacks of single dollar bills. There would scarcely have been room for an ant to crawl in there.
“Now do you see what I mean?” he demanded.
“For twenty-seven years I’ve run this pizza place and the deal has always been the same. You give me a dollar, I give you a slice of pizza. Eventually, you get too many dollars! What am I supposed to do with all these dollars? You can only make a fort out of them so many times before it just gets old. So now I no longer take dollars in exchange for pizza.”
“Sure,” Michelle said. “I’ve got a debit card.”
“I don’t take debit.”
“So how do we pay for the pizza?” I asked.
“Pay with something that I have less of. Like toes.”
“Yeah, toes. I’ve only have ten toes. I could still use more of those.”
“Could it just be one of my pinky toes?” I proposed.
“I only have two of those! I could definitely use a third. You give me one of your pinky toes, and I’ll give you any slice on you see on display there,” he said, gesturing to rows of pizzas with various toppings behind a sneeze guard.
“Just chop one off with this thing,” he said, handing me a long kitchen knife.
The toppings were eclectic. The pizza with I ♡ NY keychains salvaged from the corpses of murdered tourists didn’t look particularly tasty, but to be fair it did look better than the pizza whose topping was dogshit that never got picked up.
“I think I’ll have a slice of the Strawberry Fields pizza.”
“Sure, I just need that toe.”
I nodded, unlaced my boot, and sliced off my pinky toe with the knife. I handed him the bloody stump of severed flesh.
“And what do you have to pay for your pizza?” he asked Michelle.
Michelle examined the pockets of her denim jacket. “How much pizza would you give me for a quarter gram of weed?”
Once we had sat down at a table, I felt a little jealous nibbling on my slice with my toe bleeding in my combat boot while I watched Michelle devour the two entire pies that Italianame had given her. Michelle had already started pregaming for the Canabyss/Capra Coven show that night and had the munchies pretty bad, so I didn’t ask her to share. I knew her well enough to know she’d eat it all herself when she was this high and enjoy every bite of it more than I ever would.
I enjoyed my Strawberry Fields slice though.
The slice was a New York classic, a reference to the Central Park landmark of the same name honoring John Lennon. Each slice’s toppings consisted of four beatles scavenged from the very field itself.
I wasn’t expecting them to still be alive though. Their legs pumped madly and they flapped their little insect wings, but they couldn’t get away. They were trapped to the pizza by its sticky cheese and sauce.
“Are you going to finish that?” she asked, pointing to my half eaten slice.
“Yeah, I’m going to finish my only slice,” I said as sweetly as I could.
“That’s good,” said one of the beatles on my slice in a British accent, its wings flapping. “I thought you were full already.”
“Shhh, Ringo,” scolded another one of the beatles on my pizza. “I don’t want to get eaten!”
“Oh, come off it, Paul,” said a third beatle. “We’re beatles! What are we if not consumed? Turtles? Bay City Rollers?”
I had had enough of their yammering then, and stuffed the slice into my mouth. The beatle’s spiky thoraxes crunched between my teeth. As I chewed, I could still hear one of them singing to itself “Da da da, da da da da dum dum da”. The catchy melody echoed in my skull as I swallowed the bugs in my cheese.
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