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.
Limp Bizkit plays over end credits.
Sean Kelly writes Bizarro stories. Read the first Gag Reel here.
Submit your bizarro flash fiction stories to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.