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Flash Fiction Friday: The Sinking

by S.T. Cartledge

A grown man shouldn’t cry while he’s sinking with his horse into the grey-blue quicksand of the Plutonian desert.

Yet here I am with neon green teardrops leaking down my face while my horse thrashes about like somehow that’s going to do something. The back of his head, his hard skull bucking back, has bashed into my face at least twenty times since falling into this quicksand. Hence the tears. And the blue-black bruises on my face and the brown-purple blood that’s everywhere.

My nose is a punched tomato and my eyes are shiny bloodshot pearls with swollen clam-meat closing in around them. My feet are locked into the stirrups and the quicksand is up to my knees. My mouth is all swollen gums and broken teeth, bits of bone-splinters cutting the walls and roof of my mouth and my tongue. It is salty copper, and each mouthful of blood swallows with the texture of a razor wire milkshake.

And the Plutonian sand worms have crawled inside my boots and begun working their way beneath my skin. The sky is black with streaks of orange clouds, white vultures circling overhead or perching on the corkscrew cacti that surround this desert. They call to each other, a back and forth song of sorrow and despair, their voices like radios tuned to the static behind a single guitar poorly tuned and playing a long, slow, wailing solo. The vultures overlap each other in a competition to be the most tragically forlorn beast in the flock.

The sand worms grind my flesh and bones to pulp, to bone-dust, with their diamond-grade teeth, hollowing me out through holes made between my toes, turning my feet into writhing potato sacks. The horse is already halfway hollowed out. The sad white vultures remain at a distance, watching us sink with their deep red eyes that vanish to black like a gunshot wound being sucked into a black hole.

The quicksand is up to my waist as the sand worms work their way up my legs, consuming everything beneath my skin, leaving a trail of human soup in their wake. Blood drains out the bottom of me, drains out my bashed-in face until I’m bleach-white, no blood left behind my skin.

My nerve endings scream like an orchestra of table saws grinding through the hard-rock shell of a giant Plutonian turtle. That’s what it feels like, and hammers made from their shells beating mercilessly against my skull, and all I can think to distract from this feeling is How did I get here How did I get here How did I get here?

It’s a long story, but I don’t have the time for everything. The quicksand presses against my ribs now, and it’s moments before the sand worms take those away from me and take away my lungs, my heart. My brain will have turned to a grey brown slush before the final sand worms consume my skull and burrow out through my deflated scalp like play-doh hair.

Here’s the abridged version: How I got here. There was a farm house burned down and a child stolen from her bed by a man without teeth, and a gang of thieves with guns that shoot vampire bats instead of bullets. I was sleeping in caves, burning chunks of my own hair for heat and warmth, surviving off the stringy flesh of the blue-striped centipedes I found in the caves, and the wolf-fish I reeled in from the acid lakes. It was going to be a revenge story that would finally make me the hero, but somewhere between the burning farm house and now (might have been something I ate, or maybe the water I drank. I might have been bitten by something, I don’t know) I fell into a delirium, and my better judgement was hazed by fever. I focused all my energy on staying atop the horse, keeping her trotting forward, keeping the last wolf-fish meal in my stomach. That’s when I fell into the quicksand.

It’s inching up my throat and in moments I will be reduced to a hollow human-shaped skin and dragged down to rest with all the other human and animal skins at the bottom of this goddamn sinking pit.

__________

S.T. Cartledge was born in Esperance, Western Australia, at the age of zero. Moments later, he learned to breathe and he liked it so much he has kept it up right to this very day. He is the author of House Hunter. His blog can be found here: https://themanifold.wordpress.com/


Flash Fiction Friday: As Far As Bionic Slugs Go, I’m the Total Package

By MP Johnson

Even before Doc Weimerhootch implanted that miraculous microchip into my slug brain and outfitted me with hydraulic arms, I was an exemplary model of the species. I produced slug sauce at twice the normal rate. It smelled like strawberries. And I glided along it at impressive speeds.

I move faster now of course. No longer am I bound to the ground. My arms can easily catapult my tiny slug body over heavily trafficked four lane highways, which seems impressive until contrasted against my recent victory in a steel cage match with the Big Buddha, world champion wrestler and veritable land-whale.

If my physical feats are awe-inspiring, my mental achievements are god-like. When my fellow under-rock dwellers saw me reading Gravity’s Rainbow backwards while crafting recipes for dandelion-infused lasagna, they literally melted down. Being the first and only of my kind, I found myself forced to fraternize with bipeds – humans, that is.

When I mentioned this to Doc Weimerhootch, a human himself, he introduced concerns about potential speciesism. He suggested I initiate communication online to win people over before attempting face-to-face meetings. He recommended something called Craigslist. I posted a watered down tract that yielded a variety of responses. Most came from dazzling, scantily clad teens who immediately attempted to schedule intimacy, but first asked that I join one asinine members-only website or another. My replies to these teen temptresses went unanswered.

Then I received a missive from Becky.

In her initial communication, she seemed impressed by my advertisement’s barely tip-of-the-iceberg description of my mental and physical talents. “U sound like a guy with a good head on his shoulderz lol.” A volley of messages commenced, mine becoming increasingly erudite and hers becoming increasingly less so, until a time and a place were chosen for our blind date.

I recommended a spot in the park near a rock that I had a certain sentimental attachment to, as it had been my birthplace. Perhaps I was nervous. Perhaps my slug nature rose to the surface. Whatever the reason, I pressed myself under that rock to wait in cold solitude for this Becky.

When she arrived, her skin tone high heels sinking into the dirt with every step, I slid out fearlessly. A dandelion clenched in each of my shining steel hands, I exclaimed, “My dear, your hair is as magnificent as an October bonfire and your fingers resemble the finest of my species. I look forward to our evening together.”

“Ah!” she screamed, tumbling backwards, seemingly losing track of which of her limbs should be on the ground and which should be above it. “Ah! Ah! Ah!”

Having admittedly insufficient knowledge of human behavior, I lost a moment trying to comprehend her actions. Had she hurt herself? Was this some sort of attack? When I finally understood what was actually happening in front of me, I beamed. I had not realized that my unvarnished magnificence could cause such an immediate and orgasmic reaction in a human woman.

The evening had just begun and already I had triumphed.

__________

MP Johnson’s short stories have appeared in more than 25 underground books and magazines, including Bare Bone and Cthulhu Sex. His latest chapbook, The Final Failure of a Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer, was recently released by Cloud City Press. He is the creator of Freak Tension zine, a B-movie extra and an obsessive music fan currently based in Minneapolis. Learn more at www.freaktension.com.

Flash Fiction Friday: Bitesized

by Alex Gallegos

Phil Tanner was watching the Bengals game when he died. The refs had blown an obvious call, so Phil responded by barking a barrage of obscenities at the screen. He leapt from his seat in the midst of his tantrum and beat his chest with his fist, mimicking a move his favorite players often did to release their own frustration and passion into the stadium. The stripes’ oversight was going to cost him fifty bucks. There, alone in his living room, yelling at a man a time zone away, Phil had a heart attack and collapsed onto his coffee table, crushing his bag of nacho flavored chips in the process. His wife was visiting her sister for the day and by the time she got home, Phil had been dead for two hundred and fifty-three minutes.

When Phil regained a sense of awareness, he was astonished at the unlikelihood of his new situation. Since he was a child he had believed something amazing and mystifying would happen after death—but not this. Gone was his flabby body, hairy and pockmarked with age. He was freed from the evolved shackles of humanity. He had transformed into something equally unexpected and familiar: Phil was a cheeseburger. There was no grand ‘ah-ha’ moment when Phil realized his transubstantiation, but instead he felt a deep seeded sentience of his delicious form. The warmth of the lightly buttered bun and the greasy, juicy patty covered with melty cheddar cheese, oozing down his sides provided him a hearty life force. The crisp onions, lettuce, and pickles countered that energy, giving him focus and restraint. Both buns were slathered with tangy mustard, which conveyed to him a sense of depth and perspective. There was no tomato on Phil, which he thought was unfortunate, because he really liked tomatoes. These disparate ingredients were inanimate entities on their own, but stacked together they produced Phil.

This was his life now. He wished he had had the chance to say ‘good-bye’ to his wife, but he didn’t, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Cheeseburgers have no regrets.

Whilst relishing in his new existence, the inevitable happened: ten pudgy digits grabbed Phil’s buns. The fingers were coarse and squeezed him much harder than was necessary. Phil wanted to squirm away, but that was impossible. He had been so caught up in the majesty of being a cheeseburger that he forgot that his sole function was to be devoured, chomped up and forced down into a pool of stink and bile. Phil was scared. He feared that being eaten was a violent and painful experience, equivalent to a human having his limbs ripped from his body.

This is the point where Phil would have held his breath in dread and anticipation if he still had lungs. A set of teeth pierced both of Phil’s buns, slicing through the meat, cheese, and vegetables. They tore him apart, but the incident was free of pain. Instead, a sense of exhilarating pleasure filled his medium-well core. This was his purpose! Phil was being eaten and enjoyed and he felt proud of himself, even though he knew he had done nothing. He was a good burger, worthy of digestion.

Phil’s eater sat him down from time to time to free his hands to munch on some French fries or drink his beer. Each time Phil touched down on the plate, he was smaller and closer to his goal. But then, after so many starts and stops, Phil remained alone on the plate, his bun smushed and getting soggy with grease. He was about a tenth his original size, only a couple of bites away from total consumption, but it would not be happening.

Getting cold and feeling weary, Phil waited. What was next? Finally, the plate beneath him began to move and warm air rolled over his last sesame seeds. He wondered whether he was unsatisfying or if his eater had just gotten full. People get full. Then, he began a freefall, landing with a moist thud on the garbage below. This can’t be it, Phil thought and he waited for something else to happen.

 

_________

Alex Gallegos is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and is currently living in San Antonio with his wife Kelly. He loves cartoons, Mexican food, and seeing strange and beautiful new things. He is very excited about the potential for outer space tourism.


Flash Fiction Friday: Master Remastered

by Kevin L. Donihe

A master of meditation sat on the floor of his custom-designed chamber. There was no washtub, no toilet. No accoutrements or conveniences of any kind. A glass of water was the only thing he could drink, a piece of flatbread the only thing he could eat.

Years before, the master had cut away the dross in his life. He’d retired early from a job, floated away from friends and family members. Perhaps he’d missed some of them at one point, but no longer.

 ***

On the twelfth day of a two-week marathon session, the master sensed a presence in his chamber.

Opening his eyes, he saw a man dressed in a white, seamless robe, sitting in the lotus position across from him, knees almost touching his own.

 ***

“Who are you?” asked the master.

“I’m you,” said the man.

This man’s robe was identical to that of the master. His face was identical, too. But a red and angry wart grew by his nose. Never had the master suffered such an indignity.

This man was not the master.

The master found him repulsive, yet the master was a handsome, well-built man. Clearly, something beyond his double’s form had triggered the negative thoughts.

Eyes locked on the man, the master peeled away psychic layers to glimpse flesh-hidden truths.

His guest, it seemed, was a foolish seeker who mimicked the words and actions of others yet imagined himself wiser than any guru. He forged a circular path, which he saw as linear. Smug yet undeserving, his capacity for self-deceit was limitless.

Deeper still, his psyche was twisted-up, his moral compass broken. His aura was brown and sludgy, as if tainted by too much time spent in storm cellars or basements. His soul was cancerous.

No doubt he was the sort who would drown kittens and puppy dogs in bags. If he had a wife and kids, he’d beat them.

Yet there he was—sitting before the master, pretending that he shared his wisdom and was privy to all his secrets.

Such gall. Such hypocrisy.

The more the master dwelt on him, the more he realized he didn’t want to just mourn and pity the man. He wanted to rage at him for wallowing in his limitations, for being a laughable human, a phony and a fraud.

 ***

Hours passed. Still, the man mocked the master with his presence.

“I hate you,” said the master.

“Makes sense,” he responded.

One of the master’s fists curled. He was tempted to punch the man’s throat.

“Why are you even here?” he asked.

“Can’t say,” the man said.

The master was a finite being plumbing the infinite. He had no time for bullshit. “This is my room!” he roared. “Leave it!”

A dark chuckle: “Can’t do that, either. Sorry.”

Then the man vanished.

Anger drained from the master. Once again, his mind felt unburdened and receptive.

Closing his eyes, he found and linked up with his luminous self.

***

Two days later, the sound of a buzzer returned the master’s consciousness to flesh.

He opened his eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Stretched his arms. Popped his neck

He sipped water, nibbled flatbread.

He broke the lotus position with slight regret.

Warmth flowing back into his legs, he leaned over to massage them, but stopped, looked around the chamber instead.

It wasn’t that its atmosphere had turned oppressive, or he had another visitor. Things simply seemed… backwards.

No matter. He began to rub his quadriceps.

When he reached his calves, it dawned on him.

In his chamber, while meditating, he always turned away from the door. Now, however, he faced it.

Reaching up to his nose, the master felt a wart.

 

__________

Kevin L. Donihe is one of the most beloved Bizarro authors in existence and an editor for Eraserhead Press. He is the author of House of Houses, Night of the Assholes, and Space Walrus (among others). He is also the editor of the definitive anthology of walrus-themed fictions: Walrus Tales.


Flash Fiction Friday: The History of Dodgeball

by Bradley Sands
__________

This week I bring you an informational text on the true and actual history of the sport of dodgeball. Feast your eyes on this.
–K.A.

__________

Dodgeball was invented by the Vikings near the end of the eighth century. They would often relieve boredom during voyages by competing against villagers who lived by the sea. Originally, dodgeballs were not thrown by human hands. Instead, they were fired out of cannons. In addition, the earliest dodgeballs were made out of iron rather than rubber. Although the game’s original rules permitted both teams to throw the dodgeballs at competing players, only visiting teams took advantage of this while home teams focused entirely on getting hit in the face.

Two centuries later during the Crusades, the sport was popularized when Christian soldiers challenged Jews and Muslims to a dodgeball tournament with a prize that included an affidavit declaring the winning team’s favored religion as “The One True Religion” and a $25 gift certificate to Pizza Hut. The Christians defeated The Muslims in the final match with four team members still remaining in play. Since history is always rewritten by its victors, the Catholic Church bribed the editors of history books to depict the Crusades as being won through a series of violent battles rather than good sportsmanship. This period is also known for its innovative use of human hearts instead of iron balls, which were safer and more fun to play with.

The tradition of picking teams began in thirteenth-century England during the time of the Black Death. Naval captains who had too many gangrenous body parts to look good in their military uniforms were enlisted to lead dodgeball teams consisting of plague victims. The wizard kings of Europe felt an intramural dodgeball league would raise morale amongst the sick and keep them from devouring the brains of the healthy for the few hours each week that they spent running away from human hearts. Unlike the team captains of the modern age, the captains of the Middle Ages did not select players in the sequence of most skilled to the worst. Instead, they chose players based upon their degree of physical grotesqueness, which hurt the feelings of players who were more likely to arouse the opposite sex.

A century later, the Aztecs introduced rubber balls to the game. Their national pastime, Tlachli (English translation: fun blood sacrifice for very hungry caterpillar), is commonly thought to be an early version of Soccer where all the players had their arms and legs cut off prior to each match, but new studies have proved this to be incorrect: Tlachli was a form of dodgeball that was conceived independently from the dodgeball leagues that had come before it. The explanation for this has been a subject of much controversy amongst archaeologists. Physicist, Noriv Stringer, proposed the theory of morphic resonance as the explanation for the phenomenon. Just as it is easier to wake up later in the day rather than earlier in the morning due to energy building up in the Earth’s morphic field due to the collective successes of early risers, Stringer believes the chances that other civilizations would develop dodgeball on their own significantly increased once the Vikings invented it.

In 1520, the Aztecs taught Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, to play Tlachli. Minutes later, he avenged his humiliating defeat by killing them all. After returning to Spain, he introduced the sport to the nation with much fanfare. Madrid would soon suffer from what is known as The Dodgeball Plague of 1528. It began with a typical game of dodgeball being played in the street. As people drove or walked by, they felt the urge to join one of the teams and abandoned their plans for the day. The game spread throughout the city, and within hours, every person in the city who wasn’t a window-fearing recluse had joined in. The dodgeball plague lasted for twelve days, ending when the French invaded the country and released all of the Spain’s bulls into the crowd. By the time it was over, thousands had died from exhaustion, heart attack, goring, stroke, and getting hit in the head with a ball. To avoid dodgeball-related deaths in the future, King Charles I decreed that anyone who hit a competing player in the head with a ball would be eliminated from the game.

The Mayflower set sail for America in 1620, carrying 102 passengers, 30 crew members, and 42 dodgeballs. Like the Vikings did before them, the Pilgrims passed the time by playing dodgeball on deck. Since the supply of balls was meager and the players kept accidentally throwing them overboard, the Pilgrims instituted a new rule that rewarded players for catching the balls thrown by the opposite team that eliminated the thrower. After three months at sea, the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, bringing dodgeball to the new world.

In 1775, war broke out between the American and Great Britain. This would be known as the Revolutionary War, and it was a war unlike any other. Leaders from both armies signed a treaty in an effort to limit casualties, agreeing to do battle through an enormous dodgeball ball game that involved every one of their soldiers. The game would not end until the entirety of one side had been eliminated, which would determine the outcome of the war. It did not take long for American soldiers to realize that eliminating their opponents by hitting them with bullets was a lot more satisfying than hitting them with rubber balls. Despite the British soldiers’ objections to death, their predisposition for honoring treaties lost them the war.

Prior to the Civil War, The American Dodgeball Association of America added the rule that if a member of a team stepped over a boundary, they would be eliminated. During a scrimmage between The Northern Log Cabins and the Southern Hushpuppies, the referee eliminated Hushpuppy, Braxton Bragg, for stepping over the Virginian border. The Hushpuppies disagreed with the referee’s call and whipped his bare back with thin metal chains until he succumbed to infection. Displeased with this, the Log Cabins called the Hushpuppies “big meanies.” This hurt the Hushpuppies’ feelings, made them cry, and caused them to secede from the United States on the behalf of the South. Because of this, dodgeball players realized game boundaries needed to be better defined. This resulted in the division of North and South Korea, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and Qin Shi Huang traveling back in time to build the Great Wall of China.

Dodgeball did not become part of the physical education curriculum in schools until the nineteen-fifties when school boards decided to teach students the best way to destroy their enemies (with red, rubber balls) and how to separate the weak from the strong. Today, the sport is an important rite of passage that prepares adolescents for futures of prosperity and total domination.

 

__________

Bradley Sands is the author of several books including, Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel, Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, and Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy. He’s not a porn writer. He’s a scholar. Find him here.


Flash Fiction Friday: Wolfaconda

__________

Watch out everyone, this short story is retarded. But it should also make you cry a little. —K.A.

__________

 

by Oliver Johns

 

The sun rose, the moon fell.

Everything was the same, but one thing was different.

Mark Twain noticed it, from his grave.

So did Megatron.

My Gods!

INT: FAT BRANDO’S RECOVERY ROOM, AN ISLAND

Fat Brando put the scalpel next to the sink then shuffled out of the room humming the Superman theme.

There was blood on the floor, blood on the ceiling, blood on the walls. None on the operating table.

The wolf looked at its body; where’s the fur? The anaconda did the same; where’s my fucking head?

Both questions were good ones.

 

                                                                          Wolfaconda!

 

First dilemma: Where to live?

The anaconda said rainforest, the wolf said snow.

It decided on rainforest.

To combat the extreme heat, the wolfaconda attached a fan to its neck.

There was no electricity, so it used a system of faith.

How did things go?

The first few weeks were a sharp learning curve. The sharpest of them all. The lower half of the wolfaconda kept heading towards the river, the upper half tried to move its face closer to the fan.

Gods, it was hot.

On day five it started to snow.

‘It’s no good,’ said the wolfaconda.

‘How do I turn off this fan?’ asked the wolfaconda.

‘It’s too white.’

‘There’s no off button.’

‘It’s too round.’

‘I assumed it would be hot all the time.’

‘Let’s buy a house.’

‘It’s making my eyeballs dry.’

‘How about Rio?’

‘Help.’

The wolfaconda compromised and moved to Hong Kong. Immigration was surprisingly easy, mainly because everyone was asleep.

It half-slithered, half-prowled across the harbor.

It bought a house in Sha Tin.

It searched for work.

‘What can I do?’

‘Banking?’

‘I don’t have enough fingers.’

‘Trigonometry?’

‘That’s not a job.’

‘Content engineering.’

‘Too opaque.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means you start to disappear if you engineer content for more than four days.’

‘That’s very specific.’

‘What about property?’

‘Renting?’

‘Who would say no to me?’

‘Kill them if they do.’

‘Right on.’

The Wolfaconda closed the newspaper and became a night security guard. Every night for two months, it sat behind a desk in a residential building and scared the shit out of people.

Two months and one day later, the bossman called them in.

‘You’re done.’

‘You mean fired?’

‘Yup, both of you.’

‘But…’

‘Don’t argue, just go.’

The Wolfaconda shuffled out of the building and muttered, ‘but there’s only one of me.’

Back at the house, it self-argued.

‘It was your fault, you’re too green.’

‘Yeah, and you’re too grey.’

‘You’re too long.’

‘You’ve got yellow eyes, it’s weird.’

‘You tried to eat Ice Cube.’

‘You harassed Liam Neeson.’

‘You’re holding me back.’

‘You’re insane.’

It tried to end the argument the same way it used to, but it could no longer go its separate way.

Five days later, after reading Candide and misunderstanding it in a spectacular way, the Wolfaconda decided to go to Europe and wander.

The theory: there were cold places and there were hot places.

It packed its bags.

It went to the train station.

As it was stepping through the ticket gate, a net fell on its head.

‘Ha!’ said Jon Voigt, climbing out of a mid-air vortex [theorised by Emile Hirsch, engineered by Ray Wise].

Chinese people stopped and stared.

Others turned their backs.

The Wolfaconda pleaded its case.

Jon Voigt sneered.

I’m a different person now.

Sneer.

You’re only mad at half of me.

Sneer.

I ate you.

Sneer.

You were acting?

Sneer.

Damn you, Jon Voigt.

Mega-sneer.

Jon Voigt took the Wolfaconda back to his home in the Hollywood Hills and opened the front door. Ahead of him was Tom Wilkinson, holding a shotgun.

‘Not again, Voigt.’

‘What are you doing here?’

‘It’s not your house anymore. You sold it to me. Remember?’

Jon Voigt growled, took a break, stroked the shotgun then growled again.

The Wolfaconda saw its chance.

It slithered out of the net and into the garden.

Fourteen years later, in a forest near Maribor, the Wolfaconda stopped slithering and looked at the map.

‘According to this paper, we’re not in LA anymore.’

‘It’s nice here.’

‘I think it’s India.’

‘Let’s stay.’

‘Together?’

‘Why not?’

‘You’re not worried that Jon Voigt’s gonna turn up again?’

‘We’ve killed him eight times, there can’t be many more of him.’

‘He looked like Clive Owen last time.’

‘I know.’

‘I’m tired.’

‘I’m not.’

The Wolfaconda lay down on the grass, half of it closing its eyes, the other half reading the last 145 pages of Cat’s Cradle.

‘Vonnegut just writes the same book over and over…’

The other half didn’t answer.

‘Alone at last.’

‘What?’

‘Nothing.’

 

__________

Oliver Johns is Amazing.


Flash Fiction Friday: Spider Couch #2

by Philip Tannehill

__________

I hope you enjoy this next disgusting installment of Spider Couch. You can find the first chapter here. -KA

__________

I awoke in the darkness with a burning sensation in my genitals. I panicked, only to recall that I had escorted home a couch, not a loose woman. This thought did not sooth the burning, so I unzipped my pants and began to feel out the situation. Immediately I observed that my penis felt much larger than ever. I groped along its shaft down past my knee, then felt a second penis extending out from behind the first, before suspecting that grave forces were at work.

After another minute of frantic fumbling, I pieced together what had occurred. The spider couch had slipped one of its thin black legs up my urethra and another up my anus. This was most unpleasant indeed.

I attempted to spring out of the couch to make for the basement stairs, but the spider legs restrained me like a prisoner’s chains. “Help!” I cried. “Help!”

Griselda was a light sleeper. I called for her repeatedly, desiring more than ever to see my sister’s face crack the darkness and appear in the doorway, bathed in light, at the top of the stairs. The spider’s legs pushed further inside me while its other six legs crushed my ribs in a smothering embrace.

“Help! Help!”

Right as my vision started going fuzzy, Griselda appeared at the top of the stairs. She looked down on our obscene lovemaking (if the spider couch was in fact trying to seduce me) and screamed. The characteristic move for her to make next would’ve been to slam the door, bolt it, and flee to her room – or faint outright. But Griselda was a brave sister who apparently loved me more than I knew. Contrary to her nature, she stormed down the stairs two at a time and came to stand before me and the spider. Her hands were balled into fists.

“Take your hands off him, you bitch,” she said.

I’d never heard such strong language from my sister. When the spider couch tightened its grip, Griselda raged forth, swinging her fists like hammers. A blow glanced off my head, but in her frenzy she also landed several key strikes on the spider couch’s head. Overwhelmed by my sister, the spider couch loosened its clutches on my bowels and freed my penis of its wrath. Its grip on my torso was also released.

I leapt off that couch so fast I probably looked like a reindeer with hot coals on its ass. I practically flew up the staircase and when I got to the top I turned around, remembering Griselda. She was in the clutches of the spider couch now. The evil piece of furniture had torn away her nightgown and was spreading her labia to resemble a manta ray.

“Help! Help!” Griselda cried.

I was not falling for that trick. I knew that if you helped someone who was caught in the spider couch’s cushiony web, then the spider couch would target you. Not to mention, if the spider couch happened to catch me before I freed Griselda, both of us would be stuck, forced to engage in crude and bizarre sexual acts with the couch. Who would feed Griselda’s cat then?

“Look, Griselda. Here’s how it is. If I go down to save you and happen to get caught myself, who will look after Mister Mittens? It is my responsibility not to save you, dear sister. I’m sorry, but think of the dear little Mittens.”

“Mister Mittens has been dead since Thanksgiving, you ass,” she said. “You sold him to the butcher in exchange for a turkey sandwich.”

“Oh really?” Upon reflection, I did recall enjoying a superbly marvelous sandwich around Thanksgiving. There had also been a distinct absence of feline activities around our home. I’d assumed that Mister Mittens was starving (because how do you feed a cat when you can hardly afford to feed yourself?) and had grown too weak to leave Griselda’s room. Poor cat. Sold to the butcher for a sandwich. Ah, I remembered the exchange in clearer detail now. One mewling sack of claws and fur in exchange for thick cuts of white meat on a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy, resting between two slices of toasted wheat bread . . . and cranberry sauce. Loads of cranberry sauce. God, what a sandwich. To imagine I’d acquired it for the low price of my sister’s only companion. It was a crying shame she wasn’t a cat hoarder. Selfish of her, one might say. I was sorry for Mister Mitten’s death, though, because if he hadn’t already been sold for a sandwich, I could bag him up and take him down to the butcher’s straightaway in the morning. This time of year, the furry brute could fetch a fair lot of hot ham water.

I was depressed about the murderous state of my new couch, but also very hungry, so I slammed the door of the basement on my sister’s screams. Perhaps she had some other items I could pilfer for a bowl of hot ham water.

[To be continued.]