The cult section of the literary world

Posts tagged “Kevin Shamel


I decided to escape.

If I could escape the farm, I could get away from the maniacs intent on ruining America and thereby destroying the entire world. I had to.

Pacing my apartment smoking joints seemed to help me come up with ideas. Soon I had the basic outline of a plan. Cas showed up, and I had to pretend to make fun of TV shows with him for a few hours until he had to go meet some girl.

I left right behind him.

I needed schematics. There were plenty of places off-limits to me that required pass-codes and key-cards. There were guarded areas. But there was an old stairwell, with an entry behind an old flooded section of the bottom level of the old base. Cas showed me one time. It was where he painted graffiti, like a cretin. But I didn’t know exactly where the staircase led.

There was a library. It had all sorts of illegal books in it. I’d been there one time, saw the utter depravity and outright worship of conspiracy theories, and got out. But I went there again, and after an hour of searching and fending off the ugly liberal librarian lady, I found what I was looking for.

I bumped into Des on the way back to my apartment.

She yammered at me for five minutes before she started making sexual innuendos. I actually thought about it. I mean, Des was pretty ugly—her hair was dyed weird colors, and she had unpatriotic tattoos. She wore ripped clothing, and it was mostly black. But it had been a long time since I’d had sex. I had a plan to put together, however. So I said goodnight to her.

But then I ran back and asked her to come home with me.

We had sex all night. It was amazing.

Des was gorgeous without her weird clothes and when it was dark enough that her hair looked one color and I could pretend her tattoos were of things like Ivanka and Roses, The Flag, Eagles Mating While Plunging Through Clouds Made By Jet Fighters…


The next morning, Des asked if I wanted to go out for breakfast. I actually did.

I listened to her talk about mostly nothing for forty minutes, and then she started telling me about her role in the upcoming battle, and who she worked for, and what they were doing, and when.

I had to get the hell out.


What if I was mistaken to be one of these anarchists when they started their war? I had to get out and get back to civilization. Maybe even warn someone.

Des suggested we go back to my place before she had to go to work.

I figured, “immediately”, could mean within the next hour or two.


Cas came by just after Des left, and asked if I wanted to go down to the bottom floor.

I did, but not with him. I’d just been packing a light backpack.

“Sure,” I said.

I took the pack. I didn’t even explain when he raised his eyebrow at me.

He handed me a lit joint.  “New stuff,” he said.

It smelled fruity and woodsy. It tasted like bubblegum and pine trees. It got me really high.

I watched Cas paint for an hour or so. We talked about Des, and his latest girl. He, like most of the people down there, was fairly slutty.

Cas highlighted the breasts of the woman he’d painted on the wall. She was mostly naked, except for a tank top pulled too tight just over her protruding nipples and down between her legs that had the slogan, Free Your Tits, Free Your Mind on it. That was an old Liberal Feminists Movement slogan that we all learned about in school. Typical degenerate snowflake talk.

He said, “There!” Now I gotta go back to work. Walk with me?”

“Oh, uh, no. I think I’ll stay here and watch the paint dry.”

“She’s hot, right?”

“Totally.” I thought, actually, that some bigger, faker breasts and lips were in order, but he’d obviously painted it to not upset the ugly females he might bring down there.

He finally left.

I grabbed my pack and headed for the staircase.

After a shaky, dusty, greasy, rodent-filled climb to the fifth level, I found the staircase completely blocked with rubble. There was no way around it. I sweated and grunted, pushing broken concrete and bent metal, but it was all solidly wedged in the stairwell.

I climbed back down, passed Cas’s painting, and went to my apartment.

There was a note on the door from Des.

I didn’t read it until after I’d showered.


I got the night off. Schedule is moved up or something. Thought I’d drop by for dinner. Come find me at my apartment. Or maybe the market near my place. And I may stop for a yogurt or something. I’ve got something to tell you.


Feeling the weight of my failure to escape, and learning that the maniacal schedule of the upcoming insurrection had escalated, I decided that Des might be the perfect way to lighten my mood. Her and a doobie before I left.


Des was home.

She answered the door in a pair of short shorts and a tank top. Much like the one on the woman Cas had painted in the basement.

“Dinner?” I asked.

“After,” she said.

We made it to a crowded restaurant in one of the main halls of the base an hour later. It had been turned into a sort of mall. It looked kind of shabby, but it was one of the nicer places there.

Des ordered a beer. Which I didn’t expect at all. So I had one, too.

I realized, as the server brought us our beer, that Des hadn’t said more than ten words since we left her apartment.

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

She was glossy-eyed, spacing out for a moment, like you do when you’re thinking and then you drift away to that place that you have to snap out of. She snapped out of it. “Huh? Yeah. Everything is fine, Donnie.”

“Like, you’re not mad at me or something?”

“Nope.” She wasn’t really looking at me, though.

The server came back and took our order.

Des looked at her menu like she hadn’t even seen it was there before. She said, “Oh, um, steak.”

I ordered fish and chips.

“Are you sure everything’s okay?” I asked when he’d gone.

Des nodded absently and pulled out a cigarette.

“You smoke?”

“Oh, no, not really,” she said lighting it. “Just today.”

“What’s going on with you?” I asked.

Des nodded. But not at me. At someone across the room. I turned to see who, but she grabbed me by the wrist.

“Pizzagate,” she said.


Des looked angry and frustrated and all jacked up on what I’d thought was pot when I was at the farm. She said sternly, “Pizzagate.”

I heard an explosion under us. The floor shook.

People started gasping, and murmuring, and a few got up from their tables, looking at the floor.

Des dug her fingernails into my skin. Then she slapped me. Right across the face. And she yelled, “Pizzagate! Pizzagate, Donnie! Pizzagate!”

My mind opened up before me.

The growing chaos in the room shrank to background noise.

Clearly, for the first time since I’d awoken on the farm, I knew myself.

I knew Des, too.

My wife.

We jumped from the table as the waiter reappeared from the back, tossing weapons to us.

“Fuck yeah!” I yelled, checking rounds and slamming the magazine home.

“Let’s make America great some more,” Des said. She opened fire.

We began melting snowflakes.

Our mission had reached its apex. My deep-cover contact had released me from my hypnogogic state. My beautiful wife, who would return to her blonde, full-lipped, big-boobed, patriotically tattooed self once we finished this business. I was me again. Whole. Aware. Ready to do my duty. Here we were, ending the Underground Liberal-ation Movement once and for all.

We unleashed our patriotic fury upon the fleeing patrons, mowing them down as they ran like the rats they resembled.

New civil war. Ha!

My name isn’t Donald Trump America Jones because my parents raised some pornographic anarcho-intellectual terrorist. I would never do anything against the law. I am the law. For the people. By the people. Under Trump We Stand.

I went looking for Jeff with Trump’s send-off to our infiltration unit ringing in my head:




I awoke in a bed.

Anna was sitting beside me. She offered me water.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“You’re free,” she said, motioning toward my feet.

I was free. The cord was gone from my ankle. No more Jeff! I nearly jumped out of bed. But my head was swimming and throbbing and I remembered that I should be mad at Anna.

“You knocked me out.”

“Yeah. You were about to really lose your shit, Donnie.”

“What did you expect?”

“We expected pretty much that. Which is why we had that chloroform ready.”

I just looked at her. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t being sweet and dabbing my forehead or something.

“Donnie,” she said, standing. “In the car… You said you loved me.”

“Oh,” I said.

She took a step toward my bed. “Yeah. And then you went into great detail about sexual acts you wanted to perform on and with me, even after you were completely unconscious. Like, twenty minutes later, even.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Donnie, I don’t feel that way about you. I’m sorry. And I apologize if I made you think I did at all. I didn’t mean to. I want you to know that I’m with Jeff. We’ve been together for twenty years, Donnie. He’s my lifemate. And besides. Maddy is your age.”

“What?” I couldn’t and wouldn’t believe it. “Jeff? But you barely said hello to him. And you gave me nuts. Lifemate? Isn’t that the hippy way of saying husband?”

She smiled sweetly. Like some sort of angel, all understanding and honest and true to herself. I couldn’t stand it. She turned away, and sat again.

I said, “So what if Maddy is my age? She’s pretty and all, but what does she have to do with anything?”

She crossed her lovely legs. I noticed she was wearing a flowered skirt. It was all silky and flowy, and still fit her snuggly. She was so gorgeous.  “She’s my daughter. We arrived at the farm together.”

I propped myself up on my elbow, tired of looking sideways at her. “Wow, what? What did you do?”

“We were caught collecting rain water,” she said.

I nodded slowly. “Ah, stealing.”

“And we had a permaculture garden.”

“Wow. New Age Nonsense and Organics. I’m surprised you didn’t get put on a mining crew.”

Anna laughed. “Maddy and I went to the farm after the mining crew. We were transferred through, let’s say, cyber means, so we could be with Jeff. Maddy’s dad.”

My mouth actually dropped open.

“Okay,” Anna said with finality. “You rest. We’ll send someone along soon to acclimate you, and show you your apartment.” She stood up and walked to the door.


“See you, Donnie.”

I watched the door close behind her, and let my head fall to my pillow.

I realized that I had no idea where I was, as I fell asleep again.


A few days later, I had a pretty good idea of where I was.

Underground, for one thing.

In a rebel base. Which had once been an Army base. The real American Army.

Still a prisoner.

Only this was worse. Because no one trusted me, or spoke to me much. Jeff had apparently told them all I was a Trump Doll, and that was less desirable to speak to or even look at than a foreigner or something.

It suited me fine. I couldn’t believe I’d been taken prisoner by this rag-tag group of pirates and anarchists. I couldn’t believe Anna was one of them. Jeff, totally. But not Anna.

I found out the second day I was awake that Jeff being on the farm was actually planned. He’d been spying. Darik and most of the other workers were dead, as were all the guards, the warden, his wife, his mistress, her mistress, the cook, the mayor, his wife, mistress and hers as well, a barbershop quartet, and a visiting senator with wife and attending mistresses. The whole farm was destroyed. All the crops burned.

I learned this from the ugly girl who showed me my apartment. Des. She didn’t stop talking. But she didn’t actually converse. Just blabbed. Probably would have spoken to a cat the same way.

She brought me food, after leaving and telling me the fridge was full. And then ate with me. Never stopping talking. I learned a lot. Probably more than I was supposed to learn.

By that night I was in withdrawls. I hadn’t had any pot pills for forty-eight hours. I kind of lost it on Des and woke up in the infirmary the next day.

That’s when I met Cas. He was the first in that caveful of snowflakes to talk to me like I was a person.

He was in the bed beside me. He’d suffered a chemical burn and had only just been released after a week. He offered me a cigarette.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d only seen those in old movies.

I sat up in my bed and backed away.

“It’s just a joint, man. It’ll help you feel better.”

I remembered a line from a movie from the 20th century. “No thanks, I don’t smoke.”

“You don’t smoke weed?” Cas asked.

“Weed? You’re smoking pot?!”

“I will be,” he said, lighting the joint.

When he handed it to me, I smelled a sweet aroma. The end of the weed joint was burning. I didn’t stop to wonder about the smell, or the burning pills or how they did it. I just sucked on the end of it like Cas had.

And coughed until I puked a little.

Cas explained what to do.

In ten minutes I was high for the first time ever. I had no idea until then what weed was, what it did, and how good it made one feel until then. Cas explained all about it. Because he grew it. And he promised to take me to see real marijuana being grown as soon as I was back to normal.

Which, thanks to the joints he left me, was the next day.

Cas showed me around his grow. It was completely different from the farm. I was introduced to several people, some of whom were nice to me. He showed me the whole process of growing it, and what they harvested. And sent me back to my apartment with a big bag of buds and a pipe. Smoking it made all the headaches and muscle tension I was feeling from amphetamine withdrawl go away.

By the next day, I kind of liked the rebel hideout. I mean, despite being surrounded by criminals and terrorists who hated America and its Father and sort of me because I didn’t. Despite the contraband, the conspiracy theories, and disdain for suits and ties.

The food was tasty and fresh.

Several people were good looking.

Real weed was really great.

There was every modern convenience. Even TV. But not in every room, like there should have been. There was also a tendency for people there to jeer and curse at the news, or at talk-shows, or realitytube stars. Even Trump Family, The Trumpsters, Trump Mania, Mr. Trump, Trump This!, and Trumpinator 9000 commercials about Trump getting his brain encased in his awesome new mecha-suit so he can live forever.

Plus, there was Cas. Who I genuinely liked.

I began just hanging out, making new aquaintences, considering mates. After a few weeks, it was almost life as usual.

I never saw Jeff or Anna, which was also a good thing about the place.

I wondered why the rebels lived underground. I mean, I knew it was to hide, but I wondered why. Couldn’t they just be like everyone else? Why was it so important to be different, and break the rules, and trample on laws for that matter?

Cas was no help. Any time I started talking about what I didn’t understand about them, he changed the subject. Or handed me a dab, or a doobie.

That’s when I decided to go find Des.

She was in the VR-Cade when I finally located her. Hilariously, I found her because she was the only one in the room talking as I passed. But she wasn’t alone. She had a friend with her.

I asked her if she’d like to get some coffee.

She said she drank tea. And that her friend Lori had to come with us.

It took two cups of tea and not much coaxing to learn all about the place we lived. Lori talked more than Des, but with a terrible affected accent, like she was from the deadlands of California.

“And so soon we’re all just gonna attack. I mean, we’ve pretty much got the whole thing ready to go. A new Civil War. A coup. It’s gonna be so great. No more lies. No more stupid laws that only benefit the elite. Real food for everyone. Renewable energy. Science… No more tweets! Wow. I really can’t wait.”

I told Des that I had an appointment.

She said she’d find me sometime soon.

Lori just kept talking as I walked away. I heard a jabbering duet start, echoing off the corridor walls around me.

I went to my apartment and screamed in my pillow.

It was insanity. The whole scheme. The secret base, the hackers, pilots, the army of hippies, degenerates, New Agers, terrorists, immigrants, Liberals… a new civil war?

I smoked a joint and took a shower.


Darik made us shower. He didn’t ask why most of my body was black with compost. He sneered at Jeff and shook his head, pointing to the shower stalls that lined the back fence.

He said, “You can’t make soup without salt and pepper,” and walked away.

I was too frustrated and slimy to even think about what he meant.

As I lathered up, I said, “Jeff, what do you mean you smoked weed? Can we do that?”

Jeff sighed.

“I mean, do you smash it up, or what? What do you smoke it in?”

“Shut up, Shacklemate.”

I wrung out my shirt and shorts, after stomping on them for a while in the shower, and put them back on. We still had a few hours of work left to do.

We went back to our rows and picked burrs.

The burrs were used to make furniture for Third World Countries. Because America helps the whole world. Even the poor ugly people in crappy countries.

Anna and her shacklemate Maddy walked past the end of our row. I smiled and waved at her, but Anna nodded and raised her left eyebrow at Jeff.  Maddy waved a low, slight wave. Neither of them looked at me at all.

“Huh,” I accidentally said out loud.

Jeff looked at me all meanly.

I just went back to work until Trump came over the speakers.



Not much happened during dinner.

We sat around in the recreation space. Jeff whispered a little to some old farmers. I’d noticed that all his friends had unpatriotic tattoos. So gross. I looked at my eagle on Trump’s shoulder in front of the flag tattoo. So cool. So normal. Why did people have to be different?

I tried to catch Anna’s attention, but she was flitting around like a gorgeous little fairy, giving out gifts to friends. She always had a bunch of small satchels made from big leaves, all tied up with vines or flowers. She’d give out nuts, or fruit, or a note with a smiley face. She was so sweet. But busy.

Darik came over with a plate of fajitas. He ate what the guards and warden ate. “Looks like good steak, right?” he asked Jeff. “Fuck yes, it is. So much better than whatever paste and potatoes you’re eating.”

Jeff ate a bite of paste. It wasn’t bad. I think it was chicken.

Darik picked a piece of dripping steak off his plate and held it up like a fish he’d finally reeled in. He took a bite from the bottom. Juice dripped down his chin. He looked so gross.

I mean, he looked bad, anyway, with his weird googly eye, and barrel chest and sort of womanly hips. But in that instant he looked monstrous.

He smacked the meat and said, “I’m having this delicious dinner with visiting dignitaries. You might think it’s because I’m better than you, me being an Alpha Male and all, right? I don’t think that. But you might.”

He walked away.

I was happy when Trump told us to go to sleep and have great dreams and maybe dream about him and the ladies maybe dream about sex with him, like he said every night. I was soon fast asleep, forgetting all about my shitty day with Jeff.

I awoke with Jeff’s hand clamped over my mouth and his face in mine.

“We’re leaving, Shacklemate. Right now. And if you give me a single sign of trouble, I’ll fucking kill you and cut off your foot.”

I whisper-hissed, “What?!”

“Get up. Shut up. Do what I say. Stay close.”

I got up. I slept in my clothes, like everyone, so I just slid my shoes on and ran behind Jeff through the dark.

It took me a few minutes to realize that it was dark. It was never dark on the farm. There were lights everywhere. When I first arrived, I had to sleep with my arm over my eyes.

“Jeff! Why is it dark?”

“I told you to shut up. I’m serious. Not another word.”

We were crouched behind the command post. There were no guards. Looking around, I realized there wasn’t a single guard at any regular positions.

Jeff tugged on our cord, stood up and ran toward the west end of the field. I stumbled behind him, noticing that there were several other couples slinking through the night with us. I saw Anna’s wild kinky hair outlined against the kitchen tent for a brief moment.

I ran faster to catch up with Jeff. As I closed the gap, pulling the cord to take up slack, I realized that Jeff had a gun. He had two guns. He held a pistol, and a machine gun was strapped to his back. I thought, Holy crap, I’m going to die.

Workers gathered at the fence-line as we approached.

“Take a count,” Jeff said.

Old John started counting. “We’re all here,” he said as six more joined us.

Jeff asked, “Fence cut? Trail clear? Traps set? Transportation?”

People answered yes after each question. Mostly older workers. Workers with guns.

“Blow it, Maddy,” Jeff said.

I looked around in the dark for Anna and Maddy. But soon Maddy’s face was illuminated by whatever device she held in her hand. Beside her, Anna lit up with a pretty blue glow.

Maddy was smiling as she pressed some buttons.

The field exploded behind us.

A few of us yelled. I ducked.

There was no escape from the brilliant orange light, deafening blasts, and the heat wave.

We all stood staring at the plumes of fire as the first explosions died out.

Jeff yelled, “Go!’

Everyone took off running through a wide gap in the fence.

Jeff waited until they’d all disappeared into the shadows in the red-flickering forest. He said, “Let’s go, Shacklemate.”

We bolted through the trees, me holding our cord, and keeping as close as possible to Jeff.

Fire heated my back, and more explosions made me falter each time they boomed behind us.

The trail was a glowing red path or pitch black strip through the woods, and filled with escaping workers.

I couldn’t think more than, Holy crap, I’m going to die. But I ran until my lungs hurt, and we broke from the trees into a wide meadow.

A row of junked vehicles lined an old road ahead of us.

People gathered around Jeff and me. Well, they gathered around Jeff. But I was standing there, wondering what the hell had just happened, so I ended up in the center of a panting circle of workers, none of whom looked as confused as I was.

Jeff smiled at Maddy. Actually smiled. I’d never seen him do that. He said, “Good job with those explosives, Maddy. I knew you’d get it right. And Anna, sweet placement. You two made the whole thing happen.” He looked around at everyone. “Let’s get out of here.”

Workers smiled. They even cheered a little, in hushed, happy voices.

Jeff walked toward a junked car.

“Where are we going?” I asked. “How are we going?”

Jeff opened the old car’s door. “Get in,” he said.

“Why? These can’t possibly go anywhere. There’s no solar panels on any of them. They’re just old hunks of scrap metal.”

“Get in, Shacklemate. And shut up.”

“But why?”

Jeff shoved me inside the dusty, beat-up hunk of crap. I fell into the backseat.

“Scoot to the other side,” Jeff said, getting in behind me, and crawling into the driver’s seat, slinging our cord around and smacking me with it.

Anna and Maddy got in behind us.

“Hi, Anna,” I said.

“Hi,” she said. She sat in front.

Maddy scooted in beside me. “Hey, Shacklemate,” she said. “How’d you like the fireworks?”

“Uh. Um. They were scary.”

She smiled.

Jeff started the car. It started. I heard other cars starting up, too.

“How is this running? There’s no solar panels. Cars can’t run without them. Nothing can! What the hell is going on?” I was really starting to freak out.

Anna turned in her seat. Her face was shadowed menacingly by tail-lights. “Cars don’t use their solar panels. Why do you think you still fill them up with gas? It’s just a Trumpism, Donnie.”

“It’s what? Anna. What? Who are you? I thought you were normal. Jeff, let me go back! I have less than two years. This is crazy. We’re gonna get killed. Cars use solar panels! Everything does. We use solar power, because it’s good for the environment. This is wrong. Take me back. Take me back!”

Jeff drove forward.  “Maddy,” he said.

Maddy stuck a rag over my face. I tried to get her off me, but then Anna helped her hold it over my nose and mouth. I tried to ask her why, but I think instead I said, “I love you.” Then she turned purple and dazzling lights burst from her eyes. Darkness fell on me like a predator.



Kevin Shamel was kind enough to send over a piece of fiction about the dystopian Conservative-vs-Liberal hellscape that will soon wash over America with Donald Trump at the helm. We here at Bizarro Central liked the story so much that we’re presenting it all this week in four installments! We hope that Kevin Shamel’s weird fiction helps us get through yet another of the President’s “Worst Week Ever”s.


“Wow. Another one of those random pentagram contrail groupings today.” I pointed to the brightening sky.

“Shut up, Shacklemate.”

“Okay, but it’s just weird how that happens.”

“Shut the fuck up.” Jeff shoved scrambled eggs into his mouth. He didn’t really chew them. He never did. I noticed this the first day I ate with him. He just piled them in and swallowed. It creeped me out.

I watched the contrails spread, on their way to becoming clouds. I have to admit, I marveled at how smart people were to make clouds. But more so that several times a month, multiple planes had to be flying the same patterns to make those pentagrams. And the circles. That was the part that made me wonder the most. Why was a plane flying in a circle, right at the perfect time and place to surround the star? My eggs were cold. I hate eggs, anyway. I slid them to Jeff.

He ate them without thanks. As usual. I pulled a few nuts from my pocket. Anna had given them to me. Anna…


We all stood and shuffled away from the picnic tables.

I saw that most people were smiling. I smiled, too. Because Trump’s voice in the morning was a good, happy thing. It was a motivating thing. Even if it was just recordings blasted through mega-speakers placed every few feet around the farm. It was still Trump’s actual voice. And it made us smile. Except Jeff. Him and a few of the other older workers. They sneered and looked conspiratorially at each other. There were only a few of them, but they really hated Trump. And that’s why they were on the farm.

I loved Trump. I wasn’t at the farm for any big deal, really. Only a two-year sentence. I’d just been caught with objectionable fiction. Really tame stuff, anyway. Not so subversive. It was just an old bizarro fiction novella that had been floating around my dorm. My RA found it when I stupidly left it hidden only between my mattress and box spring. Like an idiot.

Jeff and I passed by Anna’s place on the way to our rows.

She wasn’t there, but I thought I could smell her lingering essence oils. She made all sorts of things out of plants that grew at the edge of the farm. And grew things like peanuts and potatoes and stuff. Plus, she was really beautiful and nice. She was the only person on the farm to call me by my real name. I was sort of in love with her. But she was older. And she hated Trump. I never talked to her about it. It was weird, because she wasn’t all bitter like Jeff. But it was obvious she didn’t like Trump one bit. That was the only uncool thing about her.

We were nearly at our rows when Darik, the Grower, stopped us. Well, stopped Jeff.

He nodded to me. “Shacklemate.”

I raised my hand in a slight wave.

Darik pronounced his name, (Dah-Rick), because his parents were foreign. But not the bad kind of foreign. He wasn’t at the farm for being an immigrant. He’d been caught having sex with one. And a Middle Eastern one, at that. A suspected Jihadist named Ahkmed, of course. He was in for life. But good behavior, and likely lewd behav­­­­­­ior that would get the guards put in as farmers, had allowed him to rise from regular worker to the position of Grower. This was his second year. No one liked Darik. But we all had to pretend like we did, or we ended up being hounded by him like Jeff.

“Hey, Jeff. I wanted to ask you about that Hi-Nite fertilizer spill last week. I mean, how exactly did that container—opened container—get balanced so precariously on the edge of that tractor tire and why didn’t you pay any attention to what may be on the tractor before you decided to move that tractor? And who said you could move it, anyway? Why were the keys in it? What were you up, to, Jeff? And who do you think is going to pay for all that spilled product? Me? I can tell you right now, Jeff, not me.”

Jeff just glared at Darik.

“Well, it’ll be you one way or another, Jeff. Mark my words. You’ll pay. For everything, Jeff. Because dirt is dirt. It’s like, it can’t be all the stuff that makes it all fractally and nano-multi-mega-quarked, right? Because, well, it’s like my great-great grandma from the Old World used to say, ‘Dirt isn’t soup.’ And she was alive when dirt was soup. And when Hitler was alive. Who was bad. Really, really bad. Right? Know what I’m sayin’, Jeff?”

Jeff glared.

I nodded.

Darik said, “Look, it’s all because of chaos theory. Look it up.” He slapped Jeff on the back and walked away.

I said, “I’m gonna look that up.”

“Shut the fuck up, Shacklemate,” Jeff said.


It only took me ten minutes to get a pretty bad sticker in my finger. My gloves weren’t more than duct-taped tatters of fabric, and even the tape was wearing thin. I pulled out the burr and tossed it in the bucket. Even those were useful.

Jeff pretended not to notice.

I sat and looked at the sky for a moment. The clouds were mostly spread out, but I could still see the pattern.

“Maybe it’s the same pilot.”

Jeff didn’t answer.

“I mean, it’s gotta be. It can’t be every pilot who gets confused right there and flies in a circle.” I stood up and got back to pruning.

Jeff stopped working and looked at me. “Are you for fuckin’ real?”


“Come the fuck on, Dude. Those are fucking chemtrails. They’re laid out like that for both magickal and meteorological reasons. The winds blow east from there, and the pentagram is definitely by design. You fucking moron.” He went back to work.

I stood staring at him for a while. First, he always used the term, “dude”. Like all those old people did. Not, “supporter” or even, “cov”. Dude. Like an old snowflake. Secondly, he still called contrails, “chemtrails”, though everyone knew that it was a weird old Liberal idea that the government was somehow doing something with a natural phenomenon for nefarious reasons.

Planes made contrails. Contrails made clouds.

We worked on a farm! How could the natural cycle of rain not make a single difference in the ridiculous chemtrail argument? And magic wasn’t even real. Again, for the ninety-nine billionth time, I wished I was chained to someone else.



Darik stopped us as we plodded toward the command center for our lunch.

“Shacklemate,” he nodded.

I waved.

Darik walked around Jeff, smirking. He looked him up and down. “Guess who drew compost duty, Jeff?”

Jeff scowled.

“Yep, you did. Again. Weird how that always works out. Well, no lunch for you. Get to it.” Darik looked to me. “Sorry, Shacklemate.” He wasn’t.

“I don’t mind,” I said. I did.

Darik started to walk off, but he stopped and looked at us. “This is for America, you two. You work for America. And America is like a fistful…wait, wait. A shovelful of pine needles in your underwear.” He held up his hand and said, “Wait a second, wait. Uh… at least they might stab your crabs, right? And that’s natural. And a good thing, right?” He nodded sagely. “Think about it.”

Darik walked toward the command center.

“Fucking fascist,” Jeff said.

“I’m hungry,” I said.

“Shut the fuck up, Shacklemate.” Jeff trudged off toward the compost heap.

I followed.

I had to. Our ankles were shackled together with woven Kevlar and carbon nano-tube chain. They were unbreakable. We were shacklemates. And that’s all Jeff had called me since I arrived. Six feet of heavy cord bound our lives together. I was not at all looking forward to the next year and four months. Especially the next few hours, while I shoveled rotting food into wheelbarrows and carted it to the other side of the farm. Especially listening to Jeff’s tirades the whole time. Because there would be tirades.


“…And if there wasn’t a camera every ten fuckin’ feet, I would definitely show him pine needles in his crotch.”

I just shoveled. It was no good to argue with him when he was going off about Darik. I basically agreed with everything he said about him, anyway.

“He’s just another dickhead I wish was in L.A. when North Korea got one off.”

I stopped shoveling.

Here’s where I had to speak. “Jeff. L.A. was destroyed when those five nuclear reactors had simultaneous meltdowns after that big earthquake that made all of Southern California uninhabitable. There was no bomb.”

Jeff stuck his shovel in the black gunk, splattering what looked like pickle pieces on my leg. “Look, Shacklemate. I’ve had enough idiocy for the day. I don’t want to hear any of your doublespeak and alternate history today. There damned sure was a Second Korean War. It lasted about half an hour, but it happened. And that’s why there’s no North Korea. I’m tired of Darik’s nonsense. I’m tired of this fucking farm. But mostly I’m tired of you blabbering idiocy at me.”

“Idiocy?! Really? You know, I saw a man arrested once who was saying exactly the same sort of bullshit that you’re always spouting. And he looked good. Especially for an older person. New suit, hair correct, great teeth, perfect tan… but standing in the street screaming about North Korea until the cops came and took him away. I’d never heard such lunacy. It was shocking. Then I ended up here. And got stuck to you. And all I hear from you and all the workers your age is the same old fucked-up conspiracy theories. North Korea hasn’t existed since the Korean War. In the freakin’ 1950’s, Jeff. You’re the idiot!”

Jeff reached down, grabbed our cord, and pulled me off my feet.

I landed in the compost muck. Some got in my mouth.

Jeff was suddenly on top of me, pinning me down, squishing me through stinking layers of rotted food and feces. “I’ve had enough of this shit from you.” He shoved me deeper. I felt the compost seeping into my shorts and under my t-shirt.

He snarled in my face like some sort of freakin’ animal. “You’re so fucking stupid. So brain-dead. You’re a robot, man. A drone of the enemy. I don’t know what totally stupid fucking thing you did to arrive here, and I don’t care. But you’re a stinking Trump Doll, and I don’t like you. So, shut. The fuck. UP.” He got off me.

I sat up, wiping the sticky goop off my face and neck. “I don’t know how you can be so uptight, working on a pot farm,” I said.

Jeff threw his hands in the air. “This isn’t a fucking pot farm!”

I dug some gross stuff out of my ear. “Well, it certainly is. I don’t know where you think you’ve been for the past three years, but you’re a pot farmer, Jeff. You live the life. Growing marijuana in the sun all day, pruning the burrs, and injecting the stalks. And we get free weed, Jeff! Every single day. You live a good life, for being an Anti-Fa Terrorist. But you have to rant and rave about Darik, and Trump, and all your insane conspiracy theories, eat eggs without chewing, and fart all night. You’re just an angry old man.”

Jeff came close again, with his hands in fists. I cringed.

“We don’t grow weed, you fucking tool!” He gestured to the fields. “That’s not marijuana. I used to smoke weed. I used to grow weed. Real weed. Actual marijuana. This isn’t it. The fact that you even think those pills they dole out is pot is one of the very reasons that I cannot stand being here. It’s one of the very things that makes America that shovelful of pine needles. We’re not growing weed, you stupid little kid.”

I just sat there. I couldn’t believe it. He was literally insane. “Wow, Jeff. Maybe you should ask for more weed tonight. You’ve gone completely Hillary.”

“Shacklemate! Marijuana does not have burrs! You don’t inject its stalks. It doesn’t grow pods filled with sap. The shit we grow is some GMO amphetamine/ketamine/whatever the fuck cocktail. They dry that sap into a powder and make it into pills to drug the whole country into a herd of zombie supporter maniacs. Like you. After the Marijuana Anti-Rebellion failed, real weed was replaced with this mind-control worker-bee bullshit. So fuck off, you dumb little twat. And seriously, shut the fuck up.”

Avoiding Corndogs: How to Pitch to a Bizarro Editor

By Kevin Shamel

You have the best idea ever for a bizarro book. No, you have ten of them. Throw out the ones about sentient penises (okay, about any sort of penis). So, you have five best ideas ever for bizarro books. Now to the first difficult part: pitching them to an editor (who reads a space-ton of the best ideas ever, weekly).

Ultimately, the best way to go about this is to sit down with the editor and talk to him or her—not just randomly at a party or funeral, arrange a meeting or show up somewhere where the editor is willing to talk about projects (conventions, workshops, etc.). Speaking directly with a person allows you the freedom of  providing asides, further explanation, answering questions, non-verbal cues and communication… you know, those subtleties of face-to-face conversation.

If you can’t physically meet—and I understand that this is usually the situation—then you’ll have to approach the editor through the magic of the internet. While being the most readily available means, it also dramatically changes the presentation of your pitch. You’ve got to get it right the first time.

If you happen to share social networks with the editor, and you’ve spent some time learning what she or he likes to read, watch, and publish—through either acquaintance or passive stalking—you can usually find an easy way to present your ideas.

What if you have no contact with this editor beforehand? What if all you have are the best ideas ever? Again, internet magic. Email him or her with your ideas. But research first. In the very least, learn the editor’s name and whether or not the person is male or female. Send a polite, personal email to the editor explaining who you are (briefly), that you have the best ideas for bizarro books ever, and attach them.

By personal, I don’t mean ask if his kids had a good day at school or tell her that those unicorns she painted on her nails last week that you saw in a photo on her friend’s Facebook feed were totally awesome. I just mean don’t address the editor with, “Dear Sir or Madam” and don’t send a starchy, perfectly constructed paragraph that you’ve obviously sent to a hundred people with your 145,000 word vampire novel attached.

I suggest utilizing the available options to you to learn whatever you can about the person with whom you hope to develop a close working relationship. If a cold query to me doesn’t at least include one of my names, I never even get to the best ideas ever. I automatically assume we’re not going to fit. Because that is the important part. No, not getting one of my names right.

Be in synch with the editor. You have to present to her or him exactly what he or she is looking for, and you have to do it in a way that shows that you’ve got your act together, even if you’re new at it all.

We all have different needs. Personally, I can’t accept a book for the New Bizarro Author Series that’s over 25,000 words, and I want to see five or ten ideas before a person even starts writing. I’d rather know a potential author (in some way) before deciding to work with them. I prefer queries to get to the point, somehow include root beer, and skip the formalities. Other editors have totally different guidelines. But if you want to be successful, you’ve got to know them. Of course editors forgive mistakes—without them we’d have no job—but if you want to garner our interest, be smart and apt.

Pay attention to the back covers of books. Those are their pitches. They’re pitching the idea of what is inside to everyone who reads it. And they work, right? So if you send an editor something that you’d find written on the back of a book that would make you have to open it… You see where I’m going.

Don’t be afraid to tell the whole story or include the weird details (in a paragraph or two). If your pitch doesn’t excite and entice, it’s going to be more difficult to assure an editor that your book will. As with everything, practice. Write out your idea as a back cover blurb and read it aloud in a race-course announcer voice until it sounds like something that would excite NASCAR fans more than a ten-car wipeout with flying flaming tires, an errant live-chicken cargo truck, and four dead bystanders. If it sounds like spreading a pack of mustard on a corndog would be more of a thrill, change it up (I don’t know, I don’t watch NASCAR, but it would include corndogs if I did).

If you can make your pitch one (gorgeous) line—think of a Hollywood pitch-session—you’ve an even better chance of selling the idea.

No matter how you approach an editor, have your ideas ready to present in a way that will make her want to read the whole book right that minute. Make the editor wish he’d thought of it first. Excitement like that will put that editor to work for you.

I see both sides of this process as both a writer and editor. Hopefully, the more I see as an editor and the more ideas I try and sell of mine, the less mistakes I make in the process. But recently, during Eraserhead Press’ Pitch-a-Palooza, I learned that just knowing what makes a good pitch doesn’t mean it makes one a pro at selling pitches. And even the best ideas ever can be completely misrepresented in a paragraph or two.

What I’ve learned thus far is that presenting a pitch is sometimes more difficult than writing a book, but mastering the skill is as important as constructing a fabulous story. Even if the book is already written the whole thing is about selling the idea of it. And that just isn’t easy.

I wish the best of luck to all of us endeavoring to convince people (from editors to the general public, not just family and those we blackmail) to read the weird shit that comes from our heads. I hope we all succeed. World domination begins with damned-good pitches.

Kevin Shamel is the author of Rotten Little Animals and Island of the Super People. When not writing, Kevin works as an editor for Erasherhead Press, ushering in the next generation of Bizarro authors for the New Bizarro Author Series. He is obsessed with Bigfoot.

Flash Fiction Friday: ROCK HARD

by Kevin Shamel

I jumped my motorcycle over twenty-three flaming buses full of children. And landed it. I lept into a cannon and was shot out alongside a rocket, which I rode to a Vietnam dog-fight in the air. I blew up a commie plane with the rocket and somersaulted out of the explosion to land on a burning jet where I fought off and killed five ninjas, an alligator and two kung-fu guys.

I dove from the spinning F-15 at 36,000 feet, landing on a blimp thirty thousand feet down. I bounced off the blimp while connecting a bungee cord to my ankles and fighting an eagle, and dropped another three thousand feet. After bouncing back, I released the cord to dive into Angel Falls, the highest waterfall on Earth. I flew down the cliff, showered with high-mountain mist, and used my wing-suit to skim just above the rushing rocks, where I plucked a dozen rare blue orchids. I pulled my chute at about two hundred feet and just before I landed my harness caught in the branches of a macadamia tree. I fought six chimpanzees and a snake on the way down, rolled on my landing, punched a Nazi, made out with a Penthouse Pet, and gave her the flowers.

Then I had a smoke and ate half a cow. My name is Rock Hard. I’m a professional stunt man. Give me some weed.

Really, break it out or I’ll break your nose. Yes I’m fucking serious. I’m a stuntman. I do that all the time. You better hope I don’t want some cocaine after you get me high because you don’t look like you can afford it.

Ah, yeah, that’s better. Watch this. I’m gonna take this joint you rolled and light it in that fucking volcano over there. Just hang on, I have to take off my shoes and make out with that Pet one more time. Just for about ten minutes.

I should actually take off my shirt, too, because the last time I lit a joint with bubbling magma my shirt caught on fire and I had to put it out with spit. And that wasn’t all that easy, because I was hanging from a hot rock by my steel-toed boots and bracing myself against the wall of the vent with my fingertips so I had the joint in my mouth the whole time. I had to wait for a big blast of gas afterward too, so that I could do a backflip out of there, because by the time I put my shirt out, I was only hanging on by one toe. My boots had melted and my socks turned instantly to ash. So, I’ll be right back.

Hi, I’m back. Have you seen that Penthouse Pet? Sorry, but I didn’t smoke that whole joint by myself. I shared it with the chief of this cannibal tribe because he showed me how to avoid the fire ants on the way back. That volcano was pretty far away. I ended up walking into the world’s largest nest of fire ants. At first it was okay, because I just dared them to try and bite my stuntman feet, but then about six million actually did. I started getting a little dizzy and since they had crawled all over me and were biting everything, even my eyeballs, it became annoying.

I ran really fast for about three miles, but couldn’t shake the ants. So, using my quick thinking, I remembered that wasps and ants hate each other. I started beating on every wasp nest I could see. Luckily, thousands of wasps came out in a cloud to find out what was going on and started stinging the shit out of me. But they were also stinging ants. And some ants were jumping off of me to attack the wasps. I stripped off all my clothes so the wasps could get the ants. Don’t worry, I kept the joint between my lips. And didn’t even get it too wet.

When all the ants were finally dead, I noticed I was right beside an ancient stone pyramid. I couldn’t see a door and the trees were really tall all around it. The wasps were stinging the shit out of me, so I just punched through the granite. The tunnel I made was pretty small and as I was sliding into the pyramid, the wasps got scraped off me and some were smashed or choked on rock dust. In about ten minutes, I had punched my way through the whole pyramid. I was a little dusty and naked, but nothing was stinging me.

Some idiot had crashed his hang-glider into a tree and it was just sorta hanging up there with his rotting body. I kicked down a different tree and chewed the wood into a folding extension ladder. Then I climbed up and snagged that hang-glider.

I had to improvise a launching device, so I wrestled a hippo and fed it poison berries. When the corpse bloated up in the sun, I used it like a trampoline and launched myself into the air. I flew all the way to the volcano, and ditched the hang-glider.

I threw a vine that I’d attached to my ankle after I made the ladder and fought an acid-spitting-leopard, and hooked it around a rock so I could swing down into the caldera and light the doobie.

And that worked great. But when I swung out toking, those cannibals were there, and I had to prove my manhood by beating twenty of them in a dick-wrestling competition. After that we were buds, and the chief told me how to get back while we finished your doobie.

Well, it’s been fun, but I gotta go rescue some kids from some burning buses. You haven’t seen that Pet, huh? I’ll find her. Got any cocaine?


Kevin Shamel works for Eraserhead Press. He is the author of Rotten Little Animals, Island of the Super People, and Porn Land (forthcoming). He studied the art of stunt with Grant Page, star of the early 80s Australian blockbuster film: Stunt Rock.

Best Photoshopped Celebrity Endorsement of Island of the Super People!

~by Kevin Shamel


Here they are, the entries for the ISP Celebrity Endorsement Contest. We’ve got some bigtime faces lending themselves to promoting my book. Thanks, celebrities! Some are dead, some are not, some I didn’t know, some I did. But all of them are funny, and that’s the whole reason for this contest. Cast your vote for the BEST ONE in the comments below. The winner gets an actual copy of Island of the Super People, endorsed by all of these celebrities, and drawn-in by me.

If you click a pic you get a slide show. Opening in a new tab gets you a bigger pic, too.

Thank you, everyone who participated in this. These are all very awesome. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

But that’s what it’s time to do. Votes below! I’ll keep voting open through the weekend (Happy Friday the 13th!) and announce the winner on Monday. If I’m missing any entries, please call them to my attention. Sometimes my organizational skills are lacking.

Yay for celebrity endorsement!