Archive for steven g saunders

Flasher Fiction: Friends

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 14, 2014 by synabetic

Been awhile since I posted anything here, and I’ve been working on all kinds of things… so I whipped this up. It’s very fast, fast fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Friends
by Steven G. Saunders

Hi.

Are we friends?

I like having friends. They’re there when you need them, and you can be there when they need you. Friends are people who are an extension of your family, who are themselves friends. Well, hopefully. Many families are dysfunctional. But this isn’t about family. It’s about the family you choose.

You know.

Friends.

Sometimes you don’t choose your friends. Maybe you work together or live together or have the same group of friends, and we call these mutual friends. Oftentimes we become friends through mutual friends. Sometimes we are friends because we have no choice. Maybe there’s no one else around with similar interests. Maybe they are your cellmate. In a way, we are all cellmates in the prison of life, but some cellmates are better that other.

You know.

Like friends.

I have many friends. I love them all. Not all of them love me. But that’s okay. Whenever a friend expresses their non-love, I am emotionally pained as I cut them free. It always hurts to discover someone doesn’t enjoy you as a person, especially if you thought they were your friend. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have friends who will stay with you through anything. Maybe they fucked your partner with you watching TV in the other room, the laundry machine and media pundits drowning out the moans of guilty pleasure. Maybe your friend had you kicked out of your place to live in order to have more room for his comic book collection. Maybe your friend got drunk and told you that your brother is better off dead because your family is fucked up. Maybe your friend stole from you.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter because those kinds of friends are really hard to find. They are more like family than actual family, usually. But other friends… they are only friends with you so they can use you.

Now, to be fair, all friends use each other. We are all, as a species, mutually using tools. Instruments of organic device. Living executions of human will. We are a team-based lot, so being used comes with the whole person package. Still, there are those who use and use and use and are surprised when they are asked to reciprocate. These friends can become dangerous, for if they begin to feel cornered into actually being, you know, a friend, they will then become a “frenemy”

A frenemy is someone who says they’re your friend, but they are actually out for what’s against your best interests. I know who of all my frenemies are. They do not know I know this, because they are so absorbed with themselves that they do not realize that they have made my checklist.

I always have a checklist.

You should, too.

Oftentimes, frenemies will have a very short cycle, turning into full blown anti-friends– or enemies– rather quickly. These people are being more like friends to you than you may think, because they have saved you a lot of legwork. Other friends, the best friends, will notice this too, usually, and take appropriate action. Usually this is distancing themselves from that person in some way. You can tell your new enemy’s best friends for they will act in a similar manner.

Programming is impossible to overcome.

No matter how hard you try.

Stop that.

I said stop it, please.

These new enemies will make no sense to the mindful, rational psyche. None. Usually thoughts of elimination occur, because only sick animals seem to think this way. Or so it seems, anyway.

Indeed, one has to be viewed by many as a sick animal in order to look at it all this way.

Anyway.

Friends are important. They make up the mask of social reason. They are the armor of social justice. They are the lifeblood of who you are as an organism. You are nothing without your friends to reassure you that you are not nothing.

We’re friends.

Right?

Stop it.

Just be patient.

You may have no idea how important friends are. They are more important than family, lovers, pets, and gods. They are your universe. You are nothing without your universe, an echo chamber for your perceived reality.

But what happens when a friend makes a deliberate transgression? As already implied, you just move on. Forget about them as friends, and cling to that painful memory of senseless loss. Like a random murder by some foul, misunderstood creature.

Sometimes. Sometimes fate presents itself.

You could be taught lessons, like an unruly school child brought to heel. Made to understand what friendship means–
Means to me? I suppose you’re right.

But at this juncture, what things to me is the only grasp you have left to this world that processes into your brain every second. Soon, this will begin to destroy all of that. I will start slow, because I want you to process it all. I want you to learn this lesson over and over and then have you panic knowing that none of it mattered.

Friends should have fun. You are having fun with me. Isn’t it wonderful?

And you are learning oh so much.

Shhh… not long now.

At first I wanted to respect our friendship and allow you a merciful fate, as it were. But how would you learn anything? Plus, you are thinking right now that I may change my mind.

If I tell you I may change my mind, will you have hope?

Friendship is all we have in our cold, dark universe. Did you know there are more universes? They make up the multiverse. I’m certain there’s a multiverse of multiverses. An omniverse.

And friendship is the most important thing in all the omniverse.

Look at me.

Do it.

You stare into the face of the omniverse, friend.

How… how do you feel?

Not long now.

I appreciate you allowing me to teach you. There’s another friend here– you don’t know them– and they are learning as you are, and then I will give them some private tutoring. Who knew that both of you would be here, now, and ready for lessons? Remarkable, really. Our universe is truly amazing.

If you cannot have a loyal, trusted friend, then the world might as well end. Friends are everything. Sadly, your rash decision ended all of this, and has thus ended the lesson you call life.

I must attend to the other friend. I want you to think on this as I do so. Be patient.

Not long now.

 

 

Butchers_passerotti

St. Evil’s Shameless Halloween Linkie Treats!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by synabetic

Hey folks, it has been a while since I’ve posted– too long, in fact. I’ve been busy with things, some of which I will post here.

Every Halloween, I shamelessly promote myself on my blog, offering links to spooky things I’ve written or am/were a part of. Anyhow, let’s get to it, shall we?

secret_cross_cover

First, let me link to recent Nerd Titan stuffery in the spirit of the season. I’m Managing Editor over there, which means I get to do a lot of fun activities, one of them is working with frighteningly talented people and all kinds of other cool shit.

Nerd Titan’s 2013 Guide to Halloween Movies
This one I put together with Brendan, another writer with NT, and we had some other contributors. Overall, I like how it turned out, seeing as most lists are either a) same ol’ movies, or b) try to outdo the other lists. We just went with what we liked.

A Grimdark RPG Goodie Bag
I asked nine of my friends to join me in writing up what we thought were good suggestions for tabletop role-play gaming. This was actually a lot more work that I had initially intended, but I am quite pleased with the results.

Hell Comes to Nerd Titantown: An Interview with Rafael Chandler
While I am a professional at what I do and all that acid jazz, I’m still a big fan of those who impress me. Mr. Chandler is one of those people, with me loving his horror gaming output so far. This is my Halloween interview with him.

And now for the usual linking to one of the favorite comics I’ve written, The Secret Cross: Humanity in the Execution. It’s 12 pages and a quick read, but I greatly enjoyed coming up with it and working on it with Stephen Lindsay and Dominic Vivona. By the way, Dom’s art is always impressive. Now, I have always meant to do more with this. I had an entire RPG mapped out, but all of that information is on an old hard drive I need to get around to extracting. Or maybe I’ll just start from scratch. I do have a lot of ideas for that sucker. I say it every year, you know. Maybe this year ’round it will be different?

secret_cross_panel

The Secret Cross is about a special German unit in World War One that gets into all kinds of hot, bloody messes. Read more on it here.

Next up are all the creepy stories I have written lately. They’re all mercilessly short and, some say, downright freaky. That’s what I like to hear!

The Writing
Worm
Bind
Today
Bruise
Family

Here’s a piece of art my partner in life-crime, Nicole, did for this game thing I’m slowly working on…

Jellymarkersmall

And I’m sure I could flog more things, but this should do for now. Hope you enjoyed your stay!

All art is by Dominic Vivona, Dominic Vivona with Jeff Balke on colors, and Nicole Turner, respectively from top to bottom.

Flasher Fiction: Family

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by synabetic

Here’s a story that’s a part of the exercise that my partner and I are doing. She provides me an image– a photo she has taken, or an original piece of art she has created– and I write up something for it.  This one clocks in at over 2000 words, and is for one of the best pieces of art Nicole has ever done.  Please feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in a print of it.

Family
by Steven G. Saunders

Others have always said that “family is everything” and that “family comes first”, and I am inclined to agree. When the invaders came, I had no choice but to accept our ultimate fates; but I couldn’t allow my kin to perish, either.

I grabbed my brothers and sisters and ran. I ran with them, pushing them on as best I could. The invaders were terribly fast, and they provided no mercy to those of us they encountered. They consumed us whole, they consumed us in pieces, and those of us who were not consumed had something much, much worse in store for them… I don’t even want to think about it.

Many of my brothers and sisters died or were taken. My mother was torn into bits before our very eyes while my father valiantly, but nearly futilely, bought us some time so we could get away. We cried as we ran, our sadness propelling us forward as much as our terror. We ran deeper into the forest, no longer heeding the warnings of our elders because the baleful darkness of the unknown was far more preferable to what the invaders had in store for us.

Even as young ones, we knew that we must run to survive. I became a new elder in short time, indeed. We needed to live. We needed to ensure our family’s survival. We ran and ran and ran. Eventually, I demanded that we must rest; and rest we did.

It wasn’t long before my fellow young ones looked up to me. They were already lost souls left homeless by an incomprehensible evil. They couldn’t wrap their minds around what was necessary to survive. My mother had told me quite often while I was a little one that there are times when one must take charge. Even if they make the wrong decisions, at least they are trying.

And so it fell upon me to make all the choices for our group of runners to survive. I organized small parties of us to forage for food while we still moved onward into the forest as a group. Soon we had other attackers aside from the pursuing invaders. They would swoop down from the obscured sky or pounce on us from trees. But what they weren’t expecting was for us to fight back.

My father was a fighter. He taught me that our kind need not just hold still and wait for the end to come. We must fight for our families and protect our kin to our last breaths. I would love to say we gave the invaders a good fight, but they were too fast, too quick, too devious.

We had already invited them into our homeland, with their assurances that they would help us to protect ourselves. They had a reputation for being kind, generous, and almost silly. How were we to know they were about to change as a species? We cannot know these sorts of things. We cannot be expected to expect savage betrayal.

The invaders never gave us time to defend ourselves properly, let alone plan a counterattack. We had changed as a species, too, and we were still new at the idea of actually attacking others in a planned and coordinated manner.

Thankfully, we knew enough to surprise others who would dine on our dead or still living flesh.

On the second day into our exodus into the forest, a large swooper came at us as night fell. Its first pass was just a probing measure, and, as my father had taught me, this was where we also got to probe him. I quickly assembled my best youngling brethren and had two of them mill about a nearby clearing. The swooper took the bait, and as he swooped, the youngling-bait ran towards a large group of us where we were lying in wait with sticks we had sharpened with our teeth and fear-honed anger in our hearts.

The swooper was totally confused by our action and I yelled to my comrades to commit fully to their survival. As I stabbed into the swoopers feathery shell, I went with my blood and leapt up onto its back, thrusting my stick into its neck. It never had a chance to make any of its typical sounds. The swooper just simply gurgled as it desperately tried to get away, then fell down and died.

We relished our first victory together. One of my sisters suggested we consume the swooper as swoopers consume us and I thought about it briefly. I knew we didn’t have much time, and I also knew that the foraging for berries and other quick foods wasn’t enough to keep us going. We were also thirsty, haggard, and our morale had been sapped by our kin’s annihilation.

I could feel the spirit of the warrior inside of me. Until my father told me of it, I didn’t even know what a warrior was. One of us who fights, he had told me. He died a warrior, screaming into the face of the enemy, challenging his powerful invader foe to take him on. Their chittering noises sounded like laughter as they tore him apart.

I felt the calm. I felt my fear turn into hate. I felt my fate quickly turn into determination. I looked to the swoopers blood that covered me and I climbed onto its corpse. I addressed my kin in a low tone, one that is often used for mating purposes, and I didn’t ask them to eat the swooper. I called their loyalty, bravery, and resolution into question. I asked if they were going to die starving cowards, or would they meet their fates as warriors with full bellies.

My family cheered. They were all my family now, not just members of my family’s community.

The swooper was ravaged swiftly, consumed by all. We took its feathers and fashioned protective garb for ourselves. I wore its beak on my face, to show everyone I was leader. I was the prime warrior.

I was death incarnate for those who opposed us.

And so it was. We encountered more and more attackers and overcame them. Those of us who died honorable were given our total respect and our assurances we would name our new kin after them. We began attaching insulting terms to our enemies. The stalking bandits who killed and ate us were “Furry Stripe Corpsers”. Swoopers became “Hooting Victims”. The larger creatures who were like brutish, more intimidating versions of us, became “Big Toothed Dead”.

And so it was.

Time passed and we stopped running. Now we hunted. The Big Toothed Dead never knew what hit them, as we proved smarter and more cunning than them. We relied on their own overconfidence in their primitive martial abilities in order to properly suppress them and their communities. Before long, we were invading their nests and destroying their young. We would sometimes leave a younger one of them alive to warn others like them, making sure to eat the hearts of their kin before their very eyes.

We knew what we were doing. My father would have approved. My mother spoke to me in my dreams. She was there with me when I killed that first swooper. I could feel her with me always. I could feel my father and my dead siblings in my instruments of death.

The hunted became the hunters.

And so it was.

One day, I was no longer a young one. I had become fully grown. My family had never forgotten the horrors visited upon us by the invaders. How they betrayed us. How they destroyed us.

Or how they thought they had destroyed us.

I had always pondered on the thoughts of why the invaders hadn’t fully pursued us. They seemed to have gotten what they wanted, assuming we would die in the forest. They most certainly had thought we would all become food for predators. And yet, against all odds, we became the predators.

One day, I was dispatching yet another large Whiskered Death Dealer, honoring its grandness with prayers to the warrior spirits who guided us all, and it occurred to me that the time had come. I climbed atop the Whiskered Death Dealer’s head, first accepting it’s claws as my due as Honored Leader, and I addressed my family.

I told them we must no longer fear the invader. We had spent many days and nights training for revenge. We had no illusions of victory. We simply wanted to destroy the invader as much as possible. If but one of them is killed, we had achieved glory as far as we were concerned.

Some of the Furry Stripe Corpsers had joined us. We even had a few swoopers working with us. The Big Toothed Dead were servants to do as we pleased. We set forth with an army to strike down as many of the invaders as possible.

My heart soared as I rode along the back of my Furry Stripe Corpser I called Bandit. As we got closer and closer to my old homeland, I could feel the resolve in my soul. I took in all that had changed. We were no longer weak creatures who frolicked in the sun and ate little bugs and berries. We had become death, covered in the remains of our enemies, all of whom we had turned into food, weapons, and armor. My family called me Bone Lord and I welcomed the title with fondness.

It was hard to believe that at one time I was meek and timid.

The community of the invaders came into view. They still clustered openly in something they called a “village”. From my younger, peaceful days, I remembered the layout of their villages well. Their past friendliness was now their undoing, as their kindness had become our army’s intelligence.

I knew they had a leader. An elder they venerated. We knew that if we attacked him first, then the rest would be disorganized and we could pick them off more easily. One of the Big Toothed Dead had been keeping a flame alive since it struck from the sky days ago. This flame would be greatly beneficial in creating the havoc we needed in order to commit proper war.

We struck just before dawn; as the invaders were sleeping. For some unknown reason, they had none of the weapons they did before, and as I laid my bone-blade into their shrieking elder, I began to feel the familiar relation of possible victory.

So did the rest of my family. The invader’s village was an orgy of violence and retribution before we knew it. I then received word from a swooper that another village was organizing a defense. As the invader village burned, we regrouped and pushed into the invader’s territory.

Much time passed and I had become weary. Our family’s army had destroyed five of the invaders’ villages and we were working on two more when my rage ran out and fatigue overcame me.

I fell off of Bandit and I understand that she gave her life defending me from one of the hold-out pockets of invaders. She was a good mount and a dear companion in arms. She will be missed.

The invaders took to the forest just as we had long before, and after some time, they sent out an emissary in order to come to an accord. They wanted peace. They tried to explain the previous destruction of my family as some sort of bizarre fluke. Something that would never happen again. I was unconvinced. But my family wanted peace, as they had tired from a lifetime of conflict and bloodshed.

I was strangely agreeable with this notion, too. We must have hit a wall spiritually; and having had our revenge, our warrior spirits were trying to tell us something. We were weary of everything that had transpired, and so we readily agreed to co-exist with the invaders in the forest. They were very pleased with this outcome, and before long we were living together.

It’s hard to imagine my life as a warrior. As the Bone Lord. As a distributor of death, destruction, and righteous vengeance. But there I was, retired from the life of killing. The other ones who had helped us were released from their obligations, and their own families were greatly compensated. Many of them went on their own paths, but a few of them still stop by to say hello occasionally.

I now happily pick berries and explore the nicer parts of the forest, with its colorful beauty and pleasant meadows that border it. As time passes, I feel more and more elated with my new life, not caring as much about my warrior past, nor do I feel weak and worthless like I did when I thought of my first life with my family.

In the end, the invaders joined us and we think of them less and less as a conquered people and less and less as invaders as the days pass. By some miracle of fate, we have learned to accept each other and I couldn’t be more overjoyed by this prospect. They have become family.

Family is everything.

Nothing comes before family.

family_fiction_nicole

Original image courtesy of Nicole Turner

Read Some of What I’m Writing Lately, Maybe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by synabetic

Here’s a quick post to links of the flash fiction shorts (stories clocking in between 1200-1700 words) I have written as of late. They’re simple, I feel, and a little creepy. Or so some folks tell me. Okay, maybe a lot creepy.

The Writing
Worm
Bind
Today
Bruise
Family

Let me know what you think with a comment or something.

If you are super bored, I posted up the first three parts of The Rage of Ognark, a terrible bizarroesque story I’ve been writing.

And there you have it. I should have some more stories up soon.

Flasher Fiction: Worm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2013 by synabetic

Buckle up, kids, it’s story time. Enjoy!
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Worm
by Steven G. Saunders

Hey.

Hey, I know you’re listening.

You can’t help it. You have nothing to do but hear what I have to say.

Make yourself comfortable, because you are going to be here for a long, long time.

First things first… You probably wonder why you’re here. With me. Unable to get away. Hey, I get it. You’re scared. I’d be scared, too, if I were in your position. I get scared just imagining myself in your spot. And that’s tough for me, because imagination doesn’t come easily to my kind.

A lot of things are tough for me; things you can easily do without any difficulty. Yet, here you are. Listening to what I have to say. What I have to think. It’s more about what I think that what I say, if you know what I mean. And how I feel? That’s very easy for me to convey:

I am hungry.

Do you know what my kind calls you? Worms. It’s pretty funny, isn’t it? I don’t mean that thing you do with your meat parts that evinces mirth. I mean funny as in queer, weird, strange, unusual. Eldritch.

Now, there’s a word in your language I very much enjoy: Eldritch. I wonder if you would describe me as such.

It’s funny we call you worms because it is beyond the scope of the words you creatures would use to describe yourselves. Worms.

There was an acquaintance of mine from long, long ago who had a great term for encountering your kind. They called it “worm sign”, which if you knew what I know about life, the universes, and everything else that all souls, spirits, and brain functions process, you would laugh, too.

See, this is laughing. I’ll wager a great sum of wealth you had no idea I am laughing right now.

I believe what you are doing is… crying? Yes? Weeping? Sobbing?

And the begging begins. I have always wanted to be able to elicit a sound emission from myself that resembles in some way one of your sighs. But if you can imagine me sighing, that is what I’m doing… well, within the emotional context of a creature such as you.

You must accept your fate. Begging only ruins the time you have left. My sincere, kind advice is to just listen to what I have to say, and silently hope that I communicate with you for a long while.

I will admit I get very lonely. Being something like me is a lot where you either accept your role in the multiverse, or you let yourself waste away and perish. I do not wish to perish. Just as you, I wish to exist with the sheer, determined will that recognizes my unhindered and unburdened existence for as long as all the possibilities will allow.

Oh, dear, I have upset you.

I can understand how this is upsetting. I cannot relate, so you will have to find it within yourself to forgive me somehow. Though I doubt you will ever forgive me. You will not be able to. You will be incapable of doing anything but become a part of me, for just a little while, and then you shall be expelled… but you won’t be able to know about it. You will already be gone.

As I have said, I am quite lonely. My kind do not relate well with each other. We live, by your reckoning, anyway, for an incredibly long time. Not years; not decades; not centuries. But epochs. We exist for periods of times that span the length of several of your civilizations, and we’ve even figured out how to leave whole worlds in wholly different universes for ones beginning anew elsewhere. You will look at what you call worms on your world, and you will sometimes dig into the earth and look at them; feeling godlike, perhaps. Then you will rid yourselves of them. Perhaps in your mobile larval state you will eat them. Any way any of it is cut, you are still bound to that world. Or perhaps you are bound to travelling to several worlds. We still see you as you see those worms.

You are but worms to us.

You can be destructive worms, too. You squabble amongst each other as frequently as I would have passing thoughts on the millions of colors I am able to feel. You call them wars, combats, fights, struggles, revolutions, brawls. You come up with all kinds of reasons to justify violent, aggressive engagement. Did I aggressively engage you? No.

I do believe you engaged me while I was napping. I tried to escape as I was not hungry, but, alas, you persisted. I was forced to engage, terminate, and consume your companions; and now I need live sustenance. This is why I saved you for last.

Think of this like it’s the only survival you have left. Enjoy it while you can.

One time, many eons ago when I was young, I existed in a different world, a different place. Being a young being of my sort as I was, there were many sensations which were new and wonderful to me. One such sensation was music. I had never heard it before, having lived where I had lived. Then came a moment when I encountered someone much like you, someone determined to make a point of some sort by ending my existence. It is unknown to me if that creature like you had any reason other than to demonstrate some sort of prowess for others of its kind, but it… it sang– yes, I have learned what singing is since– as it attempted to lodge implements crafted from ores and patience into me. Most of your kind across the multiverse who I have encountered or have heard of believe in something called “luck”, and  “luck” was not with the Singing Bother at that particular moment in time. It slipped because it was weighted by more ore and patience, and lost its balance, fell down, and not seeing its worth– for I was young and impatient– I quickly dispatched it and consumed it as quickly as possibly. At the time, I could not have told you the difference between your kind’s “screaming” and “singing”.

They were all strange sounds to me back then.

Eventually, as I grew larger and wiser, feasting mostly on creatures you consider to be lower lifeforms– much as I consider you to be; no offence meant– I encountered more beings akin to you. All of them had emotional investments pertaining to my demise and to all the worthless scraps and junk that had accumulated around me over the years. As I grew even wiser as the centuries passed, I also became clever. By your standards, I am quite clever.

I succeeded in tricking you, didn’t I? I am quite the clever soul now. Not to make you feel bad, but it was all too easy.

It always amazes me how your kind is so simple to trick into finding me, falling into the traps I have set, and becoming my nutritious sustenance all because you cannot resist looking for objects you have attached “worth” to. And because I bring many of these objects with me from realm to realm with me these days, it is even easier to invite you into my domain, with all sorts of creatures who consider themselves to be “intelligent” becoming lovely short-term companions, and, in short time, food.

Ah, you are trying to reason with me. I can appreciate that. If you must know, there are those who hate your kind who live near me and they are the ones who inform others of your kind who wish to accumulate wealth in their betrayal of their species by creating stories which, in turn, lure you here for your ultimate fate.

Thank you, nonetheless. I do not fault you for enquiring. I believe what you are feeling right now is the part of fear where you can begin to rationally think your way through to a possible solution.

The only solution you are going to reach here is as a waste product.

How did I do? I have been working for many decades on crafting jokes. I feel it lessens the impact of your demise.

I can tell you more if it makes you feel more comfortable. Oh, I know. Here. How does that feel? Numbing quickly? Feel a little giddy. Yeah, these barbs are something I worked on for three hundred of your years. I am not a cruel person, you see. I am merely hungry.

We are all slaves to our biology. I suppose I should thank my lucky feelers that I am not enticed by shiny objects. Too bad, too, as shiny things are much more shiny for me, as I have more optical receptors and external optical processing orbs.

Are you ready? Of course you are. You have no choice. I have delighted in getting to know you as we have talked. While you begged, sobbed, pleased, bargained, and tried to think your way out of this, I have already entered your physically being and have begun feasting on who and what you are, exactly. I am already fond of you. You are– soon to be “were”– a kind soul, just looking to help your home village from a calamity. You were a hero. Your larvae looked up to you. You had few peers. You must be terribly shocked that a person such has me has ended you for supper-time purposes. But, as your life ends, don’t fret over any of the grovelling. I won’t tell anyone. I won’t even mention that you offered up all of the creatures you intended to save.

I should apologize to you. I said this would be a long, long time. And it has been a long, long time… it just doesn’t seem like that to you anymore. Time as you currently know it has absolutely no meaning.

Now. Ready?

As I have said…

I am not a cruel person.

Goodbye.

worm_reaper


Great Worm image property of Reaper Miniatures, used without permission. No infringement on trademark or IP is intended. Honestly, the image is just a placeholder until original art is done, to which I’ll remind folks to read the story again and look at the pretty picture.

Flasher Fiction: Bind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 28, 2013 by synabetic

Yay! Story, right? Hope you dig it. My partner is giving me pictures and images she has taken or drawn and I’m writing up flash fiction pieces for them. It’s fun! Especially since I write them so fast. This might have some edits in its future. Enjoy.
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Bind
by Steven G. Saunders

Gas is a commodity too many people take for granted. I mean, there you are one minute driving around, singing along to the latest Faderhead album, knowing full well that there are no cops along the dark road you’re speeding along and then… bam, that fucking gauge dips down to tell you “aw, fuck it, yo”.

I kept meaning to pay attention to my gas gauge, but I was having too much fun. The party was quite stimulating, and a few girls even talked to me, telling me that they loved my voice and hair. But I wanted to get out of there and drive by myself, scream at the top of my lungs out of a cold window with the wind whipping by, and punch my shitty car into over 100 MPH.

It was fucking awesome until I realized my car’s gas gauge had been broken. Well, shit, right? Out of gas in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest place to fill up probably five or more miles away. That’s a hell of a walk.

I go to call a buddy of mine. James will understand. He’ll come out, pick me up, and I’ll fill my gas can up, come back, and get my car going again. I know I had better finish this tequila off in case a cop happens by… while I’m sure I reek of booze, it’s better to reek than show, you know?

Man, cops suck. They always think they’re in control when all they are is a bunch of little boys and girls who got picked on a lot as kids. That shit pisses me off. I sure wish they’d just do their goddamned jobs and leave harmless pricks like me alone. But that’s why they fuck with me, yeah? Because it’s easy.

I finish my tequila and realize I have beer in my truck. Fine. It’s in the truck. I go to call James and I have no signal. What is this, the beginning of some kind of fucking shitty horror movie?

What do I do?

I get back into my car and try starting it again. No dice. Of course “no dice”! I’m out of gas. I bury my head into my steering wheel and my horn goes off for a second. It makes me laugh.

I better get walking.

Before I go, I grab my backpack in the back seat and fill it with my beer. Only a six-pack? I was a fucking Boy Scout– I should have been more prepared.

The road ahead of me is dark. Very dark. It’s just like every other dark country road in the Pacific Northwest. Just miles and miles of road, pasture, wooded enclaves, and fencing. As if on cue, it starts to rain. Drizzling at first, but as I walk and drink further, it starts coming down harder.

A fog has started rolling in as I walk along the road, hoping against hope that someone comes along and finds me. Other people might be scared by this sort of thing, but I simply am impatient. I just want to get home, sleep, shower, and call up that Chelsea I met earlier.
Her hair was spectacular. Her mannerisms cute and endearing. She was pretty good looking and I’m thinking she’ll make a fine addition to my collection.

The rain starts to come down harder. Then even harder. Holy fuck, how can rain come down this hard? And the fog starts getting so thick I can’t see more than fifty feet in front of my face. I don’t even notice until it’s too late and I take a header off the road, having stumbled into a ditch.

Dammit. My face. I think I cut it on a stick.

I get up, and I see a shape in the foggy distance. I start toward it and within a few short minutes I see what appears to be an abandoned shack of some sort. Fine. I’ll take it. It’s got that look of gray wood… the kind that has seen too much weather. In the dark, rainy, foggy moonlight I see the green moss. I smile at the whole… nature of it all.

flasher_fiction_bind

But it’s shelter, so I’m not complaining.

I wait there for a few minutes, drinking a beer. Then I hear a sound. Branches breaking. This shack must be on the edge of one of those wooded enclaves. Then I hear a voice… someone calling out to ask if someone’s there.

I respond. The voice sounds familiar. It’s hard to make out over the rain.

I emerge from the dilapidated shack and see a familiar face. It’s Chelsea… of all people, it’s the woman I was interested in at the party. She looks at me and smiles, telling me she figured it was me, having seen my car along the side of the road.

She tells me that she knows it’s my car, because she took special interest in me leaving, wondering if I would call her. I can feel my heart skip a beat. This girl was interesting! More so than earlier when I found out she liked things like Blade Runner and Skinny Puppy. Now she was saving my ass and sounding sexy while she was doing it.

Chelsea asks me if she can give me a ride to a gas station. I say yes, without hesitation. I start talking to her, offering her a beer, which she politely refuses. I wonder if she thinks VIVIsectVI is the quintessential Puppy album, or if she’s one of those Too Dark Park people.

Her response gives me pause. She laughs and asks me what I’m talking about. Weird. She mentioned earlier at the party that she was a hardcore Puppyhead– even had a tattoo and everything. I cock my head and talk to her some more.

Chelsea responds to everything okay as she leads me away from the shack. I’m no survivalist, but I get the feeling she’s leading me away from the road. Why? Why would she do that? Because I have no reason to believe otherwise, I ask her. I ask her if we are walking away from the road.

She knows a shortcut, she tells me. That’s odd. I’m not that far from the shack. But I have to trust her because I’m in a bit of a bind.

That’s when she turns towards me suddenly and says “Yes. Bind”.

What… what the fuck?

I ask her what she means by that, and her pretty face smiles. It’s not a cute smile. It’s the kind of smile I have seen actors try to replicate when they’re being evil. Something inhuman… something… anti-human.

I start to run. Because, hey, why not? This shit is freaking me out, man. I am probably just drunk and wigging, but you can never be too sure. I run into the fog and rain… I run and run and run…

Until I fall down. That’s when I use the shack to help myself back up. Oh, god, the shack. I’m back where I started? I don’t even know what to think. My drunk brain is trying very hard to be really afraid.

Chelsea stands by me. She places the rusty manacle on my right wrist and I can actually hear her grin. The moonlight glints off of her teeth and finally I feel the primal fear my brain has been trying to tell my body to get into. My mouth runs words that don’t matter. My eyes dart to the hanging bones I never noticed before.

I never noticed before because this is a different shack.

I wish I had never run out of gas. I wish I had planned ahead. I wish I didn’t have to end it all by being just another cautionary tale no one would ever know about.

This is a good a time as any to be out of beer.

__

Image courtesy of  Nicole Turner

The Rage of Ognark, Parts I-III

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2013 by synabetic

Awhile back, I started trying my hand at bizarro fiction. I don’t know how I did after I wrote the first three parts to a story, truth be told. But here they are. And I might even start writing more on Ognark as time goes by. We’ll see, I ‘spose. It’s not for everyone; maybe not even for bizarro fiction types. Maybe you’ll like it. You probably won’t… but it’s fun to do, I must admit. Ha ha ha, rape gnomes? Jesus Christ.

***

THE RAGE OF OGNARK: Part I
The Fruits of One’s Labors
By S. G. Saunders

[This excerpt of something probably most horrible was found by Imperial archaeologists studying the now-dead world LZ-486c. Numerous translations have yielded only this result. More research is currently underway. As for the terrible fate that befell LZ-486c… that information is unknown at this time. – Perseus Fractalthorpe Benzene IV, associate professor University of Doron, Nova Texum]
_
Ognark viewed the scene before him.

Carnage.

Absolute carnage.

Ognark thought of what he’d had to do to survive, he thought of his family and friends– he thought of home. But not his home, nor his friends, nor his family could help him. No, all they would be is a carnage ridden mess if they’d been there. Ognark Thistlespoon let loose a low whistle. He was actually rather impressed with himself.

Ognark was impressed that he then remembered that any friends and family he once had were dead, many by his own hand.

Normally, it was unfortunate tavern patrons across the land of Evarmoore who would fall to Ognark’s mighty blade, wielded by his mighty arms which ended in mighty fists. Normally, there would be a maiden or two left over– bar wenches, perhaps– who would yell things like “ra-pree-shus swine!” at him, expecting a child of Yonder Waystes to understand any of that nonsense. But this time… this time was different.

What was different, exactly?

Ognark thought for a moment. Well, for one thing, the gentlemen at his feet had been killed with one of those stick things that held up a kiosk awning thing. Ognark had not expected some random person in the Market Plaza to be so daft– or was it deft?– at removing his mighty blade from his mighty fists. That fellow probably didn’t expect the blade to instantly kill a near-by mule, but Ognark was digressing a bit. He was then distracted by the cobblestones and how all the blood–so much blood– flowed between them.

So much beautiful blood.

The mighty bipedal mass of meat thought again. How many people had he killed? He tried counting a few times. One, two, three… fifteen, sixteen… twenty, twenty-one?– it had to be scores. Ognark had trouble counting past the twenties, anyway. He didn’t know what a score was, really, or how many victims that could represent; but Ognark was quite sure scores of foes littered the plaza.

At this moment, the morose silence was abruptly shattered.

“Hoy! What is the Seven Hells has happened here? By Flurgstein’s enormous balls, this is madness!! You! You there! What has transpired here?”

Ognark saw a man dressed in what he believed to be the city’s garish colors yelling to him. The man had black hair, dark eyes and lots of facial hair, which was also black. Ognark decided to quit noticing him, because unless he was slaying him or loving him, he cared not for such trivial details.

Or entrails. Entrails are tasty if fried up right.

Ognark felt hungry all of a sudden.

“Trans… pired?” Ognark let the words flow slowly from his mighty jaws, “I don’t think weather has much to do with this, friend.”

The man screwed his face into an expression of sincere confusion. “WHAT? Who are you, sir? From whence do you hail? And what manner of creature was responsible for this slaughter?”

Ognark took in a deep breath. He then spied another dead body, this one covered in pieces of various fruits. Ah, that’s right, he mulled (or is it muled?). He had killed that particular fellow with the contents of a fruit cart.

His voice now a proud growl, Ognark spoke. “I would be that port-icular manner of creature, sirrah. ‘Tis me who purpose-trated this righteous fury.”

The man looked ill. He seemed to be trying to catch his breath.

Men who looked like this, Ognark thought, should be put to death for the good of the women who will avoid them anyway.

Ognark continued. “I pray fear you are next, for mighty Ognark Thistlespoon of Yonder Waystes will suffer no fools… uh, fool.”

The man whimpered. “But… but why?”

“Because ‘fool’ is all I can think of—Oh, uh, prices,” Ognark huffed, moving his long, jet black hair from his mighty face with a mighty hand, “Now be a nice man and fetch me my axe. It’s over there… in that rather portly fellow’s chest.”

The man dressed in the city’s garish colors promptly fainted.

“Useless,” Ognark muttered. People dressed as guards, or watchmen, or guards usually tended to be useless. Bribeable, sure, which made them slightly more useful when he needed to get in to places unnoticed, or hide in whorehouses, or to pay them to look the other way…

Ognark placed some coins in the trousers of the city guard (if that’s what he was). It was time to get going, and Ognark grabbed a nearby cart and started filling it with corpses. Finally, after a few minutes, locals began to show their faces, feeling safer in the fact that they could see what’s going on without losing said faces.

The barbarian looked around, made eye-contact with a few of those horrified faces and he smiled. He couldn’t really recall why he murdered all of those people. Was it a price issue? Did one of them aggress him? Hmmm… think to think about.

One thing was for sure. It was best to just slit the guard’s throat. The gold was left in his trousers… for the man’s family, if he had one. That was the right thing to do. Now Ognark had to leave this city, whatever it was called… he counted his blessings that everything occurred just outside the walls in the open market. He hated it when things got complicated and lead to putting yet another settlement on the list of places to avoid for awhile.

His mighty face let loose a mighty grin…

Once a mercenary captain he worked with, and eventually decapitated, told him that “it’s always best to look on the bright side of things”. Of course, the captain had said it when his head was still attached. His head didn’t say much after it was cut off, but once it was placed into a small burlap sack, local children seemed to enjoy playing games with it.

Our hero, heeding this dead decapitated mercenary captain’s words, continued to grin as he ventured back into the Wilderness. The cart creaked and the captured mules made unhappy noises. But Ognark didn’t care.

He now had meals and trade goods for his long and hunger-inducing journey.

***

THE RAGE OF OGNARK: Part II
Narkpunk
By S.G. Saunders

[The excerpt continues following a chunk that appears to be missing. Information as to what cataclysm befell LZ-486c is still under investigation– Perseus Fractalthorpe Benzene IV, associate professor University of Doron, Nova Texum]
_
–to which Mighty Ognark Thistlespoon of Yonder Waystes said, “I have no squirrel testicle sacks to trade, good madam. This here Ognark can go on no further unless he caresses one boob, at least.”

The Head Mistress of the Vorhees Haus of Pleasures simply sighed. She had dealt with this type before. Large, brutish barbarian types, who had nothing more to offer than a very large member. Most wielded said member like an unwieldy club.

“Fine. I’ll tell you what: You get me the venom-sacs from a poison goat, and I will accept that in Lay-Trade. Understand?”

Ognark understood.

It meant that he, of some tribe of he’s from Yonder Hills and Plains, would have his Lay-Quota filled for hours. Perhaps days. Okay, two days—but that’s not bad, really.

“May I feel boob for goodish luck?”

“Sure.”

Minutes later, after a goodish boob-rubbing, Ognark rejoined his life into Yonder Waystes and began trudging. And trudge he did… north… where the poison goat pickings were best.

Ognark HAD to remember not to eat the poison goats. Last time he had poison goats he fucked up and ate the beasts before he could turn them in for Better Food. This time it’s even more important. This time Ognark needed more boobies. This time Ognark needed a young woman—one who is willing—to spread her legs around his face and—

How long had Ognark been walking?, Ognark wondered. His thoughts had wandered, and thinking of women always made him think long and very hard. These things are tough, you see, as Ognark is a very visual thinker and he must make sure every detail is perfect.

Ognark is nothing if not a perfectionist.

Ognark was wondering what perfection tasted like when something had caught his attention. This was no mean feat, as hunting poison goats and blocking out things like deep thoughts was supposed to be hard or time consuming or something. But anyways, something was making noises further to the north. Banging noises. Evening was approaching, and Ognark, while not wanting to waste all these hours wasted in the Waystes, was curious to know about the banging noises and where they were coming from.

What was Ognark thinking about?

It doesn’t matter. He’d figure that shit out as soon as he got to where he think he was going or needed to be… if he needed to be someplace.

Eventually, Ognark saw something. It was a large carriage thing that looked like it was attached to a huge squishy egg. That huge squishy egg looked like it might have been full of air—or farts!—it certainly smelled like farts, Ognark mentally noted.

By this Thing was some man dressed all funny-like in leathers and wearing stupid things over his eyes tinkering around on it. The man reminded Ognark of the Rape Gnomes of Zurnch, so now Ognark was a little wary.

Rape Gnomes are badass and they rape you.

You probably know this already.

Before Ognark could fully decide how he was going to kill the funny-like man, the funny-like man spotted the hulking brute who is the hero of our story.

“Hoy, yew there! Come on over, then, I’s won’t hurt ye—I means no ‘arm.”

What the fuck was this ponce saying? Well, Ognark approached, regardless.

“Who are you? And have you seen any poison goats? Answer me, for Ognark’s need is great.”

The man smiled, “I see. Uh, no poison goats here, mate. My name is Doctor Steelstormface Esquire,” he started walking towards Ognark, “and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He extended his right hand when he got to our hero.

It took Ognark a moment or three before he realized that this… Face Doctor? Wasn’t offering himself up to Ognark as a meal.

Disappointing.

Ognark took the Face Doctor’s hand.

“So,” Ognark slowly started, “You are a doctor of faces… and you… sing in a choir?”

“Wot? No, no, no, mate. I’m an airship cap’n. I ride the skies in search of ahvencha.”

“What?”

“Avencha… er, adventure.”

The funny looking man smiled.

“Are you a Rape Gnome, sir?”

The funny looking man coughed, “Uhm, wot? No, I believe I am not a gnome, my friend.”

“A Rape… Gnome. And friend? Rape Gnomes like to say that sort of thing. That they are your friend. Or wife. Or overly promiscuous friend of an old war buddy. Rape Gnomes are very decep—decep—very tricky.”

“Look, mate, I am not one of these ‘Rape Gnomes’ you keep jawing on about– alright? You haven’t suffered from too much sun? A head wound I can’t see, perhaps?”

Ognark exhaled satisfactorily. There was no raping from terrible Rape Gnomes tonight, then.

“What are those weirdish things on your face, Singing Face Doctor?”

The man just sighed, “Singing Face… Right, so these are called goggles.”

“…I…see… and what do they do?”

“They allow me to see things without getting dust or bugs in my eyes whilst I pilot the Big Bird, ye ken?”

“Who’s Ken? Are you Ken?”

“No, I mean, do you understand… what is you name, by the by?”

Ognark beamed. “Please excuse my manners, Doctor. I am Ognark Thistlespoon, Mighty Marauder of the Yonder Waystes,” Ognark was pleased he had learned to introduce himself so well. Of course, Ognark still wondered if this Doctor Steelstormface was actually a Rape Gnome and just what the hell “esquiring” something could mean.

Was to esquire something to… bugger it like a Rape Gnome would? Those beasts were tricky. Oh, sure, at first they would be all fine and nice with compliments, and apologize for their kind—you know, the ones who end up raping people—but then they would lure you into a false sense of security. Usually with candy. Ognark loved candy.

Candy will never taste as sweet as it once did to poor Ognark.

“’Scuse me, guv, you somewhere else?”

Ognark had been staring at the Doctor. For how long? Ognark did not know. All he knew was that he should have deep suspicions concerning this man. While the Doctor was probably not a Rape Gnome, he could be in their employ. Those Gnomes: Tricky.

The whole “tricky” thing cannot be stressed enough.

“So,” Steelstormface said, “Would you like a ride in me airship?”

Ognark thought for a minute. Hmmm… To ride in this… airship… It would be fun. A lark. A hoot. A… an airship.

“I am scared of heights.”

“I see,” said the Doctor, “Well it’s quite safe, boyo.”

“Safer than a Vergontorpatersaur? Because one of those threw me. Hurt me bad. Been afraid of heights ever since.”

Doctor Steelstormface Esquire blinked. He took in a deep breath, “Look, Ognark, this is not a living animal. I can control it. It is perfectly airworthy, airsafe, and you will be rather comfy as we glide along the air at fast, but safe, speeds. Ye ken?”

Ognark furrowed his brow, “It’s not living?”

“No.”

The large barbarian of Yonder Waystes heartily laughed as he started toward the craft, patting Steelstormface on the shoulder.

The Doctor sighed relief, “There ye go, lad, that’s not so bad, eh?”

“No. Ognark is safe from being raped by a large flying animal.”

Our hero boarded the strange craft, noting that the fart-smell was coming from Steelstormface and not the airship…

***

THE RAGE OF OGNARK: Part III
Dirge of the Dirigibles
By S.G. Saunders

[Now, this excerpt pulled from the painfully incomplete texts, now called the RCO-01, seems to link closely—linearly speaking—to that last excerpt in what is now called the RCO-01 Sequence. Hopefully I can… massage a better designation out of an eager student soon. Perhaps Fabio Thurderstromklien…–Perseus Fractalthorpe Benzene IV, associate professor University of Doron, Nova Texum]
_

 

“WOT ARE YOU DOING, YE DAFT CUNT!?”

Ognark could barely hear Doctor Steelstormface Esquire, the strangely dressed man with the goggles whose airship Ognark was now in. And aside from that being unnecessarily too long of a sentence, saying “in” is a little awkward, since it was more like “being in a basket suspended from a large, oblong thing full of fart-gas or something incredibly flammable, or so Steelstormface had said”.

Then Ognark of Yonder Waystes wondered… in the last town he was in, why was there a market square outside of the city walls? And was it a town or a city? Just what is the difference between the two? A city is bigger than a town, right? A which point does one use terms like “hamlet”, “thorp”, “village” and “murder home”? These sorts of questions tended to creep up on Ognark like a stealthy Malalian Yak; and milk him of his thoughts that creepy mind-yak sure did…

“OGNARK! YE BASTARD! HELP ME UP OR—AHHHHH!!! I’M GUNNA DIE, MAN!!! HEEELLLP MEEEEE!!!”

Our large barbarian hero placed his hand by his square chin, as if we are watching him right now, with Ognark deep in self-reflecting thought.

Was killing everyone in that market square wrong? Perhaps if he mentally placed a tavern around the market square… yes, perhaps then it would make more sense. Perhaps.

“Doctor Esquire, I require time to think. You are making the wind silent with your screams.”

Ognark Thistlespoon fashioned himself to be a bit of a philosopher savage.

Doctor Steelstormface Esquire hollered unintelligibly some more. Ognark tried his best to tune him out. The strange little be-goggled motherfucker just didn’t shut up, you know? He yabbled on and on. He talked about airships. He talked about vintage leather clothing. Hell, vintage clothing? What does “vintage” even mean? Steelstormface also talked about everything in “punk” terms. His weird horse thing that he also talks a lot about runs on steam, so that horse is of “coalpunk” and “enginepunk” technology. The airship is a dirig…dirigible? The dirigible is “Luftpunk”. This all confused Ognark greatly, as “punk” means a dry wood used to start fires. “Punk” could also mean that you are in great danger if someone calls you that whilst in a dungeon. This be-goggled man annoyed Ognark greatly. Ognark’s renowned patience was running thin.

“PLEASE HELP ME UP!”

Ognark helped Steelstormface up back into the basket thing. They were high in the sky… many lengths of tall men, to be sure.

“We are up high, Doctor,” said Ognark.

“Yes, lad,” he replied, frantically patting himself for some reason, “Why did you let me hang there for so long?”

Ognark looked around, “Is this… airship hard to put back on the ground?”

“Of course it is, you big lug. And don’t even think of asking me if you can learn how to fly Mistress Abney Palmer again… that’s how I almost fell out!”

“Mistress Abney Palmer?”

Doctor Steelstormface Esquire looked like he was going to have a stroke. He rolled his eyes– and Ognark despised people who rolled their eyes.

“Ognark, you daft fuck, that’s the name of my airship. I’ve already told ye that, what, six times now?”

Five times. Ognark was counting. Steelstormface continued to fume. Ognark had tuned him out for a few moments. He thought of pleasant things… like butterflies and how they must make screaming noises you cannot hear when you pull their wings off; like desert foxes, who look at you so, so innocently as you politely explain to them that they are being turned into fur coats.

And then Ognark noticed the meat flaps, on the face of a man with strange facial hair, moving up and down. Up and down. Warm air being pushed through a meat hole.

This punkman may be worse than any Rape Gnome, or even a dreaded Dire Gazebozelle, or rightly feared Soul Gargler.

“…well, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Ognark simply shrugged.

“I’ll figure it out.”

“You’ll figure what out you fucking oversized moron bastard—HEY!”

Ognark grabbed Steelstormface’s goggles. The little punkman was weak and small, and so it was easy to tear off the goggles and wrap them around his punkneck. But first, Ognark decided he would tear off Steelstormface’s funny moustache and teeny, dwarf-woman beard.

Doctor Steelstormface Esquire screamed. It was music to Ognark’s ears. Music that didn’t suck. Blood began oozing out of the annoying man’s face. His eyes bulged as Ognark wrapped and squeezed. The glass in the goggles broke and was promptly pushed into Steelstormface’s throat. He looked to Ognark, his terrified eyes full of the knowledge that he was most certainly doomed.

Doompunked, thought Ognark.

Steelstormface tried to pry Ognark’s mighty, meaty fist-hammer from him, but to no avail. If he wasn’t being choked, he could have easily convinced Ognark that he was a petty excuse of flesh and weak and sad about something, like a woman leaving him for another man with fancier clothes. But this is probably why Ognark went for his throat first. That is where the “talky spirits” lived. Ognark must kill them all.

Wasn’t he supposed to be looking for poison goats? Ugh, our mighty pile of muscles thought, I am severely lurking in focus and organizational skills.

Lacking. Whatever, you damned mind-thing.

Within seconds, Doctor Steelstormface’s talky spirits had been shushed on a permanent basis. Ognark could still feel his Rage growing.

“Come now, you esquirey, stringy, limp piece of fuck-shit! Let’s see how YOU land.”

And so Ognark threw his former comradepunk out of the basket place thing. If the poor, unfortunate and funnily-dressed man had survived the meaty barbarian’s assault with his mighty meat-hammer fists and god-killing grip, then he would most likely die on impact a few moments later.

Ognark looked around to find what Steelstormface had called a “spyglass”. Ah, there it was. Ognark put to his right eye and quickly tried to see where the Doctor was… and was amazed that he was easily spotted due to all the frenzied writhing he was doing in midair. Ognark lost sight of him as he fell into some trees.

Wait. Trees? Shit, this meant they had gone farther than Steelstormface had said! There were no poison goats to be had in the woods. Ah, perhaps this was why Steelstormface insisted on doing most of the journey above the low-hanging clouds, citing excuses like “safety” and “navigation”. He also has spoke of needing to be higher up for his astro… laid? Lame? Laybe? Something like that. Something about his astrolaything working better when he could see the stars at night.

Now, how the tears of countless dead babies could help you find anything, anything at all in the world, baffled Ognark, but Steelstormface seemed to know what he was talking about.

Unless he didn’t. That is entirely possible. Anything is possible, including, but not limited to, quickly aged cheese that is safe to eat.

Ah, Ognark hungered so. He had forgotten to save the Doctor’s body for some vittle-snacks. All that was left to eat on the Mistress Abney Palmer were crackers and dried vegetables. And rice. Was it rice? Whatever it was, Ognark promised himself that he would immediately disembowel any travelling companions in the future who claimed to be a part of some cult that worships a god called “Vegetarian”.

Ognark needed to land the airship. He looked up at the gas-filled bladder thing suspended above him. He seemed to recall Steelstormface pulling on some ropes. He did so, and the airship lowered a bit. Ognark shrugged and tore off the javelin launcher that was attached to the side of the area he was in.

He pulled on the ropes again. And again. Ognark looked over the safe. Lots of tress. He was still pretty high up, but the gas should release faster—but not too fast, as that would mean falling to his death.

Ognark launched a javelin into the airship’s float bladder.

He hadn’t been told that the javelins were explosive. The gas inside of the bladder was explosive, too.

The Mistress Abney Palmer engulfed almost entirely in flames, she plunged to the forest below. Ognark just smiled. He wasn’t on fire yet. He may survive the rapidly impending doom that was spelled “Airship Disaster”.

There’s always a bright side, you see.