Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Stephanie sat her map to the side. She stood up, walked across the room, placed her nose against the paint, reared back, and slammed her forehead into the wall. There were no pictures on it to jilt, fortunately.

Robert looked over at Miranda and asked her.

Miranda shrugged.

"It's part of her process," she said.

Stephanie turned around and walked back to her chair and sat back down again. Then she picked up her map and started her search anew. Her forehead was red but it wasn't bleeding.

Robert and Miranda weren't watching the television very intently. Miranda kept checking her Facebook feed and Robert kept checking Miranda's Facebook feed. He also kept softly rubbing his left leg against her right leg in hopes that he could start a fire. But he wasn't a very good boy scout.

One episode ended and another began. Richard went to the refrigerator to get something to drink but the girls didn't keep anything in there except for a pair of frosted booties that they took turns wearing in the height of summer. He had the most minor foot fetish, so he lingered looking at them for a couple seconds. Then he shut the door wistfully.

Stephanie waited until Richard sat back down before she stood up. She was halfway across the room before she remembered that she was still holding the map, so she backtracked and put it down on the chair where shortly before her butt had been. (Booty booty). Then she went to the wall and bashed her head against it.

"That can't be good for her, right?"

"Maybe," said Miranda.

Stephanie turned and placed one palm against the wall and shook her head at it. Then she went back to the couch and sat down. She remembered to pick up the map first but I didn't remember to describe that.
The tv show was suddenly very melodramatic. Miranda couldn't help but pay more attention to it because she had always been taught that you needed to listen closely when a nun is frying bacon.

Richard wanted to pull her close to him and tell her that she was the type of girl he wished he’d fingered in middle school.

Stephanie held her finger tips poised over one particularly suspicious x on the map. Her head hurt and her ears were ringing and she was late to the acid test but she had spent far too many seconds of her life searching for the spot to give up now. She was near, though, she could smell it, like the overall odor at an orgy.

Miranda shifted in her seat and settled the rounded point of her shoulder into Richard's remarkably dry armpit. The proximity set his leg a-tappin' and the friction caused a small spark between their kneecaps. Richard put his own fire out first and then he kept his hand on Miranda's knee for an indecent amount of time.

Stephanie flared her nostrils. She was distracted for a moment from her emotional state because she had never flared her nostrils before and she felt that it felt quite nice. But the mysterious map was staring at her even once her nose had relaxed.

So she stood again and went across the room. This time she took the map with her because it has grown increasingly annoying having to describe her putting it down and picking it up again. She considered the wall for some time. Her forehead had left a nice little indention there, like a tectonic plate that, if licked, could cause lead poisoning.

"Stephanie," said Miranda, "I don't know if that's a good i-"

Stephanie bashed her head against the wall again but she made a mistake in her head tilt calculations and managed to break her nose. The previous indention spread up and out across the wall, running from the corner to the open door frame, and then the top half splintered into a dozen asbestos-filled chunks.
Dark dust swirled around Stephanie and several cough drops were needed but it soon cleared and left, revealed to them all, a view into a secret room that had long been boarded up. There was all manner of treasure and trinket therein, as well as one particularly attractive, toboggan wearing skeleton sitting astride a seesaw.
Stephanie looked back at Miranda and Richard with a fey smile. Her nose was bleeding profusely.

"I knew I'd get somewhere eventually," she said.


“Well Oscar, your qualifications are a good fit for this position. Welcome to the supermarket team!” says the hiring manager at the conclusion of the interview. Oscar is just happy to have a job.  
Day 1

On his first day of work, Oscar is stacking apples in the produce section, when he is called into the dried noodle aisle for a cleanup. “He was such a nice boy,” says an elderly woman of the fallen Mafioso, sprawled in a pool of blood, a knife in his back and a box of lasagna noodles in his hand. Oscar cleans up the aisle with an extra-large mop.
Day 2

Oscar is informed that a technician will be repairing the cooling system beneath the meat section of the supermarket. During the process, the technician sticks his arm out amidst the packages of hamburger and chicken, attempting to connect a thermostat. A couple with cannibalistic tendencies and a shopping cart full of limbs, appears and quickly severs the arm. They toss it into the shopping cart, mumbling purposefully about coupons. Oscar is called in to clean up the blood that is obscuring the price labels on the hamburger packages.

Day 3

Oscar observes the customer Mrs. Seed immediately. She seems to have a strange power about her. Mrs. Seed moves quickly to the produce section of the supermarket, flower seeds falling out of her hair. “I could relate to Mrs. Seed more effectively if she didn’t have an apricot lung,” thinks the manager of the produce section, who has a peach pit for a heart, and a ripe cantaloupe brain. As he tends to a stack of kumquats, the manager slips on a seed and falls, cracking his head open on the linoleum floor of the supermarket, blood mixing with the cantaloupe rind. Mrs. Seed takes an apricot breath, and moves to the next aisle.
“Oscar, cleanup in aisle 6,” says the intercom speaker.
Day 4

A customer named Hugo walks the supermarket aisles in a black cape, leaving vibrations of evil in each aisle, causing lettuce to wilt and milk to curdle. The recently deceased produce section manager has been replaced by a new manager of the produce section. He approaches Hugo, and tells him to stop making the lettuce wilt. Hugo stares in response, inflicting dark rays of menace, causing the new produce section manager to explode.

After cleaning up the detonated produce section manager, Oscar smokes a cigarette outside with a coworker. “You know, this is a strange supermarket filled with death,” says Oscar.
“Yes, but the pay is good,” says the co-worker, who has just cleaned up a double homicide in aisle 3.

After work, Oscar goes home to a small chaotic apartment. “Oscar, can you help me catch the bird and return it to its cage?” asks Oscar’s endearingly misshapen wife Oona, who is chasing the frantic escaped bird around the living room. Oona is constantly bringing home new pets, and the bird has been a recent addition to the household. Before that she brought home cats, hamsters, and turtles. Oscar chases the bird around the apartment in joyous pursuit, feeling a heightened appreciation for all the life swirling around him at home, after being around so much death at work.
Day 5

Oscar arrives at work to find another produce section manager is dead, lying in a pool of blood near the eggplants. Before he can clean up the gore, Oscar is called into the office of the store manager, who says, “Oscar, I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a great job, and we’re considering you for promotion to the position of produce section manager. Keep up the good work!”


On a fine winter’s evening, Rupert was in his tree house staring at the sky. A hangover gripped his body. His legs felt wet and stingy – pissed himself again. Too many brandy and apple juices at Murf the pigeon’s leaving party that afternoon. He coughed and a string of sour vomit dripped out, but luckily he managed to sook it back before it touched the ground. He took a swig from the emergency gin and everything became clear. He pulled on his five-X hat, slipped his hoofs into four boots and climbed out. In a dream, a mission was given to him by an angel. He finished the gin in nine gulps and galloped off into the night.

Rupert arrived at his local time-travel station a little after nine. It was empty except for Terry, a homeless pirate lying by the heater. Terry was sporting the same piss-stained jeans look as Rupert. Terry threw him a ‘piss brothers’ glance and followed it with a thumbs up.

Rupert was scanned, and after a few seconds a ticket popped out.

Name: Rupert. Species: Giraffe cowboy. Previous trips: Eight.

You are authorised for travelling.

“Where this time, hun,” Carla, the purple-haired gypsy said from behind the processing desk.

“Hawaii, July 5th 1961.”

“A mission?”

“Well, I’m jest takin a gift back to one of my heroes.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s right. I had a visitation earlier this evening.”

“Who visited you?”



“Yes, ma’am – an angel called Toby. He looked like a reindeer or a sneaky camel, but he told me he was an angel from heaven. Luckily, I woke up remembering my mission.”

Carla looked at Rupert like he was an idjit. He leaned in closer and almost lost his footing.

“My mission is most important. If I don’t do it, Toby said there’s a possibility the world might cease to exist.”

“Tell me. I can keep a secret.”

Rupert closed one eye, and took another step forward. “You sure?”

Carla nodded, eyes widening. Blue varicose veins squirmed all over her now visible ankles.


“Well he…” Rupert cleared his throat. “See—”

Terry was standing beside him.

“Shoo now. We’re having a private conversation,” Carla said. Terry smiled and held a finger in the air.

“Did you get my blood, Rupert? I sent you a cup of my blood,” Terry said, eyes fading in and out of focus.


“Well, I sent it to you last year.” Terry staggered away, shaking his head.
“I best be off now,” Rupert said.

“Ain’t you going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“Your mission, hun.”

“Oh right. The thing is... well...” Rupert stopped and leaned in even closer. “I got to go back in time and give Elvis Presley the AIDS.”

“The AIDS?!”

“Shhh. Yes, ma’am, but it’s top secret.” Rupert swung his head around – the place was still empty bar Terry, who was now busy talking to his reflection in the window.

“Why?” Carla whispered.

“I ain’t real sure why, but Toby told me that if I give Elvis the AIDS, Jesus will come back.”

“As in bible Jesus?”

“Yes, ma’am. He’ll be moving into the tree house next to mine. See it’s empty now since Murf the pigeon is leaving for Mexico. In fact, Jesus will sing Blue Suede Shoes every night as a special treat jest for me. Now, wouldn’t he be the greatest neighbour ever?”

Carla raised an eyebrow. “You drunk, hun?”

“A little. But I’m thinking clearly. Look here, I’ve got an AIDS rifle that will do the job.”

“That jest looks like an empty bottle of gin.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m going to throw it at him. If it hits him Toby reckons he’ll have the AIDS.”

Carla’s face was looking at him funny.

“You don’t believe a fella?”

“I ain’t sure.”

Rupert staggered backwards. He felt like vomiting again so would have to complete the mission real soon. “I have to go.”

“Alright, hun. Booth eight is ready whenever you are. Good luck.”

“Much obliged, ma’am, much obliged,” Rupert said, dipping his hat. He composed himself, galloped over to the booth and sat down.

After a quick trip through the portal, Rupert arrived backstage on the film set of Blue Hawaii. An old man fainted when he appeared – must not have been used to seeing giraffe cowboys.

Rupert felt hungry and decided to eat a part of the man’s leg. Didn’t taste so fine – too chewy.

Across the stage, he saw Elvis practicing dance steps in a hula dress.

He took out the AIDS rifle and aimed.

“Easy now,” he whispered and steadied himself with his back legs. Crooked his long neck as low as possible.

“Do it for Jesus, Rupert, do it for Jesus.”




On the third week since the labyrinth had materialized in the undergrounds of the abandoned slaughterhouse, & after eleven tributes aged fifteen at best & three venturesome policemen armed with knives & wasted on alcohol had lost their lives to the beast inhabiting - nay, dominating -- the non-branching rotten-walled construction, Theo decided to give it a go, so he entered the Daedalic knock-off trap carrying a pistol with one bullet left (as per the game's rules) which he had hid in the pocket of his jacket, confident he wasn’t going to need it, & also carrying his most precious boombox that he, as any other connoisseur of trendy music, held up on his shoulder & used to blast rhythms + emotions + adrenaline all around, & it was precisely this boombox the reason for Theo’s swagger, for he had fed it the most danceable songs he'd ever heard in his short-yet-intense sixteen years of existence, & was now flooding the labyrinth with them -- English & American-made rhythms & emotions & adrenaline -- attracting, as it went, the walls & the ceiling & the ground -- which shook & bent & grew brick ears & grew stone feet moved by the overpowering need to listen, listen, listen, & dance, dance, dance; & of course, also attracting the sovereign of it all, the Asterion of Borgean fame, who arrived, trotting on his human hands & bovine legs alike, who bellowed & headbutted anything in his way, & who, as Theo’s confidence started wavering seeing the beast not slowing down for the life of him, was compelled to use his mouth not to bite or spit or curse the gods’ names but to speak, oh, speak, like mortals did, erstwhile oblivious to him & as he taught himself to speak he understood the wrongness of what he had done & stopped short of killing the heavily-sweating, limbs-shaking Theo, asking him instead, “What song was that? The one that went dum, dum, dum?” & also, “Where can I find more of them? Please, tell me, young soul,” & thus Theo told him their titles & artists, & they decided, kid + man-bull, to leave that spawn of monstrosity that had terrified the suburbs for three weeks straight & go back to Theo’s where they listened to hip hop, rap, & jazz, & in time the minotaur learned to behave (he even apologized to the families of those he had killed, offering to become their slave for one month at a time, but the families refused both because they thought it a barbaric sentence & because they were still deeply & understandably scared of him) & the minotaur learned also how to write & make music which, after a decade of ups-and-downs, of tries & fails, allowed him to become a big L.A.based world-wide-recognized music star, & he immediately fell in love with this new diversion of his & never again killed one soul one, effectively adverting what would have otherwise been described as a intrinsically Shakespearian fate.