Archive for the ‘self-pubished’ Category

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Hues of Who – Doctor Who fan fiction from Matthew Sawyer

February 14, 2015

(Obviously, a well-intentioned parody of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. – the author)

Hues of Who

Chapter One- Vague Consent

An evening in February, in an unidentified and yet modest suburb of Chicago, Illinois, the Doctor comes to the home a seamstress. Shielded against electric incandescence by a flopping brown hat, the tall man rapped on the front door once and now enters the house. Clumps of snow come inside with him.

Kicking a ridiculously banded and long scarf ahead of his booted toes until he eventually stands still, he asks the owner, “Does this business do custom work? It says something to that effect on the door.”

“It depends,” Tiffany answers him. Unfazed by the sudden entrance and direct question, the home business operator jumps from behind the industrial sewing machine she has mounted on a standing pedestal there in the front room of her house. Above all else, the English accent of a potential client distracted her a whole second.

“I was looking for something professional,” he tells her and his voice sounds like tea and cream. As soft and tasty as the sound could be and because of that, her heart beats twice. And when he removes his hat, his goggled and wonderful blue eyes feel as if they melt her bones. She floats in locks of his wild hair.

Humbled and made foolish by her own astonishment, Tiffany grumbles aloud, “Why here?”

“Why not here?” asks the Doctor. Already, the man acts hyper-attuned to everything she says. He reads her thoughts and tells her, “There’s nothing wrong with here. It’s safe.”

“Safe?” she wonders.

The Doctor dismisses her concern. “Regardless, here is where I’ve wound up, or rather unwound. You see?”

Loops of ridiculous scarf flies into Tiffany’s face. Unharmed, she bats them away and she spots gaps and tears in the knitwear. The costume piece had been ravaged.

“Pardon me,” the Doctor begs her. “My scarf has been torn to pieces. I can’t control it anymore.”

“Control?”

“It’s nothing,” he promises. “I would just like it whole again. I would appreciate you very much if you could do that for me.”

“I can knit,” Tiffany mumbles after she stopped wondering aloud. Salvaging any poor impression the handsome English man may have gained of her, she adds with determined confidence, “It will take some work, but I can do this.”

Recovered and more focused on her business, she tells him, “The cost isn’t too bad but I will charge for each segment.”

“We can discuss compensation,” the Doctor tells her.

“Money would be nice,” she says and did not mean to sound sarcastic. Yet reminded about the deadbeats in this town, customers who never settled their bills nor collected their articles of clothing, Tiffany says seriously, “I like cash.”

Handsome as he is, and as comical as his scarf was, she had no place for his unconventional garment. She, herself, had no desire to mend something she would never use. However, she did not want to act cold. There was enough frigid air outside.

“My name is Tiffany. Mister?”

“No, no,” he interrupts her in urgency. “Doctor.”

“Doctor?” she ponders and feels infused with hope. Her heart skips twice in a row.

“Thank you,” he finishes telling her.

“So, how are you here?” she thinks again. Tiffany has no idea how her thoughts are confused by the time they come out of her mouth, but the woman is certain ‘how’ is what she meant to say.

“A blue box,” he spoke capaciously. Tiffany thinks she deserves sarcasm from the cute stranger.

While she can’t help but try imaginng what his playful insult might mean, the Doctor mumbles with curious uncertainty.

“I’m currently traveling alone,” Tiffany understands she heard him say.

“Single,” she swears he said.

“Seating available.”

“I’m an older woman,” she responds to his flirts.

“Nonsense,” he says. “You’re not as old as me.”

They appeared about the same age. Tiffany spent half her life worried passing years made girls look older than they actually were, but she did look her natural age and remarkably preserved. Tiffany was a pretty woman. She has been and always will be and she will never admit the truth. And if she knew in secret, the woman would never be arrogant and say.

“There’s nothing wrong with being old,” the Doctor says when he begins a beguiling rant. “I’m seven hundred and thirty three. Not quite over the hill yet.”

“Seven hundred and thirty three?”

“Yes, that’s how you people tell time, isn’t it?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about?” Tiffany admits forthright.

“Oh, you will. You will,” he says. “That’s a problem with the human brain. It’s like an analog computer and you have to wait until that one neuron lights up the place.”

“Are you like a neurosurgeon?” Tiffany asks as if she touches upon a prize she knew she recognized hidden in hat.

“I don’t practice,” he answers. “But how hard can it be?”

“Heh,” Tiffany responds to his toothy grin. She is not one tenth enthusiastic about his reply as the man still acts.

“You’re a character,” she flirts back at him and winks.

“You think?” the Doctor asks her and smiles widemouthed.

Shaking away her thrall of the man, Tiffany insists they address their business, “I charge by the hour… and each section will take one or more…”

“Time is the issue?” the Doctor asks the woman.

She stumbles with her answer. “Huh? Well, yes.”

“What if the job took no time at all?”

The woman giggles. “I didn’t quote you a base charge for labor, so I guess nothing at all. But I don’t think that’s fair or even possible.”

“You don’t think so? What is fair?”

“A thank you and a dinner would be nice… if anything is possible.”

Tiffany suddenly feels brave to specify, “Somewhere nice would be nicer.”

The man blusters with more courage than the older seamstress could ever muster. “Somewhere nice?” he shouts.

“Yes,” Tiffany replies meek again. She nods her head so her preference is made clear.

“I’ve got something to show you,” the Doctor says then opens the front door. Near the exit, a cold wind nearly solidifies his next words. “Come with me.” And he steps outside.

Leery and simultaneously curious, the seamstress takes a pale overcoat from a stand next the open doorway. “I’m not going far,” she warns him. “Not unless I know where we’re going and something about you.”

The seamstress is about to say more then pauses when she spots a blue shed in her front yard. Light shines from behind the frosted windows on the two sides of the structure there at her angle of vision. More illumination dimly glows from a cooling bulb on top.

“What is that?” Tiffany asks alarmed the object trespasses between shoveled mounds of snow on her property.

The Doctor coaxes her toward the wooden box. “Come here.”

She goes automatically and walks on her toes speared through the frozen precipitation upon the cold ground.

“Come inside,” he says.

“In there?” scoffs the woman. She almost says ‘no’ but once the box is opened, her birdsong sounds like, “Nah-ooo-ahhh.”

“I’ve been told that,” the Doctor says. “Just never so beautifully.”

“It’s bigger on the inside,” Tiffany stutters when she joins her client inside the marvelous contraption and surrounded by translucent roundels.

“They always say that.”

Tiffany is suddenly awake and concerned. “Who, other girls?”

“There have been a few,” he admits. The same time, he offers the seamstress a confectionery. “Have a Jelly Baby. They are quite sweet, like you, Tiffany. Thank you for repairing my scarf.”

The seamstress objects. “Hold on…”

“Oh, we can go anywhere,” the Doctor promises her. “Any time. Tell me where you want to go. All things are possible.”

“I didn’t say I would do it yet,” she finally replies. Latched upon the Doctor’s explanation, she stops and asks him, “Hold on, does this thing fly? Is it real?”

“It also travels through time.”

And the comment, ‘it travels through time,’ is all Tiffany first remembers when she wakes in her bed in her house the following morning. Something doesn’t feel right. Everything below her waist does not like yesterday. She visually verifies she is all right and she isn’t in pain, but her skin does tingle and she feels overly warm. Then she sprouts goosebumps when she thinks about the man who visited her last evening.

The woman panics and call the police while she still sits on her bed. “I think I’ve been raped,” she reports summarily to the authorities.

A female receptionist asks her, “Ma’am, can you come to the station and speak to a detective?”

“Can I talk to a detective now? I don’t know,” Tiffany admits confused. Tiny fractions of last night begin crystallizing in her brain.

“One moment,” the receptionist tells Tiffany after first soliciting the woman one more time to come downtown on her own volition.

A male detective then answers the waiting call. “Hello, Officer Panchecker. How can I help you?”

“I think I remember he tied me up,” Tiffany stammers as she works her mind hard to recall of what she has the impression was sheer chaos.

“Immobilized,” she clearly remembers she heard him say. She mentions that to Officer Panchecker, but Tiffany neglects to share she now recalls the Doctor told her, “It will be more enjoyable if you don’t move, but it is difficult for a beginner.”

“Do you know who this guy was?” the detective asks Tiffany.

“He said he was the Doctor,” she answers.

“Did he give his a last name?”

“No.”

Then she remembers the Doctor said, “I’ll give you a little help.” Memory of the statement excites her; it makes her feel a little randy.

She begins wondering too late if whatever she did with the odd stranger last night was consensual. After saying, “He said he was going to use his scarf but he didn’t.”

Tiffany remembers he said, “The whole concept is overused, besides, it’s torn.” Her memory is just like the man was standing next to her and now said the same.

“Janis thorn,” she unconsciously utters. She does her best to imitate the Doctor’s voice.

The detective wonders, “What?”

“Nothing,” she tells the police. “I’ve made a mistake. I think it’s something I did.”

“Ma’am, were drugs involved,” the officer asks. “Are you now under the influence?”

“Sorry,” she begs Panchecker. “I’m remembering… no, no drugs. I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

Ending the call, Tiffany allows recent events to clarify themselves in her mind. Last night becomes vivid. The seamstress asked the Doctor, “What on Earth is a Janis thorn?”

“Not on Earth, Tiffany,” he replied elusively.

Revery then seemed to capture his attention. “They were left here, left behind by someone I knew.”

“What happened to her?” Tiffany knows she asked. And she is still jealous.

“Oh Leela, we recently traveled together for awhile” confesses the Doctor. “She became stationary. Stuck to some poor, static bloke on Gallifrey.”

“Gallifrey?”

“My home planet.”

“You’re not from Earth,” Tiffany stated.

The Doctor told her, “I think that should be obvious.”

She objected. “But we look alike.”

“Let me tell you something about the facts concerning panspermia. It’s all very exciting.”

Then is when those two began undressing themselves. The Doctor told his robotic dog, “K-9, record this.”

“Is he going to watch?” Tiffany asked about the talking machine.

“Why not?” The Doctor suggested without wearing his coat. A swath of his swollen bare chest plainly shows from beneath the wide collar of his loose frill shirt. The ragged scarf remained draped around him.

“We share everything, don’t we, K-9?” the Doctor teased his electric dog.

“Yes, master,” replied the novel, self-propelled computer.

“Good, boy,” the Doctor smooched

“Yes, master.”

“Say that to me,” the Doctor impulsively instructed Tiffany.

She tried saying so aloud. “Master?”

“No, don’t,” he directly countermands. “That doesn’t sound right. Try the other one.”

“Doctor?” she asked him before he seizes her in bandy, swashbuckler arms.

“Oh, thank you, Tiffany.”

They dropped themselves into a four poster bed the pair found in another impossible room. The dog had come along then Tiffany and the Doctor made love. He brought out toys and he suggested adventures. The seamstress consented to every one.

Then came the Janis thorn. “Deadly poison,” the Doctor explained. “But if one knows how to use it right, to introduce a miniscule, non-lethal dose in order to produce partial paralysis… well, ecstasy.”

Tiffany temporarily lost sensation in her legs, but then she and her incomprehensible lover copulated like humans in their most primitive state. She thought about television then and what her experience resembled. The seamstress could only imagine the alien Spock from Star Trek, suffering Pon farr. She felt like him, that character from the sex-deprived planet Vulcan. Passion drove her mad.

The two spent an inestimable time away from civilization – in which they slept, had sex and Tiffany knitted. She stitched his long scarf together. And, oh, the places the Doctor described and all he had shown her, but Tiffany never got dinner and that was okay. The Doctor, said to her when they were finished and happy, “Next Wednesday then? Let’s say we do this every week or so, if you knew me, but you will.”

Tiffany agreed. Afterward and back at home again, she had not lost a moment in time. Maybe a minute had passed on the clocks in her house last evening before the Doctor flew away. This morning and after recovering her memories, she thinks about life in one place. She contemplates ending the long separation from her dull and unchanging husband and finishing their divorce.

– Matthew Sawyer

(Available soon from Smashwords)

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The Corpus Cat Chapter Three of Thirteen

September 9, 2014

The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Three of Thirteen

This cloudy Sunday morning, the Corpus couple come back together in his SUV from a Protestant church service at Saint Luke’s. They go once every month. Neither Dana nor Barry are religious people. They are not, as Barry always imagines the comic book icon, Stan Lee, would say, “True believers.”

And when Barry inks the sketches of the merry fatherly figure in his mind, he always imagines an animated Mr. Lee brandishes a silver cross and simultaneously expels bloodsuckers.

Suddenly guilty that he allows a childhood Satanic temptation to distract him so soon after sitting an hour on an uncomfortable wooden bench under the presence of God, Barry attends his original thought. He thinks as if seized in prayer.

Spiritually, he and Dana pledged to each other their own negotiated understanding of the popular and maligned Pascal Wager. Neither of them ever speak about God, they are not evangelical, not in the least. And if they were ever asked – and they never have been and they do not fear they ever will be – they would not deny His existence.

If He exists, Barry is certain he will know after being dead. And he will gladly shake the Lord’s hand and ask Him when his wife will be arriving. He is confidant they both deserve heaven. Nothing about this daydream is morbid, and merely a curiosity until he and wife arrive at home.

An unusual lightning snap whitens the sky the same second Barry raises the automatic garage door. A nearby boom rocks the stalled vehicle. Inside the SUV, Dana goes, “Whoa, that was bizarre.”

“It’s a winter lightning storm,” Barry tells her with no emotion. He takes the vehicle inside. The garage door closes as the couple open their own. He comments with a drawl, “It’s rare but not uncommon.”

“What?” Dana laughs.

Her husband continues his indistinct impression. “It’s a backwards expression from the rurals of these parts.”

“A backward education, it sounds like,” she judges.

They go into the house while Barry explains, “It means something happens sometimes.”

Dana submits her criticism to her husband when they are in the kitchen. “Who can call this winter, there hasn’t been snow all year. It’s just been cold.”

“It’s because the dry air.”

The Corpus exchange their thick jackets for thicker sweaters and automatically gather leftover meals from the days before the end of the week. Joining the couple in the living room, and appearing as fluffy as the two human beings, Dodgie comes in sniffing the air.

Outdoors, the wind suddenly sounds faster and more fierce. This force of nature presses the house the opposite direction and makes its walls creak. The windows rattle, too, but because the wind is constant, most of the glass panes clack against their sills once and stay pinned against their braces. Dodgie stops in his immaculate tracks and stares out the window.

“Ooo,” Dana expresses for everyone. Dodgie stays absolutely quiet and does not recognize the people in the room – two things the cat does best.

Blown debris flies past the undrawn window and Dana asks the animal, “Dodgie, did you see that?”

He obviously had and the cat trots into the center of the room then jumps onto the shelf below the opening. Barry broadcasts the event action. “There he goes.”

Clearly visible over the cat’s hunched shoulders, Dana and Barry watch in high clarity as late and forgotten holiday decorations are torn off houses, lifted into the sky and scattered throughout the neighborhood. Given the rage outside, the paper trash will likely go blown all over the city. And given the strength of its wind, the ornaments probably come all the way from Des Moines, Iowa. Dodgie lies rapt and scrutinizes the transformed landscape.

Indeed, the cat transforms himself into furry brick. And when a bolt of lightning hits so close to the house, and when all the windows tick as if pelted with gravel, and when the whole interior of the house is injected with white light, Dodgie remains at the glass unbothered.

“Holy!” Barry shouts after the thunder settles and he, all himself, tries to make a louder crack. Dodgie doesn’t bother with even that.

“Did you see?” Barry asks his wife. “Dodgie didn’t budge. He is either blind and deaf or he’s got balls of steel.”

Blinking her eyes, Dana inquires, “Isn’t he neutered?”

“I didn’t have the faith to take him to Bris.”

She scolds him. “Barry…”

Dodgie apparently hears her say a name and he turns his head almost completely around. The cat looks at Dana. His green eyes tell her he expects she will show him something interesting. And neither the cat nor Dana know what that something might be.

Barry makes a projection. “I think he wants to grow up in one piece.”

His wife slaps him on his shoulder and Barry argues, “We did, and keeping all of our parts was good enough for us.”

Without warning, Dana suddenly feels she will drop the smile from her face. The woman’s flush cheeks pale and droop and the corners of her lips quiver. Her husband instantly sees the depressed affect and he changes the subject. Barry points her attention to something odd and obvious. Distractions like these more often seem to help swing her mood.

“Dodgie has been scratching in his litter box a long time.”

The Corpus couple had not noticed when their pet cat jumped from in front of the window. And accustomed to his sneaking around, they weren’t particular concerned where he had gone. Outside, the wind dies and the storm has already passed. They missed its last gasp.

“I know,” Dana says dazed and more chipper. “What is he doing? You look, Barry. Whatever he covered up, he’s probably uncovered it.”

“Gee, thanks!”

And in spite of being assigned the foul chore, Barry is aware he now investigates anything unusual in the bathrooms now and ever after. His wife calls from the living room while he passes through the kitchen. “I love you.”

“Yeah. I love you, too, sweetie,” he replies then goes into the downstairs half-bath alone.

A sulfurous odor identical to that one last night makes the air in this potty-cupboard humid and acidic. Barry thinks aloud, and maybe for Dodgie’s understanding, “Damned if it is the tofu tuna, it’s probably those treats for your teeth.”

Barry switches on the overheard fan with the same motion he uses when he flips on a light. The man is shocked. Certainly, there are cat turds in the litter box and there is more. Dodgie’s silhouette dashes away in a radiant blur. Barely catching the image, Barry assumes it’s all part of one cat. He then resumes acting aghast.

When he gazes into the litter once more, he sees the feces is stale and embedded with saturated silica crystals. The fossilized feline pellets don’t truly smell but they should have been flushed when they were fresh two days ago.

Cat scatology aside, Barry sees the name of his deceased son. “Again?”

Dana overhears him ask himself in a loud voice. She already knows the answer but she repeats the question and asks her husband, “Again?”

“Yes,” he says beneath his breath. He meant not to say anything even if this reply went unheard.

The name today is written in cursive, drawn across the ragged lumps of litter. The writing confuses him and appears written by someone other than the artist who printed the bloody letters upstairs. The script has been etched much better than indicated by the crosshatch scratches the Corpus had heard from the other room.

Acting on instinct as much as the damned admission slipped out of his mouth because alarm, Barry drags the sole of his dress shoe through the glass beads, digging up stiff logs of poop and setting them on their ends. He chides himself, “Hey, you, remember to dump this one, too, when you do the box upstairs.”

Eager for an answer, Dana asks her husband again, “Really?”

His answer is stalled so long, she joins him in the kitchen. Dana stands directly behind the man and pokes her nose against the back of his neck. Unexpected of her, she insists, “Don’t erase it.”

“You want to see it?” Barry had not wished it for himself, and he is surprised his wife wants to view the evidence.

“Too late,” he says before she discovers he’s wiped the writing away.

“Why?” Dana asks him before she sees what he’s done. Her question is the same but she does not repeat herself. When she sees, she says, “Oh, Barry.”

He tells her, “I’m sorry. I was thinking of you…”

“I know,” she says when she interrupts him. Dana rolls her head and grasps her husband’s arm. He wraps his other around her back and hugs the woman.

“Are you sure it was there?” she asks him. Barry starts wondering about himself.

Dana points at the overfilled litter box. “Dump that, please.”

… continued tomorrow…

 

 

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The Sermon On Squirrels

August 29, 2014

The Sermon On Squirrels
Mr. Binger

“I remember the year after Wisconsin became a permanent Republican stronghold. America’s Dairyland had always been a conservative state. “It’s full of cheap Swiss,” expatriate citizens often say.

“These same people then grow old and have delusional hankerings to roll back time. They get desperate before they die. They come home to the North and dream to freeze the date to nineteen eighty-three – before Big Brother, who is the true Satan, introduced the sinful World-Wide-Web to worldwide sinners. It was the year good folk stopped coming to church.”

“Before then, a rash of Democrats occupied the county houses and State house. These godless souls destined for Hell had been negligent and they allowed evil to saturate the countryside. So when our anointed Representatives were elected into office and seized control, they necessarily instituted decency laws.”

“Nudity was not allowed in parks, whether the public spaces were owned by cities or the State itself. But disenfranchised Liberals demanded the bill be specific. Politicians employed lawyers and every detail was defined. The law was passed with one hundred percent of votes.”

“Specifically, male and female reproductive organs were to be completely covered. The anus was also to stay unseen. A clothe or paper patch no bigger than a quarter adequately met the condition. But then there remained the distressing vision of people’s butts – their buttocks, their corn-overly-fed buns. These shined in glossy white and red pairs throughout the summer.”

“By Fall, outraged radical conservatives engineered a way to broaden the law. They found a means of forcing everyone to cover themselves more completely. These people claimed. ‘The law applies to animals, too.’”

“’The government paid lawyers to write the bill,’ grassroots campaigns and lobbyists declared. ‘There is no language that says the law pertains only to human beings.’”

“’The issue went all the way to the Head of State,’ they said. ‘The governor recognized the documented will of every elected official. Not one member of Congress went on record saying, ‘Nay.””

“The problem became how to dress animals. Those kept on farms were okay being naked. There was no issue with what happened in private. And if any nude creature stayed hidden in the woods, that was not a problem either.”

“Squirrels presented the dilemma. They were everywhere. Old folks often fed cheese to them. Longhorn Colby was popular, and so much had made the naked tree-rats virile. There were so many, so activists decided, ‘We’ll make them pants.’”

“Their thinking went like, ‘If the only way animals can obey the law is to wear pants, everybody will wear pants. Let’s give them pants, for charity. It will be the thing to do, because why not? Nobody wants to break the law on purpose, except Democrats.’”

“They had to do something – cops never arrested the animals nor tossed them into jail. Every fine issued to the creatures went unpaid. Midwestern cities were losing the only new revenue available to the municipalities.”

“After school before Halloween, kids joined the effort. They and their parents chased and dressed unabashed squirrels in colorful bell-bottom trousers. The crazed campaign went a week before someone got bit.”

“After the matter, scientists found all that cheese Wisconsin squirrels were eating affected their DNA. The bushy rodents weren’t only acting frisky, they were passing on their mutated genes. The transfer was as simply practical as a blood-borne infection introduced through a bite.”

“The transmission was so effective, human beings were infected with the mutation, too. A lot of people who were bitten, quite a few Christian folks, they changed into squirrels. They became fuzzy comparisons to themselves, everyone growing a tail. All the pairs of pants they owned no longer fit.”

“The squirrel-people were the same height they were when they were regular people, their waistlines neither shrank or grew, but they had nowhere to put their tails – these always longer than their poor hosts were tall.”

“When some went naked into communities, law-abiding conservatives screamed, ‘You have to wear pants. The law still applies to you.’”

“’How,’ inquired talking squirrel-people. ‘We are neither people nor squirrels. We are a species in-between. Where does it say specifically the law applies to us?’”

“We came into existence after the legislature,” clarified a monster who was yet a lawyer. “I believe we are a special consideration.”

“Other mutants said in secret, ‘We will escape society and live in trees.’”

“And there is the Midwest today. America’s Dairyland is where everyone wears pants except where mutants live in trees. Older cheese-eaters there in Wisconsin are dying off, muffling an aggregate conservative voice. And so indecent Liberal hating-God-speech gets louder.”

“Soon, naked animals will have run of of the Capitol Dome in rodent-infested Madison. All year and not just homecoming, the rally is heard, “Liberty, Longhorn Colby Squirrels! Vida Cheddar.” Squirrel-people bark the expression with religious zeal. They do so as they crawl through people’s yards on Sundays looking for acorns.”

 

-End

Want more surreal politics and horror, well then come and read my stories – The Strange Apocrypha of Mr. Binger at Smashwords

 

 

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Monster, Monster

August 17, 2014

Monster, Monster
Mr. Binger

“Monster, monster,” a homeless man cried all night. In the day, he shouts at people, “Keep away.”

I am there at a pharmacy where outside the man squats in tattered tan trousers atop a flat, overworked cardboard mat. I’m too intimated and won’t ask him questions, but three identical kids do interrogate him.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m a monster.”

He thinks he’s been coy afterward because of the reply. Bloody, un-brushed teeth flash from inside a nettle of black whiskers.

The mother of the children calls off her offspring.

The family had a dog, too, and now that is gone. The animal never barked but I did spot a small mutt on a leash. I watched it tangle itself in the tether. That same leash now lies loose on the concrete sidewalk.

“Where’s Princess?” the mother asks her kids.

They tell her simultaneously, “I don’t know.”

“She belongs to you,” the mother reminds her children. “You’re suppose to take care of your animals.”

“I’m a monster,” shouts the homeless man.

The family has moved away from him and into the parking lot – and the homeless man did not address specifically them – but he sounded as if he was next to us. I paused near the fleeing family when the man’s voice sounded as if it came from the very ground beneath us.

“The bum got her,” explains the smallest of the family. He is a thin boy. His hair is also lightest. And in this guise of simple innocence, he states, “He told me his name was Mister Gobblings.”

The middle child, an equanimous brunette girl, shouts back a question for the homeless man.

“Are you a troll?”

The shocked mother quizzes the littlest kid, “You talked to him?”

The woman does not wait for an answer and instead flails at the oldest, another girl. “Were you watching your brother?”

“I was with her,” states the tallest and darkest of the children. A sharp thumb spears in the direction of her smaller sister.

Both feel the same responsibility for their little brother – a disappointment in themselves is plain on their transparent faces. Their mother acts the opposite and she looks ridiculous in her outrage.

“Well, we’re lucky the homeless man didn’t eat your little brother, too.”

The oldest child begs, “Mom…”

Her mother answers, “You heard what he calls himself.”

“Mister Gobblings,” repeats the youngest.

The homeless man yells again, “I’m a monster.”

The words make me jump.

My own shock disorients me.

Once I have recomposed enough of my awareness, I recognize I eavesdrop on the family’s conversation in the pharmacy parking lot. I avert my attention. The woman’s voice lingers in the air and I recall I heard her call for help.

“Hello, police?”

She uses a mobile phone, I saw so before I turned away my face. The rest of her summons occurs out of my range of hearing. Also vanished from my sight, I assume the woman goes away and takes her children somewhere safe and middle class.

“I’m a monster,” shouts the homeless man.

I do not look at him but I do feel certain he does not tell me again. I think he would say the same to me over and over, except other customers enter the pharmacy. Three immature men and an older teenaged girl stop walking before any pass the homeless man.

“What did you say?” growls a gruff young fellow.

Another boy among the three asks the transient, “What’s your name?”

Curious, I approach the encounter. Cautious, I stay quiet and shield my body behind the youngsters. Fast food has ensued me these teenagers provide plenty of cover, even at their early ages. Unfortunately, their extra padding insulates sound and the conversation within their circle remains mostly incomprehensible. The only words I do hear is when the homeless calls himself, “Mister Gobblings.”

The older kids chuckle, I clearly hear them laugh. I watch the older girl who stands between two of the three boys. There were two guys on her left before I glanced at her bouncing bottom, then I look back and I see that she jogs in place with nobody opposite her last male companion on her right.

She screams, “Who are you?”

The homeless man stays hidden from me. I assume the young woman was shouting at him until I hear his reply. The echo of his voice comes from behind me, from further away than a city block but not far.

“Monster, monster.”

The remaining adolescent couple drifts apart and plainly show the self-deprecating transient has gone. They have vanished, too, when cops arrive.

“He’s over there,” I tell the police and point east. “You can hear him calling – it’s a warning. His name is Mister Gobblings.”

“You heard that?” one of two trim female officers asks me after she and her partner exit their squad car. A smile drifts unto her flush cheeks. She clarifies, “I mean, did you hear that from somebody?”

“I heard him say his name,” I tell both police officers.

The second professional woman comments, “Uh-uh, everybody knows you’re not suppose to ask him his name.”

She snickers then her amusement infects the first cop I spoke with.

“I’m just trying to be helpful,” I plea. “I don’t want to get involved, not really.”

“I didn’t make the phone call. I didn’t see anything that’s probably not on camera – look, it’s a pharmacy.”

My gesture toward the roof of the building goes ignored. The first officer tells me, “Sorry. Mister Gobblings is a hoax, an urban myth.”

“Huh?”

“Everybody knows about him. You don’t ask him his name.”

The second brusque lady claims, “If he tells you his name, you’re marked for life.”

Disoriented, I claim, “But the teenagers…”

The second officer interrupts me and states, “That explains everything.”

“He’s gone now,” opines the first.

They both then wish me, “Good day, sir,” and they go into the pharmacy. Outside, I only stammer, “I never asked his name, I only overheard him say…”

-_End=

Gnawing for more? Read more from Mr. Binger and the originally author Matthew Sawyer at Smashwords

 

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My Paul. His Name Was Saul. Mine Is Ernie.

July 5, 2014

A WIKI article written long after the destruction of Khetam…

Ernest W. Bartman

Ernest W. Bartman (born 7 March 1559, died 1614) was a late, self-proclaimed Mortui philosopher. Bartman forsook a Church assignment during the doomed 16th century Pagan Resurrection movement in the southwestern quarter of the Shur desert. Prior damnation, he was already censored and he promoted blasphemy against the Church, forging over 37 books, including seminary doctrines and printed educational material made available to UnChosen migrants. He evaded detainment by the military and was sentenced in abstentia for heresies promoting heathen mythology. Bartman incited criticism of Church doctrines, dominance of the Chosen tribes and the development of early Chosen foundations.

Education

Bartman grew up Chosen in Sodom when the extinct oasis existed in the Southwest, and attended a satellite military school for seminary induction and civil indoctrination, where he first questioned the existence of the Mortal God and the heathen Living God himself. During his 3-year residence, he obtained contraband stone tablets and made claims to have deciphered the original pagan language. The Church threatened him with excommunication when his clandestine research was uncovered and revoked his privilege into the Promised Land. Bartman then vanished into the Shur wilderness in 1591. His writing emerged in Chosen oases in 1593. Heathen leaders exploited UnChosen doubts caused by overwhelming distribution of the meritless revelations and promoted their errant messiah. These heathens claim Bartman found the Living God in 1599, sought out the single nomadic tribe and appeared to the chieftain, Mordant Frathe, so that he could hear prophecies concerning the arrival of a physical god in mortal flesh.

Career

Bartman was born into the Dan family of the Chosen Tribe. His writing consciously illustrate the privilege the Chosen caste savor over the UnChosen. Despite patrimony he enjoyed as a teenager, he questioned the curse upon the UnChosen tribes. He sought why the perpetual migrants would not execute the heathen Living God when the trespasser first manifested in the Shur. The question occupied him throughout prerequisite seminary preparation for the Church. He became convinced the contradictions and discrepancies in the Chosen doctrines lacked harmony. There was no reconciliation between the edicts of every Pontiff. Nevertheless, he remained Chosen until his excommunication and later identified himself a Pagan philosopher after documenting his encounters with “insubstantial monsters”.

Bartman was first enlisted for seminary induction and civil indoctrination in 1588 after four years of vocational education in military textiles. He missed an undocumented number of induction and indoctrination classes while he continued his occupational training and remained uncertified for either career. His writing assert he was a vagrant fisherman in 1593.

Bartman continued to produce forgeries and original blasphemous letters until his death in 1614. After his initial mailings, he never again wrote how he sustained himself. The Church and military maintain he abetted heathen terrorists.

Heathen leaders openly boasted Bartman made undocumented visits to their camps and confessed to arrogance, waste and indolence inherit to the children of Chosen tribes. Historic heathen commanders including Gregor Lane, Ennis Dinouza, Linklous, Even Gregg, Walter Daniels, Billiam Trent Peters and Weiss Jones each claim he provided pagan prophecies to the enemy and he went unmolested throughout the Shur Desert.

In 4003 and 4015, Bartman’s writing was discovered in the ashes of ruined Khetam. Heathens have since quelled an uncommon UnChosen renaissance and destroyed the pagan-inspired propaganda. Half the encampment became raised to the ground and its surviving population forced to eat the slain.

The Church and military assert nothing survives of Bartman except statistic documentation.

Works

Bartman wrote extensively upon popular issues with Church, over 52 original epistles including a single, unplagarized commentary on the origin of separation between castes and seven direct revelations from “alien powers outside the Shur”. All his works have been discounted by the Church and heathens alike. Copies of his writing have reportedly been discovered etched in stone. These, too, are destroyed.

And after twenty-five centuries, scholars say they hear about his prophecies and philosophy by word-of-mouth. Even among the elite clergy of the Chosen Church, sources say to have “heard about Bartman when [they] were growing up”. Everyone agrees, he had written what is known. Bartman repeated the Creator does not dwell with His creation. There are no gods in the Shur and mankind is the eminent authority.

Bartman is believed to have then disgraced the Church and wrote heathens believe there is no hope if there is not a Living God. He accused the Church and wrote the Chosen cannot control the elements with prayer. Indulgences purchased by both Chosen and UnChosen people only enrich a corrupt oligarchy.

He signed his name to the letter and declared there was never a Mortal or a Living God. He said there is something more and it is something we all know. “That which we have forgotten”. It is hidden and he alone had seen the reality.

Bartman argued a demon came to the Shur in the flesh of Immanuel (sic Joshua). And that Immanuel spoke truthfully when he expected no god will come to the Shur again. Bartman amended the prophesy and foretold no “good God” will visit the “Waste”.

The letters received after his death and testified to have originally been written by Bartman return to the topic of division between Chosen and UnChosen castes. Anyone alive today know sloveness is the greatest sin. The Church and heathens agree on the matter. The meek demeanor of the UnChosen is written to have doomed them to an existence of servitude. And before his death, Bartman wrote he agreed with the facts doctors and scientists have presented all through time. The UnChosen undoing is in their genes.

Death

The sheared truth of the conclusion is no one knows when and how Bartman died. The vanished pagans are rumored to have believed the bodies of their prophets dissolved to dust after three days and their immaterial souls ascended or descended into another life. Bartman himself gave no credence to this ignorant idea or most of their foolish beliefs.

The Chosen military had submitted a bleak, unsigned prognosis to the Church. This evidence is archived in Chosen-occupied fortresses across the northern quarters of the Shur. The document states Ernest Bartman was certainly dead. Heathens traditionally disembowel trespassers alive and leave their victims to perish in the desert. Captain Johno Kris wrote in the report, “It is reasonable to think, if Bartman found any heathen camp, they fed his guts to their pet lions. The passed his corpse around the desert so it could be said to make absurd confessions.”

 

 – – Matthew Sawyer –

 

“Aren’t you a little curious about my horrible world? Don’t be scared, read my Pazuzu Trilogy…”

Manifestation – the first book in the Pazuzu Trilogy. This book is all background. Sure, there are elements to hook readers into the story, but wait for more of Robber in the second book.

Emergence  – the second book in the Pazuzu Trilogy. Chapter 10 is the climax of the original half of the trilogy. Here’s the story folks, when what has manifested now emerges.

Abeyance – Armegeddon! All die when even greater evil comes into the world.

Gaunt Rainbow – severing the cosmic web, that undead umbilical chord forever leeching life from all existence. A cursed girl can do that.

Lazarus The Pig – a documented supernatural event told to children in a mandatory Sunday school class.

The Plagiarized Forgery Of The Chosen Gospel – not much seperates the world of the Shur from reality – the book of Mark as written in a godless world overrun with evil.

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It’s Not a Revision

January 15, 2014

January 2014 has come and so have my latest self-published book editions. They’re not revisions, for the most part. Sure. I corrected instances of missing dialog punctuation but these fixes do not truly set the 2014 editions apart from those of the previous year. There are exceptions, but these are so minor that I let the refreshed publication date record their histories.

Take a look at my printed books at Lulu or my identical ebooks at Smashwords.

A big exception is Pazuzu – Manifestation, the first book in my Pazuzu Trilogy. I made clear alterations to its ‘Prelude’ and the first leg of chapter one, ‘The Wilderness’. And here they are…

 

Prelude

Rage makes the swollen hands of this ranked priest tremble. Captain Ioannu is the victim of extortion, that or lacking amphetamine makes him angry. He tugs a collarless white shirt and finally removes his heavy black uniform jacket. The UnChosen caste calls his choice drug ‘Ape’ – the street name for a new junk that typically changes users into anxious, howling gorillas.

Such base consequence could never happen to a priest, a born member of the upper echelon of the Chosen caste and an officer in the Church. The associated pomp and dignity granted the position guards against that uncivil lunacy. No, the unquiet phases of the chemically grown monkey would not drive Josiah Ioannu into madness. The Church had promoted this middle-aged priest to captain because his genetically endowed discipline gives him immaculate willpower. After all, Captain Josiah Ioannu had been born a Chosen. Even without a rank, birthright grants him authority over his Mortal God.

Nonetheless, his responsibilities crush Ioannu under stones. “The Church presses too much work on mid-grade priests. They drive me to use the damned drug.”

The wretched soul rationalizes, “I’m old.”

He also confesses to himself, “The problem with Ape isn’t the drug, but rather not having any. Nothing at all.”

Sobriety-sharpened nails press into his chest and head. Beneath his tormented rut, the priest tells himself, “Being clean banishes the blessing of knowing exactly what to do in any situation… and making sense of other people. Nobody listens to me when I don’t have Ape, they just babble and interrupt me when I talk.”

Sobriety truthfully compromises the man’s ability to control his god – the Mortal God and all those forsaken UnChosen dwelling inside his squalid quarter next the Wall.

Materially, he deals with an unprecedented crime inside the walled city of Khetam. Very recently, there on the sands of the Chosen’s Promised Land, Reverend Elmer had been murdered. The man was a subordinate priest Ioannu had assigned the parish custodianship of Saint Erasmus. He thinks aloud, “A sympathizer killed him.”

The Wall separating Khetam from the world of the Shur foremost protects the city from the ravages of heathen terrorists. “No full-blown heathen can get into this city,” Captain Ioannu mumbles. He righteously believes no one passes through the Wall without the approval of the Church or its military. He tells everyone, “The Chosen exercise exclusive entrance into Khetam.”

All UnChosen once permitted behind the Wall now live in desolate parishes like Saint Erasmus. Ioannu thinks, “A suitable batch of hovels for those spineless degenerates.” Still, the caste and status of the murdered victim raises the severity of the crime to an act of terrorism. The Church and its military’s censors had debated if news of the crime should be made public, but the single body never made a decision.

One thing Ioannu was certain – the presence of pagan tablets on the altar inside Saint Erasmus will never be reported to the public. The Church had immediately confiscated and destroyed the sacrilegious objects. Whatever the dead Reverend Elmer had once planned with them is better undiscovered. The blasphemous controversy goes with him into death. Withal, the late Reverend Elmer brought the awful fate upon himself.

In the midst of Ioannu’s coping with his withdrawal from Ape – that and the murder of a priest too curious about an archaic and forbidden religion – the phone in his office rings. The man on the other end of the telephone line calls him, “Sir.”

Reverend Benedict Gage calls, again. The Aper is a non-commissioned bastard from the city of Gomorrah. Captain Ioannu had just hung-up on the irreverent extortionist.

“Why do you keep calling here?” Ioannu shouts into the phone inside his dark and private office at the Church. He tells the caller “Stop calling me.”

“Captain – Ioannu.” Reverend Gage stutters with the aggravated squall of an addict. “I know you don’t know me from Adam, but you have something I want.”

“A demotion?” threatens Ioannu. “How, in the name of the Mortal God, can you even dare speak to me with such lack of respect?”

The two priests share an addiction to Ape, with a difference. Ape helps Reverend Gage lose respect for his superior officers, sending him out-of-the-way to a place like Gomorrah. The drug gives the non-commissioned priest arrogant hopes and ambitions – whereas Ioannu had already gladly achieved his own pinnacle.

Uncovering his hand, Gage says, “Listen, I know you’re related to Judah Ismael, the crime-lord in this city.”

Hopefully, despite the truth, this blackmailer didn’t know how complicated the relationship between Captain Ioannu and Judah Ismael had become. The captain is the crime-lord’s connection with the Church. Although, in-law Judah’s patience had grown thin with Josiah, resulting in Ape becoming difficult to find in Khetam and impossible to obtain. Like Ioannu, many of the priest’s brethren in the Church had stopped coming to their offices at headquarters. Those nervous wretches who report this morning are useless and hide in the dark behind locked doors.

“That is a sad coincidence,” Ioannu claims. He speaks of his relationship to the UnChosen crime-lord.

“I know you keep the military away from Gomorrah,” Gage states. “And I know Ismael is your Ape connection.”

“I know you are a dead man, Gage,” Ioannu shouts over the phone. “How dare you call me with your crazy accusations.”

“Listen.” Gage shouts back. “Military patrols will come to this city, whether you like it or not. Ilu Yehowah is here in Shur’s northwest. Colonel Onesiphorus himself is coming here.”

Colonel Onesiphorus’s trip to Gomorrah presents a bigger problem, one Ioannu should have anticipated – he knows the colonel sweeps through the region annually. Captain Ioannu reports to the colonel, as would Gage when the bishop arrives at Gomorrah. Gage, the tattling Aper, may tell their superior officer anything.

Ioannu capitulates. “What do you want?”

“An assignment away from Gomorrah and heathens,” Gage barters. “This city will fall to terrorists next, Yehowah is here.”

“Let me think,” Ioannu replies immediately. The solution comes to him with a staggered breath.

The situation seemed to work itself out – a custodian position has recently opened at Saint Erasmus and a priest materializes who will shut his mouth if he’s invited into Khetam. Josiah does not think when he offers the position to Gage, though this wretched extortionist may again one day twist Josiah’s neck. Nevertheless, the treacherous possibility fails to occur to him and does not stop Josiah from asking Gage a more crucial question. “Will you bring Ape into Khetam?”

“No, of course not,” Gage denies with a strained snort.

“Please, there’s none here. You won’t find Ape behind the Wall.”

Gage thinks he cannot trust Captain Ioannu with the truth. To his treacherous ear, his supervisor’s plea sounds like a trap. “No,” he squeaks.

“That’s unfortunate,” answers Ioannu before hanging up. Josiah had looked forward toward another batch of Ape for himself.

1

The Wilderness

This morning, the colors of the sky possess weight. At the faraway horizon, where a wide, blue bruise is caught between dark and light, the hues are luminous gases – layers of yellow, orange and pink pressed together by the nothingness of the previous night. The rising sun pushes warm colors upward, burning them away, and bleeds sore purple from the sky. A stumbling, shirtless man then falls into the morning.

He knows where he is, but the bare wraith cannot remember who he might be. Beneath caked dust, he appears overall red and covered with angry pustules. His torso resembles an antique table dusted by careless strokes. With each of his heavy steps, the dirt encrusted upon his chest and back drops off in flakes.

His own shoulders bear upon him with a foreign weight he wants to throw off. The extra fleshy padding around his waist only adds to his burden. The gain had crept upon the smoldering man with stealth, over years of denial and through moments of complacent acceptance. Growing fat once seemed a natural process of age. The extra weight had introduced itself as a hobo trespassing the rails, a sneaky hanger-on who refused to be shaken off. Overweight as he is, he feels he is Chosen.

The tired posture and swollen, blistered gut of the man make him a forlorn caricature. His arms swing with the weight of pendulums knocked from their paths. And this broiled devil lumbers across a desolate, alien world – the only living thing exiled and cast into Hell. Desperate thirst comes without warning.

He feels his insides bake and he imagines his already bulging belly will bloat until the skin bursts and all his juices bubble out. The very last of his fluids will evaporate even before dripping to the ground. Such is not the death the empty man desires. He will not die sizzling in his own fluids. Instead, he prefers drying-up. He wants to disintegrate, to become part of the dust – blood red dust.

A clear, familiar voice speaks into his left ear and sounds like his own. “You have certainly wandered enough.”

The disconnected specter speaks with finer clarity than the stumbler – absent of the muffled hesitation he struggles to overcome in ordinary conversation. This voice sounds rehearsed and confident, far from his own verbal fumbling. His voice, like a nasally monologue recorded on an answering machine, seems an amputation, separate from any concept he believes about himself; whatever that could be now.

The better voice resonates as if echoing inside an empty room. Just as abrupt, it vanishes and a second of stillness fills the void. Leaded footfalls on packed dirt and a muffled ring in the man’s head dispels the silence; much like listening to a radio station when an announcer misses his or her timing – until a burst of sound jolts the dead air. Yet the voice is not scratched with static heard on radios. Nothing disturbs its dismembered words. The voice and the man’s plod across the dry waste remain exclusive and opposite each other.

The wandering man does not bother looking around, because the sporadic company of the invisible voice is his only companion. It had joined him earlier that day, or mayhap the day before. Time passes as fleetingly as the voice. This moment, the sun has traveled only a quarter of its path across the sky when the waste becomes miserably hot and bright.

The suspended days and endless expanse of dirt disorient him. There is no, and there was never relief. The previous night had been sweltering, and the man had stumbled through the darkness, unsure when one day ended and another began. Yet he must walk and find his way or die.

From the road, the desert had never appeared so large. He would have easily spotted scant landmarks if he rode in a car or truck. Regardless, the man thinks he can recover his bearings. His sense of direction had always been amazing, or so he believed.

Though he could not recall why he found himself in the middle of nowhere, he suspects he had a destination when the dangerous trek began. The ‘when’ is now long ago, hidden beneath hours and unending dunes of sand. If he had brought any water, it was now gone. He did not know what supplies he had packed for this journey, and he now lacks a pack and even a shirt. All he apparently owns are a pair of scuffed laced boots and crusted khaki pants with empty pockets.

“Hey, wouldn’t a tall glass of cool water be great?”

The voice, barely noticeable beneath hot winds, teases like some subtle siren – hidden within whirlpools transformed into sand dunes. The thought of a gulp of water lights in the mind of the stumbling man, but he deliberately quashes it; none is to be found here and he will not torture himself. Entertaining pleasant fantasies seems more conducive to his survival.

The wanderer dreams he finds that siren and she takes the poor, baked fiend to her dune. They lay down and her bare skin is cool, like the ocean in which she was born. Her eyes, green as kelp, compete for admiration against lips that flirt and glisten with the sheen of pearls. Rescued and transformed, he tires of the colorless desert and travels back to her sea. He will never be thirsty again, and never care and recall how or why he discovered himself alone in the desert. Finding the bliss of love and the sea are the answers, and she is the reason for his journey.

Dehydration had afflicted him long time ago and stumbling on his feet was currently just a pretense; he was already lost and dead. Heat exhaustion was near, but still, the voice calls. It names him.

“Benedict.” This time the voice shuts out every thought. “Ben.”

Ben jerks leftward with such violence, he twists completely around, a marionette thrown into a clumsy pirouette by an amateur puppeteer. The momentum pulls him off his feet and he falls forward as if his strings are cut. His shoulders remain hunched while he lies face down in the sand.

With a huff and small cloud of dust, Ben flips himself over and sees the orange cauldron of the sun over his toes. He had stopped sweating, which is not a good sign, but he lacks any will to worry. His name will be forgotten, if ever really known. He recalls it now, because the voice had reminded him. His name is Ben.

Ben closes his eyes and pictures rippling waves drift upward from his body. He feels stuck to the ground, a part of it. This land might also be called Ben and he is merely a piece of desert, like the dust stirred by his steps. The particles will eventually settle back down and rejoin the suffering man; misplaced specks relocated from one part of the desert to another, but still part of the whole.

His breath becomes the hot breeze and he exhales a gust that singes the inside of his gaping mouth. When Ben opens his eyes, the sun hangs directly overhead as a white whirlpool in a smooth blue ocean. A mighty hand had polished away the waves and ripples; “Not God’s hand.” The Mortal God was gone. The voice told him, although the man already suspected.

“Ben, you’re wasting the day, dreaming.”

****

Read the whole story.

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Lazarus the Pig

December 7, 2013

 Matthew Sawyer's Pazuzu Trilogy

Children throughout the Shur desert, Chosen and UnChosen alike, attend mandatory lessons in the same classrooms. The Church does not discriminate. There is no segregation among these people. This Saturday afternoon, the plump supplemental school teacher tells eight year old boys and girls “Our two social classes are united against bloodthirsty heathens. You do remember who they are, right? superstitious animals who destroy our cities. Evil.”

Chosen and UnChosen children alike are educated about this singular threat to the oasis parishes in which they cower. Today, a full class in the unguarded city of Gomorrah learns from a Chosen teacher “A marked difference between the composition of Church parishes is simply geographical – a majority of Chosen people live inside walled cities such as our capitol, Khetam.”

She tells them “Descendants of UnChosen workman, those men who physically built the defensive barrier, are also permitted to live behind the protection of the Wall.”

Ms. Mendel worships. “Praise the Church and its wisdom. How else would we have water?”

Benedict Ishkott thinks over the question. Deeper, the boy contemplates the unclassified information Ms. Mendel has imparted.

“Hell with that,” he says to himself inside. As quietly, Ben whispers “I wish I was Chosen.”

Inflected with equivalent disdain, the boy asks his teacher aloud “Where do heathens get water?”

Ms. Mendel laughs. “Silly, they drink blood.”

Ben stutters “But…”

Before the kid recovers his sensibility, the plump teacher comments. “I’ll tell all you children something the Church doesn’t talk about anymore.”

“Is is illegal?” asks a little girl. Her name is Tamara.

Ms. Mendel says “No, this was before visual media was banned.”

“What?” the whole of the pubescent kids wonder together. The question feels as would an ocean wave all these children will never feel roll over even one.

Their teacher replies “Printed materials – book, magazines. Television and movies.”

The examples Ms. Mendel provide are as ephemeral as unseen seas. Any nostalgia reflected in the faces of these children is merely a pining recollection inherited from their parents. A whole generation has passed since the ban had been enacted.

Difficult still, Ben queries concerning the restrictions the Church levied upon communication – all that remains is radio broadcast military bulletins and Church doctrines. “Why?”

Ms. Mendel knows what the boy is curious about. “Images are subversive, Ben. And there was that discovery of background cosmic radiation. The Church will allow no avenue into the world. The Chosen will dictate when the Mortal God will be allowed to join his creation.”

“What were you gonna tell us about, Ms. Mendel?” demands a precocious little boy.

Ms. Mendel gives the kid respect he obviously lacks for his genetic superiors. Judah Ismael here is UnChosen, but his father has money. The Ismael family commands crime all throughout Gomorrah. This power makes each of them equivalent any priest in the Church beside the pontiff. The Chosen school teacher defers to the kid’s unquestionable might.

“I was going to tell you children about Lazy the Pig.”

Judah says “Go on.”

The woman clears her throat and actually presses out a frown with the palm of her hand. “Okay, all of you know how heathens lay siege to walled cities, right?”

After a breath, Ms. Mendel adds “All right, this is about a cartoon.”

“Huh?” Judah grunts. Other kids copy his response.

Ms. Mendel insists “Let me explain, this is the origin of a cartoon called Lazy the Pig. This story is in the Bible. I can petition the Church and read it to you directly. They’ll give me permission, I’m sure.”

“No,” all the kids groan.

Empowered, Ms. Mendel tells her class “This happened long after the crucifixion.”

The woman inhales, holds her breath then says “This happened about 420 AD.”

She is still stingy with her air and claims “But Masada isn’t very far from here.”

A story accompanies her exhalation.

“I don’t think any of you children have heard about the Siege of Masada but I know your parents know what happened. Masada was built on a steep hill – a mesa, really. And there was a wall around that. Well, heathens slaughtered its division of the Chosen military – for what it was in those times – and the enemy breached the wall. But they couldn’t get into the city itself.”

Judah insists “What about the pig?”

Ben wonders “Where did Masada get water?”

Ms. Mendel is quick and snaps “Lazy is why the siege came to an end. The heathens lost and the Chosen prevailed. The UnChosen did nothing to help even then.”

The woman’s outburst has no impact on the little Ismael. The boy decides he sits quietly and waits for a more complete answer. His passive demeanor prompts the teacher and Ms. Mendel continues her story.

“Heathens surrounded Masada forty months. Thank the wisdom of the Church, the Chosen had stored provisions for just that long. Food, water – they had livestock, too, but in the end the animals became diseased.”

Tamara wonders “Did the UnChosen of Masada die?”

“A few, some.”

Ben asks the teacher “What about Chosen?”

“No,” Ms. Mendel attests with a smile. “There was a miracle.”

“The Chosen are never helpless, even when we’re starved and locked behind walls. Our power manifested that day.”

“What happened?” Tamara asks but the teacher already speaks. The girl boggles at what she hears.

“The Chosen didn’t die and the heathens were running out of food, too. The enemy didn’t have stores like the Chosen of Masada but they did bring their women. The heathen impregnated their wives, aborted their babies then ate the dead fetuses. Some of them were still alive.”

Giggles and gasps divide the class.

“In the end, all either side could do is taunt each other. Heathens did something else that isn’t in the Chosen Bible, it might be in their book…”

“Their clay tablets, their mud pies,” Judah chuckles.

Ms. Mendel laughs with the boy. “If they ever learned to write.”

The woman returns to her story. “The Chosen of Masada eviscerated a sick pig – they tore out the animal’s guts because heathens have this strange idea that heaven is located in the intestines. Then the people of Masada erected the disemboweled carcass upon a cross. The beams of that cross were arranged the same as the one used when we crucified the Mortal God.”

“Were the heathens pissed?” inquires a disturbingly attentive Ismael.

“No,” confesses Ms. Mendel. “So the Chosen catapulted the dead animal into the heathen army.”

Judah laughs so loud that Ms. Mendel must stop talking until the boy needs air. The woman thinks what comes next will help the kid split his side open. When his echo is done, she tells more.

“At first, nothing happened. The heathens were too afraid and wouldn’t touch it. Then the pig came to life.”

A tumult of laughter deafens the giggling class. Nobody hears Ben ask “Without its guts?”

Ms. Mendel yells above the noise “And the heathens ran away.”

The class quiets enough and the teacher summarizes a sermon. “The children of Masada – not one older than any of you kids – children shouted after the retreating army. They screamed.”

“There’s your Living God. His name is Lazarus. Lazy the Pig.”

“All the Chosen and the UnChosen who survived laughed because the heathen ran from their god. That’s where the cartoon came from,” she tells her class.

Chuckling, she concludes this day’s lesson. “Heathens say their Living God will return and destroy us. We point and laugh at their pig. We used to, on TV.”

“What about the Mortal God,” Ben asks the woman. “Aren’t the Chosen and heathen gods the same?”

Ms. Mendel promises the boy “No gods are getting into our cities. Chosen lock their doors.”

 

 

Like this story? Read Matthew Sawyer’s goddamn Pazuzu Trilogy. All of it. The epic languishes.

 

 

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