CLICK5: A Fourth Turning Tale – Writing ‘731 Days Later’ For Underdog Anthology XVII…

Extended CLICK5… CLICKB8: Synchronicity? *…/scratches head…*

CLICK5: Doublespeak In The Nanny State…

Extended CLICK5… CLICKB8: Tooting Broad’s Way…

Story Time: Spring Fevers & Bearded, Clammy Hands

*Ain’t that the truth, Clicky. How in the fuck are we meant to be April Fooled this year?*

Hello there, Dear Reader! Long time, no speaky 😉

My good friend Cade Fon Apollyon sent me a tweet last night, depicting a weather event at his ‘old stomping ground’…

*He says that’s Tyson’s Corner in Virginia and tornadoes there are extremely rare…*

… Which reminded me of a bunch of tweets that crossed my Twitter feed earlier this week, all saying the same thing…

*Nice example, Clicky, butt that’s knot someone I follow… /lights up and smokes… Say, did you know there’s a 137 reference in that Tweeter’s bio?*

*Just a happy coincidence, then? Okay…*

… And that whole Oscars ‘Slap Heard Around the World’ scene at the start of the week put me in mind of Cade’s short story from Underdog Anthology XIV: Dark Ides of March, published in the Spring of 2021…

*Oh yeah. It even syncs… /drags… with a couple of your recent posts, Clicky… /exhales smoke…*

… So, I asked Cade if I could publish his story, here, at the LoL today, and he said, ‘Sure’…

*Knockout, Clicky, indeed…*

… So, here is ‘Spring Fevers and Bearded, Clammy Hands’ for your entertainment, Dear Reader. Enjoy! ❤

*******

Spring Fevers and Bearded, Clammy Hands

by
Cade F.O.N Apollyon

If one were to read “A Novice’s Guide to Understanding Jealousy”, the first sentence of Chapter 1, Page 1 would almost absolutely have to immediately address the subject of a lack of self-awareness. In fact, I cannot see how the entire book could ever get around talking about anything except the topic of self-awareness and identifying one’s own shortcomings within the framework of this concept.

Jealousy, seems to place the offended party in some sort of vacuum. Like a shell or some sort of defensive posture where only the individual and their own interests matter. Their computational systems, assuming they have any, also seem to go offline.

“Mateo! Hel..loooo?!? Are you even fucking listening to me?”

My neighbor, John, was already agitated when he borderline accosted me in my car upon my arrival home from work. My zoning out in contemplation whilst being accused by my neighbor of having an affair with his wife is unlikely to assuage his irritation.

“My name is Matthew, Juan, and yes, I am very much listening to you.”

“I apologize, Matthew,” John fired back sarcastically. “Now, are you fucking my wife?”

“No, John, I am not. I’m standing here in the middle of my own front yard holding an empty lunch box, quasi-talking to you, really just hoping to go inside at some point and take my shoes off.”

I’d retorted with my usual dry and unemotional sarcasm. I tried not too sound precocious though as this was an extremely delicate and dangerous situation, and the last thing I need at this point is my friend thinking I’m trying to be cleverly deceptive.

“Have you, at any point, from the beginning of creation, to this very day, ever, fucked my wife?”

John was struggling, choosing his words for clarity; an obvious frustration and impatience in his voice.

“Yeah. But I only stuck my dick in halfway so I’m not fucking her nearly as much as I could be. And when one considers that my dick is only six inches long, it could be argued that I’m not fucking her very much at all.”

The look of shock and disbelief on his face reflected that my retort had caught him completely off guard. But as the initial look of surprise left his face, and his brain began to compute my actual words, his face contorted in confusion, began to relax, and I could tell it may have finally broke some ice as John’s default facial express returned. That expression then started to crack into a smile, it was obvious he was trying to restrain it, and he turned away from me briefly in order to, I assume, stymie a giggle. The slight hunch in the back, a hand to the face, and a couple of shoulder twitches were a dead-giveaway.

I’d already answered his initial query as to my ‘fucking his wife’, definitely and without hesitation in the negative. Quite easy to do as I was most certainly not ‘fucking’ his wife. Something very odd was going on here. This had to be one of his stupid, drawn out ‘practical jokes’. Surely some utterly ridiculous punchline, for which I will have to feign a fake laugh, is coming.

“Look John,” I said to his back. I have walked…” I glanced down quickly at the pedometer hanging from my belt to check the distance I had walked at work today; 17.3 miles, holy shit, “…seventeen point three miles today and my feet are feeling every foot of that. I’m going in to put my lunchbox down, take my shoes off, grab a beer, and I’ll be right back out. Do you want one?”

He knows, came a female voice in my head.

I froze. A warm tingling sensation suddenly appeared in my head, and quickly began to run from my crown, down my neck, and into my spine, as another warm and tingly feeling began in my feet and started emanating up my legs.

Great, I thought to myself. That’s all I need at this point…her.

The two opposing tingly feelings continued their creep and met somewhere in my lower back: we were connected now. That warm pulsing tingle of The Connection. We were synced.

Hello Matthew, came the woman’s voice again. I feel The Connection. I needed to speak with you. I needed to let you know that he knows. I needed to speak with you about how best to proceed regarding…

The woman’s voice was cut off as John, apparently having finally regained a composure he was comfortable with, turned back towards me.

“Yeah,” John started as he nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I’ll take a beer if it’s cold Matt. You get your shoes off, and I’ll meet you on your porch in a few. I’m going to go ask Patrice about dinner. Any chance you might wanna pop over? Do you have plans?”

John asking me to join he and his wife for dinner was not unusual. I was, after all, a lonely bachelor. A lonely divorcee. A washed-up burnout who over the past nine years had been fixed up with virtually every single woman John and his wife knew. But dinner tonight did not seem appropriate. I was in no way trying to read John’s intentions regarding this particular invitation as we had too much experience between us for me to read into it as being hostile. But I had to seriously consider it inappropriate under the circumstances.

Jesus, how uncomfortable might that dinner be? I thought to myself.

If you come to dinner, I’ll make you cum, came the woman’s voice again. I’ll cum all over your face Matthew, and you can cum on mine, if you want. It will be nothing but cumming for the both of us if you come to dinner.

Dammit Patrice, can you at least allow me to get my shoes off and grab your husband a beer before I make a decision on dinner?

Sure Matthew. I know my cooking isn’t always that great, but my dessert will make that dark and lonely heart of yours shine like the sun that it actually is. Mmm, I’m getting wet just thinking about having you inside me and seeing your light.

Patrice…

“Matt?” John said, snapping me away from my internal dialogue. “Matt, you’re zoning out again.”

“Sorry John. Been a long day at work and I have an even longer one in store tomorrow. I have a lot of work stuff on my mind,” I said, turning away from my neighbor and heading for the faux safety of my own home.

“Already trying to think of all the stuff I need to do tomorrow. Lemme grab you that beer. About ten minutes.”

I did not glance back to see if John was retreating back to his own property as I neared the relative safety of my own front porch.

Sorry you had a long day. I hope I get a long one tonight, Matthew.

Patrice, I myself would take an explanation of any length as to why your husband is over at my house breaking my balls over allegedly, quote ‘fucking you’, unquote.

I’ll explain in a bit Matt, and it will all make sense. I promise.

As I reached my front door, I tried to put Patrice and her shenanigans out of my head. Just as I began to fumble with my key for the lock, and just as freedom seemed imminent, I heard John call from what sounded like his driveway. I froze, closed my eyes, and tried not to shudder.

“Hey, Matt! Pedometer!” he shouted. “They ought to give those to pedophiles so cops know how many kids they’ve molested!”

I suddenly felt a tinge of fury. My heart knew that I should not be feeling this feeling, but I was. Whatever my neighbor was digging for, and why he was digging for it in me no longer mattered. This asshole has to be begging for a beating, but why he has chosen me to give it to him is a total mystery at this point.

Don’t let him get to you cowboy. You are closer that you know to being free of him forever.

I ignored Patrice’s comment entirely, turned to peek around the corner of my front porch to look over in the direction of the voice. Sure enough, there stood John in his own driveway. Immobile, and looking in my direction with a giant ridiculous smile on his face as if he’d just told the joke of the century and was now eagerly awaiting my guffaws of approval.

“That’s a great idea John,” I said in an absolutely flat tone. “Fantastic in fact. Why don’t you head inside right now and dial 911 and tell them your genius idea. You can tell me all about it when you come back over for your beer.”

The dry and unimpressed nature in my voice appeared to have gotten the message across, as his previously grinning face was now melting into such a pathetic sag that it appeared it may slide off his head.

He turned, looked down and I could tell his face was now twisting with confusion, and began walking dejectedly towards his house.

I turned back towards my front door, inserted my key into the lock, opened it, and stepped inside. Closing the door behind me, I could only think one word…sanctuary.

It may be a sanctuary from John, but not from me. With me, there is no sanctuary Matthew.

I need no sanctuary from you Patrice. You are my sanctuary.

* * *

John and I had become fast ‘friends’ when he and his wife, Patrice, had moved in next door to me a little over nine years ago. ‘Friends’ in the loose sense in that it was quite obvious from the start that John more or less inserted himself into my life whether I wanted him in it or not, and he was the type of fellow that clung to certain others who could provide him with specific things. He had a bombastic way for introducing himself to others, at which point he would size them up for what they could and could not provide.

I never considered him a bad guy, just not exactly a good one. Never seemed to have a thought of his own, which, unfortunately for me and because I was both easily accessible and tolerated his bullshit, just about every crazy idea, weird concept and stupid joke that drifted through John’s transom he would almost certainly parrot to me.

I stood inside my doorway for some time contemplating the nature of my relationship with my neighbors, and wondering what in the hell John was on about. As such, I find myself back at day one of when John and Patrice moved in, and going over every little detail as to how he’s gotten wind of mine and Patrice’s, alleged, affair.

Are you fucking my wife? Who in the hell asks a question like that? He didn’t really seem that peeved or upset. Perhaps the exchange didn’t happen like it does in the movies, and as such, he didn’t know how to react?

You’re contemplating aren’t you Matthew?

Patrice’s voice, in my head again. I’d forgotten we were still actively connected.

Yes Patrice, I am. Can you hear what I’m thinking? Like, the specifics?

No Matt, it’s more of a feeling. When we communicate directly, then yes the information sent along The Connection is very clear. But when you are mumbling internally I get nothing specific. Just maybe a feeling about what it may be regarding.

So, when I jerk off at night, you get no specifics nor details, you simply know I’m masturbating.

Rawr…so saucy Matthew. So aggressive. I like it. And speaking of, what was with that ‘you are my sanctuary Patrice’ nonsense?

For once, Patrice, I guess I just felt I needed to defend myself. The walls were kinda closing in, ya know?

Good on you Matt. That was brilliant. You’ve taken yet another step into…oh wait…John is calling me, needs to talk, he says.

OK, well, I’m going to ground myself and disconnect. I need to get your husband a beer, and I really need to get these fucking shoes off.

Matt, did you really walk seventeen point three miles today?

Yes I did Patrice. It was awful and I’m currently feeling all fifty-five of my years, and then some.

John wants me to come over and talk to you Matt.

What?! You, Patrice? Why you?

He feels that he may have upset you.

He did, Patrice. But that still doesn’t explain why he wants you to come over.

John seems to think that I’ll be able to smooth things over and you’ll come to dinner.

Patrice, I really don’t know if…

Shhhh….Matthew, just, let me come over. I’ll tell John it may take a bit, but I think I can smooth things over.

Patrice, this is weird as hell him sending you over, whom he just accused me of having an affair with. I’m on edge here.

Ground yourself Matt. Grab that beer, and I’ll drink it when I get there.

Patrice wait. Patrice?

“Fuck!” I said aloud.

She’s disconnecting. I could feel the tingly feeling in my back partially unwinding. She was already grounding herself.

I was still standing in the doorway, holding my keys and lunchbox. I felt so alone in the moment. Only recently had I, by some fluke of nature, acquired the ability to speak with anyone, any time, anywhere in the world, and yet at that precise moment I’d never felt more alone.

It didn’t help matters that, for the first six months after discovering my ability, I’d been talking, via thought alone, to a someone who originally told me that they were on the other side of the world. But as it turns out, this distant and seemingly completely harmless someone was actually less than fifty feet away the entire time. Patrice. And boy oh boy, once we discovered who each other actually was, did the tone and topics of the conversations ever change. The small talk and vagaries were gone. She was suddenly a firebrand, passionate, but a rogue, a rebel and downright nasty at times: and I don’t mean just and only sexual stuff either. For the last four months, she had toyed with me and psychologically beaten on me relentlessly. I had no idea what to make of any of it. Still don’t. Perhaps she’ll explain it someday if I can keep myself from tying cinder blocks to my feet and jumping into a lake.

You’re drifting again Matt. You really should ground before some sneaky someone you don’t know tries to connect.

I reached up with the hand holding my key ring, and selected the key that allowed itself to be singled out, as which key I used did not matter. This time it was the key to my one and only padlock.

I don’t even know where in the hell that padlock is, I thought to myself. No idea why I still have the key to it on my key ring.

No response from Patrice, nor anyone else for that matter, doesn’t feel like anyone else is connected nor trying to connect, so now all that remained was for me to close the current connection completely.

I reached out with the key, and touched it to the metal screw holding the face-plate cover to the light switch on the wall. Almost immediately, I could feel the somewhat diminished ball of coursing energy in my back begin to unwind like electrically charged noodles being slurped out via my head and feet, and then vanish completely.

I pulled the key away from the screw; disconnected. With little very little gusto and no thanks given to the key for its additional service, I hung my key ring on the key rack above the light switch, and retreated inward to get my shoes off my aching feet.

* * *

The doorbell rang and my hands suddenly went clammy.

How should I greet her? Should I shake her hand? Just say hello and immediately hand her a beer, while shuffling myself outside so that she does not attempt to come in? Should I go out into my backyard, toss the beer over the roof and into the front yard, and cry ‘My mom says I can’t come out to play right now, but there’s your beer crazy woman! Just like you like it! Shaken and stirred and every other fucking thing!’

It was just now dawning on me that, not only did I not really know my neighbor Patrice, we had never really spoken before. Not at any length, and most certainly never alone. Well, not ‘in person’ anyway. And most of the “remote” stuff was so scattered, unintelligible and seemingly pointless that the fact we’d been speaking almost non-stop for ten months, now too felt more like we’d never spoken at all.

Should I check my breath? Wait a second Matt…this isn’t a date. Relax.

Only now did a calmness fall upon me. The absolute absurdity of being thrown into a tangent over nothing at all. I was rattled over basically, nothing. A married woman is standing at my door, ringing the bell, because her husband, my neighbor, not fifteen minutes ago accused me of having an affair with his wife, the woman in question is now standing at my door, and he now wants her to smooth things over so I’ll come to dinner with them. Simple. I had not a damn thing to worry about. Except…

Patrice and I have not spoken in person about our, less than conventional conversations. Wait, that doesn’t sound very good at all. “Less than conventional’ sounds exactly like what John was just accusing me of.

The doorbell rang again. My chest started to tighten.

Holy hell. It’d never occurred to me that myself and Patrice had not yet talked in person about our abilities. What if…oh my God…what if all this time, I wasn’t actually communicating telepathically with Patrice. What if some malicious asshole with psychic powers has been toying with me this entire time, and passing it off as if I was speaking to a neighbor because of some clue I’ve given away. Some game psychics play to amuse themselves, similar to a cat playing with a mouse.

I felt a very cold chill at the base of my neck, and for the first time in a very long time, I actually felt afraid. My mind was awash and digging through the memory banks for the last time that I’d even seen Patrice, let alone talked to her.

A knock now at the door. They are getting impatient and require a response. Doorbells fail, malfunction and sometimes just go unheard, but not knocks.

Face the music Matt. Grab a beer, this very second, then go answer the door.

“Hey Patrice. How are you?” I attempted to sound as nonchalant as possible as I pushed open the outward-facing glass door and made my way outside.

“Hello Matt. Is that beer for me? Or you.”

I could not tell if she was being playfully ignorant or not, so I just played it as cool as humanly possible for now.

“Why don’t you have a seat on the porch swing, I’ll sit in this chair here opposite you, and we can figure out who this beer is for.”

“Oh, OK, well, I hadn’t planned on staying long, but I guess I can sit for a moment Matt.”

“Whatever you want to do is fine Patrice,” I said while trying not to allow my face to twist with a confused look. “It’s just that I don’t think you’ve ever come over here before, so I guess I just assumed maybe you came to talk a bit, considering the circumstances and recent events.”

Patrice sat on the porch swing opposite me, and once she was seated I chose one of the four porch bar-chairs that were place around a small round table I’d picked up at a garage sale a few years back. The table was small, the chairs uncomfortable and I’d really only purchased the set as decoration as I had no friends to speak of and almost never had guests. For once, the table would come in handy and I placed the unopened can of beer on it.

Hands folded in her lap, Patrice was looking at me almost impatiently as if waiting for me to situate myself. For the first time I noticed that she had very beautiful blue crystalline eyes. I tended not to like blue eyes very much, crystalline blue even less, but in this case they suited her. She was attractive. I snapped out of my study of her form as it suddenly occurred to me that I was in great danger.

My heart was pumping at this point. Not from lust, nor anger, nor even fear nor any other emotion I could think of…this was a feeling of confusion that I’ve never before felt, and it was causing my heart a stress it had never before known. Not even twelve years ago when my wife of eighteen years told me she was through with me and my broken self, did my heart suffer this kind of trauma.

“Matt,” Patrice’s voice snapped me out of my waking coma, “John just told me about what happened earlier, and I must tell you that I am horrified.”

“I admit that I am quite confused as to exactly what just transpired Patrice.”

“Did he really shout out in a very loud voice from across the yard something about pedophiles to you?”

The bottom of the entire Universe just fell out from under me.

“Um, pedophiles?” I was trying to hold it together, but it was now clear that this slimy asshole is playing some kind of twisted game with me. He basically assaults me over adultery with his wife, and he goes home and makes up some bullshit story about a very in poor taste joke, completely omitting the adultery parts? “Yeah Patrice he did, and I guess he was trying to make a joke about the pedometer that I have to wear for work. It wasn’t very funny, was in poor taste, and I admit it upset me. Perhaps more than it should, but I do have to wear this thing every single work day, and to be completely honest and open, his comment is likely going to haunt me for some time for that very reason.”

“Well, I’m sorry that it upset you Matt, but that’s really not my concern nor why I came over,” Patrice said rather flatly.

The entire Universe just exploded. This is the kind of sick twisted games that my ex-wife used to play. Say, anything. Do, anything. Nothing, matters. She, held all the cards, she, was the dealer, and I had to play her games and take whatever she dealt out because I had nothing and no one in all creation, except for her. I was nothing more than a dislodged piece of navel lint in a wind storm.

“Matt, are you okay?” Patrice suddenly sounded exactly like her husband.

“I am contemplating what you’ve said,” I fired back calmly. “Were you expecting me to say something?”

“I guess maybe I expected you to ask me why I came over.”

“You’ve mentioned that you’re aware of something your husband said to me.”

“Yes, but that’s not the real reason I came over.”

“You said that already, Patrice.”

“Matt, are you angry about something?”

The alarm bells were most certainly going off now, full tilt, and this was absolutely turning into a life and death situation.

“Patrice, perhaps you should just tell me what you need since I don’t know you that well, and I’m certainly not a mind-reader.”

Patrice did not really react to my statement, but strangely reached around behind her back, and produced a large, letter-sized envelope. She leaned forward and offered it to me.

“Oh, haha, a mind-reader!” she said in an obviously forced tone, whilst simultaneously urging me with her eyes to take the envelope. “Me and John went to see a mind-reader once, except this one was a hypnotizer. Is that right? Hypnotizer?”

“Hypnotist,” I corrected her as I leaned forward and took the envelope. “I’m quite sure that hypnotists are those who hypnotize people for various reasons.”

A look of relief crossed Patrice’s face as I took the envelope from her hand, and I fell face-first into whatever new game she was now playing.

“Well, me and John went to this show where a hypnotist would pick people from the audience.” After finishing her thought, Patrice raised her hands in an mock envelope-opening type motion, implying that I should open it now, here, in her presence. “Anyway, John of course volunteered us both, and we both got to go up on stage and get hypnotized.”

Only moments before, my fear levels had just about caused my entire existence to seize and stop entirely, but now there was suddenly this strange feeling of…clarity. Perhaps everything leading up to this very moment in time was some kind of test to see if I could in any way handle the horrors that were almost sure to materialize from this envelope’s contents.

I noticed that Patrice was arching her eyebrows as if to hurry me along. I looked for a moment deeply into her eyes, and that gloomy image which was beginning to form of Patrice being John’s soulmate or clone or whatever it was had disappeared. Odd that it continued to rattle on outwardly as I peeled back the flap on the envelope and produced what appeared to be no less than five folded pages.

“John barked like a chicken and clucked like a dog.”

I had only just started to open the letter when it struck me what Patrice had just said.

“He barked like a chicken and clucked like a dog? Don’t you mean that he barked like a dog and clucked like a chicken Patrice?”

“That’s what the hypnotist said Matt. He told John to bark like a chicken and cluck like a dog. I don’t know how John did it, but he did.”

“That’s…frightening, Patrice. I don’t even want to know…”

‘GROUND YOURSELF RIGHT NOW!’

The first line of the first page jumped off the paper and hit me like a lightning bolt. Instinctively I started to reach down and grab one of the metal legs on the small table, but my survival instincts kicked in and I resisted the urge, thinking that this may be a trap of some kind. But almost as quickly as I began to doubt, I remember the odd feelings that I’ve felt during the processes of being grounded, ungrounded and The Connection. Being both an electrician and a semi-amateur radio enthusiast, there are things that have been happening over the past ten months that I can in no way begin to explain.

I looked up from the letter and at Patrice. She gave a small nod, and there was a calmness to her being which provided just enough assurance for me to throw caution to the wind and play along. Knowing that the table’s legs were a poor ground, I reached out and grabbed one anyway and continued to read as Patrice continued to ramble.

“I don’t really remember being hypnotized, but everyone said I was. They said I got trapped in a box that wasn’t there, and I couldn’t get out.”

‘Dear Matthew,

For the time being, please read down only to where it says ‘STOP HERE!’, keep reading until you get there, and I’ll ramble on about hypnotists in the meantime. Also, keep your hand firmly wrapped around that metal leg on the table until we finish here, and please do not begin to wonder internally how I know all of this. I do, and answers will come later.’

“John says that he can remember being hypnotized, and he can remember everything he did, but I don’t remember anything at all,” Patrice continued. “He says he only did what he was told because he knew he was part of the act. But me? He says that I was absolutely terrified and screaming. He said I really honestly thought that I was trapped in a box even though there was no box.”

‘We are both of us in great danger because of our, ‘gifts’. I would ask that you, later at some point this evening, find yourself a proper grounding point, and read the remainder of this letter ONLY when grounded. I will go ahead and tell you that I am a beard. My marriage is an arranged sham so that my husband can collect his inheritance, and myself and John will not be married much longer as he is already arranging the divorce and planning to move to somewhere in Java. I will of course get a piece of his inheritance as payment for services tendered over the past fifteen years of marriage. More on that later though. The Great Magician is awake, and I have reason to believe that The Great Magician has somehow found the both of us…meaning you and I. Does this mean anything to you? I am so very sorry for all of this. Hopefully, the rest of the letter will better explain what I know, and what I don’t. P

STOP HERE!

A quick thumb through the sheets indicated that this letter was approximately eight pages long. Visions of Armageddon suddenly swirled in my head as my mind flashed back to the horrible tales of the end times taught me in church as a youth. But that’s exactly what this moment felt like. I felt like I had just walked out of the sunshine and green grasses onto the burning and bloody fields of Megiddo, and me right in the big middle of the fighting between the warring factions of good and evil.

“Which reminds me, Matt. John did ask me to tell you that he was sorry about his joke he made earlier, but the real reason that I came over was I wanted to know if I could borrow a cup of milk. I’m making John some cornbread for dinner, and I need some milk.”

“Patrice,” I said calmly, looking up from the letter. “Did you know that you can substitute beer for milk in certain baked goods?”

Patrice’s face was aghast. Honestly, aghast and unknowing. I’d hit her with a curve-ball.

“Really?” she said.

I folded the letter and thoughtfully placed it back into the envelope, before sliding the envelope into my shirt pocket as I stood.

“Yeah really really. I have a beer sitting right here, which I am going to give you. I’m going to go inside and get you…how much milk do you need?”

“I only needed one cup of milk. Whole milk if you have it,” she said rather sheepishly.

“Okay Patrice, I’m going to go inside and get you one cup of whole milk, and if you decide that you would like to give the beer a whirl, only use half of a cup of the milk in your cornbread, and use a half of a cup of the beer in substitution for the other half-cup of milk.”

“Will that really work?” Patrice asked disbelievingly. “What…what does this do?

“It gives the cornbread a bit of a different flavor is all. Better in biscuits, but it works with cornbread too. And you’ll have exactly four ounces of beer leftover you can sip on if you want.”

“Sure Matt, I’ll…give that a try. Thank you. Do I need…”

“This beer has already gotten kinda warm,” I said, not letting her finish. “Just make sure you allow it get a little warmer before adding it to the mix. I’ll be right back with your milk.”

I retreated into the house thinking that I had no idea what answers, if any, Patrice’s letter might contain. At this point, it was apparent that her rather substantial looking letter was more likely to contain mystery than clarity. One thing was certain though, I’d had just about enough of being at the mercy of the whims of an assembly of douchebag neighbors and cryptic mystics playing their god games. It was time for me to stop being a leaf in the wind, get serious, and hit the books to start researching this insanity. It was time that I become the storm.

Right after I get Patrice her milk, of course.

*******

*Wait. he tweets out ‘it’s Friday once again’ each week, Clicky… /stubs butt… Doesn’t he?*

*Ah, ya got me…*

We hope you have enjoyed today’s post. If you’d like to read Cade’s story in proper book form, as well as 12 other short stories and a substantial poem from a variety of authors, then Underdog Anthology XIV is available for a staggeringly low price…

*You could get a full set of Underdog Anthologies for well under twenty quid. That’s fantastic value…*

Until next time, Dear Reader, have a Song 😀

Extended CLICK5… CLICKB8: Go Woke, Go Bro, Ken?

CLICK5: Don’t Have A Bercow, Man!

Missive From ‘Merica: Steamy Fixins…

*Whoa! What you doing, Clicky?*

*Is that? …/rustles pages… It is! It’s a new missive from Cade…*

*Fabuloso! Let’s get down to it, Clicky…*

Hello there, Dear Reader 😀 

I know, I know; it’s been exactly 100 days since our last taste of the Okie Devil of TextUS’ special fixins…

*Yeah, it was on 5th November last year, Clicky… /lights up and smokes…*

And…

… This one’s a bit on the steamy side. Enjoy! 😉

*******

There are many moments in life. One of the more interesting being when you are folding a comforter, having to suspend it way up in the air by holding it up over your head so you can straighten it out, your knuckles come into contact with particleboard paddles moving at speed, and you suddenly remember…”HEY! I have a ceiling fan, and the damn thing is on!”

Don’t fret tho, I’m fine. I really didn’t need those particular layers of epidermis anyway.

^Matt Lange – Morbidly Obese (Redacted Mix)^

I GOT LAID LAST NIGHT!!!

OK, so, calm your sex hormones, I was asleep and it was a dream, but…I GOT LAID LAST NIGHT!!!

 lolz...

About as close to sexual intercourse as am ever to get again, so, close enough. Anyway, she was quite young, probably 35 years old, and quite fit. Yeah, lotta red flags there, and I’ll go ahead and spoil it in that I honestly didn’t wake up feeling great about having an meaningful erotic dream because the whole damn dream was so full of red flags that I’m still torn as to whether I had a good time in the dream or not. We’ll get to that tho.

Anyway, I’m in this huge room in a house that I do not know, the room is painted flat white, plenty of lighting although I would not exactly call the room bright, the dark beige carpets and many assorted rugs everywhere, and the room is rather strange because it had to be at least 30 x 30 feet (9 x 9 metres) but the room contained no vaulted ceilings nor even elevated ceilings. Seemed more like a giant garage that someone had finished out. Another weird thing was that there were all manner of people coming and going. Seemed like every 5 seconds, someone was popping in one door, then exiting another, which brings up another oddity about this room in that it had an excessive amount of doors. Only 4 walls but each wall seemed to have way many more doors than even a room of this size would require, and I started to think maybe this room I found myself in must be a centralized type room rather than some add-on type room.

To make matters even more strange, everyone who popped into the room never loitered, and they always closed the doors. They’d walk into the room from one door, close it, make a beeline for another door, open, ingress, close. And yes, there were also a ridiculous amount of people moving about. So yeah, here I am in this room, reading a book, and this gal pops in and starts chatting me up. Really strange as not a single person has paid me one bit of attention, then all of a sudden this on lady not only notices me, but she makes a beeline for me instead of a door, then starts up a conversation.

(red flag...no one, and I mean NO ONE in my real life ever strikes up a conversation with me, and if they do, I can almost be assured that they want something and they think I have it) 

I cannot recall how it was that this conversation turned into a sexual encounter so rapidly, but I do recall her beginning to strip down to reveal a bikini, immediately removed her bikini top, mentioned that she’d been interested for some time in perhaps becoming friends with me but could never work up the courage to speak with me, and she then said something like, “I’ve also heard you were a great lay and I want to see for myself”.

(yep, another red flag) 

Let me interject at this point to explain that “the feeling” of the dream was as such that none of this felt particularly awkward within the framework of the dream itself. Yes, I recall having a “is this really happening?” type of feeling, but at the same time the environment itself did not emit that “RUN!!!” vibe. Like, somehow, and embedded within the framework of the dream itself, there was nothing within the perceptible realms of sensory and logical data which even hinted at the “something is really fucking wrong here dude! Fucking run! Run for your fucking life!”, which I know for a fact is quite prevalent within my actual life. Which is why I am single, why I do not “chase women” or date or whatever, why I am hesitant about trying to find a relationship, blah blah blah.

Digress. 

So, at this point I’m sitting on the floor with the book I was reading still in hand, this really attractive and shapely woman is standing right in front of me wearing only bikini bottoms, looking at me, and I finally have this strange vibe wash over me. It is not really a warning signal of sorts, more of a “this relationship is unlikely to work out long-term” more than a “this relationship will end very badly” sort of vibe. It is at this exact same moment that she quickly stoops down, begins kissing me quite passionately (or at least, forcefully) and simultaneously begins to unbutton/unzip the shorts I’m wearing. Is it weird to say “the shorts I’m wearing”? Is it really necessary for me to point out that the shorts she is unbuttoning/unzipping are not a pair in my dresser drawer? Should I have said “my shorts” instead of “the shorts I’m wearing”? Not sure how to phrase that as both of those seem odd to me.

Digress. 

Once unbuttoned and unzipped, she grabs the sides of my shorts, then backs away and pulls them off. She’s bent over facing towards me and she pulls my shorts down rather hastily but unevenly/alternates which side she is pulling on, and as a result her breasts, which are not large nor particularly pendulous even due to her posture, rock side to side as a result of her pulling motion on my shorts. Gonna take a moment here to mention that the form of a woman and the motion(s) of her being are fascinating to me. Even when a woman is standing still, and even in/with women who are somewhat less than “the ideal woman shape(s)”, her form is moving always. The curves, the bends, the way in which a woman moves…everything about a woman’s form is an absolute delight. Oh, and again this woman was quite fit, but she had hips for days. Even if she’d had more substantial breasts, and even had she not been wearing French-cut bikini bottoms, I don’t think either would have diminished the majesty of her hips. I’d not seen her ass yet, but I’m about to.

Moving on. 

As soon as my shorts came off, she dropped them to the floor, and without missing a beat she grabbed her bikini bottoms, off they came, and to the floor they also went. She quickly marched right back towards me, straddling my legs and facing me and placing her public mound almost right in my face, again leaned down/bent over, grabbed my shirt at the bottom, which now placed her breasts right in my face, she then stood again taking my shirt off as shit did, dropped it to the floor, then offered me her hand. I put my book down, she pulled me to my feet and then led me to one of the many rugs that were laying about the room. She sat down, never releasing my hand, pulled me to the floor then pushed on me indicating I should lay down and on my side, she then turned opposite me and then laid down in the 69 position for a moment, but then immediately flipped over laying facing away from me putting her ass right in my face and she said “I want you to start by my licking my ass”.

I told her, and rather matter-of-factly I might add, that “we are not well acquainted enough yet for me to do that sort of thing.” She sat up on an elbow, looked at me, then gave a mock frown, she then got a really alluring look in her eye, her face turned from the fake frown to a sultry smirk and said, “well then, that will give me something to look forward to at some future meeting. But as for now…” at which point she flipped back over facing me, and things get a little blurry at this point.

Yes, we engaged in all manner of “freaky sex” encompassing just about every position and configuration you might be able to imagine, but it really was blurry. We were doing these things, but within the framework of the dream and even now that I am outside of the dream, there was all kinds of stuff happening but it all had this strange air that it was not actually happening, even tho it was. Keep in mind that during all of this, people are still coming and going in and out of these doors. Not a single soul is paying us one bit of mind, and we too are generally not paying them any mind other than perhaps I did seem to notice that people were coming and going.

So, with that in mind, we’d been “at it” for some time, when suddenly, a woman walks into the room via a door, and she makes straight for us. This is quite jarring of course since everyone else seems to not know we exist at all. This woman walks over and seems to know this woman I’m having intercourse with. She is what some might call “a bit heavyset” or perhaps “chunky” or “healthy” or some other nonsense nomenclature that we pigeonhole folks with. She’s pretty, with long hair that is kinda frazzled as if she’s been walking outside in the wind, sizeable breasts that do not appear to be restrained by a bra, and through her shirt, I can see that her breasts almost appear to be resting on her belly, even tho she really doesn’t have “a belly”.

I guess I don’t feel bad about somewhat “sizing her up” as I’ve tried since she arrived to make eye contact with her but she is ignoring me completely, and it’s almost as if she can see me attempting to make eye contact but consciously avoid it it. So, here I am sitting on the floor, my legs extended out straight and my hands behind me/holding me up, the woman I am with is atop me in “regular cowgirl”, and this other woman is just standing there and looking at my partner, who is also looking at this woman/they are in eye contact, and this new woman says rather flatly, “Can I have him next?”

lolz...

I didn’t laugh in the dream, but I gotta laugh here because I think at this point my brain has to KNOW, even in slumber, and without a doubt, that this, is a dream. The woman I’m with shoots me a glance, has a smirk on her face, and whilst still looking at me she says “I don’t mind sharing him if he doesn’t mind giving you a turn of your own.” The other woman did an immediate about-face, went straight for the same door she’d entered the room via, and left, all without so much a shooting me a single glance or acknowledging me in any way, other than her request to my partner “for a turn”.

OK, so at this point, the fuzzy sexual encounter with this current partner gets even more fuzzy. I only know that we seemed to have continued our exploits in some way(s), but I honestly have no idea in what way(s) nor the length of time expended. I only know that it seems like a large amount of time was somehow compacted into a small space, and then suddenly, she was gone. The very moment she was gone, her “friend” reappeared, marched right over to me, and said “did you know that she is married?”

Somewhat aghast, I replied that I did not know she was married, and now I’m suddenly thrown into this rapid depression of “fucking hell, now I gotta deal with this shit”. I guess this friend of hers “wanted a turn” only to come back and tell me that her friend I was banging, was married. This had all been some kind of setup I guess. But to make matters even more strange, this revelation did not seem to phase the friend one bit. I guess she could tell that I was distressed at the news she’d just provided me, she’s standing above me staring at me rather blankly, she then reaches down and grabs the bottom of her shirt with both of her hands, removes the shirt in an extremely rapid motion, then bends down and starts to kiss me. Her breasts are indeed quite large, and not only are they pendulous, but they are very pendulous.

^The Judy’s – Milk^

Yeah, that’s where the dream ended. An no, I did not wake up in a puddle of goo. I recalled upon waking that she had a lot of orgasms, but I myself don’t recall having any in the dream. I guess I was having entirely too good of a time to bother with the orgasm. During the entire dream, the first lady had some kind of air about her that made me feel at ease. I’m unlikely to be able to describe it to you in any detail, but there was something about her and something about being in her presence that caused no alarm bells, even tho there were most certainly red flags popping up everywhere.

The only actual alarm bell I got was from the second woman, and that was only because of her telling me that the first woman was married. I got no alarm bells from the second woman either, but there was the one red flag (other than the fact that she wanted to have sex with me) and that was that she told me that the other woman was married.

Yep, a red flag and an alarm bell in one. 

Lemme splain…see, I got no alarm bells from the first woman, so, even tho this second one says the first is married, how do I know that? The second woman may be lying. I got the red flag in the dream, I got the alarm bell in the dream, so why is it that it only occurred to me after waking that the second woman may have been lying?

Fucked if I know either. 

I only know that I felt totally at peace with the first woman and she seemed totally comfortable with herself. Maybe it’s because most of the time she was speaking to me as if I were a person, other times were very matter-of-fact, and there was little in the way of actual seduction or vamping, and I never had the feeling that she was trying to charm me. More like a situation where two people were talking, and it evolved into something else. And for the record, I don’t think that her being considerably younger than I, and also falling within a physical category that I tend not to pay much mind to really played much part. I personally have always had eyes for older women, and “older women” tend to almost never fall into the same physical categories as “younger women” with respect to dimensions and “perfect dimensions” and all that jazz. Got nothing against anyone being younger than me, and at 54 I’m not even sure what “being younger than me” even matters or what part it might play once a woman is deep into her 30’s or 40’s.

Yeah, if some 23 year old woman waltzed up to me and expressed interest? Fucking hell, Jesse Owens time, cause something is wrong with this scene and I’m getting the hell out of there. But someone that is 45 or so? Yeah, that’s weird to contemplate as even tho she’s 9 years younger than I….SHE’S FOURTY-FUCKING-FIVE FOR CHRISSAKES!!! Probably already has an AARP card, owns a burial plot, a vegetable garden, and cares for a minimum of 5 indoor cats and probably at least 10 outdoor cats. Levity aside, she’s been around, and likely loaded with battle scars and baggage.

That, I can relate to. 

Experience. And that’s not to say that younger woman or younger folks cannot have experience, because they absolutely can. I guess I’m just a bit weirded out that this one particular woman appeared to be in her early to mid-30’s, but she moved and behaved like someone that was much older. Well, perhaps not physically moving as an older person because she was quite spry and I guess it’s possible that older women may not have the ability to be all sporty and ambitious sexually, but I really wasn’t thinking of “how she moved” as it pertained to coitus. More her mannerisms, how she carried herself, how she behaved.

And why was my time with the second chick so brief? Why did my brain decide that I’d had enough? Very perplexing the lot of it. No idea what it all means tho.

Dreams are weird.
^Animal Collective – My Girls^

Not a clue why I’m suddenly having a dream about a woman.

Two, no less. 

Yeah, I’ve had eyes for a few ladies (and I do mean few, meaning, I think exactly four to be specific) over the past 5 years, but I’ve never pursued any because I am in no position to do so. Were my position different, yeah there’s a good chance I would have likely prompted them for an immediate rejection long ago, but I’m in no such position. I’ve not much money, no automobile, I’m old, I’m weird, I’m outcast in my family and have few friends, and am unattractive in just about every way imaginable. Question here being, why am I now dreaming about a woman/women? And why so casual? Is this something in my subconscious thinking about finding a partner that accepts me for who/what I am, as I am?

Meh, I’ll shutup about it and figure it out on my own. Maybe I can figure out something that will result in me getting laid. Will keep you posted.

WAIT! 

Actually, I won’t keep you posted. I’m not very gossipy and certainly don’t kiss and tell. Cept maybe that which transpires in my dreams.

/shrug
^Cocteau Twins – Lorelei (Extended Version)^

If you are plumbing the depths of philosophy, and suddenly find yourself thinking that you are smart or wise or learned or have reached enlightenment or you’re a master now or whatever? That feeling of power you are experiencing is actually nature’s alarm bells ringing. You can go ahead and get all high and mighty if you so desire, just know that if you do choose to go that route, an ass-kicking is likely awaiting you somewhere down that path.

Maybe even more than one (assuming you survive the first one and decide to continue on).

Hell, maybe the ass-kickings are worth it. Maybe some special something lay at the end of the path paved by cravings for dominance. And if you think about it, probably the most egotistical path that anyone ever took (or at least so far as I know) was the path taken by God. And yes, that “God” of the Holey Bobble.

I mean, Bible, Holy. 

When dissected, that entire creative act was nothing but ego, and all for ego, resulting in a shitload of ego and egos. Seriously, have you ever stopped to consider that God had to, at some point, stop themselves prior to actually creating things, and contemplate the concept of “what if things go wrong?”

Really...chew on that for a moment. 

The resources of “existence” are, so far as we know, finite. There’s only so much matter and only so much energy available to work with. If you burn up too much, or even burn it all up, what are you left with? What are your options? To me, I read the creation story of Genesis as an entity taking a very big chance. Yes, this entity was totally alone, probably quite lonely, maybe wanted some company, but if this fucker was/is as smart/intelligent as advertised, that means they HAD to know that, if this doesn’t work, I’m (potentially) fucked forever.

Lotta dynamics in that creation story, but it’s been my experience that no one ever wants to plumb these depths. Really break down what God may have been thinking. Too much reliance on the “all powerful” and “all knowing” angles, with no exploration (nor empathy) at all regarding the psychology of the act(s). Not publicly or outwardly anyway. Good fucking way to get your ass ostracized or maybe even tied to a pole and set on fire. THEN who are you gonna have to talk to, eh?

^The Cure – Catch^

Yeah, at the end of that previous section, I suggested that “siding with God” tends to get one’s ass kicked to the curb, or at least sent to the back of the bus. Even by “the godly”. People have their own understanding of things, and that’s good enough for them. Trouble is, they also require it to be good enough for everyone else.

What I also suggested in the end of the previous section, was that maybe God is isolated because we put them there. Cast them out. Push them away. Look, I am totally honest with you when I say I have no fucking clue if God is real or if there are gods or whatever. But I can also say in complete honesty that “there is something”. I don’t believe, I don’t disbelieve, I exist, and I attempt to assimilate and understand the data provided me as best I can. And holy shit is there a fucking mountain of evidence to suggest that “something” exists. “Something” outside of our understanding and beyond it. Not just and only in the myriad of tales coming to us through the ages either, but here, and now. That the unknowable exists, it can be known to exist, and simultaneously remain unknowable. Now, if that doesn’t instill you with some kind of hope, I don’t know what will. To me anyway, it says that not only can the unknowable be known of, it can be incrementally known, which means that at some point the unknowable can be entirely known.

I would imagine that our mortality/our finite amounts of time as we measure it here could put quite the dampener on such thoughts. Make such a quest seem hopeless or maybe even impossible. But let me add this, and that is, if it is impossible, then from whence does this desire to seek it emanate?

Something is feeding this desire. 

If knowing the unknowable was truly impossible, I’d think that the desire to seek the unknowable would also be impossible or incapable of existing. The desire to know the unknowable cannot exist on a plane where the unknowable also exists, yet cannot be known. That says to me that, not only does the unknowable actually exist, but the possibility of knowing the unknowable also exists. I’d also think that the desire to know the unknowable could not exist if the unknowable did not also actually exist.

Wait, did I just repeat myself there kinda? Say something I already said? Meh fuckit…just wondering aloud how I can posses a desire for a something that does not exist. How I can have knowledge of a something that does not have even the tiniest of perceptible indications as to it’s existence.

^Gary Numan – I Dream Of Wires^

Ya know, another thing that seems to be dangerous within philosophy is omission. Suppression. Relegation. Dismissal. Unqualification or even misqualification. These things seem to express themselves for a reason, and to dismiss or otherwise incorrectly qualify them seems to be an invitation for disaster of one kind or another. I know I know, you cannot have distinction without specificity, and specificity requires some level isolation. But this is philosophy we’re talking about. If money ever had competition for attracting gluttonous and/or insatiable persons/entities, I’d think philosophy would be it. Meaning, to “not want it all” with respect to philosophy almost seems like missing the point of philosophical meanderings entirely.

Hey, do you catch the irony in me saying to exclude exclusion? Suppress suppression? Relegate relegation? Dismiss dismissal?

Paradoxical. 

I think maybe more than anything I’m thinking of being mindful of when one is being exclusive or when one has excluded a something. Remember that you have done so. Might provide some insight upon encountering impasses. Just, be sure to remember not to suppress your remembering, lest ye forget.

^Ministry “We Believe”^

The stress finally got to me yesterday. It took a shade over seven days to crush my spirit, and I spent a good portion of the late afternoon and evening feeling absolutely terrible.

Physically. Drained. 

Like some part of me had given up or maybe just collapsed under the strain. So much hope and so many thoughts of a fresh start, plus perhaps some thoughts of maybe just a little time to breathe and reflect and maybe do some soul searching in the midst of a new perspective…

nope. 

An extension of the old. And why not tho? I’m still me, right? Same old person? Seriously, will anyone ever allow you to be anything other than what you are, which is actually an amalgam of what you have been? Nah, people like you the way you are…even if they hate or despise you. People like reliable things. Consistent things. They want others to be reliable, and yes, even if you can only be counted on to be a dirty dish rag. It bolsters their own position. I mean, if you get your shit together and they no longer have complaints about you, they’re out of a job. Suddenly, they become what you were…

an unemployed loser. 

On top of that, they were wrong about you, and no one like being wrong. They gotta figure out how they were so wrong about things. And I’d figure they’d also need to either endeavor to put you in your place, or find a new recruit.

Q: Is this what codependency is?

A: ???

A need to find individuals on which one can project their own world view, and self-reinforce that world view in order to reinforce individual perspectives on how the world is and/or how they think the world should be? I only ask because it sounds like codependency with a healthy portion of gaslighting. But, I admit that I don’t understand a lot of these psychological archetypes, and I also think that I’m too hopeful of a person and too happy a person to always try and paint folks in such lights.

Wait! Hol’up, hol’up…wait just a damn minute here…

Q: Is “being hopeful” and/or “being happy” to be considered a psychological condition and/or psychological conditions?

A: Like, a negative psychological condition?

What is it that we are ever, supposed to be. What, is, “right”? Anyone have any ideas?

^Fiction Reform – “Whites in Their Eyes” Basement Records^

One of the problems with philosophic, psychological and similar or related studies is that you cannot engage in studies of such areas without getting dirty in some way. You must leave who you are behind and become something you are not, or at a minimum get out and dabble a bit. Let’s be fair, one does not really need to obtain 3rd degree burns over 90% of one’s body to know that fire is hot and/or fire burns.

One of the interesting dichotomies about the realms known as Heaven and Hell is that these places and the entities that reside in them are so wrapped up in their own individual archetypes that they lack any empathy for their opposition whatsoever, hence, they cannot step outside of their realms and know anything except their own realms. This includes any preconceived notions they have about their opposites and the inherent need to support/reinforce these notions due to where they are. I mean, if you are a resident of Hell, probably not the best of ideas for you to start making “what’s so bad about Heaven?” types of inquiries.

If the Heaven/Hell example doesn’t work for you, maybe think “Democrat/Republican” or “Tory/Labour” or similar. Anyway, the point is, to truly understand the whys, it would appear that you cannot take these answers from the lore of your peers. To truly know, you’re gonna have to go.

Yourself. 

You’re gonna have to soujourn, and you’re gonna have to do your best to carry some objectivity with you, otherwise, you may as well just save yourself the time and hassle and just stay home. I have sometimes wondered if this is how the plane we currently find ourselves in, first came into existence in the first place. Entities stepping outside of their bounds of light or dark, questing to know otherness, and here is where they wind up. It’s neither, it’s nor, it’s…whatever this is. Some call it a “middleground”, but I personally have a problem with that because it suggests that “purity” can only exist in light/dark or good/evil, and that this plane cannot have a purity of its own. Cannot have its own essence. Cannot have properties of both (or neither) which make it a thing unto itself. Wholly unto itself. It’s not that, and it’s not that, it is this.

When I think in those terms, this “3D” existence that we are said to occupy, in my mind anyway, breaks down entirely and retreats to its base forms of light/dark. Hell, maybe that’s how universes are destroyed. When the dimensions are as such that they can no longer support a thing where it is a thing unto itself, it collapses.

Standard stuff, right? 

Welp, what about the opposite tho? A thing becomes such a distinct and well-defined thing unto itself, that the sources which originally created it are no longer required, and those source universes/dimensions collapse. I have to wonder if it is possible for the ether or perhaps nothingness to collapse. Nothing becomes a something that is not nothing. Would that be a singularity? Or maybe a type of singularity?

/shrug...I'm miles from where this section started.
^Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll (Dirtyhertz Remix)^

Water is a thing.

Dirt is a thing.

Water + Dirt = a thing called mud.

Mud ain’t an actual thing tho. It’s more of a state of two other things when within a proximity to each other.

What I’m getting at here is how “physical laws” pertain to the abstract concepts known as good and evil or right and wrong or whatever. More than that tho, assuming that pure evil and pure good are tangible things which actually exist, why is there no “pure neither”. When thinking about “states”, there’s a transitional or transient nature to the idea, or at least a finite one. I’d think anything “pure” could be none of these things. It is fixed and yet permeable. Non-reactive. Non-finite. Scale or amount within a wider context is irrelevant. Even if a only single atom of a something exists within the entirety of the known universe, and if it is indeed “pure”, it is non-finite. I guess what I’m pondering here is our own definitions and applications of the term “pure”.

EX: There are those who say “Adolph Hitler was pure evil”. Well, if he was pure evil, why was he so finite? The fucker had been dead for 22 years before I got here, and my entire life, people cannot shut the fuck up about him. Moreover, does chalking up Hitler as “pure evil” give everyone else in history a free pass from evil? Comparatively? Ok yeah, Torquemada was bad, but not as bad as Hitler. This makes no sense as it lessens “the evil” of Torquemada.

What I’m really thinking about tho is how, if Adolph Hitler really was “pure evil”, why did it take so long to manifest in him? An opposite to Hitler is Jesus/Yeshua, and that fucker came out pure pure pure from the get go. Occurs to me that if someone is indeed capable of being “pure”, they’re gonna be pure start to finish whether good or evil. You cannot catch the the good bug or the evil bug for a period of time, ride it for a while, and expect to be “pure” good or evil. It’s more like you’re infected or have had some kind of mental break. Finite. Passing. A phase.

Look, I’m think that it’s impossible for us to know anything “pure” because we’ve developed some really fucked up ideas as to what pure is via our ideas on how purity is obtained. Mainly via absence of impurity, which if you ask me is totally fucking backwards. Like, water cannot be “99%” pure, but it can be “1% impure”. We just flip it on it’s head because it sounds better to focus on the pure bits instead of the impure ones. We basically lie because the truth is too painful.

That's....that's totally fucked up. 

I guess such is life in a world that exist because of, and survives upon, percentages.

^The Naked And Famous – Punching In A Dream (One Temporary Escape)^

Ya know how they say “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”?

So, why is it then, that when some do-gooder who has nothing better to do gets a wild hair up their ass to go out in the world and shake things up, why then, are they operating under the assumption that they are doing good?

Oh, that’s right, they are “good” hence anything they do is also “good”.

Right?

Soooooo…all one really need do is obtain the title of “good”, and everything you do after that can be concealed under the title?

Fucking hell…you never have to be wrong, ever again…if when you are wrong.

Sweet.
^Pixies Hey (Junk DNA remix)^

HEY! That reminds me…you douchebags been participating in the Gloom Dog Book Club? If not, you should be. I’ve gotten so excited over the concept that I’ve been reading and reviewing books that aren’t even on the list. Gotta be honest tho, that trend started because there have been a few books I could not find, so I read and reviewed some random something just to have something to read and review. Will say this tho, this reading adventure that CStM is guiding us through has rekindled my love of reading. I went to the library the other day, got this month’s selection called “The Help”, and I checked out 5 other books too.

lolz...

I’m telling you, I’m getting jazzed over this reading stuff. Anyway, if you were unaware of Gloom Dog, you’re aware of it now. Join us. Or not.

Whatevz.
^Sigur Rós – Ekki múkk^

cYacFa

*******

*I don’t know if that’s a thing or a state, Clicky… /stubs butt… Here, have you got Leggy’s tweet?*

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Cade’s missive, Dear Reader. Just to let you know that CstM’s other half, Leggy, has opened submissions for the next Underdog Anthology. Short stories of all genres are welcome 😀

Have a Song… ❤

 

Story Time: In The Grotto

*Clicky! Dear Reader’s here for the latest episode of Ronageddon…/lights up… not an engrossing Woo talk… /drags… on the difference… /streams smoke… between ‘revelation’ and ‘revealing’… /flicks ash… as interesting and pertinent as it may be…*

*Exactly… /pats snout… Btw, that music vid is extremely pertinent too…*

Welcome, Dear Reader! Today is the 21st December and Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year for the northern hemisphere…

*So even though we’re closer to the sun, it’s colder? …/Smokes… Interesting…*

… And also the setting for ‘In The Grotto’, my story for Underdog Anthology XVI: Slay Bells In the Snow

*There’s top notch contributions from all the authors, Clicky…*

… Which I am happy to present for your entertainment, below. Enjoy! 😀

*******

In The Grotto

By Roo B. Doo
To: Death, Grim Reaper Service

From: Father Christmas, Children Services

Date: 13th December 2021

Re: Christmas Wish Annual Check Up

Greetings, Reaper of Souls and Pyschopomp in Chief!

Can you believe it has been a whole year since I granted your Christmas wish, Big D?
Like my sleigh, time flies, eh?


Whenever you have a moment in the next couple of weeks, I would be grateful if you
could pop by the club so we can have a chat and so forth about any wish-making
consequences you may have experienced in the past year. Any evening before
Christmas Eve is fine but Lapland will be hosting the international finals of Elvis Lives:
Karaoke and Striptease Challenge
on the 21st and I would be delighted if you could
make it then.


Whatever date you can manage, I look forward to seeing you again, old friend.

Soda Pops - x

p.s. And speaking of 'suspicious minds', I'd be much obliged if could you come via the
rear entrance as we're trying not to draw attention to our locale from the local killjoys.
As far as the Rona Regime are concerned, everybody, including Elvis, has left the
building. SP

Death read the week-old she-mail from Father Christmas and then opened his PsiCalendar to check his schedule. So far the year had been horrendously busy and its final 11 days were destined to continue in the same vein. If 2020 had entered the annals of history as the ‘Year Of The Rona’, then 2021 would be infamous as the ‘Year Of Unexplained Sudden Passing’. He had attended to a great many of those during the year but to Death, no passing went unexplained.

I do hope 2022, he mused lugubriously, doesn’t become the ‘Year Of The Great Regret’.

He sighed; with so many souls to transition recently, Death was feeling pooped. The ranks of the Grim Reaper Service were in dire need of bolstering to keep up with demand, but if there was one thing Death shunned more than his bulging inbox, it was initiating a new round of recruitment. With billions of candidates to choose from, to describe the vetting and interview processes as laborious would be a colossal understatement.

And now he had been summoned to Lapland. Death’s opinion of the adult entertainment complex where Father Christmas resided 364 days of year was akin to the one he held on the recruitment process and managing his inbox. Although the club’s exterior was as unassuming as the London backstreet where it was located, its interior was dark and alluring, and had an atmosphere so thick with the tang of sex and smoke that Death could quite literally cut with a scythe.

The tacky upholstery doesn’t bear too close an examination either, he reflected disdainfully, as he continued to tap on the PsiPad screen.

“Ah serendipity,” Death said aloud. “It looks like I’m already booked to appear at Lapland tomorrow night. Winter Solstice it is, although I doubt Soda Pops will be as pleased as he expects.”

He closed the cover on his PsiPad and balanced the slim rectangle on the tips of his distil phalanges. Death considered the elegance and efficiency of the new tech he’d been issued with, and marvelled, not for the first time, at just how many deaths he could now hold in the metacarpals of one hand. Elvis lives? Not according to my records.

Death suddenly had an idea. It too was elegant and efficient in that he would be able to complete three tasks in one fell swoop.

I need to ask favour. Or two, he thought. He opened up his PsiPad and proceeded to write his very first she-mail.

***

He asked for what?

God was intrigued.

And he actually put the request in writing? Let me see.

Brian, the pompous goose that ran the God Lobby on behalf of the supreme deity passed the PsiPad he was holding between his wings over to God.

Big D sent it by she-mail?

Brian honked in affirmation.

Interesting.

God looked at the screen.

To: God

From: Death, Grim Reaper Service

Date: 20th December 2021

Re: A Request

Ma'am

I would be grateful if you would grant me use of the Situation Room tomorrow
evening. I promise to return it in intact.

Eternally yours

Death

Big D doesn’t say why he wants to use it.

It was not often that God was surprised, but Death’s odd request was one of those times. She passed the PsiPad back to her chief scribe.

Please send the following reply for me, Brian – ‘Granted’.

Brian tapped the message on screen. He was grateful for the brevity of the response; he much preferred quill, ink and parchment over having to use his beak, which he considered most unbecoming.

I require some focus time, Brian. Please, no interruptions for the next hour or so.

Brian bowed his head and honked.

No, that will be all, thank you.

God started to focus.

***

To a casual observer sat in the Piccolo cafe, the lone woman sitting at the back table might be considered to be conducting a wireless telephone conversation during her meal. Her table manners may be labelled as rude but one-sided conversations in public are all too common these days, so not unusual. And even if noticed, the empty child’s booster seat on the chair opposite the lone, loquacious woman, probably would not have been factored in by a casual observer in reaching this wholly incorrect conclusion. Unless of course the casual observer was dead.

“Wait.” War continued to chew on black pudding and fried bread with an open mouth. “Are you asking me out on a date?”

Death silently studied his apocalypse comrade over the plastic, blue check tablecloth between them. On it sat a steaming mug of tea and a full English breakfast that War was gleefully attacking.

“No, as I stated previously,” Death said patiently, “I will be evaluating a new recruit this evening for a position in the Grim Reaper Service. I value your opinion, War, and would be grateful for your presence.”

War arched her eyebrows quizzically and poked some masticated food from between her cheek and gums with her index finger. “And that’s all?” she asked suspiciously, as she sucked at a piece of sausage trapped under her talon-like nail.

“Nothing else,” Death said firmly. “You have egg on your chin.”

“Okay, where and what time?” War rubbed the flecks of grease and egg yoke from her face with a paper napkin. “I’m fully booked until eight o’clock tonight and I can’t cancel any of my clients. I’m charging them double rate over Christmas and New Year.”

“There will be no need to cancel any of your fitness classes, War. I have procured the Situation Room for the evening.”

“Whoa, you got a lend of God’s new wheels?” War asked, forking bacon and baked beans into her mouth. “How’d you manage that?”

Although the Situation Room was more like an invisible cube, capable of moving in any direction and to any place or time, than a motor vehicle, Death concurred with War’s description of ‘God’s new wheels’. It was certainly speedy.

“I asked her.”

“Huh.” War slurped back a mouthful of tea. “I’ll have to try that.”

“Well then.” Death slipped down from the booster seat. “It is agreed. Enjoy the rest of your breakfast, I have people to see. Unfortunately for them.”

“Hey, not so fast, short-arse. You still haven’t told me where we’re going. What’s the dress code?”

“We’ll be attending Soda Pops’ International Elvis Lives Karaoke and Striptease Challenge at Lapland. Apparently it’s the final, ironically enough for someone.”

“Sounds cool,” War said taking a bite of buttered toast. “I’ll just wear my blue suede shoes then.”

War smirked and continued eating.

“Please don’t.” Death paused as he turned to leave. “Incidentally, I have to ask. You’re a fitness guru, War – how can you condone let alone participate in the consumption of such a large, fried meal?”

War continued to stuff her face. “Are you kidding? At the rate I burn through calories, if I don’t eat like this three times a day I’d look just like you.”

“Noted.” Death bowed his head and glided out of the cafe.

***

Before 2020, the final of the International Elvis Lives Karaoke Challenge had been successfully held at Xi Xi Fat’s Lo Fat Cafe, situated just off the seafront at Southend on Sea.

Although the restaurant was mostly ignored by the local populous because of its reputation for inedible food and confrontational waiting staff, it had gained a cult following via the internet for exactly the same reasons. That and Xi Xi’s twice weekly, full rhinestone garb performances of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits, which drew in punters from far and wide. When a particularly poignant rendition of ‘Are you Romsome Tonight‘ was immortalized as a meme on social media, Xi Xi decided to capitalise on his new found fame and founded the ‘International Elvis Lives Karaoke Challenge’. Marketed at catering establishments across in the UK as a way of promoting their business, the only thing international about it was the competitors’ cuisine.

As the reigning two-time champion, Xi Xi hungered to be crowned ‘The King’ for a third time. And he was quite sure he would have were it not for the cruel intervention of the Rona Christmas lockdown in 2020. Like the rest of the hospitality sector in the country, the Lo Fat Cafe was forced to close until the spring.

Xi Xi was determined that he would not be forced to cancel the final again this year, so asked his long-time friend Soda Pops if he would host the 2021 final. Soda Pops ran Lapland, a nightclub in London, with a dubious reputation but the only place Xi Xi knew of that had remained open and free from the government’s Rona molestations throughout the pandemic. He didn’t know how Soda Pops had managed it, only that he had, and assumed some of Lapland’s patrons must be very powerful and important indeed.

When Soda Pops agreed to his request, Xi Xi decided to include a striptease element to the competition in honour of his generous friend. Nothing was going to stop Xi Xi from achieving his hat-trick this year, even if he had to wear nothing at all.

***

Soft, glowing twilight had settling throughout the God Lobby. From the platform office overlooking the swelling expanse of souls, God watched as the sea rippled and parted, allowing two figures to appear. The first figure, was very short and carried a glowing scythe, lighting their path. He glided ahead of the second much taller figure, who walked along behind. Both wore the unmistakable hooded, ebony robes of the Grim Reaper Service. Not a word passed between the two as they exited the soul sea, which collapsed in their wake, and made their way to the elevator that would bring them up to the office where God was waiting.

*bing*

The elevator doors silently opened and the two figures emerged.

Hello Big D.

“Ma’am.” Death was startled by God’s unexpected greeting but covered it well, although he doubted he had been smooth enough. “I was not expecting to see you this evening.”

God smiled.

I can see that. Who is this with you?

“This is…” Death paused. “Aron. He’s a candidate for the Grim Reaper Service. I will be evaluating his performance in a real-death scenario this evening.”

Hello Aron.

Aron shook beneath his heavy robes. God gently placed her hand on the sleeve of his shaking arm.

Are you shy?

“Uh-huh.”

Don’t be. I promise to take good care of you this evening.

This time Death didn’t try to hide his surprise. “Ma’am? You will be coming with us?” he gasped.

Indeed. I pay very close attention to your she-mail requests.

Death thought for a moment. “But I’d never send a she-mail before.”

Exactly. Now, where is Aron’s evaluation to take place?

Death was nonplussed by the unexpected turn of events; he hadn’t anticipated God’s involvement and strictly speaking, the candidate was not meant to know the time or place of his evaluation. “Ma’am, could I speak to you for one moment in private?”

Of course, Big D.

God led Death aside and then slid into a crouch so that the diminutive Grim Reaper could whisper in her ear.

“Ma’am, Aron must have no foreknowledge of the real-death scenario. It is imperative that he doesn’t gain an advantage over any other possible candidates.”

God nodded her agreement.

I understand. Rigour must be upheld.

“I would also suggest that it is best that you refrain from speaking or communicating with the candidate entirely until the evaluation is over.”

Agreed. So where are we going?

Death cupped his skeletal hand in front of his cowl and whispered into God’s ear, “Lapland-”

Oh goodie. I do so love visiting Soda Pops.

God’s exuberance surprised Death for a third time in the span of as many minutes. “You do?”

Why, yes. I have been taking instruction on pole dancing at Lapland.

Death wondered how many more times God was going to surprise him this evening.

It’s tremendous exercise for developing flexibility and strengthening the inner core.

“I see,” Death replied somewhat sceptically.

I have become quite proficient.

“Good for you, Ma’am. Practice makes perfect.”

I’m glad you agree, Big D and I hope you keep that in mind when evaluating Aron.

“Ma’am?”

I think my presence has made him nervous, and for that I apologise.

Death felt his rib cage expand at the kind wisdom in God’s apology. “I will.”

God stood up with smooth fluidity.

Shall we go? I’ll drive.

“Oh, one more thing,” Death said. God slid back down into a crouch again. “We will need to collect War along the way.”

War will be joining us? Excellent news. You are full of surprises tonight, Big D.

***

“Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay… I’m all shook up!

The audience at Lapland erupted into thunderous applause as Hector Rodrigues completed his set. Sweat streamed down Hector’s face as he struck his final pose under the hot spotlight, and bounced off the gold medallion nestled in the thick fur matting that cover his swarthy, naked chest.

From the stage wings, Xi Xi watched Hector’s performance. He considered it adequate overall, with a sufficient amount of hip swivels and knee kicks to garner Hector high marks from the judges, although Xi Xi thought Hector’s decision to play it safe and keep his trousers on would lower his final score.

Xi Xi looked out toward the judges table, situated in front of the the audience, to gauge their response. He was most impressed by the caliber of the judging line up Soda Pops had assembled: there was an actual High Court Judge; a former Speaker of the House of Commons and the person Xi Xi wanted to impress the most – TV chef and food campaigner, Freddie Calendar. Freddie could make or break any Michelin Star wannabe’s career and although Xi Xi knew his food could never pass muster, he hoped the ambiance of the Lo Fat Cafe would one day win it a top accolade.

Hector was still milking the applause as Soda Pops bounced onto the stage, one arm outstretched and the other holding a microphone to his lips. “Give it up for Hector Rodrigues of the Jumping Bean Bistro in Weston-Super-Mare, our penultimate competitor. Well, done, Hector!”

Hector took a last bow and left the stage in Xi Xi’s direction.

“Good job, Jumping Bean,” Xi Xi said, clapping Hector on the back several times and handing him a towel.

Hector wiped the sweat from his face. “Gracias, Lo Fat. It is a good crowd tonight.”

Xi Xi jumped up and down and ran rapidly on the spot. He crooked his head until the bones in his neck popped. “Thank you for warming them up.”

“Now then, now then, boys and girls,” Soda Pops address the room. “It’s been a hell of a competition so far, but the question is, have we left the best to last?”

Oh yes you have!” the audience replied in unison.

Soda Pops chuckled into the mic. “We’ll see, we’ll see.” He wandered to the front of the stage, cracking the mic flex like a whip. He pointed to the judges’ table and snapped the flex again. “No, that’s for later. Am I right, Mr Speaker?”

“Oh no you’re not!” the dapper, but well watered politician bellowed in return.

Order! Order!” The audience responded with roars of laughter and the sound of palms slapping on tabletops.

Soda Pops flapped his hands, signalling the audience to calm down. “Now, our last competitor tonight is not just any old competitor. No, no. Singing his signature success, ‘Are You Romsome Tonight’ and ‘Way Down’, would you please welcome the two-time reigning champion to the stage. The one and only Xi Xi Fat!”

Hector draped the rolled up towel around his neck. “Good luck, Lo Fat,” he told Xi Xi.

Xi Xi turned to his fellow competitor and curled his lip. “Rock and roll, Jumping Bean,” he drawled before jogging out to the spotlight.

***

“I’d forgotten what a tight squeeze this is,” War complained loudly, as she entered the Situation Room. She tried maneuvering for space but could only standing crooked, with the right side of her face pushed up against the ceiling. “Hold up, I’ll take my boots off.”

Her crimson, patent leather catsuit creaked as she kneeled down to unzipped her matching boots.

Good evening, War.

“Oh hello, Ma’am. I didn’t see you standing there behind…” War indicated to the tall, hooded figure looming over her. “Are you looking at my tits?”

The would be reaper’s hooded head snapped up from it’s down-turned position, as if to attention. “Pardon me, miss.”

“Nah, you’re alright,” War laughed. She pulled the zip on the front of her skintight catsuit down a notch and studied her cleavage. “Hello, boys!”

“War, this is Aron, this evening’s candidate for evaluation,” Death explained. “Aron, this is War. You should both refrain from interacting with each other until after the test.”

“That might prove difficult in here,” War said, standing up with boots in hand. She was still taller than the ceiling height, but only slightly so that she now only needed to tilt her head. “Ma’am, did you ever consider making the Situation Room a convertible?”

I have not.

Death eyed the wicked sharp stiletto heels of War’s boots, held just in front of his cowl. “War, those heels are lethal.”

“Well, you should know.” War turned her head and winked at Aron. “Are we picking anyone else up?”

“No,” Death replied.

“Good. Let’s get to Lap-”

Don’t-” Death started to tell War not to divulge their destination, but was interrupted when God pulled on the light bulb cord hanging down from the centre of the ceiling. For a moment, darkness was all.

“-land. Whoa there!” War burst into raucous laughter at the sight of the quivering, naked buttocks presented before them. “I was not expecting that!”

Way down where it feels so good,” Xi Xi sang lustily, “Way down where I hoped it would.”

“Ma’am, we seem to be at the back of the stage,” Death informed God.

It is where I normally park when I come for my pole-dancing lessons, Big D.

Out front, Xi Xi Fat had worked the Lapland audience into a fever pitch with his performance, and was about to reach the climax of his second song. He was naked, stripped of all clothing save for his cowboy boots, sunglasses and a glittering, sequin thong. He removed his sunglasses and flung them into the whooping audience.

Way down where I never could. Way down, down.” Xi Xi whipped off his thong and the audience went wild.

“Oh…my…fucking…word…” War continued to stare at singer’s backside, as he bowed from the waist to the ecstatic audience before him. “I can see right up the crack of his-”

“Is that..?” Death peered forward for a closer look. “That’s Famine.”

Famine had been missing since Halloween the previous year, when War had inadvertently eaten him whilst they were travelling in the back of a London taxi, driven by Satan. Pestilence, too, had been eaten and was still missing since that day, although Death had become keenly aware throughout the course of the year that Pesto was very much at large and active. Somewhere.

“What?! Where?” War shifted her gaze away from the singer’s bottom. “No way!

Xi Xi turned to face the back of the stage, unaware of the invisible Situation Room and the ethereal audience it contained. He smiled rapturously and laughed with joy and relief. Lifting his arms above his head, the thong still tightly in his grip, he punched the air. “Yesss!!

“It is! It fucking is, an’ all! Famine! Famine!” War shouted and banged the palm of her hand on the transparent wall, trying to get Xi Xi’s attention.

God placed a hand on War’s shoulder.

Famine cannot see or hear us, War.

Soda Pops ran on stage. “Splendid! Splendid!” he boomed into the mic, and wrapped his ermine trimmed, red velvet cloak around Xi Xi’s shoulders. “Xi Xi Fat, ladies and gentlemen! The true naked chef!”

The audience were on their feet cheering and calling for more. Xi Xi’s fellow competitors, who had crowded into the stage wings to watch his electric and revealing performance, now spilled out onto the stage, clapping and calling for an encore.

Xi Xi kissed his sequin thong and held it aloft before throwing it out into the darkness. It landed on the judge’s table, where Freddie Calendar quickly seized it and placed it over his face, to everyone’s great amusement.

Freddie got to his feet unsteadily; he’d taken full advantage of the complimentary booze that came with his judging responsibilities. With the thong stretched tight across his face he announced, “We the dudges are unam…unanamanapus.” He pulled the thong to one side of his nose and mouth to breath. “Ugh, this smells… Where was I? …Umanamus…yes we are, we have decided! We have, we have…Shush, everyone… Decided that G…Cheeky Fat is the winner!”

Everybody on stage and in the audience roared their approval at the judge’s decision. Everybody except Freddie, who was suddenly still. A look of confusion crossed his face and his head wobbled.

“I…” Freddie started to say, as his eyes glazed over, and he dropped to the floor in a dead slump.

*Bing!*

Death pulled the vibrating PsiPad from his robes. “Aron, would you please follow me. Your real-death test is about to begin.”

As Aron started to follow Death out of the Situation Room and onto the stage, God placed her hand once again on the sleeve of his robe and whispered.

Good luck.

“Ma’am, thank you very much.”

“What’s occurring?” Soda Pops boomed into the mic. He shielded his eyes from the spotlight to try and see what the commotion was in the audience. “Is someone being naughty?”

Nobody laughed. Instead the squeal of scraping chair legs and sober concern filled the room.

“He’s collapsed,” a voice called from the audience.

“Somebody call for an ambulance,” pleaded another.

“Who’s collapsed?” Xi Xi asked Soda Pops.

“That would be celebrity chef, Frederick Trevor Calendar,” Death announced. He appeared between Xi Xi and Soda Pops as they looked out into the audience. Death closed the cover on his PsiPad and passed it to a taller grim reaper standing behind him. “You’ll find him over there,” he said and pointed his scythe in the direction of the melee.

Aron jumped off the stage.

“One moment,” Death said, passing down his scythe. “You’ll need this.”

“Okay, boss.”

Presumptuous, Death thought.

“Death?” Xi Xi’s eyes bulged; his face was tight with shock as he stared down at Death. He looked like he’d seen a ghost.

“Hello Famine. We’ve been looking for you.”

Soda Pop’s scowled. “I knew it. It couldn’t just be pleasure for you, Big D, could it? It had to be business.”

“Regrettable though my presence may be, Soda Pops” Death said solemnly, “I really did appreciate receiving your invitation and I fully intend on making it up to you.”

“Oh yes, when?”

Death nodded out to the darkness. “As soon as my colleague down there reaps his first soul and you clear the rest of the premises.”

“That’ll be easy,” Soda Pops exclaimed. “Look, half of them have already left.”

It was true. Although a more than decent number of people were still rubber-necking, a steady stream of audience members were already making their way out of the exits. In the distance, a faint pierce of sirens could be detected.

“Oh bugger!” Soda Pops swore. “It may take a little longer if the Rona Regime turn up. What is it you have planned, Big D?”

Death plucked a stray thong sequin from the cuff of his robe. “Something spectacular.”

***

It was the longest night of the year and Lapland was finally quiet and still. The cabaret room was in darkness, except for its stage which was brightly lit. Death silently glided into the centre of the spotlight and addressed the small and select audience of four sitting in the front row.

“I will keep my introduction short-”

Soda Pops burst into guffaws; he found Death’s vertically challenging stature endlessly amusing.

Death sighed. “I should say brief-”

“Get on with it,” War shouted.

God held up her hand for quiet.

Please. All of you.

“I didn’t say anything,” Famine grumbled.

Carry on, Big D.

Death nodded. “Ma’am. I would just like to introduce you all to the Grim Reaper Service’s newest recruit. As you know, the service have been extremely busy of late and-”

Get on with it!

Death bowed his head. “Ladies and gentlemen…”

A rumbling of kettle drums and crash of cymbals suddenly poured forth from the speakers at the side of the stage.

“You met him earlier as Aron, but tonight…” Death continued.

The sound of a full orchestra filled the room as Aron emerged from the Situation Room and began to sing with a dark, soulful voice. “When no-one else can understand me…

“Elvis Presley is in the room.”

Death bowed.

*******

*Wait… That just happened? …/stubs butt… Gotta love synchronicity, Clicky…*

We hope you’re enjoying the Ronageddon series. The story will continue in Underdog Anthology XVII, in spring 2022 with ‘Pale Glider’ 😉

And remember, Dear Reader, that however dark Winter Solstice gets, once passed, life starts to get lighter. Have a Song ❤

*♫…That’s the wonder, the wonder of woo…♫*

CLICK5: Adventures In Remote Viewing – Candle, Book & Bell Sync…