*Wait! Was scenario D created especially with me in mind, Clicky? …/sips coffee…*
*And what is eternity? …/lights up…*
Welcome, Dear Reader. I’m very excited as I will be on leave next week. Not that I’ll be going anywhere – nobody is – but I will be spending my time writing…
*I need to be really disciplined about it, Clicky…*
*Indeed, I have two stories in mind. One about Death and the other about Harry…*
*Oh, it’s been totally maddening, Clicky… /smokes contentedly… Thinking about them all year…*
*Well, quite. That’s been the problem…*
*Alright bossy boots… /stubs butt… Jeez…*
…So I shan’t be about much this week. But no doubt Clicky will pop in if anything post-worthy occurs…
Have a Song ❤
*Leggy wrote a post on nanobots, Clicky? /lights up and smokes… I heard mention of those in a new vid from Lashy just last night…*
We have a little treat for you, Dear Reader, on this cold January day. My good friend Leggy, a.k.a H.K. Hillman, has agreed the LoL can post a story from Fears Of The Old And The New, his collection of short horror yarns. It’s relatively tiny but really packs a punch 😉
*True – Leggy does live in the Scottish Highlands… /thinks… And he’s got swords…*
by H.K. Hillman
Nigel sat at the remains of his desk, idly twirling the paper-knife in the fingers of his left hand. With a swift motion he grasped it and thrust it through the palm of his right hand. His head pressed the high back of the chair as his body stiffened against the pain, his teeth clamped shut to avoid biting the end of his tongue. With a gasp, he forced his body to relax and looked at his shaking right hand.
Bright red life oozed from both sides, running along the blade and handle of the knife and forming crimson lines along his wrist. His face set into a grimace as he quickly pulled the blade free, then he sat sobbing as he watched the wound close, the flow trickle to a stop. As the last traces of his self-inflicted injury faded, he roughly wiped the blood from his hands onto his trousers. Standing, he walked to the shattered window, wiping the tears from his eyes with a wrinkled, filthy sleeve.
It had been his invention, his own work. Why should he share it? If he had told his supervisors they would simply have taken his idea and left him behind, alone and forgotten. He couldn’t let that happen. He had decided to keep his success secret until he could announce his invention himself. He would wait until the time was right.
He had tested his invention on himself, of course. Nigel recalled that day, months ago, when he had injected his microscopic robots into his veins. He remembered that first thrill as they set to work. His chest pains had vanished as his heart was healed. He had discarded his spectacles as his vision was restored. The arthritic ache in his shoulder simply disappeared. What an invention! He would be famous, or would have been.
Nigel felt tears returning to his eyes as he surveyed the desolation of the city. Four days ago – maybe more, Nigel wasn’t sure – nuclear Armageddon had arrived and everyone had left in a flash of radiation. Nigel could recall the pain as the wave of gamma-rays had followed the edge of the blast through his beautiful suburban house. His carefully tended garden had turned into a desert of brown, twisted stalks, although still in their perfectly ordered rows in the sterile soil.
He watched as the bulging wall of a distant building suddenly gave way, showering bricks and mortar onto the dust-obscured street below. The sound traversed the distance easily, unhindered in the silence of this dead world.
The flash had killed him, but it hadn’t killed his robots. He had no idea how long it had taken them, but they had repaired him. They had brought him back to life. He had invented more than just a medical dream. He had invented immortality.
If only he had told someone else.
*Fantastic book, Clicky… /stubs butt… So’s ‘is uvver one…*
Catch you later, Dear Reader… And have a Song 😉
*Woo Hoo! …/punches air… Finally…*
Dear Reader, Underdog Anthology XIII: Coronamas is now available to buy in Kindle or ebook formats…
*No, that’s a coronal mass ejection, Clicky… /lights up and smokes… Sure is pretty looking though…*
*Oh. Butt that wasn’t caused by a coronal mass ejection, Clicky…*
*Agreed… /flicks ash…*
*So, you’re tell me that within hours of Coronamas being published, all that ‘appened, Clicky?*
*Blimey. Well, it is number 13, I suppose… /stubs butt…*
… And, for those that prefer a tangible, hold in the hand, book-shaped book, the paperback version will be available later today or tomorrow…
*Ah, blocking the space for a later link… /pats snout… Good thinking, Clicky…*
Dear Reader… Have a Song…
Dear Reader, we now have a name and book cover for Underdog Anthology XIII: Coronamas…
… It should be published and available to purchase within the next couple of days. There are some damn fine stories in it; you will not be disappointed…
*That’s called a pomander, Clicky… /lights up and smokes…*
Here, now, is a spanking new missive from Cade Fon Apollyon. It’s the first installment of a two parter. Enjoy! 😀
Lawn Ging Fore Thuh Passed
Lon Geeng For Theep Assed
Lahng Eng Foar Thup Pah Stuh
Long In Four Thee Passed
Longing For The Past
^The Beatles – The Long And Winding Road (Remastered 2009)^
We do it.
No seriously, we do it.
We long for long gone things. We long for long gone times. We long for long gone places. Maybe its when we long for long gone things AND long gone times AND long gone places, all at the same time…history repeats (or, repeats-ish).
What a nightmare. Not only that, but what a waste of energy. You spend all that time fighting tooth and nail to get away from where you are and what you are, only to do a 180° turn, and scramble to become what you were. I guess maybe things didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. You do not like what you have become. What you were is somehow better than what you are, and of the two, you choose…were. I guess you think that “were” will make “are” go away.
If “were” still is, then I think its safe to say that “are” will still exist when you get back to “were”. You can never go home again.
^Massive Fire Breaks Out In NYC Destroying Historic East Village Church | NBC News^
Third Monolith Appears atop Pine Mountain, California after Mystery Objects in Utah and Romania Removed
Pine…long. Kinda funny that the monolith in California didn’t last long. I sometimes have that problem with my own monolith not lasting very long.
Pining a mountain. Pining for a mountain. Sounds challenging. Pining for two mountains? Whew! Sounds exhausting. I love mountains, and love climbing them, but I’m a valleyman too. Ain’t no mountains without the valleys.
^Breaking Bad OST 12/20 – “The Long Walk Alone (Heisenberg’s Theme)” [Dave Porter] [HQ/HD]^
Kinda weird that during the writing of the previous whatever, I was thinking about that pot plant fire in Los Angeles (heh…pot plant fire), the Notre Dame fire, that giant explosion in Beruit, the Oregon fire(s), that passenger plane getting shot down in Iran. Then yesterday, I sat for an hour or so and watched a live stream of various banks (and other stuff) getting torn up and parts of them burned in Paris (France) as I guess some people there are upset about something.
Now this fire in New York City, and it has me to thinking about…reinsurers. During my brief times in working as an underwriter for a general agency/auto insurance, and then later as an underwriter for commercial insurance, I was somewhat baffled by this need that insurance companies have to pay out on claims. Even dodgy claims. Does this keep the outgoing cashflows/payouts within a certain margin? Keep a reasonable percentage of the customers happy? Justify the premiums? Keep the reinsurers happy? All of that?
Whatever the higher-ups methods and formulas are, they aren’t going to tell a lowly underwriter. So what I’m thinking about now, is all these lockdowns here in 2020AD/CE, and how they are affecting the margins for both insurers and reinsurers. SURELY rates have been affected since we don’t have the usual calamity and mayhem working together to create the same aggregate(s). Everything is shut down. There HAS to be changes, right? At home accidents skyrocketing, auto-related accidents through the floor, outdoorsy stuff doing the same. Insurance companies would almost have to be scrambling to figure out how to deal with these changes.
Lets us dig.
(that one there is a real gem...it's from 1997...23 years ago reporting on what 2020 will look like..heh)
(that page says it was last reviewed on 13 Nov 2020, but all the data looks fairly old)
That last link may not work. I found it via a Google search on Oregon wildfires, top result, but I can’t get the page to load. Keep getting an error that says…
The http://www.statesmanjournal.com page isn’t working
http://www.statesmanjournal.com redirected you too many times.
No matter, Google has a “snippet” that pulled this from the article…
Oregon’s 2020 wildfire season brought a new level of destruction. … Severe drought, extreme winds and multiple ignitions fueled the most destructive wildfires in state history. Roughly 1.07 million acres burned during the 2020 season, the second-most on record. The cost to fight the fires was also high — $354 million. Oct 30, 2020
Source = Google 06 Dec 2020
You didn't click on a single one of those links above, did you?
Heh, I don’t blame you. This is my path, not yours. Unless of course it’s our path…in which case, welcome aboard, sailor.
^Tea Dance: 1920s, 30s, 40s Vintage Tea Party (Past Perfect)^
Yesterday, saw George Soros referred to as “Uncle George”, and it got me to thinking about shady practices that keep money people positioned where they are or where they are comfortable. Nobody likes to be uncomfortable, and in order to maintain that comfort level you’ve become accustomed to, you may just have to skin a few sables or mink.
Me, as an underwriter, would sometimes be instructed to accept a premium payment, even tho the insured was only making a payment because A) their policy had lapsed, and B) they’d been involved in an accident during that period of non-coverage. More than that, I was instructed to accept the payment with no lapse in coverage. Meaning, we were willing to accept the claim that was sure to be coming. It could be said that the long-term benefits of doing as much was going to give us a customer for life. The company is being generous, understanding, and helping out someone in need. But then I started to learn more about the insurance processes, reinsurance, and I became a tad more skeptical as to the reason(s) for bending the rules or making exceptions. You bend the rules for this person, but not that one?
Hrm...what is going on here? I must know.
There are intricacies at work here with which I am unfamiliar. Why, would the powers, want elements of chaos in their rigid systems?
/me scratches chin whiskers and thinks.
^Junkie XL – Tennis / Crusher^
If one remains master of the option, one does not become slave to their own creations. You create these rigid systems, whilst reserving the option to change them. That means these rules really do not apply to you. Others? Sure. These rules absolutely apply to others, but you have the option when and when not to apply them. Those whom you delegate your authority to? Yes, they better fucking follow the rules to the letter. Or at least ask when there is a question. All this means that not only do you create the black and white, this also means you control the grey. Now all you have to do is safely navigate all those agreements you’ve made.
Sounds stormy. I'm in.
^The Re-Stoned – Crystals^
What is the feminine for sailor? Is there one?
Sounds like a product. Not that sex isn’t a product.
^The Temptations – I wish it would rain^
Speaking of products, ya know…this “cancel culture” bullshit has me to thinking. All you high and mighty social media powerhouses block the living shit out of people. Someone calls you out? Or says something you don’t like? Or maybe you wish to distance yourself from someone who is currently on the outs because of something they’ve said or done? Maybe even some in your own organization lobby you to close the social media door on a someone because it’ll be good for business?
You unfollow. You mute. You block.
You’re a bandwagon jumper as much as anyone else, a high-powered bandwagon jumper at that, so I really don’t see how you have the right to piss and moan about “cancel culture”. You’re the one setting the fucking trend(s) in the first place by making a big show of distancing yourself from things that hurt your own bottom line. You’re steering the ship, driving the bus and all the while you’re complaining about your own driving.
Thinking about this because two nights ago I made a suggestion for the upcoming Underdog Anthology 13 book name…
Can Sell Culture
I guess I coulda went with “Can’t Sell Culture”, but history has more than aptly demonstrated that, yes, you can sell culture.
You Can Cell A Culture, But You Can’t Sell A Fish
You Can Sell A Culture, But You Can’t Sail A Fish
You Can Sell A Culture, But You Can’t Sail A Sailfish
You Cancel A Culture, But You Can’t Uncancel A Fish
(playing on “you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish”)
Trying to stay within the “2020 = A Fucking Nightmare” motif, and thinking about UK fishing rights/EU, the way(s) these new vaccines work with respect to cells, all the throes social media has gone through this year because of lockdown, all the culture wars bullshit, all the trade wars bullshit, we’re told that this year has been a fucking nightmare. But with respect to the book title, I keep thinking that a break from the obvious might be the most shocking and horrifying title one could come up with.
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Fear
“2020/MMXX – The Year Of The Fear” (and the Year Of The Rat) will be ending soon. 2021 is right around the corner. Year Of The Ox. Bulls and bears and wolves…oh my!
❤ XOXO ❤
^Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year^
John Lamb Lash announced the other day that he will not be doing any more talks. Not for YouTube anyway. No more freebies. No more sample products. No more Gnostic Intel, no more Sophia’s Correction, no more Charlotte Working, no more data on how to navigate these turbid and tempest-tossed waters. The drug has either hooked you and you now need to pony up to get your fix, or join the kebosh or zenosh or whatever in the fuck it is and suffer the consequences of destruction and eternal damnation. Which, that reminds me of something I saw yesterday…
I tried to better simplify his simplification…
I guess I outsimpletoned him…
I’ve heard this argument before. Right vs Privilege, and “taxes are a right”. Meaning, it’s a loopy way of creating a right that demands recompense. We have the right to demand services from our government, which means that paying for this/these service(s) is also a right. The government has a right to demand taxes, and we have a right to pay them because it gives us the right to demand service. You do not have the right to not pay, and they do not have the right to refuse service.
Afterall, we paid, right?
This eventually boils down to the seed of discontent, and an argument to do away with free and open elections, and/or, abolish the party system(s). No telling who is gonna get elected, not telling who they will appoint, and no telling if all of these partisan peeps are gonna give me what I need/want. Even in the professional/more permanent government employees, they are citizens too, they are going to have political affiliations, so its possible that their political views will clash with my own and they will not give me what I need/want. Abolish the parties, and all this polarized and partisan nonsense goes away. No one is left out or punished for their political views, because there are no political views. Just one big happy family living in harmony. Pay your dues, get your booze…simple.
FYI, you need more than one sound to make a harmony. Not to mention that single unwavering frequencies can be damn destructive.
It would appear that there is something built-in/embedded into our Universe that says…I just flat do not want to exist. Or at least, I don’t want to exist for long. Not here, not now, and not like this…I, do not want to exist under these conditions. Hrm…now, where have I heard this tune before?
You belong to the state. You were born into it. Ain’t no escaping it. Unless of course you renounce your current state in order to pledge allegiance to another state. You still belong to the state. A state.
Q: You think it possible that the US Founders saw this coming?
Yeah, this. All this nonsense currently talked about with respect to two Presidents and the country splitting and civil war and all that. Republics don’t have the best of track records. Our forefathers (and mothers) had to know that divisions were going to form at some point and this nation would face endless trials. Question is, did they see it coming, and did they leave us any clues as to how we might proceed? Can we continue to follow your rules, and play your game, your way, and still enjoy a life of our own? Did you protect us with your Constitution? Leave pearly pearls of wisdom in there to guide us? Or did you enslave us, doom us to be fodder for the machine?
Tough questions for sure. Lots to think about.
^#53 Junkie XL – Brothers In Arms (Mad Max Fury Road OST) – Drum Cover^
Perhaps I’m a soppy idealist, but it never really bothered me who was in the White House. They’re an American, and that’s good enough for me irrespective of their politics. The US President is just one of many thousands of politicians in this country, and top to bottom, there ain’t a one of them who could not make my life a living hell if they really wanted to. Some jerkweed on the city council, to a piece of shit state judge, to some dickhead senior senator in the US Congress…lotta power and powers in this country.
Not all of them are elected either. Lots of professionals in the system, and they too can be sand in the engine block if they so choose. Thing is, all these elected folk they’re all sure to be…Americans. Same with the professional folks. They are either citizens, or on their way to being one. They have to have some interest in this country, otherwise, they wouldn’t be here. Could people come to this country, become citizens, and try and work their way into places in order to fuck things up? Of course. Nothing new about that. Moles of all types in all places and foreign influences of all types have been around forever, and it appears they will be around forever, so why not just accept it and deal with it. Let the processes work, and don’t tear down the whole fucking infrastructure just because shit isn’t moving along at a pace that better fits your own personal desires. A little patience might serve you. Afterall, you don’t want someone coming along and picking you up in the morning, then throwing your broken remains into a shallow hole later the same day…do ya?
Nah...I didn't think so.
^Zack Hemsey – “Vengeance”^
So…you’re telling me that the US Postal Service handles somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion pieces of mail each and every day, and yet once every four years we somehow cannot count about 150 million ballots for a single checkmark?
Something doesn't add up here.
There have to be literally thousands of people running for various offices all over the country, and yet you cannot zero in on a single checkmark in a single column for a single race that is the only goddamn nationwide race in the whole fucking country?
Something doesn't add up here.
Most states are likely to only have two candidates on the ballot who are running for US President, so you are telling me that you have a 50/50 shot at getting it right, and you still cannot fucking get it right?
Something doesn't add up here.
BTW, how in the FUCK did a single company get a majority nationwide franchise (30 states I read) on providing voting machines?
Something doesn't add up here.
Are you really telling me that each and every state doesn’t have at least one fucking state-based service provider who could provide that state with voting machines?
Something doesn't add up here.
What’s the matter? You don’t trust the states and their people to do the right thing? Worried about franchising? Can’t you rotate the shit? Are the big companies too worried about getting dealt a small state?
Something doesn't add up here.
And what the fuck is this nonsense about voting data being sent out of the country then coming back in? Why in the bloody hell would voting data ever need to leave the country, its states, or its territories?
Something doesn't add up here.
^Vision Is A Lonely Word^
Gonna leave this space more or less blank because I need to run have a quick fap.
^Enjoy The Silence by KI Theory (Ghost In The Shell Trailer Music)^
Oh yeah, I feel much better. How about you?
So very naughty. So very, very naughty.
A prank like that might gain you a sock to the jaw, but it just may be worth it…lolz…the song that just came up in my playlist is called…Windwalker.
^Mord Fustang – Windwaker [Electro House | Plasmapool]^
I’ve watched more politics in the past 1 or 2 months than in the previous 10 – 15 years.
Nothing appears to have changed.
^Washington Post – Georgia Republicans lambast Trump for election fraud claims^
I now have three friends on Facebook.
Ironically, it’s the same three friends I have on Twitter.
I am popularity.
^White Lines – Tom holkenborg – Infinity (M F Remix)^
Have made a decision to rip the rest of this post out, and put it in the next one. That way, I’m not sending a 15+ page post to Roob, and she doesn’t have a seizure when she sees it. Nor will she be as likely to develop PTSD after having to edit/format it.
That ok with you/ya'll?
Cool…THX…you’re very sweet. Oh, and the colors theme, will continue.
Assuming you even noticed.
^I Wish it Would Rain Down ( with Lyrics ) – Phil Collins^
^Psychedelic Indian Fusion: Tikki Masala – Euphoriant^
*Indeed, that very idea was mooted at this morning’s team meeting, Clicky… /stubs butt…*
… We’ll be back later this week, Dear Reader, with Part 2 of Cade’s Missive, and a link for Underdog Anthology XIII: Coronamas. Until then, have a Song…
‘The longing for a distant place also necessarily involves a separation in time.’
*Connecting Veras? …/winks… Nice syncing, Clicky…*
Last evening, Dear Reader, Cade Fon Apollyon and I remote viewed an old movie from 1972. I hadn’t seen ‘What’s Up Doc?’ since I was a teenager, lying on the front room carpet, surrounded by family, watching it on the telly…
… It got me to thinking about John Lamb Lash’s Fallen Goddess Scenario, an how homesick the Aeon Sophia probably feels…
*Whether she was tripped, jumped or fell from the Galactic Centre, the Gnostics referred to Sophia’s fall as an ‘accident’, Clicky… /clears throat…*
… How many billions of years she would have traveled, and will still have to travel to reach her home…
*Oh yeah, Lashy mentioned a dragon… /stubs butt… Cosplay’s the thing…*
… And that she must get lonely sometimes…
*Did he say ‘alright’ or ‘all right’?*
*Pfft… /rolls eyes… That election was rigged as fuck. Blatant…*
… Ooh, that reminds me, Dear Reader. A couple of weeks ago, Leg Iron Books published all my Underdog Anthology stories in one volume…
… Currently it’s ranked 32,656 in ‘Erotic Literature & Fiction’ at Amazon…
*Jus’ free pence short. Yikes! My first ever royalties…*
… The Underdog Anthology, numero XIII is due out this weekend. I have a brand new story in there. It’s a follow-up to ‘What Time Do You Finish?’…
*And how! …/smirks…*
… And there will be a new Missive From ‘Merica from Cade the Okie Devil of Text US, here tomorrow. Woo Hoo! 😀 We’ll see you then and… Have a Song 😉
*Ha! I saw your spoiler post in the week, Clicky… /lights up and smokes… You are really enjoying this US election, aren’t you…*
*Eww, that’s what that smell is… /wrinkles nose… Go and have a bath. I’ll take it from here…*
Happy Halloween, Dear Reader 😀 Today we are delighted to present for you my short story from Underdog Anthology XII: Mask-Querade…
… called ‘What Time Do You Finish?’. Now, if you like it, Dear Reader, you might want to invest in a copy of the anthology, as it is chocked full with stories far creepier than mine. Enjoy! 😉
What Time Do You Finish?
By Roo B. Doo
It is said that Halloween is the time of year when the veil between dimensions is worn at its thinnest. In the year 2020, when a global viral pandemic, violent rioting and supermarket socially distanced queues dominated everyday life, that boundary thickness could be considered as flimsy as paper medical face mask. Why, an errant finger could easily pierce it.
God adjusted the mask across her visage, hoping no one would notice the ragged hole, and also that nothing too nasty had fallen through the breach on her sweet breath.
“How the hell am I supposed to know when we are?” Death snapped and glared up from inside the impenetrable blackness of his cowl at the three ominous figures surrounding him. They stood huddled at the junction of Great Russell and Bloomsbury Streets in London’s bustling West End. It was night, it was cold and, save for the motley quartet, the streets were completely deserted.
“Becoz yur Death,” the first figure hissed and bared vampiric fangs. Famine appeared tall and angular, dressed in a tuxedo, silk lined cape, and with a countenance so pale, it could only have been achieved by avoiding sunlight at any and all costs.
“Because you have the contraption,” the second figure added angrily. War appeared to be a smart businesswoman, confident and aggressive, in horn-rimmed glasses, sharp suit and infinitely sharper stiletto heels.
“AAAAAAAGH!” the third figure groaned as a fat, black housefly zig-zagged across a sunken cheek, before disappearing into a filth-caked nostril. Pestilence appeared to be a zombie; slack mouthed, grey decaying flesh and milk white, opaque eyes.
“No, Pesto, I don’t know what happened to the horses,” Death answered his rotting companion. He pulled himself up to his full height of three feet and three inches, retrieved a battered Psion organiser from beneath the folds of his robe, and unsheathed it with a satisfying pop. “I don’t understand it,” he cried, “transport’s always been laid on before.”
War, Famine and Pestilence stood in silence, watching over the diminutive but perfectly formed grim reaper, as he punched the keys of the electronic organiser with a gleaming phalange, and waited.
Click. Click. Click, click, click… click.
“Well?” War said impatiently. “We’re in London, that much is for sure. The British Museum is over there.”
Pestilence’s body did not move a single rotting muscle, but his head turned an unearthly 180° to follow the direction that War’s crimson painted talon was pointing in. “UGH WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!”
“Ve don’t know if ve are zupposed to go zere.” Famine reached out and clasped either side of Pestilence’s head, twisting it back into a front facing position. “Ve don’t know vy ve are even here. Death, vot iz taking you zo long to find out?”
“Wait…” Death did not look up.
Click. Click, click. Click.
Death peered hard at the tiny screen on the Psion, before shaking it hard. “I dunno. It’s not working. Maybe the Cosmic Consciousness Neural Net is down again,” he said with a shrug.
“Argh!” War howled. She reached down and grabbed Death by the front of his robe and lifted him up to face height. Behind her glasses, War’s eyes blazed with fire. “That’s just brilliant! Ace! Fun-fucking-tastic, Death! What are we meant to do now?”
The dead weight of Pestilence’s arm slapped War on the shoulder. “WAAAGH UGH!”
“Yez, yez, yez, ve should all calm down,” Famine said smoothly, pulling Death from War’s tight grasp and setting him back on the pavement. He plucked Pestilence’s arm from War’s shoulder before she could rip it from its socket. “It does no good for uz to get agitated. Ve need to zink vot haz happened.”
“Exactly right, Famine,” Death injected in agreement. “Let’s look at what we do know.” He pushed himself free of the huddle and turned to face his companions. “We’ve got War, Famine, Pestilence and yours truly.” He began to glide, circling the trio. “The ultimate harbingers of doom and bringers of great tribulation. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-”
“Sans horses, indeed. Most irregular. Literally dropped, without warning, in the middle of London-”
“Clos to ze British Muzeum,” Famine interrupted.
“Correct. So we know where we are but we don’t know when we are-”
“Late twentieth, early twenty first century, I’d say, from the smell of the air,” War joined in. “Plus it’s night time and it’s bloody freezing.”
“A winter’s night, yes. Probably accounts for the lack of any activity about-”
Death glided to a stop. “Your right, Pesto; there should be people about, even in winter. A big city like this produces lots of traffic-”
“Yez,” Famine mused, loudly tapping on his fangs in contemplation. “No motor vehicles hav passed by since ve arrived.”
Death nodded slowly, then looked up at the sky. One by one, War, Famine and Pestilence followed Death’s gaze.
“Nope, too much cloud cover and light pollution. I can’t see any stars to work out when we are.”
“I have a very bad feeling about this,” War whispered hoarsely.
“WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!” Pestilence groaned.
“I agree, Pestilence, my dear friend. It haz to be a mistake,” Famine said solemnly. “An accident.”
“Possibly. We’d better start walking,” Death said and glided away down Bloomsbury Street, in the direction of Covent Garden.
War, Famine and Pestilence looked at each other and muttered darkly.
“Hold it, short-arse,” War barked. “Where exactly are we walking to? I can’t go far in these heels. They’re fucking murder.”
Pestilence dropped a shoulder and lurched awkwardly after Death. “AAAAAAAGH WAAAGH AAAAAAAGH!”
“Seriously? You’re going to follow him?” War shouted after the hunched and shambling figure of Pestilence. “You’ll disintegrate before you reach the end of this street, you noxious pile of pus! ”
Famine took War’s hands between his own, bowed deeply and lightly kissed her clenched fists until they opened. “Don’t vorry, my dear lady. I vill speak to Death.” Gently, he tugged on War so that she tottered forward with unsteady steps. “Please, come. Valk slowly. I vill talk to him.” With that, Famine turned into a giant bat and flew off in the direction of Death.
War roared with frustration but continued to follow the others. “I have Birkenstocks, you know. Why couldn’t I have manifested in my fucking Birkenstocks…”
Death heard wop-wopping wing beats approach from behind, and felt the change in air pressure as Famine flew over his head. He glided slowly until he reached his suave compadre, who stood in the middle of the pavement, arms wide, cape billowing and fangs bared.
“Death, stop please,” Famine pleaded. “Vor and Pestilence are in no fit state to valk far. Look.” He gestured back to the way they’d come. Pestilence jerked along slowly in the middle distance, with War following on behind, daintily sidestepping the trail of fleshy ooze left in Pestilence’s wake.
“Death, Death,” Famine cooed, “You know ve vould valk to the ends of ze vorld vid you, but you must tell us, vere are you taking us?”
Death paused and looked up, appraising his companion – Famine: always hungry, never sated, forever empty; his vampire appearance was more than apt. Pestilence, too, in zombie form was unrelenting, poisoning everything, even the very air. War, however, was a puzzler unless she represented a battle of the sexes. Should War shatter the fabled glass ceiling, Death was certain she would then set about slitting every available throat with the deadly shards.
What about me, though? I’m exactly the same, I haven’t changed, Death wondered. The inside of his skull began to itch. He sighed and shook his head. This whole situation was wrong and he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was missing something. Something big. Something important.
“Death?” Famine snapped his fingers rapidly. “Vere are ve going?” he demanded.
“To the Embankment, Famine. To Cleopatra’s Needle.”
“Ov course!” Famine slapped the palm of his hand against his widow’s peaked forehead. “Ze ancient Egyptian Obelisks of Time! Ve can return to ze hintervorld by way ov Cleopatra’s Needle! Zat iz super fine zinking, Death. No vonder yur the leader.”
“I-” Death suddenly cocked his head to one side. “Can you hear that?”
There was a low rumble in the distance but it was gradually getting louder, moving nearer. Death and Famine watched as at first, War turned her head to look behind, following the direction of the sound, then Pestilence slowly shuffled round to see what was making the noise. Further back in the distance, Death could just make out a dim rectangle of orange light, floating closer through the darkness, getting brighter. War began to wave her arms and shout.
“AAAAAAAGH!” Pestilence bellowed.
Death and Famine glanced at each other before racing back towards Pestilence and War. “Taxi!” they shouted in unison, tinged of relief.
War, Famine and Pestilence sat in abject silence in the back of the taxi; the three separated from Death and the taxi driver in the front by a transparent sheet of plexiglass, with only a narrow slot cut into it for the exchange of money.
Excuse me while I light my spliff…
“Spliff,” the taxi driver sang along to the bassy sound of Bob Marley and the Wailers coming through the speakers.
Oh God I gotta take a lift…
“Lift.” The taxi driver turned toward Death and gave him a beaming smile.
From reality I just can’t drift…
That’s why I am staying with this riff…
“Riff.” The taxi driver chuckled and tapped his hands on the top of the steering wheel, in time with the music. “Easy Skanking. Hell, I love this song.”
Death looked out of his side window. The feeling that something was wrong had only intensified as the empty London streets rushed by. He cursed the broken Psion organiser tucked inside his robes. Bloody useless technology. Give me an hourglass any day, he thought sourly.
“Good party, was it?” the taxi driver asked.
“Huh?” Death replied, perplexed by the driver’s question.
The taxi driver laughed. “The fancy dress party. Your costumes are sweet. I thought the government had cancelled Halloween because of the Rona.”
Death stiffened and the itching inside his skull increased. “Halloween’s been cancelled?”
“Yeah man, Christmas too if we’re not lucky,” the taxi driver replied.
“What year is… it?” Death asked slowly.
The taxi driver sucked his teeth contemptuously. “What you mean what year is it? It’s 2020, child. Where have you been?”
A burst of realisation exploded through Death’s train of consciousness: It’s 2020: the year anything happened! The year when pandemic waves of Coronavirus and Karenitus swept the globe, resulting in lockdowns, economic disaster and civil unrest. Things are starting to make sense now! Even so, the itch continued to irritate the inside of Death’s skull.
Cigar smoke suddenly filled the front of the taxi. Death coughed and tapped on the sign affixed to the console. “That says ‘No Smoking’.”
The taxi driver grinned at Death, a smoking cigar butt jauntily perched from the corner of his mouth. “2020, child. Donch ya know the saying? ‘A smoke a day keeps the Rona at bay’.” He laughed heartily and bounced up and down in his seat with mirth. “Besides, who’s gonna stop me? Look about you, my small friend. There’s no one around to say shit about it.”
If Death still had eyes, they would have been rolling round his ocular cavities. “Hey guys.” He shouted to the others through the slot in the plexiglass. “Problem solved: it’s 2020.”
“Tventy Tventy! Hellz Bellz!” Famine exclaimed.
Pestilence gave a guttural groan. “WAAAGH UGH AAAAAAAGH!”
“Yes, but what’s the date?” War demanded nervously.
“It’s the 31st October, sugar,” the taxi driver called back. “Happy Halloween.”
The taxi stopped at the end of Temple Place. In front lay the deserted Embankment. Along side it, the river Thames flowed swiftly past, glittering lights shimmered on its rippled surface, as above the clouds began to separate, clear, and finally reveal the celestial occupants of the night sky. The taxi driver nonchalantly flicked a switch on his dashboard, locking all the vehicle doors with a loud clunk.
“Oh no,” War murmured gravely and pressed her hands hard against her stomach. “No, no, no!”
“Vot iz it, Vor?” Famine asked with rising alarm.
A shaft of moonlight hit the taxi as it slowly pulled right out of the junction and onto the empty Embankment, illuminating its interior. The Moon was bright, it was clear and it was very full.
“It’s my monthlies,” War whined, sliding off her seat and onto all fours. Her jaw elongated and wiry tufts of fur sprang from her gnarly brow, knocking War’s horn-rimmed glasses from her face. “I don’t fucking believe this. Why nowOOOO!”
“Now this is a great song. One of the Skipper’s best,” the taxi driver exclaimed, ignoring the howling and growling, and blood-curdling shrieks of panic coming from the back of the cab, as the previously smart and professional War transformed into a ferocious and carnal beast. He turned up the volume on his stereo and began to croon along,
Until the philosophy, which hold one race superior and another. Inferior. Is finally. And permanently. Discredited. And abandoned. Everywhere is war. Me say war.
“Vot? NOOOO! Get avay! Get avay!” Famine screamed and impotently fumbled with the taxi’s doors handles. They were securely locked, however; there would be no escape.
Death sat stock still, strapped in tight and listened in horror to the sound of Famine and Pestilence being ripped apart by the slavering jaws and slashing claws of a werewolf that appeared to be War.
“How’s you seat, child?” the taxi driver asked slyly.
“I’m not a child,” Death tersely replied.
“UGH!” Pestilence’s bloody fingers abruptly thrust through the slot in the plexiglass, twitched once, then lay limp.
“I know, I know, little man. No offence intended.” The taxi driver continued. “That space you’re occupying used to be for luggage, but times are hard and last year it was converted into a child seat,” he explained. “Good thing for you, eh?”
The heavy silence that fell between the driver and his passenger was punctured by the sound of wet chomps and crunching bone emanating from the back of the cab.
The itch in Death skull stopped, but the very fabric of reality now took up its cause.
“Scratch?” Death asked tentatively.
“Who else you expecting?” the Devil, who appeared to be a smirking, smoking taxi driver, replied. The vehicle slowed to a stop next to Cleopatra’s Needle. “Now hurry up and spit it out. It’s time for you to leave.”
Death paused; it felt like eternity. Finally he asked, “Why?”
“Why?” Old Scratch puffed on his cigar, the shit-eating grin never leaving his face. “Why, Armageddon, little man. What did you think this is?”
Death was flummoxed. In his long existence, he had never been flummoxed before. It was a new sensation, but not one he’d ever longed for.
Old Scratch patted him on the head, then reached up to retrieve a folded piece of paper from behind the sun visor. “I got a letter last year, see,” he explained. He unfolded the page and glanced down at the childish writing on it. “From a sweet, innocent child. A touch dyslexic, but with the purest soul ever to inhabit a human body. What could I do?” He offered the letter to Death. “My heart just melted.”
Death took the letter from Old Scratch and began to read aloud: “’Dear Satan. My name is Molly and I have everything I will ever need. Can you please help everybody else in the world by ending hunger, pollution and war. This is my Christmas wish. Thank you. Molly Darling, age 6. P.S. I hope you are well.’”
“So considerate and polite,” Old Scratch sighed, taking the letter back.
All the stars in the heavens swirled furiously inside Death’s skull. He mentally grappled with the raging storm, searching for a handhold on his sanity. “War ended Pestilence and Famine, but War isn’t dead.”
“You sure? Can’t hear no breathing back there.”
Death swiftly unlocked his seatbelt and stood up on his seat. The plexiglass was no longer transparent, but smeared red with blood and gore. He pushed the dead fingers of Pestilence back through the slot and heard a splash as the severed hand they were attached to thudded to the floor of the taxi. Death peered through the gap and saw War lying naked and smoothly pale in the bloodbath. A chunk of half chewed greenish meat fell free from her lifeless lips.
“WooEE! That Pesto sure was ripe!” Old Scratch said, opening his window and flicking out ash from his cigar. “Bad meat. Never eat it. Always, always, insist on fresh.”
Death pulled away from the sight of the abomination in the back of the taxi and sat back down in his seat. “But how can it be Armageddon if War, Famine and Pestilence are gone?”
Old Scratch punched the numbers on the keyboard of the dashboard fare display. “With no hunger, there will be obesity, so humanity will become slovenly and fat, lazy and satisfied. No war means no competition, no goals to achieve, so mankind will lose its desire to better itself. And the elimination of pollution is a sure fire way of killing any human creativity. I give the species ten years, tops.”
“But there will be death,” Death whispered softly.
“Oh indeed, you’re still needed. You have a busy time ahead of you, little man. That’ll be six six six.”
Death snapped his head back to face the Devil in the driver’s seat. “What?”
Old Scratch laughed and pointed to the fare metre. “Six pounds, sixty six.” He gave a phlegmy cough and waved Death away. “Just kidding. For you, child, no charge,” he said gleefully.
*Ah, that’s much better, Clicky… /stubs butt… Do try to keep clean…*
We hope you enjoyed the story, Dear Reader, and that you will consider purchasing a copy of the latest Underdog Anthology…
*”By the book”… /thinks… Who was the 37th President of America, Clicky?*
*/rolls eyes… Elementary, dear Clicky…*