@ellowrites Another excerpt for a new story, one of tentacles, armored purple people, and a loser caught between the gears...
by Adrian "Murky Master" Delgado
Some grandma out in Texas was getting ripped off, not too long ago.
She gave her desktop to a young man in a little computer store that otherwise had a good reputation. Couldn’t get into it anymore, she said.
Probably had some viruses on it, she said. That’s what the tech that claimed he was from Microsoft told her when he called her out of the blue to help her with a problem she didn't know she had, she said.
She gave it to him yesterday, late in the afternoon. His cold fingers hadn’t moved its dust by late the next morning.
Axel loved to work hard, but hesitated at all the starts. Mortals had stingy gods or ungenerous laws of science that only gave them pocketfuls of seconds to kill their “Did I do enough today” anxieties. Axel had not yet learned how to use his effectively. He was a procrastinator, perhaps even a victim of ADD, but could not afford to find out if he had such a disease. All he had was talent with things that beeped loudly when they were very sick, and time to burn, and a bucket of guilt.
And though he had wasted plenty of hours already, a giant urge, one that Axel loved to indulge, called for a little bit more fun. More mayhem to his tightening schedule.
He explained the plan to himself, in a harsh, angry whisper. “You know what, I’m gonna fucking do it. I am going to get a big, sexy, fucking danish, put that shit in my mouth, and eat it. Not like she’s the fuck around to stop me anymore...”
His urges, himself, had the rationale for this violation of a decent working ethic. A danish that would add another drop to his overflowing cup of adipocytes had to be tasted first, before the old lady that just wanted to get her granbabies pictures back could see her fixed income turn into a fixed computer. He didn’t say “I’ll get a motherfucking danish after I finish my work.”
Tea knew all about Axel’s lust. That’s why there was only one pillow on the bed now. That’s why there are no more Lovecraft books or wire sculptures or pads or makeup or bras or anything that was for her and her alone in his house anymore. That why her chastisements, her threats, her wisdom did not scent the air with dread and hurt and hope for a better tomorrow. Not anymore. She could stop him from hurting himself, stop him on a dime, when he loved her.
Number 2 also knew just what Axel was incapable of, and that is precisely why it was there in the computer shop, leaning against the counter in tight jeans and a fine maroon button up, shining necklace hanging from a 30 year old’s woman’s swan white neck under blue, dove-soft, eyes. Number 2 was here to see what Axel WOULD do, when squeezed very hard...
Invisible to Axel’s watery mortal eyes, 2 listened with a manager’s care. Axel monologued with his audience of tiny screwdrivers over the pros and cons of convenience store pastries, especially in the contexts of body pride (Its wrong to bully people based on their weight), personal health (self-inflicted obesity = suicide the danishes have a delicious variety of toxic food additives), Tea’s thoughts on the matter (”I want you to live a long time with me.” “I don’t want a fat husband”), and how tired he was of listening to good advice.
Some foreign, internal urge told Number 2 to wave its gentle hand and fan Axel’s cowardice dry: his soliloquies were uninspired, delusional and deformed. He was out of shape for the kind of work that was coming. Really, if you put Axel on paper his desire to do right would be quite high, but everything else it seemed was triple digits under the x-axis. He was not ready for real life, much less the quasi-reality, the mutant truth that was stepping in.
But Axel’s re-calibration wasn’t in the plan. They needed him to stay a break-fix. They would not let him run smoothly. Why, 2 wondered, chewing an end of hair that was no more real than what she looked like now.
A twinge pinched 2’s left temple. Gooseflesh rose on its skin.
The creature was here. The beast Number 2 had been waiting for had finally arrived.
A cloud of light solidified into the form of a giant next to the oblivious Axel. A forgotten instinct tensed the muscles of 2, the godlike: fear, an old friend 2 had not seen in years, stroked its spine.
Axel pushed against gravity, which pulled him more everyday, and began to turn his chair towards the door that we lead him out of the computer shop and into the convenience store a couple shops down in the strip, like aiming a gun at his ambitions of being slim again, like when he would run a quarter mile everyday, before seeing Tea, then his girlfriend. Tea, his life reflected, toggled, and warmed, he sometimes thought of her.
And in that 270 degree arc, Axel saw the beast’s back.
It could only be described with the strongest similes: arms like old trees, legs like courthouse pillars, chest like a prison wall, and a head bald as a new door knob. It was masculine-shaped, hyper-masculine in fact: the impossible kind of body that boys are taught to aspire to by evil TV and old-minded fathers. The body that boys like Axel wisely disbelieve as fantasy, until they watch their friends turn into specimens of that impossibility, or at least something closer to the ideal than they ever could be. A mysandrinstic body.
A polished, brand-new sword longer than Axel was tall hung in a leather frog at its left hip, leaning against a dark leather kilt that smelled tanned today. Minutiae of impractical armor sprinkled its chest, protecting the vitals from little, but explaining slowly and clearly that this monster knew how to kill very well, but was very inept at being hit back.
And as for the skin: the beast was covered in tiny scales colored an eye-straining royal purple.
It knew its job all along: the monster picked up the store owner’s old cathode ray 30” television from the cheap fiberboard shelf it sat on, and hurled it through the west wall. It blasted through with a loud crash-pop, rolled gaily for several yards on the plump, green lawn between the computer shop and Eagle Laundry, and smashed to a stop against the laundry’s cinderblock wall.
But the purple man was not finished with his construction project. The beast kicked more chunks out of this wall. The beast could do the same to Axel, and would only get a little wet for its trouble.
The Adonis stepped out into a glaring sun, and headed for the laundromat at a confident pace. An easy pace.
Axel stood gently: very, very gently, shaking with a heartbeat stronger than he felt in years.
He started to creep to the front door, to leave the beast to do whatever it was going to do, with that sword, to those people he didn’t know in the laundry. Whatever destruction and carnage Mr. Purple wrought, it wasn’t Axel’s problem, and wasn’t one he could solve anyway. He would just be in the way, he assured himself,
Axel was just about to take his third step when he heard a scream of metal. He turned.
Mr. Purple arms lifted the laundry’s condenser unit above its gleaming purple scalp. Metal and wire hung and swung freely, as the beast raised the iron chunk over its head.
Mr. Purple raised a foot off the ground, bent backwards like a palm in a Gulf of Mexico maelstrom, and snapped forward like the storm suddenly died. The condenser exploded, the cinderblocks disintegrated and the stand up dryers on the other side of the wall leaped forward. As the launders slipped on suds and stood agape, the dryers fell into their small, shielding arms.
And as the beast stepped into the building, Axel found he could no longer run away, or even move, save for blinking uselessly.
The building was now dead: its 240 volt A/C pulse flatlined by the damage. Darkness danced happily in the bass beat of the launders beating on the electric sliding doors that would not open.
They cried out their last screams.
The monster was stepping inside. And his hand was reaching for his sword...
Axel’s skin wept with sweat. Helplessness, the only thing Axel owned that Tea would not take with her, welded his feet to the floor.
And then strangely, perhaps even magically, this helplessness, that he allowed to hinder him so long turned to a frustration, then an indignation, then a hot rage.
Number 2 watched Axel carefully, saved the look on Axel’s face in her mind. Soft, meaty fatty check twisted into a snarl. Anger, and determination, like heat waves.
Axel lurched forward, in an awkward bolt/dive for a small chunk of cinderblock in front of him. His hand clawed it. His left foot planted itself before him at a strong angle. His arm flapped in the hot July air as it swung back. Like a whip, he loosed his ammo.
Purple’s head was so hard that it gave an audible crack-thump sort of sound, when the bullet struck precisely where Axel aimed it.
Axel was elated, briefly.
But then screams in the laundromat continued, and Mr. Purple’s courthouse-pillar legs began to pivot, bringing his overlarge body to an about-face.
When the shadows peeled away from its face, Axel saw eyes of solid gold, and teeth of ivory as pointed as a wolf’s, behind a smile twisted with hunger, hate, and joy.
Axel's rage melted back to sanity and his accustomed weakness. He backed up one step at a time, to the beat of the stream of “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…” pouring from his mouth.
Then the monster’s smile began to fade into concentration. Mr. Purple stooped, and its giant hand pivoted slowly to a relatively whole cinder block. Axel stopped, stupidly, and watched the monster’s fingers envelop the whole thing like a softball. Projectile in hand, the monster slowly rose back to standing.
Axel gulped, and the beast frowned, as it aimed.
And Number 2? Only watched.
Two could play, the monster seemed to say. The monster hurled back its arm. Axel bent his knees.
The beast shot the brick with all the foot-pounds his muscles could give it, and he had plenty in store. The wind cried as grainy concrete pierced the air.
At the same time, Axel pushed against the ground with all that his every fiber of his flabby leg muscles.
And Axel leaped hard and fast... towards it.
The cinder block struck Axel full on in the face with a satisfying crunch, smashing his brains so hard that they leaked out of the ears a little bit. His corpse twirled neatly in the air, then thudded to the grass below. One more twitch, and it was done.
Number 2 closed its green eyes and shook its brown pageant curls. “Idiot”.
#excerpt #weirdfiction #loser #bloody #numbers