As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.
PulpBusters is a presentation of bone-chilling buffoonery, nerve-wracking silliness, and twisted nitwittery by “Amoral Crackpot” Steve Arviso.
Please remember to keep your arms and legs inside the sheets at all times. There's no telling what might attempt to snatch them off you, is there?
From the personal journal of Dr. Howard Fine:
Feeding exclusively on those threads of time and space intertwined with some poor soul's untimely, traumatic death, the D'ja Vu'larian's morbid appetite is seen by some as a cosmic blessing in disguise.
Effectively a wholesale rejection of death itself, these individuals...I hesitate to call them "victims"...regain consciousness sometime in their own past, with only a faint, dreamlike recollection of what transpired.
But much like those affected by a Chronopiller, there is a serious philosophical discussion to be had regarding that lost part of us, devoured moment-by-moment, and now slowly digesting in the belly of some great, trans-dimensional worm.
THE LAST LIGHT
As the last light faded, the woman reached for the boy. "Close your eyes," she said.
"Will I see you again?" he asked.
"No," she said, listening to the wet, unearthly sounds of the darkness. "And if there's any mercy left in the world, you'll never see what comes next."
From the personal journal of Dr. Howard Fine:
When I first met Audrey McGuire in the bar of a hotel on the outskirts of Los Angeles, she was a fiery shock of red hair poured into a full skirt dress that teased a curvy figure beneath.
Her full, blood-red lips pouted at me as she performed a sob story about needing money for a bus ticket to Indianapolis, to stay with her mother after her husband had raised his hand to her one time too many.
The second time we met, Audrey was a willowy blonde wearing long boots and a short skirt, lying through thin lips about visiting her sister in San Francisco.
The third time we met, I observed Audrey gracefully flowing from one potential mark to the next, shedding her previous appearance between tables before seamlessly slipping into a new life with a single, gentle touch of each man's hand.
One moment, she's an olive-skinned beauty in a cardigan distracting a married man with her piercing blue eyes as she steals his wallet. The next, she's laughing it up with a group of drunken suits pawing at a pair of milky thighs exposed by the short hem of her fashionable Mod dress.
I never gave a second thought to the way she'd temporarily leave with this or that man as she wore this or that face–sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes for mere minutes. But when some loud, dark-haired stranger in an expensive suit dragged Audrey away by the wrist, the panicked look she shot my way from a hauntingly familiar face convinced me to follow close behind.
I caught up to Audrey and that dark-haired stranger in the stairwell, just in time to hear a cry of pain closely followed by a drunken voice demanding to know why he had to hear from the boys at the office that his wife was moonlighting as a whore in a hotel bar.
Cynthia. Some poor housewife named Cynthia was probably somewhere cooking dinner for a husband she didn't know was drunk in the stairwell of a hotel, threatening a frightened woman wearing her face.
And as Cynthia's face attempted to lie her way out of a literal corner, Cynthia's husband raised his hand. But as he raised his hand, her face changed. Her left eye darkened and swelled shut. Her bottom lip split and bled. And bruises appeared on her from head to toe.
Whether by fortune, divine intervention, or alcohol, Cynthia's husband stumbled backward down a flight of stairs and scuttled out the door without another word, looking as if he'd just seen a ghost. Then once we were both sure he wasn't coming back, I returned to the bar with a woman who looked like my dead wife.
Over the next several hours and drinks, I found myself lost in the glittering hazel eyes and gentle lines of my wife's face as she shared the story of a life she never lived with a name she never knew. There was mention of a one-bedroom apartment in Shermer, Illinois, some boy named Reggie, and a kiss behind the high school gym that left her with no choice but to leave behind both Shermer and Reggie forever.
As we danced, the woman I struggled to call Audrey inquired about my work with childish wonder and glee. And as I explained the nature of the microscopic Sutherland Fluke coiled around both her central and peripheral nervous system, how it allowed her body to instinctively reshape itself in reaction to physical and emotional stimuli, she pulled her body closer to mine.
Audrey was gone by morning. And while I'm unsure if I've seen her in the years since–or if a person by the name of Audrey McGuire from Shermer, Illinois, ever existed–I do know a lost soul gave a lonely man one last night of happiness. And for that, I will always remember her.
BEFORE THE FALL
As the doctors tended to the dying and the priests prayed for the dead, the living waited in line.
"Would you like a rock to speed things up?" the councilman asked.
"Will it cushion my fall?"
"Would it help if I lied?"
"Exactly," the councilman replied with a push.
METEO’KAR: CHAMPION OF SPACE
A pro wrestler is accidentally forced into the role of the World's Champion... and beyond.
From the moment he witnessed "Crippling" Ed Diction throw Coconut Swallows into an on-coming car outside Classy Lou's in Fontana, John always wanted to be a pro wrestler.
One morning, thirty-seven years earlier, Johnny's Uncle Ronnie decided they would take a little detour to a stripmall rather than to Johnny's school. When Johnny asked if they were here for a round of bowling or pool supplies, Ronnie laughed and laughed and walked inside Classy Lou's without another word. And while Johnny appreciated Ronnie leaving the radio on, he still couldn't help but be a little disappointed that they weren't here for a new pool skimmer.
Fifteen minutes later, sometime during Steve Perry's repeated insistence that he is, in fact, still someone's Steve Perry, Uncle Ronnie stepped back out of Classy Lou's. At least in the sense that Mr. Diction threw Ronnie by the mustache out the door and onto the asphalt. And as he witnessed some sort of criminal act in progress, Johnny noticed Mr. Diction was a rather large man capable of hurting a man much, much smaller, fatter, and drunker than him with great ease and immense pleasure.
Sometime around his ninth birthday, Johnny thought to ask his mother if she'd heard from Uncle Ronnie recently.
"Who the shit is Uncle Ronnie?" she replied in that way when one really, really wants to know who the absolute shit is Uncle Ronnie.
And now as he stood before the holographic projection of a trio of teeny-headed, large-bellied men in oversized robes, somewhere in the middle of a large arena filled to capacity with a live crowd of thousands and trillions watching illegal streams on the space-internet, John wondered why he was thinking about the man his father allowed to sleep in their driveway on alternative Tuesday and Thursday nights for the better part of two years.
"Who the Hell do you think you are?" the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on the left gurgled.
"I think there's been some sort of mistake," John said.
"You're damn right," the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on the right jowled, banging his fist on a table that wasn't there, yet somehow made a noise anyway. "You've interfered with forces beyond your comprehension."
The third teeny-headed, large-bellied man said nothing and fiddled with something in his hands as the other two looked on, waiting.
"Yeah. Okay," the left one eventually said. "Look. We appreciate our independent contractors taking the initiative and blah-blah-blah, we simply can't have someone succeeding on their own merits."
"What Book'urr means," the right one interjected, "is that, while we love - while the fans--"
The arena roared to life, then immediately silenced.
"What the Hell?" John asked of no one, but, really, would have loved for anyone to reply with even a guess.
The right one continued as if he hadn't just been interrupted by thousands of Flimflammians and Goozles eerily precise cheering, "love you - we simply can't afford to abandon our plans now."
"Plans?" John asked, this time specifically of the very strange men saying very strange things in this very strange place.
"He knows of the plans!" Book'urr exclaimed, turning to the teeny-headed, large-bellied man on John's right, but to his left. "Pen-Sil, he knows of the plans!"
"Who are you?" Pen-Sil demanded.
"Did Phil send you?" Book'urr added, fairly certain it was, in fact, Phil, that sonnovabitch.
"That asshole knows he can't run shows here."
"I don't know who Phil is," John assured them.
"Well," Book'urr said, "who the Hell are you then?"
John considered this. "Nobody."
Pen-Sil scoffed. "You dare play games now, Boy?"
"Seriously," John insisted. "I'm just - just some mediocre nobody who won the World Championship of freakin' Fountain Valley."
"Meteo'kar!" Pen-Sil bellowed.
"I don't care if you are your World's Champion--"
"Of Fountain Valley," John repeated. "I feel like it's very important right now that I emphasize that, again, I am world champion of Fountain Valley - a city known for a bowling alley, a park, and existing. In that order."
Pen-Sil continued as if John hadn't said a word, "insist on unraveling our handwork willy-nilly--"
"I don't. Really, I don't," John interrupted, yet again. "Also, did you just say, 'willy-nilly'?"
"Enough!" Book'urr drools. "Nobody uses such language with the Promoters of the Universe!"
Pen-Sil turned to the middle teeny-headed, large-bellied man. "What say you, General Manager?"
The middle teeny-headed, large-bellied man looked up from whatever was more important than whatever this is. "For your transgression, you are to compete one-on-one with,” he dramatically paused, “the Overseller!"
The crowd roared. A man squealed with a bit too much delight. And John stood there even more confused than before, and wishing he'd canceled on Pete at the last minute like he had kinda, sorta wanted to.
"Beseech me, Contestant!" General Manager smiled.
To be continued…
THE END BITS NOBODY CARES MUCH FOR
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE