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THE LOST TAPES

THE 4TH

You wake up and it’s quiet. Unusually dark and quiet.

This is followed by a spotlight above you. This doesn’t look like the ceiling lamp in your bedroom, nor is it positioned like it. There’s also no explanation behind why it was bright enough to wake you – or why your bed now sits in the middle of a circular stage, with stairway rows of empty seats to your far right.

Clearly something isn’t right.

You don’t feel right, and the silence is only making the situation worse – isn’t it?

Have you started to question the voice of narration buzzing its wings in your ear? Who might that be?

Of course, its a completely confused Seesaw siting in his bed. Except, this doesn’t feel like Seesaw. He is wearing street clothes, with smudged facepaint barely streaked across his spooked face. He let’s out a deep breath, as his eyes wander about the space – hoping to grasp onto some level of familiarity.

A whisper seeps through his lips.

“Daddy?”

And then a very normal chuckle follows.

Yes, Daddy. Mr. Labcoat. Dr. Evil. Imagine if I didn’t set this up to where you had a father? Or what about that past? The closet? You’ve been able to use these items to your advantage, and it’s heightened the fear within your opposition – which, of course, gives you some sort of advantage. What would you be without those advantages? What would little Andy be, besides a desperate vagabond, anxious to earn a dime by playing test rat?

Seesaw furrows his eyebrows, trying to make sense of all of this.

“…Test rat?”

The voice continues, as if it can’t hear Seesaw’s reactions.

Oh, but I am grateful. I’m grateful that you came to me – because you became our greatest success! The silver bullet, my peers would say – but of course, all things must come to a conclusion. In your case, your story has reached its last page.

“Wait. What is this? Like, I don’t – what is going on here?”

With a loud, metallic sound of a switch, more lights turn on. He looks out and notices labeled doors – some of them read, “The Arena”, “SeeSaw’s House”, “The Toybox” and then, directly in front of him, was a wardrobe on wheels – the same outfit at least one-hundred times in a row.

My name is Dr. Joseph Haynes – but, in actuality, I’m really a visionary.

“I’m not sick.” Seesaw objects. “I don’t belong here.”

Oh, you most definitely do. I created you.

Seesaw tilts his head, clearly baffled by that statement.

“You created what?”

You. All of you. I created the entire concept of Seesaw. The daytime wrestler and nighttime creep? In fact, all of what you have seen in this last year has just been a part of the test. All of these people that you’ve walked this bridge with? Scientific illusions that I designed.

Everything that you’ve done, or thought about doing, for the last year – has been through my control.

“I-I don’t understand. What have I done to be a part of this game? I don’t want any part of it. I want my family and friends – and I want to leave.”

The voice sighs.

This is how it always is. They’ll come to you, more than willing to do whatever we want them to do just by showing them more money than they’ve seen in their entire life, and they go for it gung-ho. But then, when they come out of it all – they forget the signed the documents, the release forms, and the “Yes” that came out of their mouths before we shut you down.

Suddenly, pieces of paper begin to fall from the rafters – right onto Seesaw’s head.

They’re right here. You were in a bad way, Andy. No place to call your home, hadn’t eaten in days, filthy – scared – because you thought death was about to have its day under the sun and you weren’t ready.

Seesaw looked at himself, slowly scanning from his toe, to his waist, and then started to realize that he wasn’t the person he remembered. It was as if his persona had been wiped clean. He got out of the bed, and that’s when the stand-up cameras beeped on, with their sharp, red lights and started to move on their own, twisting and contorting to get the perfect shot.

Everyone watched you. You were the modern day Truman Burbank – all eyes were entertained, all bellies were sore from the laughter, and children from as far East is to West is to North is to South were charmed, inspired, by the personality that I injected into you. The perfect match, most would say.

Suddenly, the entire OSW roster enters the set – taking their seats in the stairway rows.

You know all of these people?

“Yes? Yes, of course I do! There’s Banzan, and there’s… there’s Rain… and Luke Storm? Yes, that’s definitely Luke Storm, and… and…”

Not a single one of them are who you’ve come to know.

In seconds, the roster in the audience begins to violently peel away their faces – just masks of an illusionary persona. No blood, no pain – just flecks of flake flesh elegantly falling like ceased moths.

Seesaw gasps as he covers his mouth and begins to back away.

“Imposters.” he said, covering his awe-struck, gaping mouth with his hand.

No, they’re all just like you. They were all desperate to earn money, to rebound their lives spontaneously without having to put in the work, and they were willing to sacrifice their original personas in order for me to generate characters that were all driven by one thing – and one thing that was actually in their reach for once.

I have been doing this for a long, long time now, Andy, and this simulation? It’s going to shut down the critics – it’s going to give a brand new understanding to control – to lead human beings down whatever path you want, and stop them when you’re ready. And the best thing about it all? Nobody will ever find out.

Seesaw, still taken aback by the fact that all of the people in the audience now have the attire of familiar wrestlers – but completely different faces now – smiling faces, at that – attempts to respond back.

“Nobody will ever find out? You’re wrong. Dr. Haynes.

They will find out, because I’m getting out of here and getting to the bottom of this, do you understand? You can’t keep me confined against my own will – and if you have, that ends now.”

The voice laughs, then clears his throat.

“I can do whatever I please. Do you see some of these wrestlers that have been here for a long time? That wasn’t by choice, silly. You are its components, its engine, its buttons, its overall wiring – you are everything to the machine and without you – without… them? What do you have left besides a blank page?”

“You said that Seesaw was over. I don’t know what that means, but at least let me live out the rest of my life.”

Oh no can do, buddy. This pencil needs to write, and these fingers need to type, and the best thing about my research is I don’t need you as Seesaw. Nope, I could turn you into anything I wanted; a fireman, a monster, a ghoul, a doppelganger for crying out loud – I am every position to take that action, and I have nobody more to thank than you. In fact, let’s all thank Seesaw for his loyalty to the project – his dedication to me and my creative mind. Here here!

The audience gets to their feet and starts to applaud, hooting and hollering at the same time.

“I don’t want any part of this mindplay, you understand me? Where is the exit?”

Of course you want the mindplay, The voice of Dr. Haynes objects. I gave you a story when you were otherwise nameless – an awkward thought aimlessly floating in someone’s far-too-cluttered mind to give a shit about you. I gave you a name when others simply categorized you under “ones you should avoid”. I gave you gold when the rest of the world gave you grief – and I made you a champion well before you even understood what it took to be one. And now, you want to opt out of your contract?

Seesaw begins to get antsy, stepping backwards and holding his hands up. “I don’t want your stupid contract because your contracts don’t exist. You don’t exist. Do you understand me? YOU DON’T EXIST.”

Are you sure about that, Andy? Or is it you, that truly doesn’t exist?”

Before Seesaw can brace himself, he collapses. He looks down and his legs are gone. Wait, what? All that remain is his head, his arms, and his torso.

“What happened to my legs?!” Seesaw screams, with tears starting to stream down his face.

Oh, I erased them. The voice laughs. You see, Andy. I’ve no time for someone who doesn’t appreciate what I’ve done for them. And I think your time is up.

“Wait, wait!”

But before Seesaw could say another word, the rest of him was quickly erased and removed from this existence. The lights draw down to nothing but the spotlight again – positioned over the empty bed. And after a long pause, the voice finally comes back.

Who’s next?

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IN TOO DEEP

Sea salt lingers in the air and in our nostrils. Seagulls squawk and flap their white wings against the clear blue sky, swooping down and flocking on piers and boardwalks. Fishing trawlers crawl back and forth, combing the ocean, while a distant cruise liner ferries passengers from port to port.

Beachgoers and holidaymakers swarm on the golden sands, baking under the sun. On the water, they chase waves, swim, and surf.

Two young boys lie on their surfboards, away from the crowd, allowing the ebb and flow of the water to gently rock them back and forth.

Looking at his wavy reflection in the glassy sea, the lad with the cobalt mohawk grins ear-to-ear; he always felt at home in the water…

“Hey, Alex!” Calls his redheaded friend, who has a long nose and splotchy complexion.

“What?” Alex replies, without looking up—

Splash!

A torrent of water soaks him, as the other boy laughs tauntingly.

“Come on, Andy!” Alex groans, his sopping mohawk drooping down in front of his eyes.

“Come on, Andy!” Andy parrots. “Let’s play, already!”

The boisterous redhead paddles forwards, eyeing the first of many waves rolling towards them. Alex—having swept his hair back—follows suit, and both boys come to stand on their boards.

“Betcha can’t ride a bigger wave than me!” Andy boasts.

“Yeah, right – I’m the King of the ocean!” Replies Alex, flashing his toothy grin.

The duo proceed to laugh and frolic on the waves, chasing each other and cresting waves. Their prodigious skill and chemistry resemble that of an Olympics synchronised swimming team.

Andy looks back towards the beach. He cups his hands around his mouth and yells.

“Hey, Daddy, are you watching!?”

Alex sails past, blocking him. He glances over his shoulder, in the same direction as Andy.

“Don’t look at him – look at me!”

A soft chuckle seems to carry on the waves.

“Yes, that’s very good, boys!”

Sitting on a stripy blanket under a parasol, sipping on a cocktail of some kind, a bald-headed man smiles and waves at them.

This is what it’s all about. Sun, sea, friends—

A shrill scream pierces the air.

Alex and Andy whip their heads round.

In an instant, everything changes.

Ominous stormclouds gather in the sky, blacking out the sun.

Thick fog descends all around them. Through it, they can just make out the indistinct silhouettes of fleeing beachgoers, their screams quickly drowned out by an eerie silence.

Where are they going? What did they see!?

“Alex…” Andy starts. “I don’t wanna play anymore!”

“Alex!?” He repeats.

“I know!” Alex replies, holding up his hand to stifle his friend. “Your dad will come and get us, right?”

Catching a whiff of something, however, Alex’s pupils dilate.

A metallic scent permeates the air – strong enough to taste it.

The sea swirls and foams, turning a deep crimson.

“Uh-oh…” Andy says, as Alex enters an all too familiar state. “Guess it’s time for Woody’s Roundup!”

Producing a golden lasso from nowhere, the would-be cowboy twirls the rope in the air…

Alex turns to face him. With jet-black eyes, he bears his teeth and lunges for his own friend—

THE LASSO ENSNARES HIM!

ANDY YANKS HIM ONTO HIS BOARD!

Grounded, Alex thrashes around in a bloodlust, but the lasso binds him.

“You’re in a timeout, mister!” Andy wags his finger.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees something.

Looking up, his Adam’s apple bobs up and down.

Gulp!

Dagger-like, a purple fin breaches the water. Carving through the waves, it glides towards them.

Panicking, Andy hurriedly paddles as hard as he can. With Andy onboard, however, the currents prove to be too strong.

Sitting ducks, the boys wait helplessly for a miracle…

The monstrous being to which the fin belongs breaches the surface, kicking up salt and spray—

A demonic shark, bigger than a Megalodon, with tattered bandages wrapped around its purple body.

Terror washes over Andy, whose eyes grow wide.

He pulls it together, for the sake of his friend.

“Don’t worry, buddy – the Superfine Turbine Blast will save us!”

With a snap of his fingers, said Turbine magically appears on the tail-end of their shared surfboard!

The shark opens its mouth, revealing row upon row of jagged teeth!

The Turbine blades start spinning, using the bloody seawater to propel them forwards!

Chomp!

The shark bites Alex’s surfboard in half!

“Come on, hurry!” Andy begs of the Turbine.

Straight as an arrow, they rocket towards the shore – leaving the shark in their wake…

“Phew!” Wiping his brow, Andy looks back over his shoulder.

Having somehow closed the gap, the hellish shark once again hones in on them.

“No fair!” Andy protests, stamping his feet. “Wait until I tell Daddy you’re not playing by the rules!”

Alex breaks his restraints!

The mohawked boy stands up, advancing on his friend.

Andy trips, falling backwards and almost upending the surfboard. He shakes his head fearfully…

BUT ALEX HOLDS OUT HIS HAND!

“Come on, pal!” He says.

Smiling, Andy accepts it.

Pulling him to his feet, Alex’s pupils have returned to normal.

The two boys turn to face their fear.

Bearing down upon them, the shark once again opens its gargantuan jaws.

Staring into the maw of oblivion, the boys fall calm.

Not speaking a word, they wrap an arm round each other’s shoulders.

In this moment, they happen upon a fact that eludes men several times their age: they are mortal. They will die. Their fate is inevitable.

Accepting their mortality with poise and dignity, the boys embrace each other.

The shark comes crashing down…

“Alex!” Andy cries.

“It’s okay.” Alex soothes him.

“Alex!” Andy repeats.

“There’s nothing we can do.” Alex consoles his friend.

“Alex!” Andy continues to yell.

Alex breaks their hug and looks at Andy with a furrowed brow.

Darkness envelops them as the cavernous mouth and serrated teeth swallow them whole—

“ALEX!”

Gasp!

Eyes snapping open, Alex sits bolt upright. He turns his head to the side and spits a mouthful of water onto the floor.

Where is he!?

Looking around in bewilderment, Alex is embarrassed to realise that he’s lying naked on the bathroom floor, in the clutches of a blonde-haired woman – presumably his mother.

“Oh, thank goodness!” She sobs hysterically, clutching her boy tightly. “I thought we’d lost you!”

Muffled footsteps race up the stairs. A moment later, the bald-headed father-figure from the beach tears into the room. Out of breath, he grips the doorframe with one hand, and a cordless phone in the other.

Seeing his son, conscious but vulnerable, having been moments from death, he drops the phone and rushes to comfort the boy, alongside his mother.

As they huddle together, the bathtub gurgles in the background.

The bathwater swirls around the drain, the plug having been pulled when Alex’s mother retrieved her drowning son from the tub.

From inside the plughole, row upon row of decaying teeth stand like tombstones. Bloodied bandages flash past, followed by the malevolent eye of the being who almost snatched Alex from this world.

The Sandman.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

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SAFE SPACE

“Tell me more about this dream.”

We find a man sitting on a couch inside the office of his psychiatrist, a young woman who prompts him to continue his story.

“It’s the same thing every night, doc. I’m running through the fields, hearing the chattering of teeth behind me. I get to the edge of a lake, the chattering getting louder with every passing second. I start to turn around, ready to face whatever it is…and then I wake up.”

The doctor nods with a sense of understanding, scribbling in her notepad with a sense of curiosity in her tone as she continues.

“What is this field like?”

“Cold, damp, like dew has fallen upon it by the time I’m running.”

Another nod, another scribble on the pages of the doctor’s notepad.

“Tell me, what have you been anxious about lately?”

The man turns to look at her, utter confusion shown on his face.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Dreams like these usually come from a sense of fear or anxiety. So, has something been making you anxious?”

The man turns back, resting his head upon the couch as he ponders this question.

“Now that you mention it, I have been a bit worried about the future lately.”

“How so?”

The man lets out a small sigh, as though afraid to confess his deepest fear.

“Go on, this is a safe space.”

“Well, it’s financial mostly. Bills are piling up, and…”

The man stops when he hears something odd, yet strangely familiar.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m hearing that noise again.”

The chattering is distant, as if down the hall from the office…but the man recognizes it all the same.

“I don’t hear anything. What noise is it?”

“The teeth.”

Suddenly, the chattering stops. The man’s heart is racing as he takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he counts to ten…a trick his mother taught him at a young age.

“Are you okay?”

The man slowly nods his head as he goes back to recounting his concerns.

“Like I said, financial woes. I was almost afraid to come today ’cause of the bill, ya know?”

He chuckles nervously, but gets no response to his strange attempt at humor.

“If it bothers you that much, we can bill you for this visit later.”

The man shakes his head.

“No no, I can afford it. I’m just worried about…”

The chattering starts back up, getting closer now.

“You sure ya don’t hear that?”

The man adjusts himself on the couch, sitting up as his breathing becomes much more shallow.

“I don’t hear anything. If you’re not comfortable, we can end this session now.”

The man takes some time to consider this.

“Ya know something, I think I will. I think I need to go home.”

The chattering has not stopped…in fact, it is closer than ever. The man jumps up, sweating bullets as he makes as much distance as he can between himself and the door to the office.

“It’s okay, I can call you a cab if you’d prefer not to drive.”

“No, that’s quite alright…I’m just waiting.”

The doctor looks most perplexed at this.

“For what?”

“For the teeth to go away.”

The doctor stands up from her chair, walking over to the man with a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s going to be fine, just relax. There’s nothing going on, it’s all in your head.”

She leaves his side to walk over to the door, grabbing the handle with a calm look of reassurance on her face.

“I’ll show you.”

With that, she slowly opens the door before peeking her head out, as though looking down the hall for something that isn’t there. This both confuses and scares the man, who slowly rises to his feet.

“You don’t see ’em?”

“See what?”

“The teeth, they’re out there.”

Suddenly, the chattering finally stops. The man is still very much lost by all this as he slowly approaches his doctor at the door. The man peeks from behind the doctor, looking out into the hall to see nothing…when the doctor suddenly turns back, her face replaced by a pair of gaping jaws.

The man screams, running to the back wall as the strange figure hobbles toward him, the jaws clamping up and down…the teeth chattering away. The man is truly in a panic now, his blood just about to boil over as the figure stands over him with its jaws wide open…but just before they clamp down around him, he wakes up. The couch is drenched with sweat, the man looking around to see that everything is normal…including his doctor.

“Are you okay? You just had a panic attack.”

The man stands up, taking a giant step away from the couch as he finally starts to compose himself. He takes another deep breath in, letting it out slowly as he counts to ten. Mother always knew what to do.

“Yes, I think I’m fine now. Thanks, doc…when can we pick things back up?”

The doctor gives a smile, which the man returns with one in kind.

“We can pick up this time next week, that okay?”

The man nods, a small sigh of relief as he shakes hands with the doctor.

“That sounds wonderful, doc. Thanks for helping me sort this stress out.”

“It’s been my pleasure, Alex. I’ll see you next week.”

The doctor and her patient give a nod to each other before the latter steps out of her office, walking down the hallway to make his leave from his safe space…blissfully unaware of the chattering that has picked back up.

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SANDMAN VS. SEESAW VS. BLOOD RED SHARK

The line between pleasure and pain is razor thin as three bloodthirsty warriors compete for glory absolute. Will Seesaw gain the ultimate playdate, will the demon of dreams draw more power to ultimate nightmares or will the ultimate predator finally have the feeding frenzy he’s always desired?

The bell sounds as all three competitors circle the cell, Seesaw warily looking up at the razor sharp spikes protruding from the steel, Blood Red Shark with a hungry look in his eyes as he stares down the passive Sandman who simply watches both men, daring one of them to come at the monster. The Shark finally rushes forward, tearing forward in a sprint with a huge clothesline that just bounces off the Sandman. Shark rolls back, bouncing off the ropes before diving headfirst with a massive spear that sends the Sandman back a few steps. The Shark tries a third time, springboarding off the cage itself, ignoring the pain from the wire as he torpedoes

INTO A BIG BOOT!

Sharkie could be knocked out cold from that huge shot, like slingshotting into a brick wall but Sandman can’t follow up as Seesaw pounces on him with lefts and rights that barely effect the Dream Demon, a huge leaping knee sending Sandman back a few feet as his jaw is moved a few inches. Seesaw bounces off the ropes just like his friend the Shark

SUPERFINE TURBINE….SANDMAN HOLDS HIM IN PLACE!

Seesaw tries to elbow his way out of Sandman’s grasp but The Sandman ignores the blows, pulling Seesaw up before nearly planting him through the mat with a massive Uranage. Seesaw stumbles to his feet, holding his back before looking to rush forward again but the Shark holds him back. The two Emporium members begin talking strategy in whispered hush as Seesaw looks in glee to play with his best finned friend. The Sandman just stands there, patiently waiting for them to try again as both men suddenly rush forward.

The Blood Shark is faster as he ducks under a lariat as Seesaw drops low, delivering a hard tackle to the knees as the Shark leaps up high,

BLOODY MARY TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD!

That double team looks to have done some damage to Sandman as the Dream Demon looks dazed. Blood Shark springboarding off the ropes as Seesaw elevates him high,

SPIKE TORNADO DDT! SANDMAN’S DOWN!

Both men rush to the ropes, slowly climbing up as they try to avoid the sharp spikes protuding from the walls as they size up the fallen Sandman before diving off

FLIGHT OF THE ORNITHOPTER! DIVING HEADBUTT! BLOODY FRIGGIN RAIN!

Sandman’s down and out as Seesaw stays down for the pin

ONE

…..

TW…SHARK PULLS HIM OFF!…THE COVER

Seesaw looks hurt at his friend ruining his play date but the Blood Shark just motions to beat up Sandman a little more which Seesaw easily agrees to. Seesaw goes to pull Sandman up

ENZIGURI TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! WHAT A BLOODY CHEAP SHOT!

The Blood Shark beats down on the fallen Seesaw, a devious smile etched upon his fangs before he pulls up the prone Mr Make Believe, hammerlocking his right arm behind

BLOOD MON…SEESAW POWERS OUT! Andy looks pissed, fuming at his friend’s betrayal as he nearly takes the Blood Shark’s head off with a huge Lariat. Shark stumbles up to his feet right into a jaw jacking uppercut before he’s spun around, his own arms wrapped around his throat

AS WOODY DELIVERS A SKULL CRACKING ROUNDUP!

The Blood Shark staggers up on the mat, dazed and confused as he finds his arms pulled back once more, a hard boot placed into his back

As SEESAW MAKES A SHARK ARMSTRONG! The Blood Shark screams in pain, Seesaw’s grin is a mile wide as he tries to force the Shark to tap, there’s no rope breaks and Seesaw is stronger then the Shark so he might be forced to here

THE HOLD IS SUDDENLY BROKEN!

The cell shakes with absolute force as The Sandman is up, having thrown Seesaw at full force into it, Mr Make Believe impacting into one of the spikes with an almighty yell as the Blood Shark turns with a visible gulp

20 WINKS! Sandman gouges The Blood Shark’s left eye with his lethal fingernails, the predator screaming out in pain. Seesaw struggles to his feet, bleeding down his back as he stumbles into a 20 WINKS of his own in the right eye

Both men are screaming in pain, bleeding from the eye as Sandman could win it here.

LOW BLOW FROM THE BLOOD SHARK….IT DOES NOTHING! The Sandman just looks down at the Shark curiously but the hold on both men breaks just a little, allowing the Blood Shark and Seesaw to reach up

DOUBLE DDT!

The double team manages to get them both free from the eye gouge but the Sandman sits up almost immediately. Both men rush him, trying to put Sandman down with a flurry of kicks and punches but Seesaw is thrown away with force back into the steel cage before the Dream Demon catches a Bloody Mary attempt

DEEP SLEEP! END OF DAYS!

The Blood Shark gets driven into the mat but he can’t capitalize as Seesaw is behind him with an opportunistic rollup

ONE

…..

TWO

…..

THREE!!!

Seesaw gains his pleasure here tonight as he gains an opportunity at the OSW World Champion

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DEAL OF A LIFETIME

Inside a cheap motel room somewhere in the Las Vegas desert, a man sits alone. Tears cascade from the individual’s bloodshot eyes, dripping down onto his heavily stained and tattered suit. Emptied beer bottles line the nightstand and flood the room with an odor of inexpensive booze. Just beside the bottles lays a currently unloaded revolver and a single bullet waiting to be chambered.

The man takes a few deep breaths between sobs, wiping his eyes clean while doing so. He shakily reaches out for both the gun and its ammunition, knocking over a bottle in the process. His hands quiver as he slowly inserts the round into the first chamber, hesitating for a brief moment before clicking the hammer into place. He inserts the revolver into his mouth, shedding another tear as he places a finger on the trigger.

KNOCK KNOCK!

The assault on the door shocks the man from his suicide attempt. He pushes himself off the bed and cautiously steps towards the door. Peering through the peephole, he sees another man in a bright and gaudy yellow suit. In the stranger’s possession is a drop down microphone that is seemingly hanging from the heavens above. With a raised eyebrow, the inhabitant of this room unlocks and opens the door. The stranger on the other side flashes a million dollar smile as he looks over the drunken gentleman, bringing the microphone to his lips before addressing the wasted occupant.

“Hiya pal! You wouldn’t happen to be Oliver Graham, would you?”

The very confused Oliver nods without a word. Hundreds of thoughts are running through his head as the unknown announcer continues to speak.

“Well congratulations, buddy! You’re the grand prize winner of The Sweepstakes That Never End!”

A celebratory jingle chimes from the atmosphere alongside applause from an invisible audience. Oliver’s head darts from left to right, attempting to find the source of the noise to no avail. The sounds begin to die down after about ten seconds, but it leaves the drunken mess rubbing his temples and audibly groaning.

“I don’t remember entering any sweepstakes.”

The stranger lets out a quick chuckle, looking at the puzzled Oliver with a raised eyebrow and a wide, toothy smile.

“Sure you did, pal! You and hundreds of other hopeful players at home entered our contest for a chance to better your livelihoods! With so many contestants, our studio would be certain that we’d pick a winner that actually entered our contest! Heck, I even have a copy of your entry form in my pocket!”

The announcer reaches into his inner suit pocket and pulls out a folded up sheet of paper. He unfurls and showcases it to Oliver, who looks the form over.

“This,” the banana suited man begins, pointing at the handwriting at the top of the form, “is your signature, yes?” Oliver looks back at the visitor before him and nods again.

“And you wrote here that you’d be willing to sacrifice everything for a chance at a better life, correct?” Another nod from the still befuddled Oliver. The announcer scoffs once more as he folds the contract up again, placing it back inside his coat pocket.

“Then I have no reason to believe you, do I? The Show That Never Ends doesn’t make mistakes that severe when it involves an opportunity like this!”

“Wait,” Oliver says, trying to remove the alcohol from his system by shaking his head rapidly. “You’re Monty Straight?”

“And that’s exactly how I shoot it!”

Oliver stands frozen in front of the now identified host. Tears are once again welling up in his eyes, but for a different reason than before. Monty clears his throat to bring the paralyzed man back to reality. In doing so, Oliver lunges at the emcee and embraces him with a hug. The unseen crowd fawns over this sight, causing the drunkard to reel back and hold his head once more. The deal maker seems taken aback at first, but he quickly regains his composure and laughs off the display the affection.

“Well, my friend, you’re certainly quite ecstatic about this, aren’t you?” Monty flashes another million dollar smile at the still grimacing drunkard. “Excited that you finally get to make a deal with little old me, pal?”

“I guess you can say that,” Oliver states, recovering from his auditory headache. “The moment I signed that entry form, my life went to hell. My wife died in a car crash a day after I told her I entered the sweepstakes. I lost my job not too long after that; the company I worked for was suffering heavy losses and had to lay off a few employees they considered dead weight. I just happened to fit that bill.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Monty solemnly says.

“My house depended on me having work,” Oliver continues, ignoring the pity expressed by the emcee. “The bank foreclosed my mortgage when they saw that I wasn’t making enough to pay them off. Didn’t help that my account was in the red either. That gave them enough reason to close my account and kick my ass out the door.”

“And that’s why you’re at this fine establishment, Mr. Graham?”

“Pretty much,” Oliver sighs. “That’s ignoring more than a few loans from loan sharks, multiple failed bets at casinos, and my new addiction to Corona.” Monty unleashes his patented smile once more while patting a sorrowful Oliver on the shoulder.

“Well, them’s the breaks, buddy. I know it’s not easy giving up everything you have for a chance to play my game, but it was a sacrifice that you and hundreds of others were willing to make.”

Oliver perks his head up after hearing the host speak. His mouth is agape and eyes are as large as the moon as he processes the information that was just fed to him.

“You mean,” Oliver stammers, “you were the one that stole everything I had?”

“No!” Monty exclaims. “I didn’t take anything from you, pal! It was all you, as stated on that form. Anyone that entered this competition had to give up everything they owned and loved for an opportunity like this. You knew this when you signed on the dotted line, did you not?”

Oliver grits his teeth, pointing the still loaded revolver at the smiling host. Monty scoffs at the sight, causing Oliver to nearly pull the trigger then and there.

“When that slip said everything,” Monty says. “It meant everything.”

Before the gun can be fired, Oliver drops it with a whimper. As the revolver hits the concrete below, it starts to dissolve into liquid metal. The drunken man holds his sizzling hand while fighting the urge to scream. The sound of rancorous laughter erupts from thin air, knocking the injured boozer to the floor.

“Let’s not dwell on the past,” the host says, ignoring the state that his soon to be contestant is in. “Instead, let’s focus on the future and turn your life around!”

Just then, two doors materialize just behind Straight, who motions towards them with his free hand.

“Behind door number one is the life you could’ve only fantasized of. You wouldn’t have to worry about losing your house, your job, or your family ever again. You’ll live in a home that you’ve payed for in full. You’ll work a job that will never let you go, even during the bleakest of times. You’ll even have a wife that will never leave your side until death takes you away first.”

The host gestures towards door two as Oliver stands up, regaining his bearings from the ear popping assault from earlier.

“Door two, meanwhile, makes it so that you’ll never experience any sort of loss or pain ever again. Even with everything you’ve dreamed of, there’s always a chance you’ll find yourself in a hole like this one again. Wouldn’t it be nice to remain in a state of stability and avoid misery, even after death?”

“I’ll take door two.” Oliver says with no hesitation. “Nothing that I could possibly dream of could make up for the shit I had to deal with. Your show and your crowd, wherever the fuck they are, have caused me enough pain.”

The incensed man marches towards the second door, moving past the amused host with a huff. Just before opening the door and stepping inside, he turns back to Monty, who has made zero effort to stop him.

“I’d rather have something that not even you can corrupt.”

Oliver then swings open the door and mindlessly steps inside. The door immediately closes behind him, leaving the host and the hotel behind.

~

Oliver sits alone in perfect darkness.

He’s remained here ever since he made that deal with Monty.

The door he entered from has long since vanished and he can’t find another way out.

In his mind, Oliver curses himself for taking this option over the other.

He might not experience loss and pain anymore, but he’d rather have that…

…over nothing.

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SHEEPSHAGGER

THE WELSH MOUNTAINS. PRESENT TIME.
THUMP

Abi’s eyes opened with a start. It took her a couple of seconds but she remembered she was still in the car.

THUMP

That sound. Heavy. Ominous. It came from above her head; the roof of her car.

THUMPTHUMP

Nerves tingled in Abi’s spine. It was pitch black outside. Where was Danny? He said he was going to get-

FLASH!

Abi was blinded as bright light filled her vision. She squinted through the fingers of her right hand and realised it was headlights from a vehicle in front. The light was static, the car was parked. A voice spoke through a megaphone.

“Abigail…”

THUMPTHUMPTHUMP

“Abigail”, the voice repeated calmy.

THUMP!

Abi startled, gripped her thighs. What was that noise and where the fuck was Danny?!

“This is the police,” the voice on the megaphone. “Step out of the vehicle Abigail and walk forward towards the light.”

She reached for the door release.

“But whatever you do, Abigail,” the megaphone warned, “do not look back.”

SEVERAL HOURS EARLIER…
“Go on, then. Tell me your cheesy ghost story.”

They were parked in a lay by on a mountain road, well into their bag of shrooms, passing between them their third bottle of red.

Abi met Danny during Fresher’s Week. He wasn’t a student, he was a few years older and had charmed her with his manly confidence and know-how. She was quickly enthralled and the last few weeks had whizzed passed as a messy binge of booze, drugs and body fluids.

It was Halloween and they were in the mountains to get steaming. As if the wine and hallucinogens weren’t enough, Danny was adamant in his attempts at spooking her.

“You know how the Welsh get called sheepshaggers,” Danny enquired.

“Are you about to confess your sins, Danny boy,” she mocked. Danny ignored.

“There is a legend from these mountains of a man cursed by his carnal preference for our four-legged friends. But cattle not sheep.”

Abi grimaced.

“Years ago some local pervert would meddle with the livestock. He wasn’t into shagging cows, like, it was bull cum he was after.”

Abi shot Danny a WTF look. Danny continued the yarn smirking.

“Aye, the madhead would sneak into the bull’s paddock at night and give a good spit and polish.”

“Fuck off,” Abi interjected, “he sucked off a bull!”

“So the story goes. He believed if he drank the bull’s juice he’d acquire the beast’s strength.”

“You Welsh boys….”

“We shag, you eat ‘em,” Danny snapped back. “Anyway, deepthroat was caught one night and the locals, you can imagine, didn’t take the discovery too well. They cut off his sausage and tatties and made him eat them.”

“Jesus.”

“Actually, no,” Danny answered. “It was Satan who came to the eunuch’s aid. He offered to give him the strength of a bull to inflict his terrifying revenge on those who mutilated him in exchange for his soul.”

“Satan loves to shithouse”

“The Devil’s twist was that his new thrall would become a hybrid creature of man and bull and he would have one night each year to terrorise anyone on these hills between sundown and sunrise.”

“Let me guess, tonight is that night.”

“BINGO!” Danny shouted. “In this part of Wales, Halloween is known as Nos Darw Wyllt Fawr – the Night of the Great Wild Bull.”

“I bet you feed girls this penny dreadful crap every year, don’t you?”

“Only the easy ones,” Danny quipped.

“You fucking creep,” Abi slapped Danny’s arm.

Their banter was interrupted suddenly by a chilling, bestial sound from somewhere nearby on the moorland.

“What was that,” Abi questioned.

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“Are you kidding me?” Abi demanded.

“Calm down, it’s probably the shrooms. But we’ll head back if you’re freaked.

Abi nodded, Danny tried to start the car but the engine wouldn’t turn over.

“What’s going on?” Abi enquired, startled.

Danny tried again, but had the same result.

“Look,” Danny pointed to the hillside, “there’s a house up there with a light on. I’ll see if they can come and give us a jump.”

After a pause, Danny replied. “I’ll go, you stay here.”

Abi glared.

“You’ll be safe in here. You can’t exactly trek across the heath in those,” Danny reasoned, pointing at Abi’s heeled shoes.

“I won’t be long, it’ll be fine,” Danny tried to reassure Abi.

As Danny headed in the direction of the dwelling. Abi reached for the bottle of wine and slugged back what remained.

Suddenly she began to feel the weight of her eyelids. Unable to overcome the feeling, Abi allowed her eyes to close…

PRESENT TIME…
Abi edged her way slowly out of the car, her ears pounded by the sound right there on the roof of the car.

THUMPTHUTHUMPTHUMP

“Abigail,” the megaphone encouraged, “walk towards the light.”

She stuttered but managed to put one foot ahead of the other, inched herself away from the car towards the light. She surveyed it was approximately 10 metres away.

THUMP

Abi startled; a whimper escaped, terror enveloping her body.

“Nearly here Abigail, just keep moving forward.”

She pushed herself forward a few more metres before her entire body was rocked by a crescendo of noise behind her.

THUMPTHUMPTHUMP

What was going on? She still had no idea where Danny was. It wasn’t his voice on the megaphone.

THUMP

She tried to block out the chilling thuds and do as the megaphone instructed.

“You’re almost with us Abigail, just a few more steps.”

THUMP

Abigail stopped.

“Keep moving,” the megaphone appealed. “Abigail, do not look ba-”

She couldn’t resist.

On the roof of the car was a wild looking figure: part man, part beast. On the shoulders of a human body was the head of a great bull. The creature was thrashing something against the roof and she recognised the severed head of Danny.

She pierced the blackness with a scream from the depths of her gut.

Abi did not fight when she was muffled by a strong hand and dragged away from that gruesome scene.

“Abigail, you’re safe,” it was the same voice that spoke through the megaphone. “I’m going to release you now but you need to be calm.”

Freed, Abi covered her face with her hands and sobbed.

“Oh Danny”

“Abigail,” the policeman again, “this is very important, listen to me.”

She looked at the handsome face with slicked back hair and piercing eyes.

“I need you to look this way,” the officer instructed, pointing Abi to face the same way as him, “they’ll want to see the money shot.”

Abigail was confused by that phrase, it was a very odd thing to say.

Then she felt, for just a second, the edge of the knife slice her throat open from ear to ear.

Abigail clutched the wound. It was too late, blood was gushing out of her, creating an expanding crimson pool below. Within seconds she slumped to the ground, her life vanquished. A vacant mask etched on her face.

Jac Bastard held the bloodied knife and looked at the corpse without any trace of emotion. A figure stepped out of the shadows and squeezed his shoulder affectionately.

“Thank you mab, you honour us” the mystery figure spoke in the Welsh language.

“It’s beneath me,” Jac replied in Welsh.

“It is what duty demands.”

“Aye,” Jac replied in English, “and like a good whore I have to take it on the chin.”

The mystery figure chided Jac with a glare.

“And what about me?” a third voice interrupted. Jac and the mystery man turned around to see The Great Wild Bull walking towards them.

The monster’s head was lifted and revealed the man we knew as ‘Danny’, free of harm. He held up the prosthetic of his ‘severed head’.

“Fucking unreal this,” ‘Danny’ declared. “No wonder the slut bought it,” he remarked with a smirk.

“Did I pass?” ‘Danny’ probed.

“Let us ask our audience,” the mystery man said and with a flick of his fingers the entire environment was lighted and it was revealed this scene wasn’t taking place on the roadside at all, but was inside what looked like a huge barn.

There was a small male audience sat on some bleachers and they applauded vociferously, cheering the ‘actors’ of their entertainment.

“Our thanks as ever, ladies and gentlemen for your patronage,” the mystery man spoke in Welsh, “the spoils are yours.”

There was an enthusiastic hurrah as the spectators – maybe a dozen in total, dressed formally – surrounded Abi for their ominous purposes.

The mystery man addressed Jac.

“Well, mab, what do you say for our wannabe protege: trick or treat?”

“He definitely brought sweets,” Jac nodded. “Wouldn’t have minded a piece myself,” he continued, looking over his shoulder.

“Warmed-blooded, of course,” he qualified.

‘Danny’ smiled, licking his lips.

“But the thing is,” Jac concluded, “Annwn doesn’t recruit.”

‘Danny’ frowned but before he could process the ramifications, Jac stabbed the knife he used earlier into his forehead. ‘Danny’ folded; expired like his own prey.

“Trick,” Jac uttered.

Fade.

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9 FLOORS

Hello “Anonymous,” if that’s what you’d prefer to be called.

Oh, where are you? My friend, this is an elevator.

And we’re going down.

But don’t worry. My name is Virgil, and I’m going to guide you all the way to the bottom.

For you see, life is a journey not unlike an elevator.

And I will show you how that one led you to this one.

Come, we begin our descent.

FLOOR 9

Ding.

When the door slides open, we see you, don’t we? But you’re just a boy. You weren’t like other kids though, were you?

You were well off. You were smart. Clever. Look at you, playing baseball with the other kids. Even back then, you could break a code, steal a signal. You always seemed to know when the fastball was coming — and you always hit a home run.

But then your parents pitched a curve you never saw coming. They split apart. And you? Well, the clever boy was left to his own devices. And your favorite device? That computer. The very thing that would bring you to this elevator.

Going down.

FLOOR 8

Ding.

Ah, look at you. Years later, and still sitting in front of that computer. So easily led astray by the click of the mouse. You’ve already found the dark web, haven’t you?

And the things you’re seeing… The things you’re lusting for… Well, they’re twisted aren’t they. You see those videos of women being hurt, being tortured…

But you just see the control.

The control your parents took from you.

The control you so desperately want back. The objects of your sexual attention will change many times over your life. But your lust for control will remain a constant.

What you never recognize is how that lust controls you.

FLOOR 7

What’s that? Yes, it is getting a bit warm. The air conditioning doesn’t work as well once you get this far down. I’m sorry, but it’s out of your control.

Ding.

Look at you now. Researching this group that promises to expose their enemies for who they really are, to promote internet privacy…

To offer you an identity greater, and stronger than your own.

You’re hungry for such an identity. It would provide you much greater control over yourself…

…and others.

Placing a scar upon a future President’s face was just one more way to fill your glutinous desire for control. It also provided you with an identity as powerful as the nameless one you would claim.

We are Anonymous. We are legion.

We are the one who left that mark on the eventual face of American politics.

Ah. We’re getting warmer.

FLOOR 6

Ding.

There you are, using your stature in Anonymous to line your pockets. Hacking accounts. Blackmailing powerful men. Kidnapping billionaires. Amazing how quickly things go from being the saviors of Americans from corporate greed to being just like a corporation yourself.

In the end, all you Americans are capitalists, aren’t you?

Surely it crossed your mind that maybe the billionaire in your basement isn’t there just to possibly be killed. Surely you have considered that this entire plan of yours, the exposure of Alton Whitlock, the kidnapping of BEG, it’s all nothing more or less than avarice.

That smell? Oh, that is the smell of sulfur. As we descend to the bottom floor, that smell will only grow stronger.

FLOOR 5

Ding.

You’ve just lost another match to the man you swore you’d take down. An important match at that. And now, all that you feel is wrath.

You up the ante. You bring the rest of Anonymous with you, use trickery, that little clever boy grown up to me nothing more than a little clever man. It would be amusing if it weren’t so sad, to watch you as you angrily pace the floors of the Slaughterhouse, searching for an answer to the question that won’t stop haunting you.

How does Alton Whitlock keep winning?

Your rage blinding you all the while to the true answer.

He’s a better man than you. He represents something.

All you represent is anger, however righteous the mask you put on it.

FLOOR 4

Ding.

Anonymous feels used by you now. The way you allowed them to intervene in that match with BEG and Whitlock, only to carry him away to quite possibly his own demise.

They thought they were abducting him to make a difference in the world.

But you soon make it clear to all of them that they abducted him just to make a difference in your fight.

You’re a heretic to your own cause. The rest of Anonymous see it.

They just don’t know how to get rid of you yet.

FLOOR 3

That sound? A buzzsaw you say? Yes, though the sound of it falls on deaf ears when you guide men to the bottom floor so often as I do.

That is no buzzsaw, I’m afraid. That is the sound of infinite souls, suffering.

Ding.

All your control issues. All your rage. All your identity. It is bound up now in one act that you will have to commit. An insufferable act. An act of pure violence.

It became clear to you that to win this fight of yours, you would have to kill one, maybe two men to finish it.

The startling thing wasn’t the revelation, was it Anonymous?

No.

It was the way you relished at the opportunity to take a life that should be alarming.

But it doesn’t alarm you.

No, this is exactly what you want.

FLOOR 2

It’s hot down here now, isn’t it? We’re practically melting.

Ding.

You stand in front of that mirror and remove that mask and look at the man in front of you. You always expect to see greatness when you remove that mask.

It surprises you every time when you find nothing but a fraud stands before you instead.

But that’s what you are. You stopped being about the goals of Anonymous the moment you left that scar on Whitlock’s face. It becomes more and more apparent with every waking hour. You have no idea what greatness is anymore.

You sacrificed it to be the shell of the man you could’ve been.

Say what you will, spread what lies you may, but in your heart of hearts you’ve known for a while that the only fraud between yourself and Alton Whitlock is you.

FLOOR 1

Last stop. Yes, the flames are terrifying, but think of them as the only comfort you will ever have.

For the flames will always be there. They will not betray you as you’ve betrayed Anonymous.

After all, that’s why you end up here. They caught on to your heresy, your fraudulent behavior. They see that you sacrificed them for your own, selfish goals.

“We are Anonymous. We are legion.”

You betrayed them all. Lied to them. Deceived them about what your desires were.

You can hardly blame them for the knife in your back.

Step off, sir. It’s your final stop. You will burn here, and you will not like it. You will become part of the buzzsaw sound that deafens us on this floor.

But your choices brought you here, Anonymous.

Your choices. And no one else’s.

Ding.

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DOLLHOUSE

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it was, because everything would be what it isn’t.”

Night after night, or what the girl perceived as night in the darkened room beneath the creaky floorboards, she’d whisper this to herself, clutching a tattered old copy of Alice in Wonderland in her arms. Week after week, another girl would join her small room, and she’d name them one by one. Vanessa. Julia. Clarissa. One by one they’d arrive, and one by one, they’d disappear without a trace. Always in nice dresses, messy hair, smudged makeup. Nothing more than a muffled scream. A soft whimper. A scratching. Then silence.

The girl wondered why these others were chosen before her. Why they were brought into the light. What it would take for her to be chosen next. Most of all, what lies beyond the claw marked door. She called this door “The Rabbit Hole”, and in her imagination, what lies beyond was full of wonderment.

Every time the Hatter would open the Rabbit Hole, his cap pulled down just above his eyes, his southern drawl would inform the girl, “I brought ya’ a new friend.” The new friend would be thrown down at the girl’s feet before the Rabbit Hole would shut forcefully. And every time, the girl would try to help her new friend up, try to communicate, but would hear nothing but screams. That’s why she stopped trying to help.

But one day, the Rabbit Hole opened, and in flew a blonde girl with bright blue eyes and a torn white dress. She fell face first onto the cold concrete, but she barely made a whimper.

“I brought ya’ a new friend,” the Hatter said before closing shut the Rabbit Hole.

The new friend lied there nearly motionless, but the girl paid little attention. None of the Hatter’s new friends worked out before; why should she be any different? So the girl sat in her corner, reading her book from the lone crack in the lead walls.

“….Hello?” the new friend muttered as she tried to pick herself up. “…Is someone else in here?”

“Why yes,” replied the girl. “I am always here. Always in the shadows, never played with. A doll on display, never let into the sunlight.”

“What is your name?” asked the new friend.

“I can’t quite recall. That’s the matter of being a doll. Your mind is hollow; nothing there at all.”

“You’re quite the poet,” the new friend said as she sat up. “My name is Kingsleigh. What’s that in your hand?”

“The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland,” the girl explained. “I found it down here, so it’s mine now.”

“Found it…? May I see?” Kingsleigh asked. The girl cautiously handed over her prized possession, Kingsleigh examining it carefully. “Why are some of the pages red and stuck together?”

“I found it that way,” the girl replied without a second thought.

“May I… call you Alice?” Kingsleigh asked, knowing if she were to ever escape, she could not do so alone.

“Alice. Why yes, I quite like that. I am Alice,” the girl reaffirmed. “Kingsleigh, how did you wind up falling down the Rabbit Hole?” Alice asked, pointing to the claw marked door.

“I was… driving home from… a school dance with my boyfriend. This truck came up behind us. The lights were so blinding, we could hardly see. And Jason… he tried to let the truck go around us, but it kept tailing us. Then we felt a hard bump from behind, and then another. Jason tried to speed up, but the truck came back faster and knocked us off the road. We hit a tree, and Jason’s leg was…. Pinned under the steering wheel. That’s when someone came up beside us. He smashed Jason’s window and… grabbed him by the throat. I tried to fight him off, but Jason screamed at me to run… so I did… left my shoes in the car and just ran,” Kingsleigh explained, choking on her tears as she recalled the events.

Alice stood up, walking slowly over to Kingsleigh.

“I turned back and saw the man slit Jason’s throat. I covered my mouth so he wouldn’t hear me scream, but he took off after me into the woods. It wasn’t until I’d been running for what seemed like forever when I realized I left my phone in the car. I had nowhere to go, no one to call for help. I remember leaning against this tree, trying to catch my breath, and this damp towel covered my mouth. The next thing I remember, that sick bastard threw me down here.”

“…The Hatter? No, the Hatter could never have done these things,” Alice defended.

Kingsleigh wiped her eyes, but a stinging rushed her senses.

“What is that, Alice? What is this smell?” Kingsleigh began to panic.

“That’s the Hatter’s friendship gas. It makes all the new friends so much happier. And I can tell, Kingsleigh, that you and I are going to be the best of friends,” Alice explained.

Kingsleigh grabbed Alice’s arm, feeling her own body grow slightly more limp, her thoughts becoming more and more hazy by the moment.

“Alice, listen to me. That man up there, the Hatter as you called him, he’s been drugging you. He killed my boyfriend, and these other ‘friends’ you mentioned he’s probably killed too. We need to get out of here!”

“But the only way out is through the Rabbit Hole,” Alice replied, again pointing to the claw marked door.

“No, there has to be another way…” Kingsleigh thought, feeling around the walls until she felt the source of the gas. A vent high above them, just at the tips of Kingsleigh’s fingertips. “Alice, I’ve found it. The vent is just loose enough to pry open. I’ll boost you up, and then you pull me up after.”

Curiouser and curiouser, Alice began to trust this Kingsleigh and so, stuffing the book into her dress’s front pocket, Alice climbed into the vent. Just then, the Rabbit Hole swung open, the Hatter making a mad dash for Kingsleigh.

“Oh no ya’ don’t, ya’ bitch!” he shouted as he grabbed Kingsleigh by the neck.

“Hatter, please!” Alice screamed from the vent, but it was no use. Kingsleigh’s body fell limp, tossed aside to the ground. With the loss of her one and only friend, Alice saw the Hatter for his true self, and she began to crawl just out of his reach.

As she crawled, the gas grew more potent, her mind slipping faster and faster than ever before. When she found the source of the gas, she pushed open the vent, standing in a room with large vats of polymer solution and the faces of the other friends she’d met in the lead room.

Vanessa and Clarissa and Julia and others, posed like dolls for all of time, all in their dresses, just like Kingsleigh and Alice herself.

A coil wrapped her neck, and suddenly Alice couldn’t move.

“Ya’ were supposed to be different. Ya’ were the centerpiece, the most important in the entire collection. Some dolls are for display only, but you… ya’ were always the one I wanted to play with. You were my favorite doll,” the Hatter said. “You were going to help me. But you’re just like the rest of them. You’re no one.”

He opened a butterfly knife and lunged it into Alice’s chest, tossing her aside as he did Kingsleigh.

But Alice, pulling the knife from the storybook she so safely guarded, lunged back at the Hatter, slitting his throat open. He stumbled about before Alice grabbed him by the face with one hand.

“No, Hatter. I am someone. I… am Alice.”

Stabbing him in the chest, Alice doused him in the polymer, watching with delight as his body ingested and sank.

And Alice left that place, never to return, never looking to find her true place in this world or her true identity. Kingsleigh had given her that. So Alice retreated to the very woods her dear friend Kingsleigh was taken, butterfly knife in one hand, book in the other, a whole new world of nonsense awaiting her.

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ANONYMOUS & MONTY STRAIGHT VS. SWEET ALICE & JAC BASTARD

Someone in the Slaughterhouse wants to play a game, and the unique pairings in this match are the unwitting participants! Who will be the first to break the chains that bond them? Let the game begin.

Alice and Bastard make a dash toward the cage housing the keys…or at least, as quickly as their shackles will allow, before getting cut off by Anonymous and Straight, who quickly get into a brawl with their opponents.

Punches and kicks are thrown about as all four look to get an advantage in this sick, twisted match…and Anonymous manages to catch Bastard with an enziguri! Alice goes to Jac’s aid as Anonymous and Straight turn toward their goal…but Alice and Bastard get the jump on them from behind!

The pair quickly use the chain connecting them to gain an upper hand as they pull back on the arms of their respective opponents, really putting them in a world of hurt!

They then pick Anonymous and Straight up, and Bastard hits a DDT on Straight at the same time Alice hits a neckbreaker on Anonymous! With that, the pair make their way to the deadly glass cage.

They open the cage up, realizing just how dangerous it is inside as they survey the thumbtacks, razor blades, and broken glass within. This hesitation ends up costing them, as Anonymous and Straight charge at them from behind…SENDING ALL FOUR OF THEM RIGHT INTO THE CAGE!

It’s a nasty bump in the night for all four competitors now, the thumb tacks most noticeable against Monty’s bright yellow suit but you can see bits and pieces of all the danger as they all start trying to pull them out.

In a surprise twist, it’s Straight and Anonymous that are able to remove enough of the dangers to regroup and focus on their goal, clearly seeing where the keys await them. Before they can take another step however, they get driven right back down to the floor by Jac and Alice with a double drop toe hold!

The pair attack in stereo with lefts and rights on their downed opponents, only letting up when they feel they’ve done enough damage combined with the chaos that surrounds them. They get back to their feet before making their way toward the key…but Anonymous and Straight are back to their feet once more!

Jac and Alice get distracted by this realization, choosing to go after their opponents once more…and that decision costs them dearly! A big neckbreaker on Alice by Anonymous in retaliation from before…AND A DEAL BREAKER ON JAC BY MONTY STRAIGHT!

Things have now completely devolved here, the four going right back to brawling amongst the dangerous debris all around them. The cuts have become more evident, more pronounced from the razor blades and broken glass, but in this fight for survival none of our competitors are worried about that!

Eventually, Alice and Jac are once again able to get the upperhand as they send Straight and Anonymous headfirst into the glass cage, a structure which barely budges the first time around. They go for it a second time, and we see cracks starting to form within the structure.

Once more go Straight and Anonymous…AND THE THIRD TIME IS A CHARM, SHATTERING THE GLASS CAGE ALL AROUND THE COMPETITORS!

Alice, Jac, Monty, and Anonymous all have one thing in common right now, and that is the blood that has been coming out as this match progresses…and now, with glass covering them on top of everything they’re currently laying over, Anonymous and Straight slowly get to their feet. They approach the pedestal where the keys have been placed, as Alice and Bastard start to come to…

…only to drop right back down, writhing in pain as Anonymous and Straight get to the keys! Monty grabs the set, finding the right one to unlock his shackle before Anonymous grabs it to unlock his! THEY’VE DONE IT! THEY’VE SURVIVED THIS DEADLY GAME!

Monty Straight and Anonymous have learned the value of not only their own lives tonight, but working together to overcome a most terrifying situation!

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CARELESS REGRET

Eleven Months Ago:

The soft chirping of crickets fill the early morning air in the desolate Michigan woods, the mist swirling a forbidden dance through the roots and branches mixed in with slight rays of bright moonlight make an almost beautiful sight.

If you ignore the terrifying scream echoing out in the distance.

Heavy footsteps crunch roots and leaves underfoot, crashing through foliage in a hurried daze as a figure pauses for a moment, resting their arm against the trunk of a withered elm tree, turning back with a petrified eye of grey before ducking with a yelp of fear mere seconds before a bullet embeds into the bark where his flesh laid across.

“Please stop…I don’t want to hurt you”

The young man’s pleas go unnoticed, another loud bang echoing through the woods as this time the bullet hits it’s mark deep inside his right shoulder. The man screams out in pain, ignoring the thin trickle of blood oozing down before continuing to rush forward away from whatever is hunting him but his constant glances behind his shoulder prove to be his undoing.

Failing to see a large rock underneath his feet, the young man tumbles and falls, uncontrollably rolling down into a large oak tree, his back snapping hard against the wood, grimacing against the pain as he looks up, trying to steady the sawed off in his hand and calm the fear in his eyes, both of which he fails as his pursuer finally comes into shot.

Long, stringy hair covers her face, a comely figure covered by a dress that was once white but now stained with sweat, blood and god knows what else. Barefoot and heavily cut with viscera staining every step but she ignores the pain as she raises the handgun up high, spitting venom with a frenzied, almost animalistic whisper.

“End of the line demon, you’re going to pay for what you did”

Click

She jams the trigger as hard as she can, refusing to believe it’s out of bullets as Jessie Williams looks up, placing the shotgun down before raising both hands as he tries desperately to placate his attacker.

“It’s okay, whatever you think this is, whoever you think I am, we can figure it out, I won’t hurt you I promise.”

The woman throws the gun aside, pulling a sharp knife from beneath her dress. She’s almost shaking from pure anger as she screams through clenched teeth.

“LIAR!”

Before leaping forward for Jessie’s throat .

Jessie gets to his feet quickly, backing up as far as he can go, lifting the sawed up high, shaking his head as he readies to pull the trigger….right as he sees her eyes.

One greyish green, one a deep purple.

“…Jamie?”

BANG!

Time almost slows to a standstill, Jessie throwing down the shotgun as he rushes forward with every ounce of speed he can muster but he’s not faster then a speeding bullet. Doomed to a fatal mistake, the pellets tearing through her chest in an instant as she crashes to the ground in a slump. Jessie rushes towards her, tears already falling from his face as he drops to his knees beside her, ignoring the punches thrown at him with frenzy still in her eyes.

“D it’s me, it’s C, it’s okay, I’m here.”

The woman pauses, recognition flickering in her eyes as she looks up at Jessie for the first time.

“Jessie?”

She tries to speak more but begins convulsing hard, blood pouring out of her mouth that she tries to spit out as Jessie tears at the shirt on his back, trying desperately to wrap up the heavily bleeding wound.

“I’m sorry Jamie I didn’t know, I didn’t know. I can’t lose you too, please oh god please.”

Jamie Williams tries to smile through the blood, a laughing cough as she wraps her hand in Jessie’s.

“It’s okay, I was always living on borrowed time, time they stole. This was never going to end well Jess, all that matters now is you’re here and I’m not alone. But now you’ve got to fight.”

Jessie buries his head into his sister’s hands, trying with all his might to wish this away as just a bad nightmare but with the last of her strength, Jamie forces her brother’s head up, staring him deep in the eyes.

“You hear me Jessie, you’ve got to fly for both of us kid, you’ve got to make him pay and be the hero now. Promise me okay. Promise me.”

“I promise Jamie…wait, make who pay?”

Jessie looks down intently at his sister, waiting for an answer that will never come as she slowly closes her eyes, the blood loss becoming too much as Jessie grips his sister by the shoulders, trying to shake her awake.

“Jamie…Jamie, no. Not like this, please, Jamie, please.”

Tears begin flowing down Jessie’s face as he unleashes a guttural, primal scream that echoes throughout the woods, stumbling to his feet in a shaking fury before screaming in rage, slamming a hard Boomstick ladened fist into the nearby oak, cracking it hard with the first blow but he doesn’t stop, punching the tree over and over with both fists, blood running down his left, the steel bent and damaged on his right but he doesn’t stop until the oak falls with a crash. Jessie stands there for a moment, breathing heavily, his whole body shaking with rage before collapsing and falling apart in uncontrollable absolute sorrow.

Two Hours Later

The woods have faded away into a large clearing, nothing around for miles but a weathered old motorcycle and a body hoisted up high in the air on a bed of logs and tinder dripping with oil. Jamie Williams lies motionless, the blood having been cleaned away, a beautiful bouquet of flowers placed in her hands as Jessie moves a strand of hair away from her blonde hair, shaking his head with a heavy sigh.

“I’m sorry Jamie, sorry you never got the normal life you dreamed of, sorry for what they do to you, sorry that I was too weak to save you. But now you’re finally free and they’ll never hurt you again. And I promise, somehow, someway, even if I don’t know how to be the hero you were meant to be, I’ll make you proud…even if it kills me.”

Jessie smiles weakly, before pulling out his lighter and tossing it at the funeral pyre which goes up in flames almost instantly. The Prince staring at the fire intently, the flames illuminating not sorrow but rage as his right hand trembles watching the death bed of yet another loved one. Jessie stares at the fires for what seem like hours, anger turning to resolve as he finally turns away, hopping onto the bike, sparking it to life but pausing one last time, turning his head slightly back to see the still burning pyre.

“Whoever he is, the monster that killed you, the thing that has dad, I won’t stop, I’ll find it and I swear Jamie, I’m gonna kill the son of a bitch”

Jessie speeds off as the ever rising flames fade us to black.

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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

It had been 3 grueling weeks since the “event.”

Each night since, Stella continued to hear the screams of her two children recalling the events of that night. Try as they might, their fragile minds could not let go of those images and horrific sounds.

The old farmhouse had acted as a refuge for the family. The eerie silence of the world was not as distinguishable in this setting and that gave her a little comfort to get through the coming days.

Stella sat at the worn, wooden table thinking about all the events that had brought her to this point.

Months Ago:

Bob kissed Stella and attempted to make a mad rush to the door, hoping he would not be late for work today. Before he dashed off, she pulled him close and gave him a slow, deep kiss. The couple had been married for over 10 years and had two beautiful children, but he still never missed the opportunity to give her a kiss in the morning. As he was about to leave, something on the television caught his attention from the corner of his eye. On the screen, the words “Now an important message from the President of the United States” arose and the President stepped up to the podium.

“My fellow Americans, it is with a heavy heart that I share this message with you today. Upon assuming this office, I made a pact that I would never lie to you and today I plan to fulfill my end of the bargain. As you all are aware, a novel virus was recently discovered in our western states. We were hopeful that our physicians and scientists would be able to quickly find a cure. As we announced two weeks ago, we initiated a treatment aimed at eliminating the virus. Unfortunately, those efforts accelerated the spread within the patients’ bodies, causing them to become highly unstable. The infected patients escaped the medical facility this morning at 6AM. Due to the seriousness of this threat, I am instituting a nationwide lockdown, effective immediately. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies are aiding in the search and recovery of the patients. I urge all Americans to stay within their homes. These patients are dangerous and highly contagious. My hope is we will quickly apprehend the escaped patients. I will do everything in my power to ensure the safety of our nation and vow to keep the American people abreast of any new developments. God bless you all and may God bless the United States of America.”

As the President left the podium, Stella turned to her husband. “I’m scared, Bob, what about our children?” Bob took a deep breath and smiled.

“Everything is going to be alright, sweetheart,” he stated, taking his wife in his arms. “These are tough times, but we’ll get through it.”

Present:

Stella could still remember those words from her dear husband. At that moment, she did feel as if everything was going to be alright. However, within a month, the virus had spread, infecting millions of people. The effects were unlike anything ever seen. The animalistic nature buried deep within emerged, rational thought dissipated. Individuals once full of life now resembled corpses. The images on the television were horrifying, though nothing could have prepared her for what was soon to be before her eyes.

6 Weeks Ago:

One morning as Stella rose from the bed, she glanced down upon her husband as she had done for their many years of marriage. However, something was different this day. Bob’s youthful complexion was pale and his breathing was labored. Worried, Stella attempted to wake him. After a few moments, Bob awoke, though clearly groggy.

“Bob, are you feeling okay, honey? You don’t look so great.”

Bob smiled and rested his hand on Stella’s thigh, “I’m okay sweetheart, I’m just a little tired, that’s all. I’m sure I’ll feel better with a little more sleep.”

Putting her worries to the side, Stella left the room and allowed her husband to sleep.

Within a week, Bob was sleeping 14 hours a day. His appetite began to deteriorate rapidly. This pattern continued for weeks.

One night, Stella was awakened by the sound of broken glass and the growling of their German Shepard, Charlie. She glanced over and realized that Bob was missing from the bed.

“Bob, are you okay,” she asked, carefully climbing out of the bed.

Suddenly, she heard the yelp of Charlie ring out into the tiny house. Panicked, she ran into the pitch black living room. Huddled in the corner was Bob. He appeared to be fixated on something in the corner. As she came closer, she could see that his attention was on their dog.

“Bob, I heard Charlie, what’s wrong?”

Bob quickly turned around, but the image staring at her was not her husband. His eyes were now devoid of any color. His skin appeared paper thin, able to see all of his veins coursing through his body. Dripping from his mangled teeth was blood and chunks of fur. Stella looked down and saw the ravaged remains of their pet. His body had been ripped open and his organs were spilled across the hardwood floor.

Unleashing a primal roar, “Bob” leapt towards her, snapping his teeth like a rabid dog! Gaining a little leverage, she was able to flip her infected husband off of her. His body flew through the air and landed on the coffee table. As Stella regained her footing, she soon noticed her children, John and Karen, watching the horrific scene. Tears were streaming from their eyes. As Karen looked over towards their dog’s remains, she screamed, garnering the attention of their infected father.

“NO! You stay the fuck away from them,” Stella screamed, grabbing a nearby candle stick.

Before “Bob” could make his way towards the children, Stella leapt into the air, bringing the blunt end of the candle stick against the head of the monster. Stella swung wildly, determined to keep the threat away from her children. Blood flew into the air with each blow. Stella soon stopped and looked over at her children. Their faces were filled with tears, but they were too terrified to make a sound. Silence.

Present:

As her children slept in the next room, Stella replayed the events of that night. Her hope now was to shield them from ever having to see something so horrific again. From inside the pocket of her flannel shirt, she pulled out a picture. On it were the smiling faces of a family that seemed to have existed ages ago. She saw the grinning face of the man she had married. She saw the endless displays of joy upon the faces of her children. And she saw the intense image of love in her face. For a few moments, she remembered the joys of those simpler times, allowing herself to smile.

She soon rose from the table and made her way into the living room of the old farmhouse. She leaned against the fireplace and peered into the old mirror. Pulling back the sleeve of her shirt, she saw the gash that had slowly become infected from the skirmish 3 weeks ago. Judging from the sickly image staring back at her in the mirror, she knew the time was drawing near.

After a few moments, she went into the bedroom and checked on her children, kissing them each on the forehead. Before leaving the room, she left the family picture from her pocket on top of the dresser.

“God, take care of my babies,” she whispered, existing back into the living room.

Sitting down in the near empty room, she took one last glance. Quickly, she placed the barrel of the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger!

Bang!

Then…Silence.

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BISHOP © VS. JESSIE WILLIAMS

The ring is surrounded by lumberjacks! And those are no ordinary people, those are deadites in their purest, most vile form!

As the match gets underway Jessie looks concerned by the deadites clawing at the ring! Looking away is all Bishop needs to start off strong with a haymaker to The Prince! Jessie falls back into the ropes and the deadites are already on him and clawing at his skin as he lets out a shriek! Bishop pushes his advantage with a flurry of strikes!

He shoves the deadites off of Jessie and lifts him into the air with a gorilla press- JESSIE SLIPS OUT AND ROLLS HIM UP FROM BEHIND!

Bishop rolls through to his knees AND JESSIE FLIES OFF OF THE ROPES WITH A TORPEDO DROPKICK TO THE FACE! GROOVY ECLIPSE!

Blood spills from Bishop’s nose as he falls back first against the ropes and deadites drag him to the outside! The hellish spectres tear at Bishop and he throws powerful rights and lefts to try and get them off of him! He pulls himself up to the apron and kicks away the writhing masses AS JESSIE COMES IN WITH THE BOOMSTICK!

NO! BISHOP CATCHES IT AND GRABS JESSIE BY THE NECK! CHOKESLAM TO THE OUTSIDE!

The marine watches Jessie try to battle to his feet before jumping in and driving an elbow to the top of Jessie’s head! Though the deadites keep crowding Bishop throws them aside with ease as he stomps a mudhole in his opponent! Jessie tries to crawl away towards the ring to escape under it but Bishop doesn’t let up as he drags Jessie back AND CATCHES A CROWBAR TO THE JAW! JESSIE GRABBED A CROWBAR FROM BENEATH THE RING!

The Prince is to his feet and he clears out the deadites with impunity before grabbing Bishop and throwing him into the apron! The marine lands back first and Jessie capitalizes with a harsh blow to the chest with his crowbar!

ANOTHER!

ANOTHER!

ANOTHER!

ANOTHER-

BISHOP CATCHES JESSIE’S ARM! AN UPPERCUT PUTS JESSIE ON HIS ASS!

The Prince is in dire straights as Bishop rolls him into the ring and begins to stalk the young deadite hunter! Jessie slowly gets up AND EATS A BIG BOOT THAT SENDS HIM INTO THE TURNBUCKLE!

Jessie is trapped as more deadites grab hold of him and Bishop lays into him with a boxing combination from hell! He goes to follow up with another jab- CROSS COUNTER! JESSIE SHOWS OFF HIS OWN BOXING PROWESS AND LANDS A DEADLY HAYMAKER TO BISHOP!

Jessie shakes the deadites off of him, fueled purely by adrenaline as he lays into Bishop with body blow after body blow! Bishop is caught by surprise by the onslaught and isn’t quick enough to defend himself! JESSIE LEAPS FOR A DDT AND PLANTS BISHOP INTO THE FUCKING MAT!

The Last Outlaw may be down but Jessie knows he’ll need more than that to keep him there! It’s his turn to stalk his opponent as he begs for Bishop to get to his feet! HE RUNS FORWARDS AND GOES FOR ANOTHER BOOMSTICK- DEADEYE FROM BISHOP! SPEAR! SPEAR TO THE PRINCE!

Jessie takes that blow to the stomach like a shotgun blast as Bishop puts his all behind it! The ring shakes beneath the impact and both men are down! And with neither man stirring… the deadites grow restless! The evil dead at ringside begin to scale the apron in an attempt to enter the ring! The shaking of the ropes is enough to get both men roused and they slowly get to their feet! They look at one another, then to the lumberjacks trying to invade, and just give a nod.

BIG BOOT TO ONE OF THE DEADITES! BOOMSTICK TO ANOTHER! JESSIE AND BISHOP ARE CLEARING THE APRON WITH A BARRAGE OF POWERFUL BLOWS!

Deadite after deadite flies to the outside, landing in a heap! Just as Jessie dispatches the last one with a powerful uppercut BISHOP GRABS HIM FROM BEHIND! LAST RITES! TOMBSTONE- NO! JESSIE SLIPS OUT BEHIND HIM! BOOYAH! CLOSE RANGED SUPERMAN PUNCH TO BISHOP! Jessie pins!

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

Jessie does it! He’s survived not only the deadites but Bishop as well and he walks away well rewarded with the VHS title!

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ROBOT METH HEADS FROM OUTER SPACE

Things have a way of repeating themselves here in Gary, Indiana.

I was cutting the grass outside at 2 a.m. in the morning when a fellow Junkrat yelled, “Mr. Mayor, it’s 2 a.m. and I can’t sleep! Turn that god damn lawnmower off!”

I said, “Hey dipshit, if you can’t sleep, what’s it matter if I’m cutting the grass!?”

After an awkward silence, my neighboring Junkrat replied: “Good point! Perhaps I’ll cut my grass as well.”

So the two of us were outside cutting the grass.

That exact same conversation happened between him and his neighbor, and then there were three Junkrats outside mowing the lawn.

Then four, then five, then six.

Pretty soon, every Junkrat in Gary was outside cutting grass in the middle of the night.

But soon I realized…

I was cutting the same area of grass over and over again. One strip of my grass was completely pristine, the rest overgrown and ruined.

I looked out at the entire city…

We were all cutting the grass the same way.

Listen, I’m a dirty bastard. I’ve never personally messed with methamphetamine…

But I know twacker behavior when I see it.

And we were all acting like a bunch of methed out twackers.

“Hey guys, are we all acting like a bunch of methed out twackers?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” everyone replied from their respective lawns.

“Has anyone here smoked methamphetamine?”

“No,” they all replied.

Curious.

Very fucking curious.

***

It’s been three days and none of us have slept and shit is getting weird.

We’ve been having hallucinations. Sleep deprivation related surely.

Nevertheless, we all have seen it.

The flying saucer.

It hovered over us, spraying shit into the air. Not actual shit, just a chemical. I said, “Holy shit! It’s the government and their chem trails!”

We threw rocks at it. Big ass rocks.

The flying saucer didn’t give a shit. Just kept spray farting chemicals into our fine air.

“Stop farting!” We yelled. But it just kept on farting.

We threw grenades at it.

They exploded into the saucer and left nary a dent.

We launched full-on, balls out rockets at it. But it didn’t care.

After arguing for an entire day about what to do, we finally settled on a course of action.

Step 1: Build a big ass trebuchet.

Step 2: Use said trebuchet to launch me into the flying saucer.

Step 3: Negotiate with whoever is in control of the spray-farting alien vessel.

So we spent another day crafting a trebuchet.

And I was all prepared for launch. I had me helmet, a belt full of boomers, and an impressive cock in my trousers.

They shot me into the air and I soared towards the ship.

But just as I was airborne, the flying saucer finally stopped farting and took a straight up shit.

I was surprised, and I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

But apparently, flying saucers defecate robots armed with laser guns straight out of their buttholes.

Oh, and I collided into the side of the saucer.

Smashed up my face.

Fell to the ground.

Hurt like a bitch.

I landed right at the feet of one of the robots the saucer shit out.

“I see your grass needs to be cut,” the robot said.

“It does,” I replied.

“I’ll do it for twenty bucks,” the robot said.

I sighed. “It’s 2 a.m., and I can’t sleep.”

“Well, if you can’t sleep, what’s it matter if I’m cutting the grass?”

I had to hand it to him. Infallible logic.

“Good point.”

***

Those pieces of shit robots cut our grass for seven straight days, stole our lawnmowers, and started living in our houses.

Not one of us has been able to sleep a wink either.

I’m fucking losing it.

We’re all fucking losing it.

I mean we’re literally running around town looking for it, then forgetting what we’re looking for.

It’s maddening.

But one of us, a Spacerat left behind, seemed to be immune to the sleep deprivation.

He gathered all of us together and said, “I’d like to call a meeting.”

“Hey asshole, you’ve gathered us together already.” I was pissed off. “This is a meeting, you don’t have to call a meeting because this is already a meeting you fucking bastard. For fuck’s sake, learn the meeting — I mean, meaning, of words.”

“Normally that would hurt my feelings,” Spacerat replied. “But given that you’ve been under the influence of extremely high concentrations of methamphetamine for a week, I’ll chalk it up to your drug habit.”

This caused an uproar.

“RABBLERABBLERABBLERABBLE!!!”

“I don’t smoke meth you bitch!”

“No,” Spacerat replied. “You breathe it.”

Spacerat revealed a poster board illustration of the flying saucer over Gary.

“You see, this flying saucer here that has been spray-farting into our air? Well, it’s spray-farting pure methamphetamine. And the robots it pooped out of its butthole into our city? It appears their filtration system requires methamphetamine to work.”

“Speak English, science bitch!” A Junkrat replied.

Spacerat sighs, “They have terraformed our atmosphere to slowly eliminate the oxygen and replace it with methamphetamine.”

“For the love of god mate,” an exasperated twacker Junkrat said. “Say it plain!”

Spacerat rubbed his face. He was dealing with twacked out morons, I’ll admit, but it’s hardly our fault that we’re morons.

“The alien robots have changed our atmosphere. You’re all high on meth because of it. And soon, we’ll be out of oxygen, and we will all die.”

…we understood the last four words of his stupid science bitch diatribe.

***

I’m fucked up and high on meth and running 1000 miles a minute and holy shit man things are getting fucking crazy I can barely even fucking think let alone explain to you how I went up in my house and tackled the bitch ass meth robot while he was fixing my sink which works just fine.

I tackled him and he said, “Get off me this is my house you trespassin sombitch!” And I said, “fuck you man this is my house you trespassin sombitch! Besides, the Science Bitch needs a test subject and I said to myself, ‘Self, this meth is off the chain!’ Wait, that’s not what I said.”

“This is some good meth though,” the robot said.

“Real good,” I replied.

“Huzzah!” The robot yelled, and whipped out his laser gun. “Nobody puts meth-baby in a corner!”

So I did the only thing I could do. I whipped out my cock.

He immediately dropped his gun. “Wow, that’s an impressive cock!”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll suck it for twenty dollars.”

“What is it with meth heads needing twenty dollars?”

“For meth,” he replied.

“You have meth in the air!” I yelled.

“Good point. This meth is off the chain.”

“It is pretty good,” I admitted.

***

Captain Science Bitch called another meeting and we all explained that he doesn’t have to announce he’s calling a meeting when we’ve already been gathered to meet but this stupid science bitch isn’t going to get it and to be honest he’s never going to get it. He’s clearly a r-word and a savant.

“I have discovered how to beat them.”

“Who?” We all replied.

Science Bitch sighed, “The meth robots?”

“I like meth!” A Junkrat yelled

“No you don’t,” Science Bitch answered. “That’s just the meth talking. Speaking of, what’s the one thing meth heads hate more than anything?”

We fell into a thoughtful silence.

“You’re all meth heads. You can answer.”

“Sleep!” Someone yells.

“Having a job!”

“Having nothing to tinker with!”

Finally, I said: “Food!”

Everyone turned to look at me. Science Bitch pointed at me and said, “And that is why you’re the Mayor.”

I was proud. I didn’t know what I was proud of. Hell, I didn’t even remember what he just said. But I knew that at any moment, I was probably gonna go hide in my room and whack off for a few hours. That sounded like a plan. Yeah. Go pound my pud for a while. A really good–

***

We built it.

The world’s largest hamburger.

We could hear the robots complaining. The smell of the giant hamburger nauseated them.

The belief was that if we could trebuchet the giant hamburger straight into the flying saucer’s butthole, it might make the saucer suck the robots back into its butt and leave.

But as we prepared the trebuchet, the saucer spoke to us.

“Don’t! Don’t, please don’t send that hamburger into our butthole.”

“Why not?” I screamed. “You’re killing us! We can barely breathe! Fuck you!”

We launched the hamburger.

It flew straight into it’s butt.

“Eww this is gross! We’re leaving, fuck this, we fucking hate food!”

Just as the flying saucer started to fly away, it asked me for twenty dollars.

“You spray-fart meth!” I screamed.

“Oh yeah, my spray-farts are off the chain.”

It flew away.

The air returned to normal.

I finally got some sleep.

And Gary has about a hundred homeless meth addicted robots living on its streets.

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ZOMBIE KILL OF THE WEEK

Foot steps..

In rapid succession..

Tyler Brooks is running at a full sprint. Through each heavy breathe he gasps for air, making it apparent that he had been running for quite some time.

It’s dark. Only the street lights and the brightness of a full moon illuminates the scene below. Abandoned cars clutter Tyler’s path as he weaves through them. Every few steps, he shoots a glance over his right shoulder frantically. It seems he’s running from something.

Or someone..

In the distance, a chorus of low moans and grunts can be heard just around the bend where Tyler had merged from. Just as he did, shortly thereafter, a group of shadowy figures reach the lighted part of the street, progressing towards Tyler’s direction in a slow, methodically crawl.

They look to be human at first glance. Standing upright on two feet, most of them, and possessing two arms that dangled to their sides. Yet, something wasn’t quite right. The low groans intensified as they grew closer to the light, some of them limping while others seemed to be dragging their feet behind them. Finally, the first few step into the light.. these are not human beings. At least, not anymore.

Zombies.

The Walking Dead march forth, towards Tyler Brooks who now stands under a street lamp that reveals the blood and sweat of his efforts. He looks to have been trying to escape the hoard that follows him for quite some time now. Perhaps, he’s ran all night. After all, it seemed like the rest of the town had been vacated. Not another soul in sight. Perhaps he was one of the only remaining survivors..

Regardless of where he had been on this night, he now found himself between a rock and a hard place. He found himself..

At a dead end.

“Mmmother fucker..”

He pivots on his heels as he looks around the cul-de-sac at the surrounding houses. realizing that he may have just back himself into a corner that will result in his own grave. He shoots another glance at the zombies who are seemingly approaching more rapidly as they catch a whiff of the blood that poured from a cut on Tyler’s forehead.

With no where left to run, it’s time to fight. Tyler rushes towards a white picket fence that lines the yard of one of the surrounding houses and kicks a picket loose from it’s frame. He rips the nails from the baseboard and brandishes the picket as a weapon in his right hand. Repeating the process, Tyler is now dual-wielding pickets from the fence as the zombies approach.

The first half dead launches himself forward only to be side stepped and ducked under as the second in line catches one of those pickets right in the side of the neck!

What a legend!

..But that’s as far as Tyler’s heroics got him as the next few zombies blind side him with a pounce and Tyler finds himself struggling for his life. He manages to get a foot up and swat away one of his attackers with a kick, giving him enough of an opportunity to slide away from the zombie’s who weight lay atop of him and pull back to a vertical base. Another piece of the hoard lunges forward. Tyler slips away and pushes the zombie back…

YOUR

FORETOLD

DESTINY!

The head of the zombie rips right off it’s decaying corpse with force as the spinning roundhouse connects. Tyler gathers himself quickly and hops over the picket fence and rushes towards the house seeking salvation. Luckily, the door was unlocked. Tyler quickly rushes inside, slamming the door behind him in the face of another attacking zombie.

Shwewff, that was a close call.

Tyler quickly fumbles around in the darkness for a light switch. He finds one and flicks the lights on. He’s alone, the family that lived in this house probably packed their shit and took heed of the public service announcement on the news to get out of town.

After barricading the front door with a book shelf, Tyler glances out the window at the front lawn that’s scattered with half-dead bodies. Some of them roam mindlessly in the front yard while others that were in direct contact with Tyler banged against the front door.

He wiped the half-dried blood from his brow as he proceeded through the house, checking through drawers and cabinets along the way, frantically looking for sort of weaponry. He proceeds through the kitchen continuing his search to no avail.

But there’s a door. Tyler opens the door and steps through it. Again, he fumbles around for a light switch and flicks it on as he now found himself in the attached garage.

Jackpot.

Something in this garage will be of use to him as he tries to escape from this house. He searches around the garage, fumbling through the multiple toolboxes that lined the walls. There were some good options in these, but nothing that struck Tyler’s fancy.

He slammed the toolbox shut as the snarls from outside intensify and the banging of limp limbs began on the garage door. He moved to a bigger tool box, this one shaped more like a cabinet. Sliding the latch open, Tyler pulled the door open and his face lit up as if it was Christmas morning. Inside the cabinet he found..

A chainsaw.

“Now this.. this I can do.”

Tyler reaches for the chainsaw and pulls it down from it’s hooks. He places it on the ground in front of him and continues looking through the cabinet. Much to his surprise, he finds a loaded hand gun tucked away in the top of the cabinet, as well as a few extra clips. It wasn’t much, but it was going to have to make due.

He places the handgun against the small of his back and tucks it under the waistband of his pants before placing both of the clips in his left pocket and shuts the door of the tool cabinet. Almost with a faint smile, Tyler knelt next to the chainsaw at his feet and began pushing the prime button. He took grip on the handle and the pull starter and gave it a tugged.

The chainsaw gives a few put-puts but doesn’t start immediately. The noise angers the zombies who await Tyler on the other side as they begin clawing at the metal garage door more aggressively. Tyler pushes on the primer a few more times and gives it another tug.

Put..

put..

pu…

REEEEEEEEEN REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!

Tyler mashes the throttle on the chainsaw and lets the engine roar. The zombies on the other side of the door are going insane trying to bash their way through the garage door.

“Alright you sons a’bitches.. if it’s death you want.. it’s the death, you’re gonna get!”

REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!

Tyler mashes on the throttle one last time as he walks over towards the wall. He takes one last deep breath before slapping his hand against the automatic garage door opener. Slowly, the door begins to raise as Tyler positions himself ready to face the lifeless beings that wait him on the other side.

The zombies snarl and moan as the door reaches it’s peek.

“SURPRISE MOTHER FUCKERS!”

REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!

Tyler swings the chainsaw right into the rotting corpse of the first zombie he sees, cutting him in half. Another attacks from the side but Tyler fends it off with a swift boot and slams the blade of the chain saw right between the zombies eyes.

The onslaught continues until moments later the engine of the chainsaw winds down and shuts off. Tyler remains the only one standing in the front yard as bits of pieces of the undead lay in a bloody pool around him. He places the saw on the ground in front of him and looks around.

It seems he had taken care of an immediate threats..

Tyler reaches down and grabs the lower half of a body and moves it towards the center of the driveway. He then walks around the yard, picking up the various pieces of flesh around the yard and chucking them into a pile in the driveway as well.

But what the hell is he doing? He walks back into the garage and opens the tool cabinet once more, reaching inside. Pulling out a gas can, Tyler turns back around with a wide smile on his face as he begins dousing the pile of body remnants with gasoline. With a chuckle, he tosses the gas can to the side and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a zippo lighter.

Flick..

Tyler’s smile widens as he stares at the flame that dances from the lighter

“Rule number two: Double Tap.”

Tyler’s expresses amusement in his own joke as he drops the lighter on top of the gas soaked bodies.

WHOOF!

The flames shoot towards the sky abruptly. Tyler continues to laugh as the flames dance before him..

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DINNER IS SERVED

Sunken, gold plated ceilings, encased in beautiful 7-inch crown moulding.

Astonishing wainscotting, paired with 7-inch baseboards, bordered by immaculate, roman-inspired quartz columns.

“Sir Cody..”

The sounds of Christian Louboutin Platerissimo flats could be heard making their way down the hallway.

“Yes Winston?”

“Dinner is served…”

Cody, wearing blue window paneled, custom tailored suit makes his way into the formal dining room of his 12-room, 15-bathroom palatial estate. Already seated are his beautiful Wife Sasha, and son Cody Preston Jr. He walks over to his son and gives him a playful rub of the hair, before making his way to Sasha. He leans in to give her a kiss on the cheek before taking his seat at the head of the table.

“How’s everyone?” he asks.

Cody Jr. smiles, “I’m fine Dada.”

A smile fills Sasha’s face as she brushes Cody Jr’s hair out of his face, “We’re doing great Hun. I’m glad you were able to come home for a few days.”

“I know,” he replies, “It’s been a crazy few weeks but this is good.”

Their butler Winston makes his way into the dining room, pushing a cart covered in a clean white tablecloth, carrying three plates covered in stainless steel covers.

“Cody.. Sir.”

“Good evening Winston.”

Suddenly the lights over the dining table flickers.

“What’s going on Daddy?” Cody Jr. asks.

Cody looks up, “It’s okay Son, nothing to worry about,” he reassures. “Winston?”

“I will have the help on it right away Sir.”

Cody takes a breath of air, and is appalled. He sniffs once more, wincing at the smell of rotten eggs. His eyes begin to water.

Sasha waves her hand in front of her face, “Oh my God, what is that smell?”

“It seems to be the smell of mold Madame. I will have the help on it right away.”

The lights begin to flicker once more. This time, they flicker consistently as the room becomes a dark, omnious scene. The light above the dining table begins to sway back and forth and Cody, Sasha, and Jr. look up at it embracing one another.

“One need’nt worry Sir. The help is on it. But for now.. Dinner is served.”

Winston places the three plates in front of them, as he and the other two assistants remove the covers with their white glvoe covered hands. Underneath are bone-in ribeye steaks that are completely covered in maggots. Placed next to it on the plate are live dungeness that begin to crawl off of the plate, snapping at the patrons sitting in front of them.

“Winston! What… What is the meaning of this?”

“It is your request Sir. Steak and dungeness crab.”

Sasha grabs a crab by the claw and begins to hover it over her mouth.

“Sasha! What.. What are you doing?!”

Cody Jr. reaches onto his plate and scoops up a handful of maggots and stuffs them into his mouth, at least a dozen crawling out and all over his chin and neck.

“Son! What.. What.. Oh my goodness.. Winston what is going on?”

Winston turns his head sideways, “Have you lost your appetite sir?”

He slices a piece of maggot covered steak and begins to lean towards Cody. Maggots fall of off the fork as Cody leans further backwards in his chair, placing his hands in front of of his mouth.

“No!!! No!!! No!!!!!!!!!!!”

⏪⏪⏪

“Sir Cody…”

Their butler Winston makes his way into the dining room, pushing a cart covered in a clean white tablecloth, carrying three plates covered in stainless steel covers.

“Cody.. Sir.”

“Good evening Winston.”

Suddenly the lights over the dining table flickers.

“Wha.. Wh.. What’s going on?” Cody questions.

He looks off across the room and sees his son Cody Jr. playing with the light switch.

“Son! Sit down! Please! You almost gave me a heart attack!”

Cody takes a breath of air, and is appalled. He sniffs once more, wincing at the smell of rotten eggs. His eyes begin to water.

Sasha waves her hand in front of her face, “Oh my God, what is that smell?”

“It seems to be the smell of mold Madame. I will have the help on it right away.”

The lights begin to flicker once more.

“Son! Stop it!”

“But Dad.. I’m not doing anything!”

This time, they flicker consistently as the room becomes a dark, omnious scene. The light above the dining table begins to sway back and forth and Cody, Sasha, and Jr. look up at it embracing one another.

“One need’nt worry Sir. The help is on it. But for now.. Dinner is…”

Cody leans back into his chair, his eyes widen as a drop of sweat trickles down his eyebrow, “Served?”

Just then, the two assistants come through the door, gripping onto a chain leash. At the end of it is a cow, covered in feces and flies. Cody turns to Winston, and is taken back by his butler’s pupils are now gone, replaced by black X’s.

“Winston! What.. What is the meaning of this?!” he questions.

“You said you wanted steak for dinner Sir. So steak you will have!” He reaches down to the floor and picks up a chainsaw, and starts it up, revving it over and over and over. He lets out a maniacal laugh and takes several steps towards the cow. He raises the chainsaw high into the air and begins to slowly lower it.

“Stop.. Stop.. Stop it!!!!!” Cody pleads.

The chainsaw lowers onto the body of the cow as sparks begin to fly all over the dining room. Blood splatters everywhere, covering the clean, white walls trhat surround the room.. Puddles of blood begin to collect on the floor as Winston continues to carve at the bloody carcass.

“Sasha! Son! Close your… AHhhhhh!!!!”

He turns towards his Wife and Son, to see their eyes have been replaced by black X’s as well. Their faces blank, and stoic as they perilously stare through him. Blood begins to pour from their eye sockets as they and Winston march towards Cody, arms extended.

He covers his face and cowers in his chair, “No… No… NO!!!!!!!!!!”

⏪⏪⏪

“Ahhhhhh!!!!!”

“Cody..”

“Dad..”

“Sir?”

“Ahhhh!!!!!”

“Hunny..”

Cody snaps out of it and turns his head. Across from him are his Wife Sasha, Son Cody Jr., and Butler Winston who are all staring at him befuddled, confused.

“Are you okay Sir?” Winston inquires.

“Huh? Oh.. Uh.. Yeah. Everything is.. Fine.. I just…”

Sasha intervenes, “Okay.. You’re acting crazy. You were kind of spaced out there for a while. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” he responds, ” I just..” He takes a deep breath, “You know what? Nothing. Everything is okay.”

“Okay, well.. We’re going to have to take a rain check on dinner Hun. I have to take Codes to soccer practice.”

“Yeah.. Yeah.. No problem. Have fun out there kiddo.”

Sasha opens up her Louis Vuitton purse and begins to scrummage through the contents. She looks up quizically and bites her lip, “Have you seen the keys to the car?”

“They should be on the kitchen counter Babe.”

“To the Hyundai?”

“Yeah, they should.. wait what?”

“The Hyundai.”

“You mean Maserati right?”

Sasha lets out a small chuckle as she shakes her head, “You wish Cody. No, the Hyundai.”

Cody, eyes widened, sweating in sweat, vexed at the position he has been put in. “Lambo?”

Sasha nods her head in disagreement, “Cody.. You need to get a grip. You know we can’t afford those cars. So can I get the keys to the Hyundai? Or should I take the Toyota?”

“Hyund.. Toyo.. Uhh.. Uh..”

Sasha gathers her things, and grabs Cody Jr. by the arm, “We’re gonna let you gather yourself because you’re clearly having a mid life crisis or something. We’re leaving.”

Cody drops his head into his hands as Winston enters.

“Sir.. Dinner is..”

Cody takes a big gulp, “Served?”

He turns his head and covers his eyes as Winston uncovers his plate.

“Crab and Steak Sir.. As requested.”

Cody uncovers his eyes and sees a perfectly steamed dungess crab in front of him along with a perfectly seared steak.

“Oh thank God. Thank you Winston. Medium rare yes?”

The lights in the dining room begin to flicker. A flickering darkness, Winston leans in towards Cody.

“Well-done.”

“NoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo!!!!!!”

“Muahahahahaha!!!!!!”

⏪⏪⏪

“Sir?”

Cody snaps his head to his left, his forehead sweating with sweat. “Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!”

“Are you okay Sir?”

“Huh? What? I’m sorry. I just.. I.. Nevermind.”

Winston nods his head slightly, “No worries Sir. As I was saying..”

“No… No… Noooooo!!!!!!” Cody leaps out of his chair and make a bee line for the door.

“Dinner is…”

“NoOoOoOoOo!!!!!!”

Cody stumbles out of the room, his Louboutin Oxfords laying on the floor.

“Served!!! Muahahahaha!!!”

FIN.

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VOICES OF THE MOUNTAIN

Climbing a mountain is never easy. We hear about the success stories of people who conquered the mountain, but for every person who climbed to the summit, treacherous slopes claimed more victims. Their voices unheard, their stories untold.

Many times, their bodies are never recovered. Forever lost to the mountain.

Paro Taktsang, the Tiger’s Paw monastery, stands as a beacon embedded into the cliffside of the Paro valley. They say that as the sun rises and the winds blow softly off the mountain slopes, from the monastery you can hear their voices calling out on the breeze.

The voices of the mountain’s victims. Calling out with their final breath before the lifeforce claims them.

Within Paro Taktsang, there is a room they call it the mountain room. Tucked away out of sight, it is the only room in the monastery with a perfect view of the snowy peaks of the treacherous mountain.

And it is within this room that we find Banzan, deep in meditation just before dawn. Some days, he swore he heard their voices on the breeze. But today, he heard her clearly… Unmistakably.

“Help me…” She called to him, worry and dread in her voice. “Help!”

Hers was not just a voice of a lost soul. But a voice that spoke of something more sinister, a voice of terror.

“Help! He’s coming!”

Instantly, Banzan knew what must be done. He set out alone following the voice as it called out again. It was a surprisingly calm morning on the mountain, with a break in the snowfall meaning that visibility was high. Banzan slowly edged his way up the steep mountain track, knowing there to be a long since abandoned cabin situated at the foot of the most treacherous of all the mountain’s slopes. A cabin that was once known to be referred to as ‘the cabin of no return’, as many a climber would camp there before setting out, only to be lost to the slopes.

The winding path that led toward the cabin soon widened out and flattened to an open expanse of fresh powder that led its way between two slopes. It was here that he saw her, in the distance, stumbling as she ran along the icy edge of a giant, impassable crevasse. Banzan called out to her but his voice was lost to the mountain, and she soon disappeared from view.

Following as quickly as his hefty frame would allow. He came up over the crest of the hill. There she was, staggering slowly and much closer now. She was desperately trying to reach the cabin in the distance. But a figure stood in her way. Banzan saw as the young woman held up her hands, pleading with him to stop.

“No please…. Please!”

But the man had a wild look in his eyes that Banzan had seen before. The look of a man who had lost his mind to the mountain. With an ice-pick in his hands, he swung at her, shouting nonsensical madness in his crazed rage.

“No! Why are you…”

Banzan watched, horrified and helpless as the pick caught her in the neck, cutting her sentence abruptly short. The poor girl crumpled to the ground, lifeless. Banzan scurried over to her, as the madman cackled off into the distance, but as he reached the site of her attack, she was nowhere to be found. Just a splattered patch of crimson snow where her body had lain, and gouge marks in the snow leading to the side of a large crevasse.

Looking down, he saw nothing. No sign of life from within the icy hole. Then, he heard it. Her voice, croaky and weak. Speaking from down in the depths of the icy crevasse.

“Help me… Banzan.”

How?

How did she know his name? Or had he merely imagined his name uttered on the breath of a cold breeze? Banzan was helpless… Perhaps the mountain was beginning to get to him as well. Her voice sounded once more, coughing and spluttering in pain.

“Don’t forsake me… Help.”

The monk opened his mouth to call out, assure her that he was going to help her. But in that moment, no voice left his lips. He cleared his throat and spoke once more, calling down into the depths.

“I will find you.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

The voice sounded from behind him, close enough to nearly send him toppling forward into the crevasse by sheer surprise alone. He turned around, already knowing what figure would be awaiting him. It was not the figure, but the ice pick that he saw first. Still dripping with her blood, leaving a trail of crimson stains in the snow behind.

The wild eyes were enough, and in that instance, Banzan knew that he was going to die next. The wild-eyed man raised his pick, swinging it at Banzan’s head.

And Banzan ran, faster than his sizeable legs could theoretically carry him. Somehow, the killing blow missed him, but the monk was not hanging around to figure out why.

There was a murderer loose on the mountain. He trip, stumbled and ran back down the winding trail towards the monastery, where he woke as many of his brethren from their meditation as possible.

“Come quickly. She needs help!”

Before long, he had roused enough of the monks at Paro Taktsang into action. Enough to fight off the attack of a wild man. Enough to find the girl, to traverse the crevasse and bring her back down the mountain.

The advance up the slope was made at record pace, and after a few hours, Banzan had led them to the exact spot where he had seen her attacked. The cabin, abandoned, stood in the distance. The crevasse stood beside them.

But there was no blood.

No gouge marks.

And no voice called out from below.

“I swear. She is down there, somewhere. Lost, afraid, bleeding… hopefully still alive.”

The monks did not question him, they obediently began to climb down into the deadly crevasse. They continued down into the ice until only their ropes were visible within the hole. Then… A voice called out from below.

“I think… I think… We found… Something.”

Slowly, surely, the rope was pulled up. Her body was lain out on a makeshift stretcher, Banzan recognising her at once.

“That’s her. That’s…”

But he stopped mid-sentence.

The body was frozen solid. The wound in her neck still visible, but her body itself nothing more than a block of ice.

And he wasn’t the only stunned face among the monks. From the back, an elder spoke, having just arrived from the long trek up the mountain path.

“Put her back.”

Heads turned, silence fell. All eyes stared at the elder, whose words of usual wisdom had seemingly now become words of abandonment.

“Put her back. There are sinister things afoot here.”

Nobody moved. The elder hobbled forward.

“You will not know who this is. But I do.”

He thrust a piece of paper into Banzan’s chest. A newspaper clipping. It told the story of a woman, who wandered up the mountain in search of her husband who did not return from his journey. Thirty six years ago. And the photo… Was of her.

She had been gone, missing on the mountain for nearly fourty years. Her body preserved in ice.

“All you have been hearing, seeing, Banzan… Are voices of ghosts on the mountain.”

Banzan’s tears fell as he faced the elder.

“But… I saw him. He killed her. Who was he? Why?”

The elder’s eyes flashed. He knew something.

“Not all who are lost on the mountain want to be found.”

He beckoned for Banzan to follow him, and led the monk away from the confused crowd.

“I told her that I did not want to be followed. I said my goodbyes. She didn’t listen.”

Banzan did not speak, once again, there were no words.

“You see, she was never what you thought she was. To you, she was a mother… A mother you never knew. You were barely born when I saw the true side of her. The nagging, the constant feeling that I would never be good enough. For I gave her an unwanted baby and ruined all her hopes and dreams.

Well, technically, you ruined them.”

Banzan stopped dead, the penny finally dropping.

“That means, you… You’re my father? And she…”

“… Has been dead since you were born. That’s why you could hear her voice. She is part of you, unfortunately.”

Banzan backed away, knowing what he was looking at. The face he had seen before, weathered and aged nearly fourty years.

“… You are him. You killed her. I have to tell the others.”

The elder simply smiled, reaching into his robes. With nobody else around, he pulled free an ice-pick he had been holding onto for decades. Still stained with his own wife’s blood.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

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BANZAN © VS. TYLER BROOKS VS. JUNKRAT VS. CODY

em>Four Dream Warriors step into a dark dimension tonight for the chance at a sequel but can the Mountain preserve his box office glory or will it be taken in a mist of explosions or the terror of death itself?

The bell sounds as all three competitors circle around, Terror Squad sharing a fistbump as Junkrat eyes up the hardcore goodies on the other side of the ring. Banzan stands stoicly, drawing in energy for the contest as Cody and Brooks stare the champion down, shaking their heads and both feinting left and dropping Junkrat with a pair of right hands. The Terror Squad kick the shit out of a prone Junkrat before lifting him up onto his feet, Cody lifts Junkrat up into a firemans carry as Brooks rushes to the ropes, springboarding off

SPRINTING ELBOW, FINLAY ROLL INTO A DOUBLE JUMP MOONSAULT

EYE OF PERFEXTION!

Brooks laughs, leaping up as he high fives Cody, turning around

MASSIVE LARIAT FROM BANZAN!

The Savior gets wrecked from the clothesline, flipping 180 in the air before crashing hard on the mat as Cody tries to brawl with the Mountain, his strikes being of little effect against the much larger man, leaping up for a hard knee that’s caught as Banzan spins Cody around

DUKKA!

The Saito Suplex drops Cody down hard as both Terror Squad members look dazed and out, scurrying away as they look to the other side of the ring for a weapon to even the odds, not noticing the crazied Aussie perched above.

DIVING ASS BOMB!

Junkrat takes out both members of the Terror Squad with his big ass bowling them over with a senton like move. Junkrat gets up to his feet, kicking a rising Cody in the jaw before he reaches down, picking up a cricket bat with nails embedded into it

“Come on you pricks, lets dance”

Junkrat swings the bat wildly, both Cody and Brooks backing off from the lethal object as Junkrat swings wildly, getting the bat stuck into the nearby turnbuckle pad. Pissed and swearing heavily, Junkrat tries to pull his weapon out of the heavy pad

EYE OF THE SAVIOR TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD!

Brooks nearly cracks Junkrats skull with that huge elbow, Junkie staggering out of the corner right into an onrushing Cody

RUNNING BUISAKU KI….LOW BLOW!

Junkrat uppercuts Cody right in the tallywhackers as the Reflection of Perfection collapses to the mat in pain. Brooks tries for a leaping right but Junkrat ducks, leaping off the ropes

THE CONCUSSION MINE!

Brooks gets planted into the mat with that huge DDT as Junkrat looks towards his weapon once more before his eyes gaze towards another…a much more deadly weapon that draws a giant smile on the insane Boomers face.

A goddamn fucking Lawnmower and the glee on Junkrat’s face as he sparks it up is terrifying.

Junkrat raises it high Braindead style as he looks menacingly down at Cody, looking to deliver a little Terror to the squad but before Junkie can move a few steps, the mower sputters and cuts out. Thankfully there was no gas in the tank but Junkrat’s pissed as he looks to just smash it over Cody’s head

“Oi Dumbass”

BROOKS HAS THE CHAINSAW! HE SWINGS WILD, SLICING RIGHT THROUGH THE LAWNMOWER NEARLY RIPPING THROUGH JUNKRAT’S HAND IN THE PROCESS.

Junkie drops the two halves of broken machinery, ducking and dodging wild swings before throwing a smoke bomb right in Brook’s face. The Savior coughs and sputters, trying to see with rage in his eyes

“I’m gonna split you in half you fucking sewer rat”

CRACK!

The smoke dissipates as Brooks is holding the chainsaw, cut in half as the blade has flown out of the ring from a single strike from the Mountain, who’s done sitting back and watching the chaos unfold. Brooks tries to throw the useless chainsaw at Banzan who swats it aside, drilling Brooks with a hard Roundhouse to the side of the head

CRANE KICK FROM JUNKRAT!

Banzan staggers back, that hard kick catching the Mountain on the jaw as Cody rushes forward,

BICYCLE KICK TO THE JAW!

Banzan goes down hard from the Perfection shot as Cody tries for another to Junkrat but gets tripped up

STEEL TRAP!

Cody gets trapped in the STF, his multiple injuries screaming in pain as Junkie pulls back with all his might, trying to win the Double Feature Championship here

DOUBLE STOMP TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD!

Brooks breaks up the submission on Cody, picking up the prone Junkrat, delivering a stiff kick to the balls before leaping up high

YOUR FORETOLD DESTINY!

Brooks goes for the cover, but notices a glowing purple haze in the corner of his eye. Banzan is meditating and drawing from the Wellspring. Both Terror Squad members rush over, beginning to pound down on the Mountain to little effect as the glow begins to intensify, the Mountain reaching up, grabbing both Cody and Brooks by the throats and effortlessly tossing them away as he’s covered in the energy from the Wellspring.

Banzan gets to his feet as both men get to theirs, a ball of energy emerging from each hand as he thrusts it into the chest of both Brooks and Cody who collapse to the mat.

ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MOUNTAIN!

The Mountain is spent but he drops to his knees, covering both men

ONE

…..

TWO

…..

THREE!!!

Banzan does it, the true enlightened warrior making his dreams come true as he retains his championship here tonight

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WHAT WILL YOU DO?

In a tavern, a rookie cop in his mid-twenties is looking at his badge. Empty bottles fill his table, and it looks like he is questioning everything in his life.

A tall man in his early sixties approaches him.

“Everything alright, Mike?”

“Yeah, Chief, everything is okay, just one of those rough days where you wonder if everything, you’re doing is worth it. We got a call today and it was one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life. The first thing we saw was a man hanging in the living room and on the coffee table was a simple note that said I’m sorry. We were wondering what he was apologizing about then we smelled it before we saw it. Once we smelled the defecation of a corpse, we found the source. He had tied his wife to the bed and slit her throat. It had been a few days so she was lying in her own filth. That was not the worst of it though.

“No?”

“No, we heard the soft cries of a child. You could tell it had been thrown to the ground. All of its brittle bones were broken but it was still fighting, still breathing anyway, you know? I made a mistake boss…”

“What did you do?”

“I picked it up, trying to help it. I thought I would pick it up and take it to the hospital but I must have picked it up too suddenly or something because its neck snapped and the child’s last breath was in my arms.”

” I don’t even know if that is the worst of it.”

“How can it get worse?”

“The way we found out, his teenage son was the one who called us. He had come over from his mother’s house to stay the weekend and when his dad didn’t pick up the phone like normal, he rushed over there and saw his father how we found him.”

“I can’t imagine how he is feeling. It was awful to see but at least this is my job, no son signs up for that. How do you do that to your family?”

Mike starts crying and his police chief consoles him and pats him on the back.

“I don’t know, Mike. I’ve learned a few things at this job though. We have to look at people as criminals or victims. If we get lost in our heads about why a criminal did something, we are unable to help the victims. Keep your head straight, you are a good man and you did the best you could, that’s all anyone can ask of you.

“Now, I hate to do this after hearing what happened today and why you left early but seeing you drink your problems away isn’t the reason I’m here.”

“What’s going on, boss?”

“We got a weird report saying your family is in danger.”

“My family? What did the report say!?”

“You’re drunk Mike, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Tell me chief, I have to know now.”

“They said a man was coming to kill your family unless you could identify him and kill him first.”

“How am I supposed to identify him?”

“They said everything you need to know is in this box.”

The police chief hands him a small metal box with a pin pad on it.

“What’s the code?”

“We don’t know, all they said was that the numbers mean something to you.”

“Something to me? Are they targeting me specifically?”

“I’m afraid so Mike, in all my years on the force, I’ve never seen anything like this. For your sake, put all of the emotion from today into protecting your family. If you need to leave the department and take your family elsewhere, I completely understand. We’ll help you with anything you need.”

“I think I have to take you up on that offer, my family is everything to me. They’re the reason I took this job in the first place.”

Mike starts to hand the police chief his badge.

“Keep it, Mike, I’ll always consider you one of mine. You’ll need it anyway, I’ll make sure you get a job wherever you decide to go.”

“Thanks, boss.”

“Mike, it’s Hank now.”

“Thanks, Hank.”

That night, Mike and his wife have a long discussion and decide to travel with their young son across the country to California.

During the parts of the trip his wife is driving, Mike tries to open the box with all the important numbers he can think of. He has tried every birthday and anniversary he knows but nothing has worked. He sighs and hopes that traveling this far is enough.

They get to their new place and start to settle in. Mike gets another officer job, his wife begins to teach, and his son is starting kindergarten.

Life is new but Mike can’t forget about his old life and old dangers.

Every night, he tries some new numbers before the box fully locks and cannot be messed with until the next day.

After a year, he gives up and decides to just live his life.

Nothing has happened, his wife and his son are happy and he should be too.

Even though Mike isn’t trying to open the box anymore, it still lingers in his mind and he’s afraid that somehow, someway, his family isn’t safe.

Months pass by and it is the night before his son’s seventh birthday party. Mike uses some old newspapers as gift wrap and stumbles on a story he has tried to forget about.

MURDER-SUICIDE, FATHER OF TWO KILLS HIS WIFE AND NEWBORN SON

Mike breaks down and his tears soak the page, one tear hits the picture above the article. It’s a picture of the house everything happened at and the tear highlights the address.

3434.

Mike has a spark and instantly goes to the metal box and presses in the numbers.

Sure enough, the box opens and all that is inside is a small note.

YOU’RE THE REASON YOUR FAMILY IS IN DANGER.

DO WHAT YOU DID TO THE CHILD.

Mike freaks out and goes to a department store.

He buys some rope and drives back home.

He goes to bed as everyone is there.

The next morning, he waits for his wife and his son to leave the house.

He ties a noose and climbs a ladder.

He wraps it around a wooden beam he has nailed to the upper walls.

He puts his head in the noose and jumps!

It’s not a clean snap.

He is struggling to breathe.

The door opens and a young man walks in.

Struggling to get out the words, Mike softly speaks.

“Who are you?”

“It was about time you opened that box I made.”

“This makes me really glad I put a homing beacon on it.”

“The way you were crying about my baby brother, I thought the worst day of my life left a bigger impact on you.”

It’s the teenage son of the monster who killed his family!

“You see I hated my father for that day but he took care of himself. You, however, thought you did the best you could, you thought you were the good guy in all this but you’re the reason my brother is dead not my bastard of a father. You snapped his neck and I’m glad to see you at least remembered our pain enough to try to snap yours.”

“However, I should’ve known you wouldn’t succeed. All you are is an incompetent cop. Why do you think Hank was so eager to get you off his force?”

“How do you know Hank?”

“How do I know Hank?!”

The young man laughs.

“He’s my brother’s grandfather. Weird report ring a bell? I gave him the box to give to you and he gladly gave it. My stepmom was his daughter and my little brother was his pride and joy. Getting rid of a shitty cop and eventually killing the man who took away what he loved most? It was like killing two birds with one stone for Hank.”

“The best part is he’s here as well.”

Hank strolls in.

“Hey, Mike.”

“Hank, how could you?”

“No Mike, how could you? You should’ve called an ambulance and have not touched the child but you always wanted to be a hero, it’s why I had to get you off the force.”

“I needed good cops, competent cops, not the kind who would kill an infant!”

“You needed to be better and I probably should’ve given you a few more lessons. Such as this…”

Hank climbs the ladder.

“Sorry, Mike.”

Hanks pats Mike’s back like old times.

“This is how a competent cop snaps a neck.”

SNAP!

“How could a father do this? At least, he’s better than yours, boy. At least, he wanted to protect his family”

Hank and the young man leave.

A few hours later, Mike’s son comes home and sees his father.

“Dad? Dad?”

The End.

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A NIGHTMARE IN GREEN

It was a stormy night, rain fell heavy on the streets in the suburbs. It’s been raining a lot lately, but Redwing hardly noticed. He was in the small coffee shop across the street in his civilian guise, Bill Kirby. Across from him sat a small child, soaking wet.

Redwing had gotten word about a small child asking for him from his contact in the police department. She claimed that something had happened to her mother, that her father was at fault for it. But there was little information as there had never come a report of any problems in the home.

Police spoke with neighbours who all stated that as far as they could tell, they were a happy family. They’d have regular family outings and they never heard the family shouting at each other.

So here Bill Kirby sat, across from the child on the promise that he could contact Redwing for her, she just had to fill him in.

“Daddy has been weird for a long time. I don’t know why no body believes me.” she said, wiping a tear from her oddly dark eyes.

“I’ll see if Redwing can dig up anything. He can do things the police can’t.”

The little girl smiles as the waitress drops off the bill. They both part ways as Bill gets into his car. He pulls up a computer hidden in the dash and puts the name of the father in.

Name: Mitchum, Nathan Gardner
Occupation: Finance Manager
Police Record: Minor driving violations, all paid for.

“Nothing of note. Seems rather normal. hrm. That seems rather odd, though.”

Kirby scrolls to the next note.

Family history: Married 3 times, no record of divorce.
Previous wives: Unknown.
Location: Unknown.

“Where have you gone?”

He scrolls down futher, but as soon as Children: appears, his computer shorts out.

“That’s not good.”

Next Night

Rain falls hard for the third straight night in a row as Redwing perches on the roof of a building across from the Mitchum home. He’s been here all night, and no signs of life beside the odd pass by a window. Not even of the little girl who brought this case to him. Something seems off, Redwing can feel it in his gut as he watches when suddenly a strange light appears off a side room of the house.

Redwing pulls out some binoculars for a closer look. There isn’t a better angle, but the light seems to pulsate an odd, almost otherworldly, greenish hue. Suddenly the little girl opens the door and walks out. She seems calm, but Redwing feels something is wrong as she just casually walks down the street. At this hour it seems extra odd that her father doesn’t seem to come out to get her.

Redwing releases a small, bat-shaped drone that begins to follow the little girl. “At least I’ll know if something happens to her.”

The sound of a door clicking again draws Redwing’s attention back to the door as an older man walks out the door, he looks both ways but heads in the opposite direction of where his daughter had gone.

Redwing glides down to the back of the home, picking the lock to enter. He carefully makes his way through the home, his cowl providing night vision so he doesn’t need to turn a light on to risk alerting anyone else to his presence. He makes his way through the home, making note that there is no family pictures on the wall, and the house seems awfully bland for a family home.

The muted walls and sparsely furnished home gives the impression that this is a temporary residence than a long lived in home, but his records doesn’t show that Mr. Mitchum having lived at any other address.

As Redwing slowly makes his way through the house, his cowl begins to act up. The eerie green hue he saw earlier blinding out the cowl’s night vision. The Crimson Crusader turns it off, seeing the house lit up with that colour. He looks around, and it seems like the colour is almost alive and sliming down the walls.

Redwing touches his finger tips to the wall, sampling the goo when his entire system begins to go haywire. Redwing rips his cowl off as a screeching could be heard.

Redwing continued up the stairs, following the light as best he could. He cautiously checks each room as he passes, and just like the rest of the house, they all seem void of life.

As he continues, there are now two rooms that glow with the ominous green colour. Redwing prepares a Redblade in preparation for what he may encounter. He opens the door and sitting on a table, the only furnishing in the entire room, is a rock emitting the green light as if it’s the source.

“What are you doing here?”

A voice spins Redwing around as he sees the little girl behind him. He checks his gauntlet, the bat-drone he sent out tells him the little girl is at the other end of town. He looks up, seeing the girl right in front of him.

“You aren’t supposed to be here! Who are you?!”

Redwing looks confused, the voice doesn’t seem to be coming from the little girl but he can’t find the source.

“What are you talking about? You asked me to look into your father?”

“I have no father. Who are you?”

A flash of green light and the child is gone, and Redwing can’t even remember the girls face anymore.

He approaches the other room emitting green light. He slowly opens the door and falls to the ground in horror.

A mass of flesh lays on the bed, arms from four different individuals writhe as if in pain, a head of a man on the front of the body followed by the heads of woman appearing in unnatural positions. The moaning from the heads is a mixture of pain and pleasure.

The male head looks at Redwing, pain and confusion in his… It’s eyes.

“H-h-help… Muh-me! S-s-s-so hungry!”

Redwing stands to his feet as he tries to find the strength to move forward. The terror of what he’s seeing is growing as the green pulsates around him. The little girl appears again as if she’s coming out of the mass, this time with a sinister grin as she cuts a finger off of one of the hands and feeds it to the male head. She now looks at Redwing with recognition. Her eyes now hollowed out and green.

“Daddy, this is my friend. He said he’d come play with us!”

Redwing turns, but the house has reshaped itself, he’s closed in now with no escape. The mass of human flesh begins to crawl inhumanly across the floor, slowly reaching out towards Redwing tries to escape when the mass rolls over him.

The Next Morning

Redwing shoots upright in his chair, his computer right in front of him. He’s back in his cave, as the sounds of bats echo in the distance. He shakes his head as he begins typing on his computer.

Search: Mitchum, Nathan Gardner: No Results.

“What the hell? But I’ve been investigating him for two days.”

Redwing quickly types in the address he was at the night prior.

Results: Owner: Rogers, Peter.

“What? That’s not right.”

Redwing quickly changes into his civilian attire and drives the home. It’s identical to what he had just seen the night prior, and knocks on the door. A small, elderly man answers.

“Hello?”

Bill Kirby looks at him, confusion on his face.

“Hi, I’m Bill Kirby. I’m a private investigator. Is there a Nathan Gardner Mitchum living here?”

“Afraid not. I’ve never heard that name before, I’ve lived here for over 30 years!”

“That’s strange. I was given this case from a friend in the police department, and all my evidence pointed to him living here.”

Bill Kirby turns and walks away, confusion on his face. A green glow from the home begins to pulse and a moan can be heard.

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THE JUDGE VS. REDWING

The hook hangs high above the Slaughterhouse ring as Judge and Redwing await the bell. The Red Knight plots out battle strategies in his head while the keeper of balance focuses on his opponent with his fiery eyes. Who will emerge from this fight the victor and who be left hanging?

The very second the bell rings, Judge charges forward and tackles Redwing into the turnbuckles. The Crimson Scourge was taken by surprise as his much more powerful opponent punishes him with a hard shoulder thrust into his sternum! The cosmic decider reels back before nailing another shoulder thrust to his opponent! And another! AND ANOTHER! Redwing hacks up a lung as the Judge finally backs away from the Red Knight…

…BEFORE LAUNCHING HIM ACROSS THE RING WITH A MASSIVE BIEL TOSS! REDWING MUST’VE FLOWN AT LEAST FIFTEEN FEET!

Redwing arches his back in pain before rolling outside to catch his breath. The Judge is relentless however, following his target to the outside. The balance keeper grabs Redwing by the cowl and attempts to whip him into post, but the Watchful Protector stops himself before impact. The Judge runs after him once more, but Redwing has it scouted-

DROP TOE HOLD INTO THE STEEL POST! IF THE JUDGE COULD BLEED, HE WOULD BE!

With the much larger man down, the Red Knight lifts the apron up and pulls a ladder from under the ring. He slides it into the ring as The Judge gets back to his feet. Redwing picks the ladder up, slamming it into the midsection of The Judge who drops to one knee as Redwing hoists the ladder over his head to slam it across Judge’s back!

THUD! JUDGE DROPS TO THE CANVAS, GIVING REDWING AN OPENING!

Redwing sets the ladder up under the hook, and starts to make his ascension to pull the hook down…but Judge is already back to his feet! He climbs the ladder from behind, practically scooping Redwing up onto his shoulders!

PERFECT BALANCE! JUDGE SENDS THE RED KNIGHT FROM MID-LADDER TO THE CANVAS WITH THAT ELECTRIC CHAIR DROP!

Both men are down and in pain now, but Judge is slowly getting to his feet before noticing that the ladder is still all set up and ready for him to do what must be done…but first, he picks Redwing up and launches him into the turnbuckle, making sure he can’t stop him from bringing that hook down.

With the Red Knight out of the way, Judge begins his ascension up the ladder, being careful to avoid any issues due to his larger frame. He reaches up for the hook, just managing to touch it when Redwing climbs up on the other side! He throws a punch at Judge, who responds with one of his own!

The two are now having it out right at the top of the ladder, a very precarious position for both of them as Judge to take one more swing at Redwing…who dodges it at the last second! Wait a minute, is this…?

RETURN TO ARKHAM OFF THE LADDER! HOLY SHIT, REDWING JUST ABOUT DROVE JUDGE INTO THE DEPTHS OF HELL WITH THAT DOUBLE UNDERHOOK DDT!

The Judge seems to be out cold as Redwing makes another attempt to climb the ladder, finally making it to the top and grabbing the hook…he’s pulled it down! His job is halfway through, all that’s left is to figure out how to get the dead weight that is The Judge up onto it!

Redwing climbs down the ladder just a little before dropping down, landing squarely on his feet as he starts dragging Judge toward the ladder. He looks up at the hook above him, wondering what the hell he needs to do…but Judge is getting back to his feet! Judge with a hard kick to the midsection of the Red Knight!

RESTORATION! JUDGE JUST POWERBOMBED REDWING THROUGH THE DAMN LADDER, WHICH GETS SANDWICHED BETWEEN THE RED KNIGHT AND THE CANVAS!

Redwing is in a ton of pain right now as Judge grabs the ladder, surprisingly still intact after all the carnage. He sets the ladder up once more under the now-dangling hook, before heading back to the fallen Redwing. He picks the Red Knight up, slinging him over his shoulder before heading to the ladder.

Redwing starts to stir again, mustering the strength to fight back at the base of the ladder with some punches to The Judge, and a solid kick to the midsection for good measure!

GODWATCH! REDWING JUST CAUGHT JUDGE BY SURPRISE WITH THAT RIPCORD KNEE, PROPPING HIM UP AGAINST THE LADDER!

This is the opportunity Redwing needs! He’s slowly but surely pulling Judge up as he climbs the ladder, latching the hook up on the bottom of Judge’s helmet, and with how strong that is it’s not coming off! IT’S LIGHTS OUT FOR THE JUDGE!

Crimson Justice has tipped the scales in his favor tonight! The Judge tried his best to even the odds, but he ended up falling for Redwing’s trick hook line and sinker!

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THE HITCHHIKER

July 14, 2019

It was close to midnight. Rain was falling from the sky like a legion of demons descending to take their revenge on the earth that killed their gods.

It was like driving through a thick curtain that you would never penetrate.

Or at least that’s what the driver of this sedan told herself as she drove through Skull Valley, Arizona. A slim woman, she was clad in a business suit. A cigarette hung out of her mouth as she motored down the highway, reminding herself to ease off the gas just a hair.

You have to be careful driving on a night like this.

If you break down, no one would be able to get to you for hours. Even worse, if you had an accident, then death would find you before the police would.

A night like this was one to be home during.

The headlights rang out into the downpour, barely penetrating the fog. One could easily be hypnotized by sound of the windshield wipers, but that hypnosis was short lived for the business woman, as she was able to make out a figure at the end of the road she was on.

They were wearing a red parka, and had their thumb jerked out.

The driver shook her head at the idiocy of someone hitchhiking on a night like this. But the thought struck her that no one would dare to try it if they truly didn’t need to get where they were going.

With a sigh, she signals, and pulls over to the side of the road. The hitchhiker climbs in, pulling the door shut quickly.

To the business woman’s surprise, her new passenger was a young woman, a teenager even, one that looked rather sickly to be honest. She was wearing what looked like a large man’s trench coat. As she got her legs situated, it moved enough to show what could be nothing but a thin layer of skin over bone.

What the hell happened to this girl?

“You alright?” The driver asks, concerned.

“I am now.” The teen says with a nod. “I’m Dana.”

The driver puts her cigarette out in the ashtray, reaching out to shake the bony hand of her passenger.

“Pam.”

With a warm smile, Pam puts the car into gear and slowly merges onto the highway. Dana, meanwhile, turns to look at the darkness behind them. Her expression is one of pain.

“You okay?”

Dana simply nods.

Driving along in darkness, with only the sound of a local talk radio station as background, the lull of the downpour begins to rise once again. Each woman was in her own thoughts as they moved on.

“Where you headed, Dana?” Pam asks after a moment.

“Wherever you’ll take me.” Dana responds as politely as she could muster.

Looking Pam up and down, Dana seemed to feel very insecure. Her savior was dressed in a very expensive pant suit, while she was wearing an ill-fitting coat and little else.

“You work around here?” Dana asked after a moment.

Pam smiles in return.

“I do. It was a long shift today. Lots of fires to deal with. You know how it is.”

The passenger just lowers her head before brushing her wet red hair out of her face.

“No. Not really.”

The talk dries up once more, with the radio filling the gaps. Finally, Dana interjects once more.

“Could we have some music?” She meekly asks.

Pam chuckles.

“I prefer to listen to talk radio, find out what’s really going on in the world. I’ve heard enough music to last me a lifetime.”

Dana’s eyes seem to glaze over for a moment.

“Music calms me down. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will.”

Pam doesn’t respond, and just continues driving.

A few miles down the road, a news bulletin cuts in during their talk radio.

“We are getting reports that an arsonist has set fire to a Skull Valley home. Police are examining the remains, but there appear to be no survivors. The arsonist was seen fleeing the home. Please be on the lookout.”

Nervous out of seemingly nowhere, Dana reaches out to jab a finger into the radio. Machine Gun Kelly’s latest song busts out of the speakers. Pam looks over at Dana, a scowl on her face, not even needing to ask the question.

“The news brings me down.” Dana says. “It’s so depressing. There’s never anything good on there. Just people’s pain. I’ve got enough of that without their help.”

Pam doesn’t reply, and instead continues driving.

“Don’t worry,” Dana begins, fidgeting with her coat as she speaks. “I’m not the arsonist.”

“No?” Pam replies, suspicion in her voice. Her tone shifts suddenly. “I mean, no, of course you’re not.”

Dana gulps as Pam listens to the song playing.

“I can’t endure any more of this filth.”

She reaches out to turn back to talk radio.

“…an update. There was also a breaking and entering that took place at the neighbor of the burned down home.”

Dana lowers her head, trying to not listen, while looking at Pam, who seems to have not heard the radio. Instead, the driver asks a question.

“What were you running from, Dana?” She gestures to the large coat. “A young woman, standing in a storm, trying desperately to get away from something.”

She smiles.

“Or someone?” Pam looks at the scared Dana. “You can tell me.”

The radio continues.

“The arson suspect mugged the neighbor, stole her clothes, and her car.”

Dana definitely heard that. She raises her head up.

“Suspect is a female, wearing a pantsuit, and driving a…”

Click.

The radio shuts off without anyone touching it as Dana looks at her driver. Her savior.

Lightning strikes nearby, and Pam’s face can be seen clearly.

Her eyes are red with fire.

Darkness.

July 16, 2019

We hear another talk radio broadcast.

“As an update to the Skull Valley arson, breaking, and entering story, the stolen vehicle was found the next morning along with the suspected arsonist. The remains of Dana Grayson, aged 16, were found in the car, wearing what appeared to be the stolen clothes. Little remains of the car, as it seems the arsonist’s stash backfired and nearly incinerated the whole vehicle.

Dana Grayson, from what we’ve discovered, was reported missing from her Toledo, Ohio home at age 10. Various sightings had led investigators to believe she was the victim of a child sex trafficking ring. Her body had traces of heroin and cocaine in it, and the semen of twelve different men.

There were no survivors of the home she burned down. Robert and Angela Hart, along with their comatose daughter Pamela, were all killed in the inferno.

A tragic end for a tragic story.”

Cut.

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VACANCIES

The evening air gathered in a flurry of condensation as the young man stepped from the train onto the platform. He took a moment to take in his surroundings, before noting the late hour on his watch.

“Excuse me,” the young man asked a nearby porter. “Do you know where the nearest hotel is?”

“Of course. Take the station exit and follow the main road for a few hundred yards then hang a left. It’s The Nightingale Inn, and it’s on the right.”

The man thanked him for his time and left the station, pulling up his collar against the cold night. He began to follow the porter’s instructions along the main road, but before long found himself glancing to the right. He could see a ‘Vacancies’ sign on an old building, and so he peered into the frosted window. He was struck by the warm glow of the fire burning in the hearth, and as he looked around he saw the welcoming light dance around the fur of a sleeping border collie, curled up on the rug in front of the fire. In the rest of the lounge area he spotted an upright piano, and in the far corner, a cage containing a parrot.

Though the Nightingale Inn that the porter had suggested couldn’t be much further away, there was something about the warmth of the scene in front of him that captured him and told him this place would be much more comfortable.

He reached his hand for the bell, and as he pressed it he heard the bell ring away in the bowels of the house. Before his hand had fallen back to his side the door opened and a woman appeared. Very keen. He thought she must have been in her early forties. She saw she had made the man jump and so she flashed him a wide, welcoming smile.

“Please do come in,” she started, a friendly lilt to her voice. She stepped to one side, and the man walked in, almost as if on autopilot. He felt drawn to enter.

“I saw the sign in the window,” he said.

“Yes I know, dear,” the landlady replied.

“Could I enquire about a room?” he continued.

“It is all ready for you,” she replied, her blue eyes shimmering as she smiled.

“I was heading to the Nightingale, then your sign caught my eye.”

“Let’s get you warm,” she insisted, closing the door behind him.

“How much do you charge?” the man enquired.

“Ten pounds per night,” she stated. “But that includes breakfast.” She continued when she saw his eyebrow raise at the corner.

“If that’s too much I can hold the breakfast and it’ll be seven pounds.”

“Ten pounds is fine,” he reassured her. He was surprised that a bed and breakfast in such a central location would charge such low prices.

“Just hang your coat on the hook over there,” she said, making her way down the hall. He did so and then began to follow her. How odd, he thought, that there were no other coats. The landlady must have seen the look on his face because she began to explain.

“We’ve the place to ourselves. It’s not very often that I get to take a visitor into my nest, you see.”

The man thought the landlady must have a few screws loose, but she seemed harmless enough. He smiled and said “I would have thought you’d be swamped with people wishing to stay here?”

“Oh I am, dear, but the problem is that I am very particular, if you see what I mean. But I keep my castle clean. I’m always ready for the next time a gentleman like you might pass by and enquire. And it’s always my pleasure when I open the door and there is a young man who is just precisely right.”

She turned to face him from halfway up the stairs, with a smile. “Like you!” she exclaimed.

“This first floor is mine,” she started, continuing as they got to the second floor. “The second floor is all yours. Here is your room – I really hope you like it.”

She took him into a spacious but modest looking bedroom, and he nodded his approval as he noticed the view from the front window. She saw him looking. “The morning sunrays fall beautifully through that window, Mr. Smith,” she said. “It is Mr. Smith, isn’t it?”

“No,” he replied. “Mr. Whitlock. Alton.”

“Mr. Whitlock, of course. There’s a water bottle between the sheets, Mr. Whitlock. I think it’s such a comfort to be warm in a bed that’s not your own.”

“Thank you so much,” Alton replied, his eyes genuine.

“I’m so glad you appeared,” the landlady replied. “I was starting to get worried.”

“Oh, you don’t need to be worried about me,” Alton said.

“I’ll leave you now, sir, so you can unpack, but please could I ask a favour. Could you pop down to the sitting room and sign the guestbook? Everyone who stays here must do that, you see.”

She left the room. Alton smiled to himself. She was certainly a sandwich short of a picnic, but he could tell that she was a kind soul.

After unpacking, Alton made his way downstairs to the sitting room, and opened up the guestbook, which lay on top of the piano. He picked up the pen and signed his name and address, then (as everyone always does) he read the older entries, of which there were just two.

One was Jeremy Mulholland, and the other was Gregory Temping. He had a sudden thought that Mulholland rang a bell. But where had he heard the name before? He glanced back down at the book. Come to think of it, both of the names seemed familiar to him. “Gregory Temping…” he muttered to himself, out loud.

“Such pleasant boys,” a voice chimed in from behind him. “Both of them.”

Alton wheeled round and saw the landlady had entered the room with a pot of tea.

“They sound familiar.” Alton mused.

“Do they?” she replied. “Very interesting.”

“I’m sure I’ve heard the names before. In fact, I’m sure they’re related in some way. Maybe they play for the same sports team, or they’re a famous double act on the comedy circuit?”

“Oh no dear. They weren’t famous. Extraordinarily handsome though. Tall and young and handsome, dear, just like you.”

“Look,” Alton said, gesturing at the book. “The last entry from Gregory is two years old!”

“It is?”

“Yes, And Jeremy a further year before that.”

“Time does fly Mr. Woburn, doesn’t it?”

“It’s Whitlock.”

“Of course it is!” she cried, sitting down on the sofa. “Sit down Mr. Whitlock. A nice cup of tea and a biscuit before bed will do you wonders.”

“Thank you. I’m almost sure I saw their names in the newspapers for something, though. Wasn’t Mulholland the name of that Eton schoolboy who-”

“Oh no, you must be mistaken, my Mr. Mulholland was a Cambridge undergraduate, you see.”

She placed a cup of tea in front of him.

“There you are!” she said. “Nice and cosy.”

Alton started to sip his tea, whilst the landlady did the same. Nobody spoke for a short while, but he could feel her eyes on him, watching him over the rim of her teacup.

“I suppose Mr. Mulholland left recently?”

“Left?” she replied. “No, dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr Mulholland and Mr Temping. Both of them are on the third floor. How old are you, dear?” she asked him.

“I’m nineteen,” he replied. “I’m here from America visiting family.”

“Oh what a lovely age! Mr Mulholland was your age too. Mr. Temping was older, not that you would know it. His skin was soft as a baby, not a single blemish anywhere on his body.”

“…a what?”

“Just like a baby,” she reminisced.

Alton sipped his tea again. He stared ahead into the corner of the room.

“The parrot,” he said at last, to break the silence. “Had me fooled. When I looked in from the street, I could have sworn it was alive.”

“Alas, not for many years.”

“It’s very clever. Who did it?”

“I did, of course.”

“You?”

“And the dog too,” she said, nodding at the rug in the centre of the room. Alton reached out and pushed the fur to one side. He could see the greyish skin underneath, dry and perfectly preserved with no blemish in sight.

“It must be very difficult to do such fine work?”

“Not at all. I stuff all of my pets once they pass away. More tea?”

“No thanks,” he replied. The tea, though welcomed, tasted of bitter almonds, and he didn’t care for it.

“You did sign the book, didn’t you?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Excellent. Later on, when I forget what you were called, I can always come and check the book. I do that every day with Mr Mulholland and Mr…”

“Temping. Excuse my asking, but haven’t you had any other guests other than those two?”

“No,” she said. “Just you.”

And as the darkness enveloped him, he felt her hands brush his skin.

“Not a blemish…”

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IN THE SHADOWS

Andre Rigante was like any other sort of a man you could find in the city. Someone who worked hard every day, being one of the absolute best at the top of the ranks of the stock market. The money, his. Power, all at his fingertips. He felt as if he were a king, with nothing stopping him from more. It gave him time to indulge in some of his more.. Unique desires.

What was a murder here or there to relieve the stress?

The first had been a hooker, strangled to death during one of his old coke binges. It was there, high off his ass, that an esctacy he never had known before shook him to his core. The second was planned, but sloppy at first. A homeless man, chased through the underbelly of the city before having his throat slit and dumped into the river. He nearly escaped, but with the spray of blood, the rush grew even more.

And now he stood at a balcony, coated in blood after his fourth and fifth killing. They were some communters of some sort, and listening to a concerto of classical music. He was still coming down from that ecstasy that had told him to come out from the house, risk bein seen by the world in the blood of those that he had slain. And he loved it. The thrill and static that had been missing looking over charts and predicting the movement of stocks was present here, pulsating with life enraptured and slain alike. The only shame he had, was that it would eventually end.

A sound came from the alley beneath him. He looked down, the strike of fear and excitement catching the view of someone ducking around the strutcture. The chance made a smile creep onto the content face of Andre. Perhaps he would be lucky enough to keep it going.

Moving stealthy down, he found the easiest and fastest way down; the fire escape. As if a tiger leaping from his den, he quickly slid down, moving just out of view of the windows below him. In merely a minute and a half, he was down on the ground. And from there, he could see the shadow of whoever had spied upon him.

Oh, how much he loved the hunt! There was a thrill in stalking out the victim, tracking them down into their own despair and then demise. He followed silently, reaching into his pocket to grasp the object within. A long thin blade of a knife, something elegant and yet simple in design. There was no need for him to use anything else. It was just perfect for the rush, and easy to hide from others.

As he went down the alleyway, the shadow seemed to lead him on. There would be a noise here, a sudden glimpse of someone in all black there, but it didn’t deter Andre. For it was a game of patience, run the prey down until they were tired, backed up into a corner.

He turned down an alley once more, just as he had been doing time and time before. There was almost a sense of disappointment brewing in his heat. Perhaps he had been wrong. That something was off, and he was chasing shadows. But the banging at the end of the alley, a mere door bouncing off the wall, showed he was just almost there. It was this part of the city that was nearly entirely empty after the end of the world, and the death of everything holy. So an old warehouse like this?

He couldn’t believe his luck.

Slipping inside, he quietly shut the door behind him. With it, the last remaining light was swallowed by the shadows. It was just moonlight shining through the stacks of crates here and there, dappled by shadows truly dark. Andre couldn’t have set a finer piece for a slaying! But his mind focused on the sounds of someone running through the dark. Oh the chase was on. And he was the hound, stalking the fox in the shadows of their forest of crates. He called out, trying to hold the innocence in his cracking facade.

“Hello? Where are you?”

He had to hold back a snicker, a strange feeling overall. He was actually giddy about something. But as Andre navigated through the dusty warehouse, there was no answer. And with the different lanes of crates moved around, a tinge of concern began to run through him. Could his prey be slipping through his fingers?

“You can come out of the shadows. I won’t hurt you.”

The room was stuffy in its silence. Perhaps it was the dust choking anything in the air. Or the pit of concern growing in his stomach. It was just nerves piling up in the wrong places. And then, he saw them. Just around the corner, wearing a hoodie. His smile grew as he held the knife. He moved closer, and closer. It was a leap, and a thrust forward, the blade piercing the body with a solid crunch- wait, a crunch? He saw the hay spill out around the knife, and realized far too late that it was a setup.

He didn’t however, see the fist coming for him.

It should have knocked him out cold. It was a cold comfort to the stinging pain that his face was in, out there on the cold concrete floor. Where the hell had this dude come from? He was like a ghost or something. Phantom rang in his head. As he turned to look at his attacker, all he saw was a skull staring back at him.

Gone was the giddy smile, his face contorting to fear. Turning back and scrambling to his feet, he ran without a thought. Andre pumped his legs as fast as he could, the whole while. From behind him came a harsh, grating laugh, taunting him as he ran. It was like gravel being poured into his ears with its harsh tones.

“What’s the matter Rigante? I thought you liked the chase!”

Panic overwhelmed him. He knew his name. His name. That would undo everything. All it would take would be a set of photos, even a video of him stabbing the dummy! And it would all come crashing down. He had to get out now!

However, the maze that the crates were in was dangerous beforehand. Now with adrenaline coursing through his veins, panic taking ahold of his mind, he was trapped. Desperately searching, stumbling through the maze in a blind panic, the voice called out once more.

“What’s the matter? Running out of breath? Exhausted after being chased around, and a night full of death. You were sloppy Andre. You left just enough breadcrumbs to follow your trail here.”

Frantically looking back, he only saw shadows around him. No vision, no escape. Who was this bastard chasing him around? How could he do this? His panic bubbles over into his speech, and he croaked out to the shadows around him.

“You don’t scare me! I-I’ll find you! And you’ll pay!”

The laugh was deeper, as if more honest than mocking.

“Oh, to who? I’m no police officer. No court or judge holds me. There’s no money you could pay to make me disappear.”

“W-w-who are you?”

There, a path! He could reach it if he was just fast enough. He began to scramble, jumping from place to place. Just a little bit closer, he’d be there. The voice grew closer, and crueler all the same.

“I am the voice of those forgotten and abandoned. The anger of the families of the victims personified. The hunter of the killers and bastards of the world.”

There! In front of Andre, a bay door open! He bolted for the opening, hope growing in his soul. He could make it out, find the cops, and make it home like it was nothing. He just had to-

The narration was split by the discharge of a shotgun behind him. He braced for the bullet, throwing himself to the ground, but found no wound. But while unharmed, the sound of the door falling shut made it clear. He was never the target. Just luring him into a trap.

“You liked to chase around your victims Andre. Make them feel cornered before killing them. But your actions always catch up to you. You can run, but never hide from what chaos you’ve sown. You asked me before who I was.”

Andre felt the hot end of a gun brace into the side of his head. Turning his eyes, he saw what seemed to be a man instead of the monster he imagined. The skull was merely emblazoned into his chest gear. But in those eyes, there was no sympathy. Nothing to appeal to. If he didn’t know better, Andre would’ve said they were dead. He said four words, before cocking the gun back.

“They call me Reaper.”

And with a second discharge, Andre thought no more.

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ALTON WHITLOCK © VS. PYRE VS. THE REAPER

Three ideologies collide on this Halloween night with the Double Features Championship up for grabs. The ring is surrounded by mirrors on each side with four more placed at the turnbuckles. Eight mirrors to be broken before pinfall or submission. Will the Fire Witch burn brighter tonight? Can The Reaper harvest more justice on the world’s sinners? Or will The Candidate’s campaign continue? The only certainty is there will be blood!

DING! DING!

Immediately Pyre forms a fireball in her hands and launches it towards Alton Whitlock. The Candidate grabs a corner mirror and uses it as a shield, which shatters it. The Reaper charges Pyre from the side…

SPEAR!!!

INTO A MIRROR!!!

THAT’LL HURT DEEPER THAN SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK!!!!

Reaper clambers out of the rubble of the shattered mirror but Whitlock nails him with a diving dropkick and sends him through the ropes to the outside. Whitlock climbs the top rope and let’s fly looking for a flying cross body onto The Reaper…

COUNTER!!!

JUSTICE BROUGHT!!!

REAPER POWERS THE CANDIDATE THROUGH A MIRROR ON THE OUTSIDE!!!

The Reaper gets up, starts pulling pieces of glass out his skin, mostly superficial damage. While he’s doing this Pyre catches him off guard with a baseball slide under the bottom rope. She charges her right hand with heat and doubles Reaper with a body shot, then runs him face first into a ring post on the outside. The Fire Witch picks up a piece of broken mirror and slams it into the side of Reaper’s head.

PYRE HAS BUSTED THE REAPER WIDE OPEN!

BLOOD IS OOZING FROM HIS HEAD.

The Fire Witch drags one of the smaller mirrors out of the ring, she swings for Reaper but he ducks and the mirror shatters against a ring post. This gives The Reaper an opening and he clubs Pyre with a double axe handle to the head. She staggers back onto the crowd barrier. Then out of nowhere…

WHITLOCK!!! BRIEFCASE SHOT!!!

The Candidate is pummelling The Reaper with his briefcase. Whitlock lifts up The Harvester…

BETTER WORLD!

VERTEBREAKER THROUGH A MIRROR!!!

IT’S FUCKING CARNAGE OUT THERE!

Whitlock rolls into the ring and realises he’s got a substantial shard sticking out of his shoulder. He rips it out and discards it, unwitting of…

DANCING FLAMES!!!!

PYRE WITH CORKSCREW STUNNER FROM THE TURNBUCKLE!

The Fire Witch drags one of the two remaining in-ring mirrors over the prone body of the champion. She climbs back to the top rope.

HOLY SHIT!!!!

CORKSCREW SPLASH THROUGH THE MIRROR TO THE CANDIDATE!!!

THERE IS BROKEN GLASS, BLOOD AND PRONE BODIES EVERYWHERE!!!

The Harvester gets up outside the ring and forages for something under the apron, revealing…

A SHOTGUN! THE REAPER IS GOING TO BLOW THEM AWAY!

The Reaper slides into the ring, Whitlock gets to his feet.

BOOM!

THE REAPER SHOOTS THE CANDIDATE!

Whitlock is reeling on the floor, but he’s alive because Reaper’s weapon is armed with non-lethal pepper bullets. The Harvester now turns to Pyre, but the Fire Witch gets her hands on the barrel.

WTF!!! SHE’S MELTING THE GOD DAMN GUN!!!

Pyre twists the molten shotgun barrels, The Reaper retorts by yanking the weapon from her grip then smashing her in the face with the butt, opening a wound on her head. He repeats this, discards the mangled gun, lifts Pyre up above his head and launches her over the top rope through one of the two remaining mirrors outside the ring.

THE SONOFABITCH KILLED HER! THE REAPER HAS SENT PYRE TO HELL WITH THE GODS!

Whitlock attacks The Reaper from behind, dropping him with a Russian leg sweep, then following up with a snap suplex before connecting with…

PARTY POLITICS!!!

Whitlock covers The Reaper but the ref gestures there is one remaining mirror, pinfalls and submissions are still not valid. Whitlock thumps the canvas. He lifts Reaper and moves him to a corner. The Candidate tries to lift The Harvester, but the latter counters with a headbutt. Whitlock staggers back, he grabs The Reaper’s discarded shotgun then smashes his opponent with it.

Whitlock now lifts The Reaper onto the top rope, wraps his arms around The Harvester’s body…

BELLY TO BELLY THROW!!!

FROM THE TOP ROPE!!!

CRASH!!!

THE CANDIDATE’S RATING SOARS AS HE SENDS THE REAPER THROUGH THE FINAL MIRROR!!!

Whitlock is surveying the chaos he just unleashed from the top turnbuckle, appearing in a trance as he turns his attention to his shirt which has turned from white to reddish pink. All the while his attention isn’t on Pyre, who is up and from the apron…

SHINING WIZARD!!!

The Candidate slumps to the mat inside the ring. The Fire Witch climbs to the top rope. Whitlock is stalked as he gets to his feet. Pyre leaps off…

DANCING FLAMES!

.

CONNECTS!

.

NO!

COUNTER!

Whitlock with a raised knee to the gut, before setting up for.

BETTER WORLD!!!

.

HE’S GOT IT!

.

NO!

.

REVERSAL!

.

Pyre slingshots off the ropes…

DANCING FLAMES!!!

.

YES! THIS TIME IT HITS!

.

ONE!

.

TWO!

.

THE REAPER SCRAMBLES TO MAKE THE SAVE!

.

THREE!

THE REAPER CAN’T GET THERE IN TIME!

The Fire Witch burns brightest tonight and claims the Double Features Title!

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YOU ARE ME

We see through eyes which are not our own, watching as a swirling vortex opens before our very eyes and we catch a glimpse into another world as the vortex opens.

Blood red moonlight.

The glimpses of the corrupted object floats high above the landscape, its crimson rays making the dusty and decrepit scene below even more uncanny. There is no sound, a deafening silence. For while we see streets, crumbling buildings, and broken lights… there is no life to fill this broken world.

“Are we almost there?”

“Please, keep your voice down. It might hear us.”

The sound of voices, already low and getting even lower comes from out of the viewer’s line of sight.

“Right… sorry.”

“It’s okay, Scarlett. Just, please try.”

The portal which gives us insight into this tortured world is shifted by the viewer and we view from above two figures. Luke Storm and his daughter… both looking similar to the ones we know, but very plainly not our universe’s incarnation. Storm looks exhausted, the movie star’s clothing in tatters, his sunglasses missing a lens and a scar going over the eye behind the lens which still remains. Scarlett is only slightly better off, the young girl is older here than in our world and is dressed similarly in tattered and dirty clothing.

“You didn’t tell me if we were almost there, dad.”

“It’s… I don’t know.”

Scarlett’s face drops a bit as she nods her head, walking close behind Luke as the two of them traverse the damaged terrain. The world itself, despite the red moon, is supernaturally gray, as though the very essence of life itself was sucked out of it. Nothing has any color left on it, and we soon see why. As Luke places his hand on what was once a stop sign, a fine ash falls away to reveal a rusted sheet of metal beneath. The former star recoils a bit, wiping off the ash on his pants before continuing forward towards his unknown goal.

The viewer frantically shifts the view again, looking through the world and we soon find ourselves inside of a run down building, our sights set on a different survivor in this doomed world. A man we’ve never seen before hides beneath a bed, his hand covering his mouth as for the first time since we’ve been introduced to this reality, there are quiet, unnerving sounds that penetrate the silence, as though a billion voices are all whispering at once. Foot steps and claws scraping against drywall signal the source approaching the poor man’s hiding spot.

“Where?”

The man bites down on his hand out of fear of making a sound! Tears slowly begin to pour from his eyes and his breathing speeds up! He wants to sob but the slightest sound could mean something worse than death! Just as the sound of movement comes and passes, seemingly missing the room he’s in, a twisted and vaguely human foot steps in front of him. He jolts, but keeps calm enough to not make a noise. The foot, blackened and covered in thorns, moves away. But its movements are… unnatural.

Every footstep leaves after-images of where it had been, distortions of reality trying to catch up to this monster’s very existence. Wherever it seems to walk, the world cannot comprehend its existence.

But thankfully for the survivor, those after images slowly begin to disappear as the universe rights the abnormalities. And with the sound of the beast moving away, he lets out the smallest sigh of relief.

“There.”

The creature snaps back to where it had just been as though it never left! An elongated and clawed hand snaps under the bed and grabs the man by his face! Quiet tears turn to sobbing and wailing as he is yanked from his hiding spot!

“GOD NO! PLEASE NO! I DON-“

CRACK!

RIIIIIIIIIIIIP!

We cannot see what is happening, only being allowed to see the man’s feet from our spot beneath the bed. What was once kicking and fighting for his life quickly became a stillness that could only mean the worst. His body is dropped to the ground with a thud and we see the remains of what just happened.

His face ripped from his skull, and everything in his body. Organs, bones, all seemingly torn from his body and leaving him a husk of skin that despite its absence of insides still sits as though full. We watch as his skin turns the same ashen gray of the landscape, the viewer quickly switching back to where we left Luke and his daughter.

The duo, quiet as ever, move ever closer to their unknown destination. They soon find themselves in front of a large building, Luke shooting out his hand to stop Scarlett as he points at the structure in front of him.

The Slaughterhouse.

“We’re here.”

“It’s been so long…”

Luke nods his head as he looks upon the building. His lip quivers a bit but he holds it in as he moves towards this door.

“We haven’t been here since Uncle Eddy-”

“Don’t. Please, not now, Scarlett.”

Scarlett furrows her brow, grabbing her dad’s arm.

“He helped us.”

“I know. But… I can’t. We’re so close, I just… I can’t right now, okay?”

A single tear finds its way down Luke’s cheek as he opens the door to the Slaughterhouse.

And a bell rings out into the night.

“Fuck!”

Luke lets out a sharp whisper as he grabs Scarlett’s hand and pulls her inside of the building.

“Do you think it heard, dad?”

“I know it heard.”

He pushes past the entrance, the top part of the Slaughterhouse filled with different corpses littering the hallways. All of them, from what we can see, are ashen husks with nothing in their skulls. Eyelids lay open but there is nothing but empty space behind them. Luke looks at them with pity as he and Scarlett move down the hallway, passing by many former members of OSW.

Banzan, Voynich, Sweet Alice, even The Butcher himself all having fallen victim to the creature that stalks this world.

The Storms rush as quietly as they can through the many halls, heading down towards the very thing that made OSW what it was.

The ring.

“Keep quiet, it might know we’re here, but if we aren’t too loud-”

LUKE! LUCAS STORM, WHERE ARE YOU?

Scarlett gasps as her and her father run towards the ring, sliding inside and grabbing a lock box, forcing it open and revealing what they had been coming for.

The Peacekeeper.

Before Luke can grab it however he is pounced on by the creature! We cannot see its face through the shadows as it claws at Storm! His glasses fly from his face, revealing one missing eye as he tries to defend himself! However, a terrifying force sucks inwards.

And we see Luke’s eye, his shattered bones, liquified organs, and then a burning blue light, his soul, exit his body. Fighting turns to once more to that terrifying stillness of a husk on the ground. The beast seems content, but the cries of Scarlett makes him turn around. The viewer watches the beast as it begins to slowly approach her.

But as it does, it stops.

And its body snaps towards the viewer.

Without warning it leaps towards us! The viewer throws up their hands and blocks the beast as it leaps through the vortex and into our world! And in the light, we see its face.

A cracked red mask, sharpened teeth, and inhuman eyes behind the once pristine exterior.

Sigil.

The viewer fights beneath Sigil, the creature pointing a large claw-like finger at the viewer, opening its mouth to speak, lips not moving.

“You Are Me!”

With its mouth hanging open, it begins to suck inwards once more!

BANG!

A gunshot rings out through the air and the demonic Sigil’s body stutters as the bullet pierces his skin! The viewer kicks them back into the portal, watching as billions of souls pour from his shriveling body! And behind him, gun in hand, is Scarlett Storm. The girl cries as those souls fly through the air, unsure of just what comes next.

But we are not allowed to see what follows as the vortex slowly begins to close in front of us, the doomed world leaving our sight until we are left with nothing but a mystical mirror in front of us. And the reflection staring back?

Sigil.

Our Sigil.

The Collector looks on in shock, getting off of his back and to his knees, staring into the mirror in disbelief. As he looks at himself, we see through his eyes. He unhooks his mask, reaching beneath it to remove it.

And just as he does, we no longer see through his eyes, now viewing him from behind as the mask leaves his face. We cannot see his appearance, but he touches his face tentatively.

Letting out a sigh as we slowly fade to black.

Image

 

MONSTER IN THE CLOSET

“Mama. I can’t.”

Luke Storm’s voice sounds groggy, confused even, as he calls for his mother.

But he’s all alone, laid out across his bed. The moon shines bright through an open window, illuminating the shivering and sweaty Storm. He slowly sits up, rubbing sleep out of his eyes as he tries to gain his bearings.

“Daddy?” A tiny voice asks.

Luke looks up, squinting as the light hits his face, smiling as he sees a scared little girl before him, clutching a teddy bear.

“You should be in bed, Scarlett.” He gently admonishes.

She looks down at her teddy bear, but doesn’t move.

“Why were you talking to mama?” She asks, breaking Luke’s heart. “Does she answer you?”

Storm’s eyes fill with water, but he pulls her into an embrace as she keeps talking.

“She never answers me.” Scarlett sobs. “I miss her.”

With a small nod, Luke sighs.

“Me too, kid.” He mutters, before leaning back to stare at his child.

“I was dreaming about your granny, actually.” He admits. “My mom. She called me the other day about…”

“Uncle Eddie?” Scarlett asks, stepping back from her father. “Did you save him yet?”

Storm shakes his head.

“He saved you.” She adds.

Luke looks at her, seeing the sadness etched on her face.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Luke asks, changing the subject. “Why are you out of bed?”

She peers back at him, a frown on her face.

“There’s a monster in my closet, daddy.”

The hint of a smile tugs at the Real Deal’s face, but he doesn’t laugh at his scared daughter. Instead, Luke reaches out his hand to take one of her smaller ones.

“Then let’s go take a look.” He nods at her with complete sincerity.

He stands up, letting her lead him out of his bedroom, and down the hallway to hers. As they enter the door, she practically pushes her dad towards a closed closet door. Luke walks over there, and looks directly at his daughter, who is at eye level with him.

“Let’s expose the monster.” She says, a smile crossing her face.

Luke nods, and pulls open the closet door. He immediately flips the light switch, ready for a fight.

Nothing.

“See, kid.” Luke begins. “I guess your monster was afraid of Luke Storm.”

With a laugh, he turns around. Scarlett meets his gaze with a smile, and Luke begins to frown as he realizes what he did not just a moment ago.

She’s at eye level with him.

“Wha…” Luke begins, but ‘Scarlett’ cuts him off quickly.

“There’s the monster, daddy.” She says, pointing into the closet.

Directly at Luke Storm himself.

Luke’s muscles all tense up, readying for a fight. He looks over the woman’s shoulder to see a small form sleeping peacefully in her bed.

“You’re not Scarlett.” Luke says to the one who brought him in here.

She smiles.

“For a man who is so concerned with what’s real, you sure never bother to look at what’s right in front of you.”

He shakes his head, raising his fists.

“I don’t take kindly to people invading my house.”

Storm takes a step forward, but the woman raises her hand and Luke freezes in place. She twists her fingers, and he assumes the crucifix position up against the wall.

“When she died, you swore your life would be devoted to that little girl.”

A familiar golden belt forms around Luke’s waist.

The OSW World Championship.

“But here we are.” The woman says, Luke’s vision beginning to go foggy as the belt tightens. “How many monsters has Scarlett had to deal with?”

Storm can’t talk, his body being under the complete control of this woman.

“SeeSaw?” She says.

Luke’s skin turns as white as a ghost.

“Legion?”

Black and red marks etch themselves across Luke’s body.

“Edward?”

Green pants replace the pajamas the Real Deal was wearing, and a question mark appears under his neck.

“Each one of them took something from the two of you that you’ll never get back.”

The woman reaches out to let her fingernails slowly scratch down Luke’s abs.

“Time.”

She grips the top of the OSW Championship, pushing it even further into Luke’s skin, making it a part of him.

“But none of them took even a fraction of the time from you and your daughter, that you claim to love so much, than the Real fucking Deal himself.”

All of the adornment vanishes, replace by Luke’s ring jacket and sunglasses. She picks the sunglasses off of his head, holding them in her fingers.

“Luke Storm is the only monster in this closet.”

Storm falls to the ground, regaining his bearings, but pissed as hell.

“You’re the monster.” He retorts.

“Am I?” She snorts. “That child sleeping over there needs her father, not a hero. That’s why you’re the monster, Luke Storm. Because when he stuck you in the closet, put these sunglasses away to be with his family, you waited. For all those years, you let yourself be nothing more than a fantasy. Until she died…”

Luke stands up.

“Don’t you dare say her name.”

She smiles.

“When Rachel Newton died, so did her husband Lucas. But it wasn’t a disease that took him, it was you. It was the Real Deal. The Perfect Storm.”

With pointed rage, the woman points at Scarlett.

“That little girl needed a father. Her name is Scarlett Newton, but she only answers to Storm. Every second that you wear that stupid jacket, hide behind those ugly sunglasses, is more and more time that she forgets who she is.”

The sunglasses break under her grip, as Luke is lifted off of the ground by some kind of telekinesis.

“You’ve forgotten who you were before the Storm. You can’t remember your own face in the mirror, can’t acknowledge who you were. Rachel is but a memory for you to cling to.”

Storm spits at her.

“Fuck you. Everything I do is in memory of Rachel. She was my rock.”

The woman laughs, closing the distance between her and Luke. She runs her hands over his abs creepily, while leaning in to whisper in his ear.

“You slipped off that rock when you traded a wedding ring for a wrestling ring. Anyone who got their kid involved in OSW has suffered because of it. That little girl will be next.”

“Daddy?” A tiny voice calls.

Luke looks over the woman’s shoulder to see Scarlett sitting up in bed. She looks confused.

“Baby, run out of her and call the cops.” Luke pleas.

But Scarlett just sits.

“We’re out of time, Luke.” The woman says. “Your daughter needs you to be a father. I cannot yet talk to her, but one day I will. And then she will know the truth.”

“I’ll kill you if you do anything to her.” Luke growls.

“You can’t kill what’s already dead.” She responds. “Just like you, always out of time.”

“Daddy?”

The woman steps back, and begins to walk towards Scarlett as Luke gains control of his body. He rushes at them, but just as he jumps forward…

FLASH!

Luke Storm jolts awake in his bed. His hair is damp with perspiration as he looks around, his eyes full of fear. But he quickly finds everything as it should be. His bedside lamp is on. The windows are all latched shut.

“Daddy?” A tiny voice interrupts.

Luke looks beside his bed to see Scarlett looking at him, puzzled.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Luke asks, his voice trailing off as his gaze finds a picture beside his bed. Storm picks up the frame, his mouth slightly dropping as he holds the photo of him and his wife Rachel, from happier times.

Before her death.

Scarlett’s eyes are fixed on Luke, goosebumps raised on her little arms, as she watches him stare at the photo.

“There’s a monster in my closet, daddy.”

Luke doesn’t answer. As if in a daze, he can’t take his eyes off the photo. In it, we see a broad smile on Luke’s face. Beside him, Rachel stares back up with the very same eyes that led Luke to that closet just moments ago.

Cut.

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LUKE STORM © VS. SIGIL

It is time for our main event! We have a Slenderman match where the competitors are held together by a strong elastic band! To win, they must tag all four corners! Will Luke be able to weather the storm and keep his title or will Sigil pull a repeat of last week and defeat the champion once more? We find out next!

DING!

DING!

Both men try to rush to the closest corner, but the band snaps them back to the middle! They are both up and nodding at each other! Sigil rushes at Storm with a flurry of blows! Strike after strike is driving Storm back towards the corner!

STORM SMIRKS AND GOES TO TAG THE CORNER BUT SIGIL YANKS ON THE BAND!

STORM FALLS FACE FIRST!

SIGIL WINDS BACK FOR A CHOP!

MERCIFUL!

CHOP TO THE SIDE OF THE NECK!

STORM IS STUNNED AND DOWN!

SIGIL WALKS OVER STORM AND TAGS HIS FIRST CORNER!

SIGIL 1 – STORM 0

Sigil knows Storm is out of it right now and he goes to the top rope! He dives! He is going for a giant splash, but Storm rolls out of the way! Sigil crashes hard! Storm mounts on top of him! He is delivering rapid elbow strikes to the back of the head! Storm is wrapping the band around Sigil’s throat!

STORM PULLS SIGIL UP AND DRAGS HIM BY THE THROAT!

SIGIL IS TRYING TO GET OUT OF THE BAND BUT TO NO AVAIL!

STORM TAGS THE CORNER!

STORM 1 – SIGIL 1

SIGIL IS TRYING TO KICK AT STORM BUT STORM SHAKES HIS HEAD NO AND USES THE BAND TO THROW HIM OVER THE ROPES!

HOLY SHIT!

STORM IS HANGING SIGIL!

SIGIL LOOKS LIKE HE CAN BARELY BREATHE!

HE’S FIGHTING AND SIGIL GETS HIS FEET ON THE APRON!

HE GRABS THE BAND AND PULLS IT TIGHT!

STORM IS RIGHT AGAINST THE ROPES!

SIGIL HOLDS THE BAND AND JUMPS OFF THE APRON!

HE PULLS STORM OVER THE ROPES WITH HIM AND THEY BOTH SPILL OUT TO THE FLOOR!

What a crafty maneuver and Sigil finally unties the band around his throat! He pulls himself up and starts stomping away at Storm! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Storm catches a foot and stands up with it! He pulls Sigil in for a massive clothesline! Sigil is turned inside out! Storm jumps to the apron!

STORM JUMPS OFF THE APRON!

A BEAUTIFUL MOONSAULT!

THUNDER!!!

HE HITS ALL OF IT AND THROWS SIGIL BACK IN THE RING!

HE ROLLS IN AFTER HIM AND TAGS HIS SECOND CORNER!

STORM 2 – SIGIL 1

Storm is trying to drag Sigil with him so he can tag the third corner, but Sigil is dead weighting! Storm is forced to attack him again! Storm charges! Running punt kick to the stomach! He backs up! He charges! Another one! Another one! He is trying to break a rib by the look of this!

SIGIL IS TRYING TO PULL HIMSELF UP!

STORM IS TUNING UP THE BAND!

STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!

SIGIL IS GETTING UP!

SUPERKICK-NO!

COSMIC LEAP!

SIGIL TELEPORTS OUT OF THE WAY!

FINITE!

SIGIL HITS A ROUNDHOUSE KICK TO THE JAW!

SIGIL CAN’T TRAVEL AS FAR AS NORMAL WITH THE BAND AROUND HIM SO HE MARCHES TO THE CORNER AND MAKES A TAG!

SIGIL 2 – STORM 2

Storm is trying to get up but Sigil charges at him and drills him hard with a basement dropkick! Storm is rocked! Sigil stands over Storm and jumps! Double foot stomp to the back of the leg! He jumps again! Another double foot stomp to the leg! Sigil is trying to cripple him!

SIGIL BACKS TO A CORNER!

HE TAGS IT!

SIGIL 3 – STORM 2

STORM IS PULLING HIMSELF UP SLOWLY!

SIGIL CHARGES!

PLANESWALKER!

RUNNING FRONT DROPKICK SENDS STORM FLYING ACROSS THE RING!

HIS HAND HITS THE CORNER!

STORM 3 – SIGIL 3

SIGIL DIDN’T MEAN TO DO THAT BUT THEY ARE NOW TIED UP WITH ONE TO GO!

Sigil is trying to march to the last corner, but Storm looks like he is out cold, and all his body weight is trapping the band under him! Sigil is trying to pull Storm up, but he is not budging! Sigil shrugs his shoulders and goes to the top rope! Maybe enough force from the move will get Storm to roll off the band!

SIGIL JUMPS!

HE’S GOING FOR ANOTHER SPLASH!

STORM POPS UP!

DOWNPOUR!

STORM INTERCEPTS THE SPLASH WITH THE CODEBREAKER!

STORM GOT ALL OF IT BUT HE’S TOO BEAT TO CAPITALIZE ON IT!

BOTH MEN ARE DOWN!

They’re both getting to their feet and staring daggers at each other! Sigil is in front of Storm’s corner! Storm is in front of Sigil’s. They must go through each other! They rush! Sigil and Storm are throwing rights at each other! Hard punch after hard punch! Sigil is getting the best of this exchange and he hits a jumping knee strike that rocks the champion!

SIGIL BACKS UP!

HE’S CHARGING AT STORM!

PLANESWALKER-NO!!!

STORM CATCHES THE FRONT DROPKICK AND TURNS IT INTO A SPINEBUSTER!

STORM GOES TO THE LAST CORNER!

HE REACHES HIS HAND OUT TO TAG!

NO!

SIGIL YANKS THE BAND!

STORM STUMBLES BACKWARDS INTO A BACKSTABBER!

SIGIL GOT ALL OF IT!

Sigil is making his way to his corner, but the band is not long enough! Sigil pulls Storm up and he has him on his shoulders! He is marching to the other corner! Storm slips out in front of Sigil! Storm has a Muay Thai clinch! Muay Thai knee after Muay Thai knee!

SIGIL IS DOWN HARD!

STORM DRAGS SIGIL TO THE MIDDLE!

DOWNPOUR!

HE’S GOING FOR ANOTHER CODEBREAKER!

SIGIL CATCHES THE LEGS AND CHARGES TO THE ROPES!

THEY FALL THROUGH THE ROPES TO THE OUTSIDE!

DESPERATE MOVE FROM SIGIL IN THAT DAZED STATE!

Sigil gets up first and he whips Storm into the guardrail! Sigil grabs the back of Storm’s head and starts bashing his head into the rail! Smash! Smash! Smash! Sigil drags Storm to the ring steps! He has Storm seated against the steps and he is stomping a mudhole into him! Sigil is determined to win the championship!

SIGIL BACKS UP!

HE CHARGES!

PLANESWALKER!

NO! STORM GETS OUT OF THE WAY AND THAT DROPKICK SENDS THE STEPS FLYING!

SIGIL IS GETTING ANGRY AND PULLS HIMSELF UP!

STORM SEES HIS CHANCE!

LIGHTNING STRIKE!

STORM HITS THE SUPERKICK AND SIGIL FALLS ON THE STEPS HARD!

Storm hops on the apron! He runs on the apron and jumps! Diving knee strike on a prone Sigil! He stays on top and starts raining down hammer fist after hammer fist! Storm is just as determined to keep his title!

STORM PULLS SIGIL UP ON HIS SHOULDERS!

IS HE GOING FOR A DEATH VALLEY DRIVER ON THE STEPS?!

NO!

SIGIL SLIPS BEHIND HIM AND GRABS HIM FROM BEHIND!

COSMIC LEAP!

THEY’RE HIGH ABOVE THE RING AND SIGIL HAS STORM IN A GERMAN SUPLEX POSITION!

THEY’RE FALLING!

JOURNEY’S END-NO!

STORM FLIPS OUT OF IT AT THE LAST MOMENT!

SIGIL HITS THE RING HARD!

STORM PULLS HIM UP!

DOWNPOUR!

HE HITS ONE MORE CODEBREAKER AND MARCHES TO THE CORNER!

TAG!

STORM HAS DONE IT!

HE’S TAGGED THE LAST POST!

What a match! Sigil did everything he could, but Storm pulls it out at the last moment to keep his OSW championship!