Cheeseburger Gothic

Sample chapter: A Protocol for Monsters

Posted May 21, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Prologue. The Autopsy.

“Bit of a thickhead,” muttered Emmeline as she leaned into the job of taking off the top of the xenomorph’s skull. A few of the others laughed nervously. It wasn’t a particularly funny joke, but they needed the release. She had already burned through one large blade on the heavy duty autopsy saw. This thing really did have a remarkably thick skull. Thick enough that she wondered how much room could be left inside for the brainpan, especially given how much of it’s cranium was taken up by an outsized mouth and hundreds of needle-like teeth. All of them clotted with human flesh.

The noise of the cutting implement came through the radio interface of her biohazard suit as an unpleasant whine, almost a hot scream.

Professor Emmeline Ashbury set her features in stone as the last of the resistance gave way and the heavy bowl of bone came loose. She grunted in relief. Her arms were growing tired and shaky. She was going to have to get one of the others to break open the chest cavity.

“Compton should be here,” said Metcalf.

“Professor Compton is not here because Professor Compton gets a little wobbly spooning dog food out of a can,” said Emmeline as she pried off the top of the creature’s skull. “Face planting into my post mortem examination is not the best use of his time.”

The heavy skull cap came away with a sticky pulling sound and revealed a bizarre cranial cluster that looked like it was all brain stem and cerebellum. Or perhaps cerebella, given the multiple nodules she could already see.

“Jesus, that looks like spaghetti and meatballs,” said Wally Hicks.

“No. You’re wrong, Wally,” Emmeline said. “More like tagliatelle con spinaci and meatballs. Or maybe cervelli agnelli.”

There was a pause while the junior staff waited for her to translate the obscure reference. Probably wetting themselves in fear of being called on to explain.

“Lambs brains,” Emmeline said. “See?” She snipped one of the structures free of the tubing that connected it to the other cerebella and popped the tiny lump of grey matter into a stainless steel tray.

“It’s not really grey matter,” she added, for the benefit of the video recorder. “More greenish and purple I’d say. At any rate, first biopsy, Master Hicks.”

The helmet of Wally’s biohazard suit dipped forward in acknowledgement and he carried the tray away to cold storage. They would take a small cut of the tissue to examine here on the Longreach with the equipment the military had flown out for them, but the real work would begin back on the mainland when the bodies of the xenomorphs arrived at Area 7.

The rest of the team leaned in over the corpse to get a better look at the cerebral mass as Emmeline extracted it from the skull. The eyes of the thing stared sightless and milky at the theatre lights. There were two large black orbs, but at least another eight smaller eyeballs between and around them, not unlike that of a spider. With so much visual data to process Emmeline had expected to see enlarged occipital lobes, but there no lobes of any kind. No single cerebrum at all.

“Jesus that’s grotesque,” said Metcalf. “It’s nothing like the Greys.”

“No reason why it should be,” Emmeline said patiently. “We have no idea yet where these creatures originated or how they got here. But their technologies aren’t Grey.”

“More like fucking Dark Ages,” came Metcalf’s reply inside her helmet. His breathing sounded harsh in the helmet speakers and she could see his features were shiny with sweat behind the faceplate. The DoD man was not new to this sort of operation. He was familiar with extremophile possibilities. But like all of them, he’d been shocked at what they’d found on the oil rig. And, like all of them, he knew there’d be no sweeping this one under the rug. This wasn’t a lone spaceship, it’s crew cold and dead for thousands of years, crashing into the desert hundreds of miles from the nearest speck of civilisation.

There were witnesses, over a hundred of whom had not been eaten by… by whatever this thing was. They would already be out there telling their stories. Selling their phone cam images and videos.

The Office would have to move quickly. Not to contain this, or even to control it, but rather to control the fear and confusion that would spread from it as a contagion. Emmeline knew all about containing fear and confusion.

“Abdomen next,” she announced.

“Scalpel?”

That was Cadence Ramsay, the molecular biologist who’d joined the Office from the European Space Agency just three months ago.

“I don’t think so, Cady,” said Emmeline. “Not if its scalp is any guide. I think we might need a bayonet from one of those marines out by the door. A sharp one.”

“Way ahead of you, Professor,” Jack Metcalf said, turning around to the second stainless steel trolley and producing a long, evil looking knife. It was not a medical instrument.

“I see you were a boy scout before you became a licensed killer, Mr Metcalf. Think you’re up to doing the Y-incision?” she asked. “I’m afraid I need a few minutes to get my strength back after sawing through it’s thick skull.”

“Not a problem.”

Metcalf set to the task of cutting a deep Y into the upper torso, so that they might peel away the skin, but like Emmeline he found the going tough.

“It’s like leather,” he said, and the sound of his voice in her helmet speakers told Emmeline he was gritting his teeth. “Really. Shitty. Leather.”

The creature’s hide seemed to be inked with some form of display. Tattoos, she thought. It was also covered in weeping sores and pustules, which gave way easily before the blade erupting with a greenish yellow discharge. Other blemishes, which looked like giant warts, proved so tough that Metcalf was eventually forced to cut around them. It took him a few minutes to make the whole incision and when they peeled back the skin she could see why. The dermis was up to an inch thick in places and as tough as old boot leather, save for those areas weakened by lesions and suppurating ulcers. There were enough of these that the creature’s hide presented more as a patchwork than a whole intact derma.

Metcalf and Hicks pulled back the skin to reveal a bone cage.

It was not like a human rib cage, with individual ribs held together by muscle and fibre. Instead, the creature’s torso, and presumably its vital innards were protected by a solid fibrous mass of something like cartilage.

“I think we’re going to need a very large pair of bolt cutters,” Emmeline mused.

“Or a chainsaw,” said Metcalf. His voice was flat. She did not think he was joking, but she could never really trust her own judgement in such things.

Emmeline checked the large clock on the opposite wall. 19:43 hours.

“Lets just try the bolt cutters first. We do have them?”

“Yep.”

They had two more corpses of this type to examine. And the enormous one on the gurney in the hallway outside. It was obviously a different species. Possibly even from another genus or family. She would come at it last, learning what she could from the smaller creatures first. This was going to be very long day. It had not turned out at all as she had expected.

29 Responses to ‘Sample chapter: A Protocol for Monsters’

Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 21, 2015

Nice. Looking forward to the rest of it.

When can we expect to see it, please?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted May 21, 2015
Probably Octoberish

Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted May 21, 2015
What year?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted May 21, 2015
Don't push it. He said October. Let it be.

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 21, 2015
If you rush him, he'll kill a Stark.

Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted May 21, 2015
He can kill all the Starks he likes, just don't touch the fluffy, cuddly little Boltons.

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ShaneAlpha puts forth...

Posted May 21, 2015
Time to get your own back JB. There's sure to be a monster that develops a taste for possum.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted May 21, 2015
It appears that writing from Dave's POV in the primary trilogy of trilogies (I'm calling it) opens up many more opportunities for secondary stories than your other trilogies might have.

Also, can't wait for more.

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted May 21, 2015

JB as I immersed myself in Emmerline's investigation of the origin of the species, with the able-bodied assistance of Jack & Cady, I couldn't help but wonder if at some time in the post-October future all of the interweaving chapters and e-books etc., detailing the non-Dave characters and events of Emergence, Resistance & Ascendance would be accessible in a some chronological digital form.

So that one could read the whole grand adventure not just through the eyes of TheDave but through every other character significant to the overarching story as it happened to them - regardless of what Hooper was up to.

Whatever was sacrificed in speed would be supplemented in the depth of knowledge and suspense about what was happening to everyone else ... besides TheDave worrying about where his next meal and booty call was coming from.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted May 21, 2015
I have plans.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted May 21, 2015

Blofeld has plans.

Sudragon reckons...

Posted May 21, 2015
And a cat.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 22, 2015
And custom made threads. Imagine Blofeld's interactions with his tailor.

Lulu puts forth...

Posted May 22, 2015
"Do you have a fabric which won't show cat hair easily? It's a white cat, so nothing dark, thanks."

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HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted May 21, 2015
OCTOBER..that would be both the FIRST of October and October this fkn year ...BOYLAN!!!!

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Ceramic asserts...

Posted May 21, 2015
Ooh, nice little taster.
I like the line 'she knew all about containing fear and confusion'. How she tried to describe the grey matter exactly was funny, and totally something i'd do. Interesting stuff John.

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted May 21, 2015

I want to buy more JB books ( right after I buy a hoodie)

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Peter Bradley swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 21, 2015
Very nice description of an autopsy. I am interested in what the application of molecular biology will elucidate. I suppose the first question is are they DNA based?

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Peter Bradley mutters...

Posted May 21, 2015
Very nice description of an autopsy. I am interested in what the application of molecular biology will elucidate. I suppose the first question is are they DNA based?

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted May 21, 2015
I can feel a 'squeeeeeeee' coming on. Shut up and take my money :)

Respond to this comment

Sparty2 would have you know...

Posted May 21, 2015
"Area 7" -Matt Reilly shout out? I expected it to go all "the thing"!

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted May 21, 2015
Yep. Totes.

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@DrWom mumbles...

Posted May 22, 2015
I'll have weeping sores and pustules, which give way easily before the blade erupting with a greenish yellow dischargeWith my scrambled eggs thanks
Love the Awesome JB

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Grand Admiral Thrawn mumbles...

Posted May 22, 2015
that seems to be alot of spacific information about some aliens there alittle curious about that and if that may be some sort of skylord hint?

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GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted May 22, 2015

All these references to Greys, Area 7 and alien crash landings has me of a mind of the short-lived television series ... "Dark Skies" - from the mid-90s.

An alternate historical perspective on the events of the 20th century, framed through the lens of a covert war between opposing alien forces hoping to colonise the Earth.

... of course you know all this JB, because you have plans.

And a cat

Maybe a favourite tailor or two

And a penchant for White Ruler-Of-The-World-Safari-Suits

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted May 22, 2015

And a hovercraft...


Grays and spaceships...


The expanding Birmoverse gets curiouser and curiouser said Alice!


Roll on October.

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sibeen would have you know...

Posted May 23, 2015
I read this two days ago and haven't been able to get the Hot Chocolate song "Emma" out of my head ever since.
You Bastard!

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Adrien Hopkins ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2015
The suspense is killing me, I want more, and I expect it will be better then gruel

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2015
It went off to the editor today.

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Respond to 'Sample chapter: A Protocol for Monsters'

Sampler: A Soul Full of Guns. A Karin Varatchevksy ebook

Posted May 5, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

“I really like your weapons,” said Martin Gnoji.

Karen smiled and leaned towards him as though to share a secret.

“They’re not really mine,” she stage-whispered.

Gnoji let his eyes drop to her artfully arranged cleavage.

“They look real to me,” he said, and tipped his head back and laughed. It was an ugly laugh. Louder than necessary, even in a noisy room, full of chattering idiots and a jazz band. Colonel Varatchevsky knew what he was doing. She had seen men behave this way many times. Beautiful women did. All women did.

It did not bother her. She was in control, although she was not trying to sell him anything. He might well leave her gallery tonight having purchased some artefact, or painting or even one of the exquisite and ancient weapons which were the object of the evening’s exhibit. Many of her guests would. But Martin Gnoji was not merely Karen Warat’s guest or customer.
He was Colonel Ekaterina Varatchevsky’s target.

A waiter appeared bearing a sliver tray crowded with champagne flutes, chilled coconut water, and a couple of designer beers of impressive obscurity. Karen took a champagne for herself and one for the owner of the fourteenth largest biotech firm in the United States. The glasses appeared to be identical but were not. The drink she carefully lifted from the tray for herself was in fact apple juice and the crystal flute in which it sparkled had been delicately etched with a small identifying mark. A two-headed eagle from the old imperial Russian coat of arms.

Colonel Varatchevsky’s idea of a useful joke.

A hundred and fifty people crammed the small two-storey gallery now, and most had thrown themselves at the complimentary drinks as soon as they’d cleared the velvet rope. An unusually warm day and an open bar made for a lively evening and a quantifiably greater number of commissions. For every crate of Bollinger she laid on, the gallery would make 1.4 additional sales. The math had long been proven. A crate of Bollinger was expensive, of course. But the fine wares of the Warat Gallery were even more immoderately priced.

The largesse was already working. The early buzz of conversation had climbed up into something just short of a roar, as the increasingly tipsy guests spoke in louder voices to be heard over each. The band, a kicking little four-piece from Brooklyn, specialised in riffing on iconic TV show tunes of the 1960s and 70s. They picked up the tempo as the room start to take off. Gilligan’s Island segued to Mission Impossible and a few red dots, denoting a confirmed sale, appeared next to a number of paintings, an Etruscan shield and a sixteenth-century Kris dagger from Surabaya. Most of the serious offers, she knew, would come over the next hour as she worked the room. The largest sales would be made in private the following week.

Karen Warat, as she was known, admired and even loved just a little by the gallery full of glitterati, would do well out of this evening. She would look after the small and very select stable of artists she had gathered to herself over recent years. The critics and media mavens, who had enjoyed a private showing earlier in the day, would not to be so gauche as to openly fawn, but their carefully restrained praise would add another layer of significance to the reputation of The Warat Gallery, enabling the well regarded owner to further her reach, her consequence and her power within the city’s art world; all of this done with the intent of drawing men like the braying, breast-ogling Martin Gnoji into her circle, and into the targeting reticule of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation, whom the woman known as Karen Warat, served with great distinction at the rank of full colonel.

Karen linked her arm through Gnoji’s, drawing him away from the small circle of vulture capitalists and merchant wankers with whom he’d been talking. One of them tried to complain about the wifi reception, but another glass of champagne put paid to that. Ekaterina, or Karin, as she was in her secret heart, where she imagined she could still hear her mother and father calling her by the name, said, “Come with me, Martin, there’s a young lady you simply must meet, one of my artists. I think you’ll like her very much.”

And because Martin Gnoji was a little a drunk, and Karen Warat was both very beautiful and possessed of a strangely irresistible force of will, he did as he was told. The man whose private company had just developed a working prototype for an implant which could accurately measure an individual’s calorie intake, and who had set all of America’s tech giants against each other in a frenzied bidding war for an exclusive license to the technology, allowed himself to be led into Colonel ‘Karin’ Varatchevksy’s honey trap like a gormless teenager.

Karin did not know why Moscow had deemed Gnoji and his invention a suitable target. The implant was a consumer technology with few military or security applications that she could imagine. Perhaps the targeting order had come from the GRU’s Economic Security Department, perhaps from the Science and Engineering Service. The precise origin of her tasking was irrelevant. Moscow did not often directly reach out to her, one of their prime assets in the US, not after the disastrous exposure of the SVR’s deep cover operations in the Anna Chapman case. When they did, however, she knew her orders to be matters of the highest import to state security.

###

They negotiated the shoals and eddies of the slowly moving crowd, the small conversational knots of privileged guests, and the ever-changing groups of admirers which gathered around this or that objet d’art. Karin-as-Karen kept up a smooth line of small talk, leaning in close to Gnoji to impart some diabolical titbit of gossip or scandal as the object of her gentle slanders came into view.
“That’s His Honour, Judge Herbert, who sat on that Apple and Xaomi thing,” she whispered. “You know, don’t you, that the auditor he put into Apple was the boy he used to share reciprocal hand jobs with under the desk in the law library when they were both at Northwestern?”

Gnoji loved it of course, not least because of the perceptible lensing effect which chased them through the gallery. Everywhere they went, heads turned to follow. All except one, Karin noticed. A striking young woman, with an even more striking facial tattoo. She looked an exotic mix of races in her black leather pant suit, a child of some imperial misadventure perhaps. Indochinese and African-American, thought Karin Varatchevsky, whose own lineage was nearly pure White Russian with a leavening of Nordic genes to account for her naturally blonde hair colour. The woman seemed engrossed in her screen, which was odd, given it was a merely a static image. The champagne she was most definitely not drinking had gone flat. And unlike most of the other guests, she seemed so deeply invested in not noticing her host that Karin’s own attention was inevitably drawn to her.

“Oh Martin, you absolutely have to meet Jon Maberry,” Karen trilled by way of delaying their passage across the room. “Jon runs a charming little money mine up in Vermont, don’t you darling. I remember him telling me all about you and your diet gadget before it was on HuffPo.”
Jon Maberry had done nothing of the sort, but he was not about to pass up an introduction to the man sitting between converging tsunamis of Apple and Google money. He had been fiddling with his iPhone, looking as though he was having trouble with it, but he put the device away as soon as Karen introduced Gnoji.

“Look at this guy!” smiled Maberry, showing off at least twenty grand worth of dental work. “Hottest woman in the city on his arm, hottest tech in the world in his back pocket.”

Gnoji beamed happily, hamming it up by patting his pants and crying out with mock panic, “Oh noes! It must have fallen out on the way here.”

Karin let the rich white men enjoy their mutual self regard while she discreetly observed the woman who was discreetly trying to remain unobserved in turn. Unlike the tattooed girl, Colonel Varatchevksy’s trade craft was extremely well-honed. She only needed to keep the American agent within her peripheral vision for a few moments to be certain she was no art student or goss-blogger playing out of her league. There was the issue of her fascination with the lock screen. But more telling was the Hello Kitty purse she had tucked under one arm. It seemed rather heavy for such a childish affectation; undoubtedly because of the handgun she’d tucked away inside. Karin caught only the merest glimpse of the pistol grip poking up out of the purse, but that was enough.
“Oh, you boys,” she scoffed at some slightly off colour joke Gnoji and Maberry had just traded between each other like a note passed in class. “Jon, I’m sure you and Martin will get up to all sorts of capers and hijinks, but I simply must introduce him to Cally.”

“Is she hot? Why not introduce me to Cally? I thought I was your favourite?” grinned Maberry.

“You are my favourite, Jon,” Karen said. “But Martin adores her Nantucket series, don’t you Martin?”

“Those cool fucking paintings of the old flintlocks? Hells yeah. I’d buy them all! I like art when I can tell what it is.”

“I’ll bet you do,” smiled Karen, her eyes twinkling with good cheer. “Come along.”

She linked arms with him again, letting her hip brush against his as they threaded through the crowd. Gnoji pushed his own hip back into hers so strongly that she had to adjust her step or be shunted into a table full of finger food. She rubbed a hand up his arm, certain that if she looked down she would see the effect she was having on him.

She did not look down.

“Cally!” she called out over the crowd, waving and drawing the attention of a tall woman in her mid twenties, with a spectacular mane of black hair. Her eyes were large and they widened in obvious delight when they found the gallery owner who had done so much to advance her career.
“Hi Karen! Hello… you,” she grinned goofily and innocently at Gnoji, refusing to stare at the bulge in his pants as plainly as the girl with the facial tattoo had refused to look at Varatchevsky.
Karen felt the pressure on her hip fall away as Gnoji was drawn into the orbit of this new and exotically beautiful creature. She would normally have been pleased. The fly had landed in the middle of her web, but her internal alarms were singing loudly. She did not know where the Asian girl had come from. She had no idea which agency had sent her. But she was certain one of them had placed the woman inside the gallery, probably at short notice. She wasn’t very good at her job, indicating a rushed and poorly resourced effort on behalf of American counter-intelligence.
Unless she was private security for one of the one-percenters gadding about, drinking too much champagne and contemplating a vanity purchase. Unlikely, thought Karin. There was private security here tonight, but all of them had checked in with her own people. They had to, to get their weapons past the front door.

No, this girl was doing government work and doing it poorly.

She sensed Cally straining to keep a smile fixed on her face. Martin Gnoji had quickly moved the conversation from her exquisitely detailed pen and ink drawings of flintlock muskets onto a topic where he felt more confident; the fascinating fellow who was Martin Gnoji.

A fool's tongue runs before his feet, she thought in her native language.

“Martin was just telling me earlier how your work had caught his eye, Cally,” Karen Warat said, taking Gnoji’s empty drink and deftly replacing it with a fresh glass of Bollinger.

“Fuck yeah,” said Gnoji. “They’re sexy fucking drawings, Cal.”

Cally’s smile was still strained, but at its edges there was the genuine pleasure of every artist who has just been paid a compliment for their work. Karen had taught her well, and she didn’t immediately implore him to buy one. That tawdry exchange would fall to the gallery owner.

###

“Now you two stay right here,” Karen said. “I’m not running away. But I do have to love you and leave you for just a moment.”

The sudden fright in Cally’s wide brown eyes was matched only by the expression of rat cunning that crossed Gnoji’s face. He would be thinking, Karin knew, that a poor young artist was no match for a master of the universe like him. He would be thinking that the twelve billion dollars Business Insider had just valued him at made him the most interesting and irresistible plate of man meat in New York. It was exactly as Karin had planned. And when he reached peak-tumescence she would whip away the delicious and unobtainable young artist, switching her out for an even more apparently unobtainable prize.

No. Not herself.

Another trained artist. An entrapment savant.

But the presence of the tattooed counter-intel officer had queered that move, at least momentarily. Karin slipped away from Gnoji and Cally with practised grace. She smiled and exchanged brief pleasantries with nearly everyone she passed, but did not allow herself to be drawn into conversation. She gave the impression of a woman diligently about the business of ensuring all her guests were properly looked after. As she crossed the room, her phone buzzed. A BlackBerry, the latest model. She opened the image file attached to the message she had just received, a picture of an Egyptian dagger with a price and consignment number.

It was a prearranged signal that her cover had been blown and she was ordered to exfiltrate the city as quickly as possible. The unusually high price of the artefact told her that American security officials were already en route. The consignment number was an encoded address; a safe house.
Colonel Ekaterina Varatchevsky maintained her poise and stayed in character as she parsed the crowd, seeking out those facial tattoos, and scanning for any support the spy catcher might have. It was possible, even likely, that her pursuers had put the woman into the scene because she was so conspicuous. She would draw the eye away from other, better camouflaged operators. Karen smiled a passing hello at the Judge she had defamed to Gnoji a few minutes earlier. If the tattooed and slightly inept agent was a decoy, that spoke to an adversary with more finesse than the FBI. It might mean she had come to attention of Clearance or even Echelon.

She veered off the path she had been taking, headed for her office in which a small go-bag waited inside the safe. If the Office of Special Clearances and Records had her in the scope she would not have time to collect even a basic escape kit. She would simply have to move quickly and pray to evade the initial sweep. At least she could be thankful she had almost certainly not come to the attention of Echelon. She knew of a whole FSB network liquidated by just one of their operators, a woman who had disappeared nine cell members without ever appearing on the threat detectors herself.

Karin was sweating now – but only lightly, the thinnest sheen making her forehead shine under the gallery’s LEDs, and most of her guests were red faced and mopping at their brows already. It was a warm night and the old building’s A/C struggled with the body heat of the crowd. She weaved around a stand displaying a nearly complete set of armour from an officer of the Eastern Han Dynasty, but found her way blocked by a knot of revellers who were so deeply engrossed in discussing that week’s House of Cards episode that they did not even notice her.

They did notice the first scream, however. Everyone did.

25 Responses to ‘Sampler: A Soul Full of Guns. A Karin Varatchevksy ebook’

Dave W asserts...

Posted May 5, 2015
Hooked. Totally hooked.

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WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted May 5, 2015
You blood tease Birmingham!

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Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted May 5, 2015

Very nice - I want the rest of it now. So when is it actually due?

Btw JB, are you looking for typos yet? Its got 'sliver' rather than 'silver' on the first page.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 5, 2015
Regarding the typos, what happens to any we spot with the paper books? Do you personally correct each copy purchased or just stick to those still in bookshops or do you just let them go?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2015
Yes, I will take in typos.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2015
It's written. Entirely. What's not sorted out is who gets to publish it. It needs to be global release and there are three potential publishers. To quote The Highlander, "There can be only one."
I predict tears before bedtime

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted May 6, 2015
Well, and his slacker of a research consultant needs to finish the read through. The other three jobs I have do have a habit of slowing me down sometimes.
There will be a few weapons recommendations thus far.
M

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted May 5, 2015
Love it. But cannot help comparing Karen to Caitlin.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2015
Karin knows Caitlin and vice versa. Little multiverse easter egg for you.

damian reckons...

Posted May 5, 2015
Yes, the signal to that effect in this extract was pretty clear. Good stuff. When they call it intertextuality people make fun of it and some people get confused and call it plagiarism, after which things can get a bit unfunny, even the hilarious things (that's the only reason bizarre phrases like "self plagiraism" exist). Of course everyone else just thinks in terms of references, nods, winks and building an oeuvre and all that. You'd be crossing the line if you claimed you had Karin in mind when you were writing Caitlin, but I'm pretty sure everyone would forgive you.
Peter Temple has Jack Irish turn up for a cameo in Truth. This sort of thing is catching.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2015
I've always liked the idea of burying crossover treats in the text. After all, it's one of the main advantages of writing multiverse fiction.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted May 6, 2015
I didn't realize. But now that I do, I'm going to pay closer attention. This most certainly kicks up the cool factor up to 11.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted May 6, 2015
I've got Ascendance but have not read the finished copy. Did the Easter egg we discussed for that novel make it in?

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2015
EHRMERGERD!! SO good! More please :)

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Yank Across The Sea would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2015
Excellent as always! How long before we get more e-books from your other series like Axis of Time and The Wave? I remember reading somewhere that you were planning on revisiting them.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted May 6, 2015
Noted the Echelon reference, one of their agents eliminating an FSB network, "a woman who had disappeared nine cell members without ever appearing on the threat detectors herself."

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted May 6, 2015
Good stuff!
Like the character very much.

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Stevo has opinions thus...

Posted May 8, 2015
Love the books, great airplane reading as I commute back and forth between Sydney and Moscow where I work most of the time.
So, please excuse the pedantry, but in Russian patronymic naming practice why does Karin have a male surname? Her father or husband would be Varatchevsky. Normally (not 100% rule but quite exceptional for a slavic name) her name would be Varatchevskaya. To succeed in the FSB/GRU you would need to hold to traditional Russian values.
Anyway, I thought perhaps there is an interesting background story here...

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Mike swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 9, 2015
Awesome, global simultaneous release pwns!
In todays day and age, it's just silly to have staggered releases - it annoys customers and leads to piracy.

I'm happy your muse seems to have taken up permanent residence in your noggin. Several books a year is... awesome!

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Adrien Hopkins reckons...

Posted November 4, 2015
Has this been published yet, I've looked to no avail

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted November 4, 2015
No, but it went to edit today. Very soon. Get on the mailing list if you want to be sure and get an early low price.

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Alex Lavery mumbles...

Posted December 24, 2015
Hi John,
I just finished Dave's trilogy and have the first book of Without Warning under my belt. I loved the concept of Dave, it was original and refreshing, gotta have some more of that. Maybe something like all 12 champions take it to the Horde, chewing monster brains like energy bars. Now I'm hungry.
Thanks again,
Alex,

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted December 24, 2015
Coming right up, Alex. If you want an early warning, sign up here. http://eepurl.com/bxdqjP

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted December 24, 2015
SWMBO is pissed with you & Annabelle JB. For the first time in N years my gift hasn't been obvious. If I get jocks & socks I'll be pissed off to. My bottle of Ciroc we'll help me get over it.
Happy Christmas, Kwanza, Tet, Mid Summer, Mid Winter, non faith based celebrations or day off to all the Burgers.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 25, 2015
I don't celebrate the Tet Offensive until January 30th, but thank you for the mention. Most people ridicule my reverence.

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Respond to 'Sampler: A Soul Full of Guns. A Karin Varatchevksy ebook'

ASCENDANCE - PROLOGUE

Posted April 28, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Prologue

Los Angeles

Wasn’t no mystery to it.

Jellybean knew where all the customers got to. ‘Cept for the neediest fiends, they was all hunkered down in the hovels as evening fell, watching cable news and hiding from monsters.

Da Bean shot a dark, Pepsi-flavoured stream of spit through the gap between his front teeth. A thin tendril of sticky-sweet drool dropped onto his Lakers singlet, staining it. Right now, looking over the empty car lot in front of the Retread Warehouse, the only souls he could see were the ones Stross owned, looking bored with business. Moping around in front of the ‘done clinic. That was some telling shit. The corner with the methadone clinic was always busiest. There were a couple of packs of runners here and there, little kids, not running anywhere right now, on account of having no fiends to step and fetch it for.

“Monsters,” said Jellybean, shaking his head.

At first they’d been great for business. Dope fiends spilling out on the streets to party, everyone talking a big game about n’Orleans. And when the Army and that dumb cracker kicked ass outside of Omaha? Man, that was like Christmas and Thanksgiving got high and had themselves an orgy with July 4’s hot sister. Fiends were kickin’ it. Not just fiends though. Everyone, the whole city. You could hear music all over and there was fire works and everyone was out on the street, and then that Super Dave asshole turned up in LA to party in person?

Damn. They banked some foldable currency that day, Jose.

Not much since though.

And not today, that was for damn sure.

Couldn’t hear no music now either, but you could see fireworks in the gathering gloom, if tracer rounds counted. You could hear the crackle and hammer of automatic weapons all over LA. Sometimes, like just now, long ropey streams of fire, all orange and yellow, flew up from the earth, racing away into the sky. You heard sirens, of course. But they weren’t racing towards the gunfire. Not always. The sirens howled everywhere. Fat Skin told Jellybean the cops weren’t even busting motherfuckers for open carry. Not even hassling, bro! They just pointing, saying, monsters-be-that-a-way-son. Go git.

And that was terrifying, because Jellybean Johnson might not go to Church these days, but those nuns they beat the fear of God in deep. And flip over the fear of God you got a fear of the Devil and all his works.

Devil’s work was what happened down n’Orleans. And the Devil’s fiends be those sabre tooth orc motherfuckers with Gozilla’s own cojones. Them and the dragons and the fuckin’ zombies they got shambling around the ass end of Nebraska now.

Jellybean searched for the gun at his hip, even though he could feel the weight of it there. He just needed to touch the grip, to reassure himself.

Thing was, the Mayor? He’d lost his shit. Weren’t one damn monster anywhere inside LA. They all out in the desert getting smoked by the air force. But whitey already freaked the fuck out. Open carry was proof of that.

That’s what scared Jellybean. White money was the most powerful gang in the city. It didn’t just rule, it reigned. It was an absolute fucking monarch.

Didn’t need demons coming in here to tear this city down. It was gonna tear itself apart because the king had gone mad.

Jellybean could feel it coming.

Wait.

No.

He could hear it.

Screaming.

Not just the random screaming of some bitch gettin’ schooled by her old man. Or someone gone crazy on bath salts or something.

A lot of screaming by a lot of people.

They could hear it down on the corners too, he could see that.

Dog-10 and The King Johnson were already weapons out, hard up against cover. Knees bent, Dog-10 leaned into the corner of the 7-11 and bobbed his head around, gun first.

Jellybean heard the flat crack of the pistol, slightly muted by distance. But only slightly.

Two shots, a pause, then three.

Then all at once everything broke open down on the streets. The corner crews blasting away at nothing da Bean could see yet. The runners running, screaming, adding their tiny high-pitched cries to the swelling crowd noise that rolled on them like a big surf.

He fumbled his own weapon free, looking for something to shoot. All those rational thoughts about the total absence of monsters on the streets of LA - all gone. Jellybean saw movement, a few blocks away. Not just a few people, but hundreds of them, maybe thousands. All running and screaming, all coming straight at him. The gunfire sounded less and less impressive, as the roar of the crowd swelled and swallowed it. First Tonik broke and then Fingaz, and then all of Mr. Stross’s soldiers were running.

Jellybean found himself doing a stupid dance, a little two step. One step towards the rusted ladder would carry him to the ground. One step back towards the AK leaned up against the roofline.

No way would Officer fuckin’ Friendly be letting Jellybean Johnson step out with a Kalashnikov. But that sort of artillery was precisely what a captain needed to own this area of operations.

That’s what Stross always called the hood. The area of operations. Didn’t matter which hood. It was always the area of operations to Mr Stross.

Jellybean stood, dancing from toe to toe, at the broken, grimy parapet of the Retread Warehouse, with his mouth hanging open as a human tide washed over Mr fuckin' Stross’s area of operations. You could see those peeps were running from something, not towards him. So many of them screaming, looking back over their shoulders, sometimes stumbling and tripping because they had. Getting ploughed under, trampled by the madness of the herd.

Well, fuck Stross and fuck his operations, da Bean decided. He turned and ran as fast as his stumpy, overstuffed sausage legs would carry him towards the creaky ladder that would deliver him to the ground. He had time, just enough time he was sure, to jump into his ride and lay down some tyre smoke headed for anywhere but here.

He had no idea what the crowd was running from, but it had to be something as bad as n’Orleans. Had to be monsters for real this time.

His hand drifted to the gun at his hip as he made the ladder and put his foot on the first rung. But of course he couldn’t climb down while he was holding a big ass .45.

And then he understood that he couldn’t climb down at all. Because he was too late. The monster was already here.

Standing – no, floating! – actually floating like a magic motherfucker directly below him, in the dark, shaded lee of the Retread Warehouse.

Jellybean didn’t stop to take in the show. He got a quick impression of some long thin streak of evil misery, somehow drifting a foot or so above the ground, and his balls crawled up into his body and kept on going. They crawled so high, so fast they might have choked him if he hadn’t reacted with the quick wit and immoral ruthlessness that had allowed him to rise so high in the esteem and organisation of Mister Area-of-Operations Stross.

Without thinking on consequence Jellybean Johnson aimed the silver-plated big ass Colt and unloaded half the clip directly into the melon of that spooky floating motherfucker directly beneath his feet.

Slip a few crumpled dollars in the Dave's G-String here.

22 Responses to ‘ASCENDANCE - PROLOGUE’

KreepyKrawly swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 28, 2015

Yah! great stuff, now all I gotta do is get home and d/l from Kobo..... I'm not sure I can wait that long...

*Hops around like a little kid needing to pee...*

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 28, 2015
That's it. I am leaving work now and going straight to Dymocks. It had better be there.

insomniac puts forth...

Posted April 29, 2015
I has my hands on the precious - Dymocks on George St if anyone is innerested. Not in the new release section nor on the blockbuster table but definitely prominent on the end of an aisle.

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Dave W would have you know...

Posted April 28, 2015
TEH AWSM.
I've Bezo'd the e-tome and this little taste (first one's free!) will tide me over 'til I get home.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 28, 2015
You are a very bad man. Almost as bad as GreyBread.

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WarDog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 28, 2015
Got my dispatch confirmation from Boomerang this arvo.
Thanks gods (or suitable facsimiles) I don't have to wait out the month I though I was going to have to yesterday :-)
Downside is I know I'll consume it in a couple of hours.

balri reckons...

Posted April 29, 2015
Same

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matt is gonna tell you...

Posted April 28, 2015
Sitting on the Syrian border waiting for my download of Dave ...

insomniac reckons...

Posted April 29, 2015
Considering that it may be code for something, "Syrian border" forms the following anagrams, placed in the sentence for context.

Sitting on the errand boy, Sir, waiting for my download of Dave ...

Sitting on the randy bore, Sir, waiting for my download of Dave ...

matt asserts...

Posted April 30, 2015
Nothing so grand insomniac - and actually Paul, its actually quite pretty this time of year. Everyone's got to be somewhere :)

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted April 29, 2015
Jellybean . . . where do these names come from? ;)

Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 29, 2015
JB is a secret Android fanboi?

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Anthony asserts...

Posted April 29, 2015

Downloaded and sat up all night reading it.

Comments reserved till later to avoid spoilers...

Halwes puts forth...

Posted April 29, 2015
Does anybody here have a job to go to ?

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 29, 2015
Where else do you think we're accessing the internet?

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HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted April 29, 2015
fk me!

I'm in fkn Corryong and the boks in fkn bacchs. SO FKN NOT HAPPY!


SRSLY!...you should be slapped eight fkn ways from christmas for doing that biminghum!

Murphy reckons...

Posted April 29, 2015
Wahmbulance en route.

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pitpat puts forth...

Posted April 29, 2015
Yep locked and loaded on the various devices. Thanks for the prodigious output. Might even get time to finish it before the spoiler thread opens.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted April 29, 2015
With the prologue and Mr Stross's "area of operations", did Mr Charles Stross not succeed at his book writing gig and pursue a different career in the universe of The Dave, or is this a coincidence? :)

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted April 30, 2015
Must have ... this is why we need teleportation ... for my instant gratification. Don't want to wait all weekend for mine to get here.

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JG would have you know...

Posted April 30, 2015
Nice stuff, JB. I like your characterisation of Jellybean. Lots of fun ahead per usual with Dave3 (Ascendance). Will pick up a hard copy over the next week.
Haven't been on here much since switching from a smartphone to a dumbphone (ie phone calls only) in the past month. Frustrating and slow (ie only accessing the internet when I have access to free wifi), but it's saving me heaps of money and plenty of time previously spent online. Some advantages to being offline these days, although I'm still adjusting to bring unconnected until I get wifi fixes 3 or 4 times a week. Will see how it goes. May switch back to a smartphone, but it's not nevessary.
Anyhow, I look forward to reading Ascendance soon.
Cheers, maestro.
Joanna

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Respond to 'ASCENDANCE - PROLOGUE'

"Harry vs The Dragon" by Lord Bob of Nowhere. Fanfest 2015

Posted March 29, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Just when you thought too much Fanfest was barely enough, this arrives in the royal mail from Nowhere. (The post is notoriously unreliable from Nowhere).

“Oh no you don’t, you ugly bitch” muttered Harry as he pulled the cyclic to full power and pushed the collective over to port. The jet of flaming sulphurous lizard belch washed over the starboard side of the Apache gunship, bubbling paint off the composite body, but as far as Harry could tell causing no real damage. The rev counter peaked momentarily into the red as Harry Windsor rocketed down the canyon between towering office blocks. He could feel it in the meat of his arse and without conscious thought rolled the cyclic back to seventy percent. Only one hundred and fifty feet off the bitumen he thundered past the windows of brokers of all types, pursued by the most unlikely of bogeys, an honest to god, fire- breathing dragon. Out in open country Dragons as soon as they were located, usually roasting a mob of cattle like a highly-mobile Hibachi, were promptly dispatched by A10’s top-shelf brand of ‘splodey goodness, but in The City collateral damage was deemed too high for rockets and such profligate pyrotechnics, so it was back to duelling one on one with cannon fire against Dragon fire. Just like in the original Battle of Britain the RAF and Army air units engaged invaders over London and that’s where Harry and his co-pilot gunner Fat Tony came in. Fat Tony mused it was all well and good to destroy some poor- arsed farmer’s livelihood, but as soon as the striped-shirts precious assets were on the line, things were different, but being nobody’s fool, Fat Tony kept his opinions to himself.

Since his return from the ‘Stan Harry had been spending far too much time on ceremonial duties. It seemed a little blubber-eel had taken up residence just above his belt-line and his hands had lost the stains and callouses of a man who worked for a living. The lads in his unit took endless pleasure in pointing these and his many other failings out to him when he joined them for manoeuvres and exercises, the cheeky buggers. Being born into “The Firm” came with blessings and curses, most recently the blessings came and came again in the supple form of Princess Mi-Niko of the imperial family of Japan, part time snow-boarding champion, part time princess and full time good sort. But a gentleman wouldn’t skite about that to a rough-headed bunch of lads like those in his unit. Much.

But distractions as pleasant as Mi-Niko aside he really should concentrate on the job at hand, which bizarre as it was, was gaining on him and putting his arse at serious risk of imminent barbecue. He kicked hard on the port pedal, rolled the cyclic up to eighty and executed a ragged, but effective turn down another canyon of corporate phallic substitutes. The damned dragon was only a half a block behind them now, her great leathery wings remarkable in their ability to scoop great volumes of the thick London air. Nimble, seriously pissed off and deadly she pursued the Apache with the single minded focus of a raptor eyeing a fat pigeon. This strange clattering foe had killed her friend, as far as dragons could be said to have friends, which was roughly less than zero, but either way it was a grave affront which could not be allowed to stand.

“This aint getting us nowhere” muttered Harry as his elocution tutor rolled in her grave. “Time to mix it up.” He pointed the nose at the sky and poured on the power. In barely a blink he was above the aircon units and satellite dishes which crowned the surrounding office towers. He rolled the Apache over and dove for the Thames at full power she screamed up to almost 200 knots, briefly leaving the great lizard behind. Flashing past The Tower wherein Harry’s relatives close and distant for the best part of 600 years had dispensed a particular brand of choppy justice, He eyed an opportunity. How often would you get a chance like this? So for no good tactical reason Harry barrel-rolled the Apache under the London Bridge pursued by a Dragon intent on toasting him like a focaccia. “Now, back to business.” Harry mused. The Dragon seemed intent on closing with the Apache for “a bit of grapple” as Harry’s unarmed-combat instructor was fond of calling the deadly business of taking an enemy to the ground & ensuring you were the only one who stood up. “What say we do some damage?” Harry asked. Fat Tony clicked his mic once in assent and as Harry executed another pedal turn to starboard, which would earn zero points for gracebut a full ten as it bought his primary weapon to bear, Fat Tony opened up with the screaming horror tucked under the Apache. Flowing with inertia like a martial artist Harry Crab-Walked the Apache to port as the M230 Chain gun spat 625 30mm High Explosive Dual Purpose rounds per minute at the Dragon. (Presumably the dual purposes were “Fuck” and “You.”) The mighty lizard affronted by such impudence jinked to starboard, folded her port-side wing and attempted to roll under the fire. Fat Tony’s targeting helmet followed as smooth as you could like and he was rewarded with bloody chunks of leather being torn off the still partially extended wing. The Dragon, not at all liking this turn of events, turned tail and flew back into the financial district. Harry followed as Fat Tony tore chunks of Dragon meat from the flank of the retreating beast with burst after burst of chain-gun fire. The great lizard screamed in shock, pain and outrage hundreds of decibels of fingernails on chalkboard with a little stretched-cat mixed in for good measure. This was inconceivable; she hadn’t fled from a fight, well ever as far as she could remember. But self-preservation sang loud and she searched desperately for a bolt hole.

Losing her grace with the integrity of her wing membrane she bounced off the glass front of an investment-banking house and in a spectacular shower of glass fragments, larcenous forecasts, ergonomic furniture and a tiny percentage of really good cocaine, she dove for the yawning maw of a tube station entrance. “That ain’t good” said Fat Tony as the great beast lit up the entrance to the Tube station with a gout of roiling flame and stink and charged down into the underground sanctuary. “No, but I guess it’d be Someone Else’s Problem.” replied Harry as the great spiked tail demolished a smouldering news stand before disappearing below.

“Hotel Romeo Hotel 41. Hotel Romeo Hotel 41. Target 1 splashed, Target 2 has gone to ground. St Pancras Tube Station” Prince Harry radioed to his forward air controller. “Door closing, Mind the gap.”

40 Responses to ‘"Harry vs The Dragon" by Lord Bob of Nowhere. Fanfest 2015’

NBlob would have you know...

Posted March 29, 2015
AWSM art & unbelievable turn around. I submitted this, went & got Fish and Chips (why can't fish shops do good chips?) ate, logged in as I had a post dinner smoke and its up. The bunnies deserve a pay rise JB.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30, 2015
Nice bit of well described actiony goodness

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 30, 2015
That was unexpectedly enjoyable. Very much.

But isn't it St. Pancreas?

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted March 31, 2015
I believe you may be getting confused with the Sainted Liver. Insulin is pretty impressive, but in no way qualifies as a miracle.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted March 31, 2015
What do you know of spiritual faith, barbarian?

NBlob asserts...

Posted March 31, 2015
A nice man gave me a pamphlet once. Confusing with all that, "there is but one Dog" & "Father, Son & the Holy Goat," selling my neighbour, mixed thread fabric etc." but he was quite nice.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted March 31, 2015
When I gave you that pamphlet I mistakenly believed you were searching for truth.

NBlob mutters...

Posted March 31, 2015

You believe what you want to believe. I was searching for love, respect, kindness, a little human (or near enough) warmth.

I reached out in a moment of vulnerability and all I got was this lousy pamphlet. But at least I now have a handy pocket sized reference to all the people who I should despise; gay, brown, vegan, ecologically motivated, followers of a different gospel, or any combination of the above.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 31, 2015
You're welcome.

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Chaz mumbles...

Posted March 30, 2015
Would have thought that a dragon would prefer to hole up in the old lady of Threadneedle Street!

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30, 2015
St Pancras station is a good choice. The dragon would have the option of getting a direct run to the Midlands or he could get on the Eurostar and head off to Paris or Brussels.

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JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30, 2015
Nice piece of writing, NBlob.

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Chaz asserts...

Posted March 30, 2015
W, not forgetting of course that the Eurostar travels slower on the UK tracks because of speed limitations!

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted March 30, 2015
Clearly, NBlob is an early victim of Viscount Turnbull's new Australia Post regime.

Nice, tight piece of writing - I can see Harry Windsor actually doing this at some point in the future.

I'm stealing "choppy justice" and "yawning maw" for future use, by the way.

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GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted March 30, 2015

Great writing NBob - felt like I was strapped in right beside Harry slashing his Apache across the financial district with Fat Tony's fat finger on the trigger.
Loved the roll through the Tower Bridge and the Dragon fleeing down the Tube ... "Someone else's problem" - typical Bloody Royals.

You like your gunships - don't you?

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 31, 2015
How could one not?

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted March 30, 2015
See, this was quality fanfic. Done well without the cheap slander of others. I liked this much better than the "writing" of that greybread chappie.
Cracking description of the dual purpose round.
Well done NBlob.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted March 31, 2015
Yeah, I have to admit it was good stuff. Lots of action and edge of the seat excitement. This piece was much more family friendly than the Dinosaur Porn that NBlob usually writes.

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sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30, 2015
As a Republican, I was supporting the dragon.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 31, 2015
As a Libertarian, I was angered by the waste of tax dollars depicted.

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted March 31, 2015

Still I wonder that as a Burgherian PNB you were not stimulated by all of NBob's splodey goodness in spite of your core political beliefs?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted March 31, 2015
Well, yeah, of course. It totally made my dick hard (metaphorically speaking, of course). But that is a given, innit? Hardly worthy of discussion or comment.

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pitpat asserts...

Posted March 31, 2015
Just got around to reading it while waiting for others. Super work Lord Bob, part of me likes The Harry more than The Dave.

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HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted March 31, 2015
good shit NBOB...!!!!!

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted March 31, 2015
That was some good splodey stuff right there. Found myself leaning in my chair following the chopper.
Great job!

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Mike ducks in to say...

Posted March 31, 2015
I'm sorry, as a 71 yr old ex-aviator and obvious pedant, I just couldn't resist:
Harry needs to go do 'Flying Helicopters 101' again, before he breaks off the controls: http://tinyurl.com/qbxme49

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted March 31, 2015
Fair enough

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted March 31, 2015
NBOB, you could have said, " As he flipped the big black bitch onto her back, grunting against the G's as the composite rotors bit into the dense tropical air"

But ya didn't. I LIKED IT!

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TexasTeaserPony mutters...

Posted April 1, 2015
Good stuff, NB. Then this, "Well, yeah, of course. It totally made my dick hard (metaphorically speaking, of course)."

The metaphorical 'acorn wearing a turtleneck sweater' might be more like it.

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted April 1, 2015
Well, there's 2 lines for The Wedding.
Thanks, Boys.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted April 1, 2015
Okay - so I used the term incorrectly. I did that intentionally. I am a artist, man. It was fucking poetic license.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted April 1, 2015
I checked with the California Licensing Commission. Your poetic licence expired in 1997.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 1, 2015
Expired, er no. It was taken from him after a particularly witless "Life is like a tree" simile that triggered California's 3 strikes rule.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 1, 2015
Will you allow me no dignity at all?

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted April 1, 2015
De-dignification is just one of the services we offer.Besides, you're the one with the bucket hat.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted April 2, 2015
You spend a lifetime presenting a distinguished, if not stylish, figure.

But you wear one bucket hat, and your wife posts it on Facebook, and that's all anyone remembers.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted April 1, 2015
A nice chopper ride NB.

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Sparty asserts...

Posted April 2, 2015
This should be considered Canon.(or at least 30mm cannon...)

NBlob puts forth...

Posted April 2, 2015
High praise Mr Sparty. Thank you.

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au asserts...

Posted April 7, 2015
Harry is so much more fun to write about than Will. If he gets married who can we write about instead?

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Respond to '"Harry vs The Dragon" by Lord Bob of Nowhere. Fanfest 2015'

"The Bachelor Party", by Roger 'The Rhino' Ross - Fanfest 2015

Posted March 19, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

The one you've all been waiting for. With fear in your unworthy hearts.

The author, in profile.

Long ago – even before the advent of “The Demons of Buttcracke County” - in the American heartland there lay a dozen empty beer bottles on a table scattered among the remains of a large meal.

“After dinner 'warm-ups,'” the kilted guy called the beers. "So's we don't tear a muscle when we put on the big boy pants and get to the real drinking," he said to the assembled men sitting contentedly around the table.

Their bellies full after a dinner of Kansas City's finest steaks and accompanying sides, basking in a paleo-glow and puffing on after dinner cigars, the beers were taking their good old time getting absorbed and the assembled men were only now beginning to feel a very slight buzz.

"Fellow Knights of the Burger Gothic,” Kilt stood and announced, “we must now quest for the holiest of holies - God's gift to man. I speak not of the grail, but of the only drink fit for men of our ilk. The gin and tonic. The only drink suitable to toast the upcoming nuptials of our fellow knight, Mr. Murphy."

The quest itself was short, as such quests go: the bar was but a few paces away. The large man bellied up to the bar, caught the attention of the shapely bartender and said, "Young lady, we are Knights of the Burger Gothic and we are on a quest. A quest for the most sublime of libations, the perfect gin and tonic."

She smiled, thinking, 'Oh shit, here we go' and replied in a flat Midwestern accent "Sure thing, we've got a great selection of gins and – “

The big man cut her off, abruptly slapping two one-hundred dollar bills down on the bar, "Now, here is what I need,” he said. “Two glass pitchers, a fine strainer, a potato masher, a half dozen limes and an unopened bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. Can me and my pals Benjamin and Benjamin get those?" he asked with a wide grin and a wink.

"Ummmm, sure, okay,” the bartender said, scooping up the bills. Bartenders tend to see some weird shit, but these were late middle-aged guys, probably mostly harmless, and the tip after the cost of the bottle should leave almost a hundred dollars in her pocket. She could put up with a lot of weird from mostly harmless guys for a hundred bucks. Especially on a relatively slow night.

"Darlin', and, ahem, alleged gentlemen,” the big man in the kilt said to the curious bartender and diverse group of men surrounding him at the bar. “The key to a sublime gin and tonic is not just in the choice of gin, but in the preparation of the gin,” he said in a very bad faux English accent, dropping half a dozen halved limes into one of the two large glass pitchers.

“I give you Excalibur!” he said, raising the potato masher over his head. He plunged the masher down and proceeded to 'excaliburize' the limes with merry gusto. "Macerating the limes is key," he grunted.

“He said ‘macerate,” one of the onlookers snickered.

The big man punished the guiltless limes for a few moments more until Steven Murphy - Murph to everyone - stocky build, medium height, hair cut to military length, and obviously the youngest man of the group, said, "C'mon, Rhino, I think they've surrendered already."

"You may be right, Murph,” Rhino admitted, “but one can never be too sure. Hell, for all we know these could be Jihadi limes. Sneakin' over the border to sully our women and threaten the 'Merican way of life.” Rhino grunted and mashed, then stepped away and announced “Volia! The perfect base for God's gift to liquors - Bombay Sapphire."

“A’ chacun son goût,” Boylan – a short, olive skinned, balding man with the pronounced brow line and nose that just screamed ‘Greek Gene Pool’ - muttered at his place in front of the crowd of onlookers.

Rhino ignored the interruption, took the large blue bottle and emptied it into the pitcher, sending the pulp and rinds of the desecrated limes swirling in a whirlpool of gin. "Now, we let it rest a bit while we enjoy these wonderful cigars in celebration of my victory over the terrorist limes, and, of course, the upcoming nuptials of our man, Murph."

"Hell, Rhino, those limes looked guilty as hell,” said Andrew McKinney in a Texas drawl that was smooth as honey. “Y'all shoulda' put a bullet in 'em 'fore you mashed 'em,” McKinney, medium height, medium build, the kind of guy that you probably wouldn't pick out of a crowd except for the piercing blue eyes that seemed to look right through you - right down to the dark places in your soul that you should never let see the light of day. That wasn’t a bad super power to have, especially if you happened to be one of the top legal eagles in Houston, Texas. Texas, where the only thing tougher than the laws were the men plying its trade.

"I must insist that you stop this shameless and possibly illegal display," Boylan shouted. "I didn't hear you Mirandize those poor limes. I've half a mind to take their case and sue all of you. And I mean all of you - even you –“ Boylan said, thrusting his finger at a complete stranger – “for violating their citrus rights. I would, that is, if I could be assured that they were wealthy limes that could afford my hourly rate or, if not, that any of you have any assets worth seizing."

"Listen up, Boylan,” Rhino retorted. “We aren't in your socialist Republik of Kalifornia. We are in 'By God, Missoura' and I cannot countenance that kind of commie talk about these obviously jihadist limes."

Boylan opened his mouth to respond but, before he could get a word out, the Bartender interrupted. “What is a Knight of the Burger Gothic?” she asked. “Is that like the Knights of Columbus or the Elks or somethin’?”

Murph jumped in to explain. “We’re all fans,” he said, “of - well, actually, I work for him too - this Australian author who writes adventure novels and he calls his blog Cheeseburger Gothic. Regulars on the blog refer to themselves as Burgers. We’ve all been buddies, online, for years but this is the first time we’ve all met in person.”

The Bartender was nodding her head, but Murph could see that she was grokking only very little of what he said. Murph suspected that all the Bartender heard was, “books, nerds, nerds, kangaroos, nerds, more nerds and bookworms.”

“Anyway,” Murph continued. “I’m getting married in a couple of days, and we thought that it would be a great opportunity to get together.”

The Bartender, turning her head to the side like that dog in the RCA logo listening to the record, “Okay,” she said, “uh huh, well, sure, hey, any excuse for a party, right?”

“I hate to bust up this confab,” Rhino interjected, “but we’re ready for four large glasses, a pitcher of tonic, a bucket of ice and some fresh lime slices for garnish.”

The Bartender busied herself gathering the requested supplies and deposited them atop the bar.

“Now, the key is to combine all of the ingredients in the proper order,” Rhino instructed. “First, the tonic.” He said as he pours each glass one quarter full of tonic. “Then we add the prepared gin.” Taking the pitcher with the gin and limes, Rhino proceeded to pour the liquid through the strainer into the second pitcher. He then took the strained gin and filled each glass, leaving two inches between the gin and the top of the glass.

“Now, the ice,” Rhino said, taking a handful of ice and dropping it into the first of the glasses.

***

Battlemaster Lord Koudung Ur Hunn gave the forward signal and led the two Talon of Hunn and supporting Sliveen Scouts through the breach in the barrier separating the under realms from that of the cattle. Oh, he would bring back a sea of bloodwine and a veritable buffet of fresh man meat back to his Queen. Not to mention the accolades and glory that would be his.

Once through the barrier, the daemon horde found itself, not in the open air as that filthy Thresh reported earlier, but in some structure.

“Ahh,” thought Lord Koudung, “this must be one of the pens that the cattle shelter in. While I’ll miss the hunt, this will make it easier to procure fresh stock and return below to enjoy it all that much quicker.”

He ordered his Sliveen to disperse and scout out the whereabouts of the cattle. He then turned to the chore of forming up the lines of the Hunn Talons as they continued to emerge from the rift.

Soon one of the Sliveen returned and informed Lord Koudung that cattle had been located and they are large and fatted indeed. Images of the fatted cattle filled the Daemon Battlemaster’s mind and digestive acids filled his mouth, leaving him barely able to issue orders without drooling on his armor. Hefting his enormous battleax, he led his Hunn warriors to the field of impending glory.

The Sliveen Scouts Commander, having sent a messenger back to Lord Koudung, turned his attention back to the herd of cattle he was observing. One of the cows looked to be using a simple tool to smash something in a clear container. The other cows stood rapt, as cattle are wont to do, watching the bigger cow exert himself. “This will be like shooting Thresh in a Bloodpot,” thought the Sliveen Commander as he ordered his Scouts to silently disburse and choose lines of fire. He would bring down this herd before Lord Koudung could make it here and take the glory for himself. Directing the others to take other targets, he signaled that the exceptionally large one was for him, and him alone, to take.

Luckily, the largest one was not wearing leg coverings like the others. He would cripple the beast and let it live for a while to marinade in its terror. Then, he would take the ears for trophies. Lining up his shot, he pulled on the bow, feeling the reassuring resistance and let loose the first arrow that would change his career trajectory and bring notice from the Queen herself.

***

Just as Rhino began dropping ice into the glass he jerked, as if in pain, and threw the hand full of cubes all over the bar. Standing rigid he bellowed, “OW! MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK WAS THAT?”

Looking down, Rhino saw an inch-long piece of wood protruding from his calf. “Motherfucker but that hurts,” he said. Reaching down, he tried to pull it out but felt resistance. Gritting his teeth, he pulled harder, skin stretching, and the sliver finally popped out. The tiny wound began to bleed freely. Examining the sliver of wood, Rhino saw a barbed point, akin to an arrowhead, at the tip of the splinter.

“Hey, guys, take a look at this –“ Rhino said in surprise, but stopped cold when he saw Murph, Boylan and McKinney all doing what looked like an Irish Jig, screaming and swatting at their arms and faces, inch long slivers of wood buried in their skin.

Rhino felt another bee sting, this time in his thigh. He looks down at the splinter piercing him and saw movement on the floor. “Whaaaaaaat the fuuuuuuck?” he said as he examined what looks like a six-inch tall praying mantis, only lots uglier, carrying what looked like a tiny long bow.

“What the fucking fuck,” he asks himself. “Is that a fucking praying mantis shooting tiny arrows at us? Jesus H. Christ - and I haven’t even had any gin yet.”

Rhino scooted his bulk around the bar and yelled, “c’mon guys take cover.” Murph, wasting no time, did a belly flop over the bar, crashing into the sink, sending a tray of dirty glasses waiting to be washed flying. McKinney and Boylan scampered like a couple of rodeo clowns being chased by an angry bull around the end of the bar and hunkered down on the floor. The remaining patrons in the bar ran screaming for the doors.

“It would appear that this establishment has a nasty infestation of insects,” Boylan said as he pulled on a splinter that was dangerously close to his left eye.

McKinney chimes in, “Hell, I thought we grew ‘em big in Texas.”

“I wonder how they taste?” Boylan asked, examining one of them up close.

Pulling Murph from the floor Rhino asked, “What the fuck are those things?”

“Arrow shooting praying mantises?” Murph responded. “Are you kidding? I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life and I grew up here.”

That’s when a high-pitched scream of sheer terror and pain reached them. “The Bartender! Where did she go?” Rhino demanded.

“No clue,” Boylan said, still scrutinizing one of the insects. Shrugs and nods from Murph and McKinney closed the circle of ignorance.

“Well, shit, we can’t leave her out there. Murph, you and Boylan go around the far side of the bar. McKinney and I will go out this side. Put the boots to those little motherfuckers.”

Murph and Boylan crawled to the other end of the bar. Boylan picked up a bottle of whiskey on his way to use as a cudgel if necessary. When they reached the end of the bar, Rhino yelled “Go!” and they all ran around to the front of the bar scanning for the Bartender.

The assembled Knights of the Burger Gothic froze and stared at the horrible tableau in front of them.

The bartender was sprawled on the floor at the far side of the bar closest to Murph and Boylan. The praying mantis ‘things’ were crawling all over her. Three of the things were hacking at her throat with - ‘are those axes?’ - and they must have hit something vital because there was blood streaming everywhere, coating the floor around her. Two more of the - ‘holy shit, not praying mantises, they’re monsters. Might as well call ‘em what they are,’ Rhino thought - were jamming longer versions of the arrows -‘spears?’- into her eyes. Was one of those things really reaching in and pulling out chunks of her eyeball and eating them? The Bartender was barely moving and her screams stopped, probably because of the gaping holes in her neck.

Rhino could feel his gorge rise, ‘Ah, hells no, are those other ones sticking their heads into her neck wounds and eating, too?’

Rhino and McKinney were startled out of their stupor by a piercing war cry that would have made Spartan King Leonides proud. Boylan, with his ancestral war face on, took three powerful strides forward and swung the whiskey bottle in an underhanded arc that caught one of the monsters, still perched and feeding on the girls face, with a solid CLUNK, sending it flying to splatter on the wall. Then Murph was there, reaching into the gore of the poor girl’s throat, pulling two of the creatures out.

“Nobody eats a bartender in my town!” he shouted, smashing the little monsters head-first into the top of the bar over and over again until they were nothing but black ichor pulp.

By this time McKinney and Rhino arrived. The remaining monsters, seeing the tide of battle turning, tried to retreat.

“I don’t think so,” Rhino said and moved to cut them off, so focused on the little bastards he didn’t see the trail of blood in his path. Wood covered in blood makes an ice-like surface. He skidded. Both of his feet went flying into the air in a spectacular back flop. The retreating Sliveen screamed in tiny terror as 350 pounds of Rhino came slamming down on top of them, squashing them flat.

***

McKinney leaned down offering Rhino a hand up. “Well, that’s certainly one way of doing it,” McKinny said.

Rhino stood and everyone just looked at each other in shock. Boylan was taking a healthy slug from the bottle cum weapon. Murph was wiping ichor from his hands with a bar towel. McKinney was over by the wall, toeing a smashed mantis-thing.

“Well, it looks like we got all of the little motherfuckers”, Rhino said looking at the mutilated body of the Bartender. “Hell, I didn’t even have a chance to get her name.”

That’s when they heard the rhythmic tapping of metal on metal and guttural growls coming from the other side of the room.

***

Lord Kuodung Ur Hunn stood at the head of his Talons, now arrayed neatly in battle order. It seemed that over the millennia the cattle had evolved some teeth as he had just seen the fattest of the cattle throw himself onto the retreating Sliveen. The cattle had inadvertently done the Battlemaster Lord a favor as it appeared that the Sliveen were running from the cattle and cowardice had just one reward - death.

This should be interesting. The scrolls said that the cattle would often curl up in terror upon seeing a Hunn Lord. Making it all that much easier to slice their throats and bathe in their bloodwine. The cattle were large, but stupid, and the Hunn were strong and the sight of that much meat on the hoof just made them that much more determined. “Remember the scrolls, cut the heels of the cattle and they will fall so that you can get at their throats.”

Lord Kuodung could feel the beat of the bloodsong that his great battleax was singing in anticipation of the coming slaughter. The beat worked its way through his great chest and down his arms and he began to rap the ax against his shield. His warriors took up the beat as well and lifted their voices in a guttural war chant. The bloodlust was on them now. Nothing would stop them from the glory to be found today.

Lord Kuodung Ur Hunn strode forward to recount his titles and glories to these cattle. This honor was to be their repayment for their dispatching of the cowardly Sliveen.

***

"Um, guys, you might want to take a look at this," an ashen-faced Murph said, pointing to the other side of the room. “I think the mantis guys had buddies. A lot of buddies.”

Rhino followed Murph's finger and saw what looked to be foot tall creatures, lined up in in an orderly fashion, - 'holy shit they look like Roman fighting squares.' - beating swords and axes against tiny shields and bellowing their little heads off. A bigger one was standing at the front of the squares, - ‘the boss monster maybe?’ The boss creature began to walk towards them. It took some time for him to get halfway across the room as its legs were so short. It stopped, raised its shield and battleax and began to chitter at them. "Is that thing talking to us?” asked Rhino, not turning his head away from the creature.

"My guess would be some sort of challenge." said Murph. Boylan nodded his concurrence, not taking the lip of the whiskey bottle from his mouth.

"McKinney, would you mind seeing if they have any 151 behind that bar?" asked Rhino.

McKinney walked backwards around the end of the bar and started sorting through the bottles, grabbled one and made his way back to the group. "This should do ya if y'all are going to do what I think y'all are going to do,” McKinney said.

Rhino nodded, "Great minds and all that. Can you open it up and stuff a rag in?"

McKinney grabbed a bar towel and ripped a couple of strips and stuffed them into the opening of the bottle leaving a couple of inches protruding from the top. He then upended it so that the exposed pieces of cloth were saturated with the alcohol.

"You guys need to grab whatever weapons you can,” Rhino said, taking the bottle from McKinney, “’cause it looks like the boss man is winding down and I suspect the shit will be hitting the fan when he gets done."

Emboldened by his earlier success, Boylan grabbed another bottle from behind the bar. “This aggression will not stand,” he said and stood ready with a bottle in each hand.

Murph grabbed a couple of oversized and wickedly sharp carving knives that passed for steak knives in Kansas City and readied himself next to Boylan. McKinney stood bare handed.

"McKinney, are you planning to cross examine them to death?" Boylan asked.

McKinney, pointing down to his boots, replied, "For these little bastards all I need are my trusty Texas shit kickers," he said.

The boss creature walked languidly back to the other creatures- 'his troops?' and turned to face them again. Rhino took this opportunity to fish his cigar lighter from his sporran and light the makeshift Molotov cocktail. The wick flared up bright blue as a new roar rose from the pack of creatures and they began running towards the men.

Rhino underhanded the Molotov cocktail. It landed and shattered just behind the boss creature spraying an arc of flaming rum over a large number of creatures and setting them on fire.

“I guess they aren’t fireproof,” Rhino opined over their high pitched screams.

“Smells a bit like chicken,” Boylan observed.

The trailing creatures that escaped the initial conflagration ran around the edges of the spreading pool of fire and continued to close.

"Okay, boys, we got lucky with that shot but there are a helluva lot more left," Rhino said realizing that he was now empty handed. Turning in panic he grabbed the only thing at hand, the sturdy potato masher still covered in lime pulp. 'Christ almighty am I'm about to fight monsters with a goddamned potato masher?' was the absurd thought he had as the line of monsters were crossing the last few feet between the two groups.

McKinney scored first blood as he stepped forward and punted one of the creatures across the room to splat against a wall with a sickening crunch. It burst like a tick and slid down the wall, leaving a black trail. The creatures surrounded McKinny and began to hack and stab at his boots. "These boots cost me a thousand bucks, you assholes, you better not scratch 'em." shouted McKinney as he began to Texas two-step them into oblivion.

Murph waded in, knives swinging in great arcs, each slice decapitating or rending one of the creatures in half. Black ichor splashing everywhere, covering his hands and forearms. One of the knives went flying away.

"Ow!“ Murph cried out in pain. “One of them cut me.” He put his bleeding thumb in his mouth out of instinct. Gagging on the taste of the black goop covering his hands he began to retch and vomited up his half-digested dinner all over the creatures attacking him. That seemed to take the fight out of the creatures for a moment and gave him a chance to spit out the last of the vomit, wipe his mouth with the front of this shirt and wade back into the fight.

Boylan was a Greek Whirling Dervish of Death with his bottles; smashing creatures left and right, swatting them away, their broken bodies flying through the air. He kept on a steady patter, speaking to the creatures, "How dare you invade our dinner party and disturb our Wa,” he shouted. “If there is anything I cannot abide, it is rudeness. And you <clunk> tiny <clunk> excuses for orcs <clunk> are very, <clunk> very <clunk> rude indeed." <clunk><clunk><clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk></clunk>

Rhino looked down to see the boss monster taking a great swing at the toe of his Doc Martens. The little battleaxe split the leather like butter and continued cutting down into his big toe.

"MOTHERFUCKER!" screamed Rhino, "That hurts like a BITCH." Raising the potato masher above his head he brought it down with a thud where the boss monster used to be. The little guy did a superhero flip away from the masher and came up striking Rhino's other foot with slightly different results. The little battleaxe again split leather and cut toe but this time it got stuck.

"YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!' yelled Rhino bringing the potato masher up for another swing. This time the potato masher connected with the boss crushing him to the ground.

“HA! Got you, you fucking fuck!" Rhino bellowed.

Rhino gave the boss a few more mashes for good measure and stood up to take stock of the action and saw that the fight was dying down. Any of the creatures still alive were running back the way that they came. Murph, McKinney and Boylan chased them down, finishing those that they could reach. Some of the creatures disappeared down a back stairway, probably leading to the basement.

"Come back guys." called Rhino as Boylan started down the stairs. "We don't know how many more are down there."

The three men made their way back to the bar where Rhino sat down on a stool and removed his shoes. Neat cuts in the socks over his big toes revealed inch long gashes in the skin and the blood was turning the white socks red. "Do you know how much good kilt hose costs?" was all he said as he removed the hose and used them to put pressure on the cuts.

"Who in their right mind would have thought that Kansas City would have a Hellmouth?" Boylan asked, cracking open one of his ichor covered bottles and taking a long drink.

"I guess that would make you guys the Geriatric Scooby Gang then." Murph retorted while taking the bottle from Bolyan and taking a large swig.

Surveying the carnage McKinney drawled, "Boys, I don't know what the hell that was, but I'm thinking that we got a dead body over there, crispy critters over there and a buttload of squashed and cut up critters everywhere else and when the police get here we're going to have some 'splainin to do."

Opening the second bottle, as it appeared that Murph was not going to give up his death grip on the first, Boylan took another long drink and says, "Well, between all of the assembled dead creatures, the collective legal powers vested in us by the states of California and Texas and –“ Boylan pointed up at a security camera on the wall behind the bar, "- the footage from that security camera, that I hope is working, well, I think that we've got a pretty solid story," Boylan said as he began gathering up some of the dead insect warrior creatures.

"That's if the men in black don't show up first and they lock us in the loony bin," muttered Rhino.

Looking back at the bar Rhino saw that the gin and four glasses that he prepared earlier were untouched. Going behind the bar, he scoops up more ice and finishes filling the glasses. Grabbing a spoon he gives each a couple of stirs and garnishes the glasses with a slice of lime. Hearing sirens in the distance, he hands a glass to each of the men, and then holding his up he says, "To Murph and his upcoming nuptials."

"To Murph" McKinney and Boylan intone then all four drink until their glasses are empty and smash them to the floor.

"Holy shit, Rhino, I think that boss one is still alive." exclaimed Murph pointing at the creature. The creature’s chest was rising and falling in a belabored way.

Reaching into his sporran again, Rhino came up with a cigar and cutter. Snipping the end of the cigar he searched around for his lighter and found it behind one of the bar stools. Standing, he lit the cigar and took several long puffs. "Damn, but that's a fine stogie. I was saving it for a special occasion like this."

“Do you think they have a deep fryer in this place?” Boylan asked.

"Murph, I'm really sorry that your bachelor party got fucked," Rhino said as he stepped over to the boss creature. "But I know one monster that won't be crashing anymore parties." With that he puffed on the cigar until the tip was bright red then he reached down and put it out on the face of the boss monster. Black smoke rose as it burned its way through the thing's face down to its skull. He then took the potato masher and smashed its head. "That’s for the girl, Motherfucker" he said and spat on the dead, burning thing.

Waving the smoke from the burning creature from his face McKinney said, “Damn, if that doesn’t smell just like burning cow shit.”

The sound of the sirens was just outside now, the squealing of tires of rapidly decelerating cars and the opening and slamming car doors announcing the arrival of the local authorities.

Rhino turned to his fellow warriors, "Well gents, I think this is where our quest ends, at least for the moment. Do you think Cindy will bail us out? Oh, and Murph, you need to tell Birmo about this. This would make for one hell of a story. Only, you'd have to tell him to make the monsters a little bit bigger to make them reasonably scary. These things were pussies."

62 Responses to ‘"The Bachelor Party", by Roger 'The Rhino' Ross - Fanfest 2015’

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19, 2015
That was as AWSM as promised. Like the idea of miniaturizing them, it reminds me of a cartoon I have vague memories of.

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted March 19, 2015
And the battle fleets in Hitchhiker's Guide that were swallowed by a small dog. Come to think of it, didn't one of the leaders wear jewelled battle-shorts? Or was it a sequinned battle-kilt? Anyway, it was indeed totally AWSM but I have a question. Did the Rhino's potato-masher become an ensorcelled weapon of Great Power, capable of mashing baskets of limes with a single stroke?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted March 20, 2015
"...the commander of the Vl'hurgs, resplendent in his black jeweled battle shorts ..."

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted March 19, 2015
Ah so now we know where JB gets his ideas from! That was fantastic Rhino, loved it :)

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted March 20, 2015
Small gods and tiny monsters.

Finally - drama. And a depiction of the Boylan that included action balanced by hints of admirable culinary curiosity.

And it is exceedingly polite - mentioning McKinney's tourette syndrome not even once.

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Senator TeaserPone mumbles...

Posted March 20, 2015
You can't fault Rhino's keen eye for character.

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TexasTeaserPony would have you know...

Posted March 20, 2015
Well, for the most part, you can't. Who the fuck is Boylan, anyway?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2015
Boylan's just this guy, you know?

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted March 20, 2015

Rhino - WOW ... It's like a G & T designed by Irwin Allen, Douglas Adams, Clive of India & McGyver.
I'm partial to a Bloody Mary me self - so I wonder what ingredients might be in a Bloody Low Queen?

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GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2015

Rhino - WOW ... It's like a G & T designed by Irwin Allen, Douglas Adams, Clive of India & McGyver.
I'm partial to a Bloody Mary me self - so I wonder what ingredients might be in a Bloody Low Queen?

Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2015
I'm sure that it would have a bloody chicken embryo in it.
Believe me, that was a lot nicer than what I was going to originally say.

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20, 2015

Dear Rhino,Despite what is written directly below, I have now quite sobered up after you have revealed the recipe for a Bloody Low Queen.

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20, 2015
I'm not drunk, I'm not, well ... not yet - hey hi there cute little guy!

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Rhino reckons...

Posted March 20, 2015
If it is any good it is due to the influence of Boylan and Murph.
Anything wrong belongs to me.
The funny thing is seeing it again I can see a million things I need to edit and/or expand on or clarify.
I can see how real authors fall into this trap. It was like a drug when I sent that off.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted March 20, 2015
It is a horrible, horrible drug. It begins slow and easy with blog posting, maybe some fanfic. But it grows into a monster and can lead to essays, poetry and even into the black pit of despair known as journalism.

That way madness lies; shun that; have no more of that.

Except that I think your story is ripe for a sequel. So shun that, have no more of that after the sequel.

Rhino puts forth...

Posted March 20, 2015
Enabler. Damn, evil enabler.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20, 2015
You say that like it is a bad thing.

Therbs would have you know...

Posted March 20, 2015
I'm gonna need another six pack and a couple of bottles of vin non ordinaire to finish my scribbling.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2015
Me too! I'm hoping to get it finished tonight but the way the hellmouth opened up under my desk at work this week, actually getting home tonight is looking doubtful.

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2015
Yeah, turn back before it eats you alive.
That said, a sequel before you do shouldn't hurt. Just have another drink.
Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Berry puts forth...

Posted March 20, 2015
Rhino, this was a fun read and had cigar-chompin' cachet to recommend it!!!

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2015
Every action piece needs some cigar chomping, American bad ass in it.

Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2015
We refer to them as either Comic Relief or The First One To Die.

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Leo puts forth...

Posted March 20, 2015
Don't know the cast (except Rhino) or the universe, but that was funny as hell.

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Dave W asserts...

Posted March 20, 2015
So good. So, so good.

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Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20, 2015
That was a gem.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20, 2015
Fits the bill for great Rhino action. Love it.

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JG mutters...

Posted March 20, 2015
That was epic, Rhino. Absolutely fabulous.

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Justin puts forth...

Posted March 20, 2015
Faaaaarrrrkkk that was funny!!!!would be my favorite one yet. Guess I better get on with it and read the books now.......
Can we have some more please?

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SZF puts forth...

Posted March 20, 2015
A bucket of Sapphire with a heady dash of meta. Love it. Well played Rhino.

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2015
Anyone want a sequel?
Snippet to see if you are interested...
The Wedding Day

Untold Hunn and Fangr fell beneath his great battleax as we
waded in among the throngs of the hated enemy. His war cry was a weapon,
freezing the opposition in terror, making it easy to harvest their heads.
Splitting skulls sprayed ichor and he exulted in the blood shower. He was
powerful indeed and no foe could stand against him. He was all powerful. A Hunn
Battlemaster in his prime.<o:p></o:p>





A shadow fell over the battlefield. The Hunn looked up to
see a giant standing before him. No matter. This enemy would fall like all of
the others. Steeling himself, he charged forward to slay this giant. Then, all
he knew was pain as the giant brought his great weapon down on his body,
crushing him. Again and again the flail breaking bones until it was agony to
breathe. Unthinkable defeat. The giant was speaking to him now. Gibberish. A
great burning sun was descending upon him now. Burning agony and then nothing.<o:p></o:p>





Drenched in a cold sweat Rhino bolted upright, half awake,
flailing arms to fend off his enemies. Jarred from the depths of the nightmare –memories? - he slowly became aware of
his surroundings. A hotel room. Kansas City. Murph’s bachelor party from hell.
Being taken into custody, the endless questions and sudden release with no
explanation. Getting back to the hotel
room as the sun was rising and only wanting to take a hot shower and hit the
rack for a few hours before he had to attend Murph’s wedding.<o:p></o:p>





Standing and anticipating the usual Rice Krispies ‘snap,
crackle and pop’ of his joints and back, he felt surprisingly good. Stretching back
and forth and side to side, the morning warm-up that would allow him to walk to
the bathroom with minimal pain, he was surprised that there was none.
Zero. He moved better than in years as a
matter of fact. Odd, as he had felt terrible when the adrenaline rush ran after
doing that spectacular back flop on those Mantis things yesterday. Normally, a
fall like that would see him eating Advil like M&M’s and bathing in Ben Gay
for a few days.<o:p></o:p>





Looking over at the standard hotel-issue desk he saw the
potato masher that, for some unknown reason, he insisted on keeping. Maybe it
was just a souvenir of the bizarre adventure that they had the night before. <o:p></o:p>

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2015

So you've given us the Bachelor Party, I'm keen to see The Wedding Ceremony, but I demand to see what happens at the Wedding Reception ... in my mind you will forever be known as The Rhino.

Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted March 21, 2015
Yesss! Hmm. Name for a potato masher? Colleen? She could sing Gaelic battle songs in the Rhino's head as he fights.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2015
Why are magical weapons always given women's names?

I have very little influence in any of this, but I will be lobbying hard for the mystic potato masher to be christened "Otto."

she_jedi mutters...

Posted March 21, 2015
I think the most seductive aspect of this universe is the idea that you can kill a monster, then wake up the next morning feeling fantastic, the creaks and groans of increasing age a memory. I'd totally brain a Battlemaster with something if it meant I could have the flexibility and energy I did as a 10 year old in my 38 year old body. I resent my 10 year old self for totally taking all that for granted.
Oh, that and the instant weight loss and supermodel physique paired with being able to eat ANYTHING. I'd be the smuggest of smug bitches if I could do that.

Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted March 21, 2015
she_jedi: yes but even more so.Paul: No. In one of my favourite musicals, the Hound of Music, one of Dr Von Frankentrapp's hand-made children was called Otto.(https://www.rjcox.com.au/55/images/OA/OTTO_MGB_4_Wheel_flat_lid.jpg)
I have had nightmares about that name ever since.

Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2015
Boylan, you know that I love you like a brother. Albeit a dark skinned, black sheep, no one likes to talk about brother ... but a brother nonetheless.
And, I acknowledge, that many of the wonderful things that people enjoyed in The Bachelor Party were your direct influence standing behind the throne as per usual.
However, I will never, ever, ever, ever name the potato masher of mashening Otto. Or any other masculine name. I'm sorry. Just not happening.
Unless it was funny. Then I'd totally do it. Maybe a gay Otto. Giving Rhino shit about his wardrobe. In a german accent.

No, no, no .. that would be horrible.
But funny.
DAMN.
Oh, shit, I just realized that Boylan is my muse. I am so fucked beyond belief that I'm going to end it all.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2015
Degree of F*cked = critical.But he has point, damn his brown eyes, In Aust Otto has context as well as a pleasing palindromic symmetry.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted March 22, 2015
"a pleasing palindromic symmetry"

Exactly. It also allows quasi-dada possibilities, and this pleases me very much.

Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted March 22, 2015
she-jedi
I'd be happy to have the strength and flexibility of my 38 year old body..
Murphy would have been a good name for the potato masher if someone hadn't already claimed it.
Champ is appropriate since it's also an Irish mashed potato dish and has the right resonance.

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23, 2015
Yeah! Fuck that Murphy guy for taking the Potato Masher's name.
:D

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2015
Rhino, my man, I am late to the party here but I just have to say, yet again, I think you pulled this off brilliantly.
Now, of course, we need to see if anyone crashes the wedding. I have a feeling the Kilted Champion of Georgia wielding the Limeslaying Potato Masher of Mashening will have to take decisive action yet again.
And where is Havock's piece? He can't take time off from playing cricket to write his own contribution?
Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2015
I'm thinking 10 Talons upon 10?
You know ... to even shit up.

Murphy asserts...

Posted March 23, 2015
I think we need a hundred.

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Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2015

Hey NBlob, a little cat 2 heading for us now. Not sure but this one might be the real deal. What the @#$%? I just got cleaned up after the last one.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2015
Yup. Unless it doesn't. Heard once "the safest place in a cyclone is where the BOM forecast it'd land 3 days ago." Pardon the pun, but it blows me away that a 5 or 10HPa difference, over >27 deg sea + roll 10 for damage = big blow, big rain & sea lensing. But it is the size of Ireland so I guess even with a small energy differential it carries authority.

Halwes mumbles...

Posted March 22, 2015

That was close but no cigar. No more than a two day severe thunderstorm. No sustained wind death howl. Only cat 2. I would hate to see the middle of a cat 4.The champion blackfellas at Galiwinku copped it at cat 2 squarely again. I wonder what you've got when you've got nothing and it gets blown away again.

NBlob asserts...

Posted March 23, 2015
Glad to hear it comrade. As for what does one have when one has nothing and its blown away? In QLD we'd call that a development opportunity.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted March 23, 2015
Friend of yours?http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/imagery/single.cgi?image=Nathan.A2015081.0105.1km.jpg&utm_content=bufferafb94&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 23, 2015
https://mobile.twitter.com/JamesPurtill/status/579847861975654400/photo/1

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2015
Oh, shit, I have to name the potato masher. Damn. That is way too much. Never mind. I quit.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted March 22, 2015
Okay, I withdraw Otto as a suggested name for the charmed potato masher.
How do you feel about Helmut or Nigel? I am partial to Phillip as a
terrible name for a magic weapon. And I am fascinated by the dramatic
possibilities of Lucille singing the Dave songs of death and
battle contrasted with Nigel humming tunes critical of the Rhino's
fashion sense.

If the potato masher must have female gender, I suggest Agnes. Perhaps Dorcas.

Remember
it is canon that the magic weapons appear to name themselves. So the
masher's chosen name would not be a reflection on the Rhino's character.
It would merely be something that just happened with no meaning
whatsoever - lending to that vague and difficult to articulate quasi-dada vibe I so crave.

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GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted March 22, 2015

Following on from the excellent quasi-legal advice from Prof Boylan might I recommend that the Masher's name be inspired by the names of alcoholic beverages of dubious medicinal properties likely to be found in an establishment inhabited by the members of the Bachelor Party.

Bitters, Advocat, Curaçao and a raft of other exotics spring to mind.

Of course when in doubt something Germanic is always gudt ... Brunhild?

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Jon mutters...

Posted March 22, 2015
Well done Rhino! I especially liked the vomit as a delaying tactic.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 23, 2015
It could be a super power.

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Ceramic mutters...

Posted March 23, 2015
Ha Rhino, that was pretty damm funny :) Love how they're miniatures too hehe.

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Another John is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2015
Sounds like a lime mojito being made rather than a Gin and Tonic.
If the good folk at Bacardi wanted that much lime in their gin they're more than capable of putting it in there!
Incidentally Rhino should try Tasmania's Lark Distillery gin with pepperberry in the botanical mix.

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jennicki reckons...

Posted March 24, 2015
Hahahaha hahahaha!!!!!!!

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted March 31, 2015
nuts, fkn nuts!

WICKED my good man, positively, fkn wicked. good job R.

Rhino asserts...

Posted March 31, 2015
Thanks HAVOCK! I'm glad that you finally got to it. I really wanted your seal of approval.
The next one is shaping up as well.

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Respond to this comment

Respond to '"The Bachelor Party", by Roger 'The Rhino' Ross - Fanfest 2015'

"Clete and the Monster" by Greybeard - Fanfest 2015

Posted March 15, 2015 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

One of my favourite aspects of RESISTANCE was the opportunity to play with PoV and voice. It was something I'd always intended to do, but the story wasn't ready for it in EMERGENCE. In Clete and the Monster, Greybeard plays with the same narrative tools to brilliant effect.

Redneck orc gets hisself some fresh chitlins.

Clete Doucet was a happy man and in a good place. Specifically that place was the bed of Louise Janvier, sister of his best bud Ben and long-time object of Clete’s affections. Or something close to that.

But then his papere Henri had always maintained the Doucets were a lucky clan. As a boy Clete asked his grandfather why folks called him Spanner, being that the old man never seemed much inclined to the use of tools - or any other form of work. Henri put the boy’s fingers into the lank blond hair behind his right ear saying “feel that”. Clete’s fingers found a mushy C-shaped indentation a whole half inch deep in the old man’s skull. “That there is a partin’ billay-doo from my first wife Sarah wut ran off with a Yankee. If that spanner’d hit edge-on I’da been dead but we Doucets’ve allus been lucky.” Privately Clete thought it might have been luckier still if his wife hadn’t tried to brain young Henri but smiled and said nothing. Old Henri, with Clete’s mamere Beulah, had raised the boy in a string of carnivals and travelling shows before settling in Lafourche parish by the Gulf, in a shack inherited from her sister. Clete took after his mamere in looks, being big, broad and heavily bearded - Beulah having joined the show on account of being a soupcon more hirsute than was considered fashionable for a young southern lady. Henri had exhibited a selection of oddities, his pride and joy being a ‘mermaid’ stitched up from the back end of a manatee and the upper parts of a shaved monkey. Clete’s mind was definitely of a piece with Henri’s though. That skinny old weasel always had an eye for a lazy dollar and they shared a powerful aversion to honest work.

Not that family history was on Clete’s mind as he lay in the well tossed bed, watching Louise making coffee and listening to WFIX excitedly reporting last night’s battle. “Operation Bayou Storm” some couyon called it. Ben being out with T-Qube’s boys and a for-real battle playing out a couple of miles away, Louise allowed Clete might stay over to her place for the night. “Doucet luck at its best” he thought, until Ben’s heavy boots came pounding up to the stoop and crashed through the front door. Ben took in his bare-ass sister and desperately-not-looking-smug friend and if his face could’ve got any darker, it surely would. Clete pasted on a glassy smile.

“Hey bra, glad you OK. I stayed over to see Louise was too, uh…?”

Louise chipped in with a “good thing someone did Boo, what you was doing over there last night?” Ben looked a touch calmer at that but no doubt there would be words later.

“Glad you here Clete.” And with a glare at his cheerful and unapologetic sister, “Kind of. Now get your sorry ass out of that bed and come with me. You not gonna believe what we been fightin’”.

“Heard some crap on the radio about monsters but that gotta be a cover up, yeah?”

“No way! They was f’sure monsters like some movie shit. They tore up a bunch o’ marines and NOPD and some of us. They had swords, bra! And claws like fuckin Wolverine. Big and tough but not bulletproof, that’s f’sure.” Ben was bouncing his heels off the floor so hard, he looked as if he was about to jump through the ceiling and Clete’s curiosity – and desire to stay in good with Ben – got the better of his natural laziness. Besides, as old Henri said, one man’s disaster was another man’s opportunity.

***

An hour later they’d slipped past a line of checkpoints with all the ease of local knowledge, long practice and relaxed morals. There were others out in the shadows but just more local boys looking for a dollar and not a monster in sight. Clete’s cynicism was making a solid comeback.

“Don’t see those monsters bra? Army take the bodies away to Roswell maybe?”

Ben glared back and pointed to an ugly black smear on the arm of his jacket. “That how I know they bleed my man. Don’t try tell me they don’t!”

Clete pushed Ben’s arm into a patch of sun to get a better look at the gunk, which looked more like oil than blood. As he looked, the patch started smoking with a coppery stink then burst into flames. Ben ripped off the jacket screaming “fuck fuck fuck!” at the top of his voice, then scooped muddy water out of a puddle and rubbed it on his shirt sleeve. Both men jumped back into the shade and hunkered down to inspect the arm.

“You lucky Ben, just some blisters. But that is some weird shit right there. What kind of blood burns in the sun?”

“Vampires maybe?” Ben said shakily. “But they didn’t look like no Draculas last night.” Both men stiffened as a piece of collapsed roof shifted behind them and pulled their 9 mils from under their shirts. Something moved in the heaviest shadow at the back, under a steel beam. They moved in closer, guns first. Clete held his sideways until he caught a disgusted look from Ben and straightened it up. The thing under the rubble looked like one of old Henri’s monstrosities – a huge hairless baboon-man wearing a leather shirt with metal rings and with white skin that looked like it had scabies, herpes and boils at the same time.

“That is a no-shit monster” said Clete in pure awe. Then it rolled and opened dead-black eyes just like you saw every damn day in Shark Week. Both of them took a backward jump and sprawled in the rubble. Ben was up and scrabbling to shoot but Clete hadn’t lost sight of the Thing – or an opportunity.

“DON’T SHOOT man! It’s stuck there and the side of its head’s got a dint the size of your fist. We can use this Thing!” Clete’s brain spun with images of Henri’s spanner wound and the tidy living the old boy had made from his oddities. “You know what a live one of these would be worth?”

Ben glared back. “You crazy. This is one of the Wolverine claw fuckers. You let it live, it’s gonna pull your head off and suck on your neck like a straw” but at least he didn’t shoot and the thing did look pretty helpless, even to him. “Who you sell it to anyways? These things ate up a whole lot o’ people last night. The guvmint is gonna want them dead or chained up somewhere and they pay you nothin for handin’ it in.”

Ben had a damn good point but Clete was disinclined to cave in yet. “That a he, not a it I reckon. Lookit the junk on that thing! People pay to see that f’sure.”

“Shee-it! That is big and nasty.” Ben looked slightly sick. The Thing’s genitals were larger than anything he’d seen on a human but in no better shape than the rest of its skin. “That’s gotta hurt.”

Clete thought hard. There were places up the river where people still paid for live Raree shows, even if they could get Discovery Channel. And those same people weren’t too fond of any sort of authority either. Old Henri would know the right people to talk to, but they’d have to keep the Thing under control – and alive for that to work out.

“Hey you! Ugly! You hear me?” Clete squatted out of reach of the long claw-tipped arms and poked its chest with a piece of rebar. “You speak American?” It grunted and rolled the squinted up black eyes toward him but showed no signs of understanding. At least it didn’t seem to want to pull his head off for now. Clete tapped his chest and said “Clete! Me Clete!” He pointed at the Thing and said “Who you?” in a loud slow voice like Brits did in movies. The Thing put one paw or claw or hand or whatever it had to the dint in its head. The face wasn’t that much like a human but if he’d had to guess, Clete thought it looked confused. He did the tap and point routine a few more times but it didn’t seem to work like the movies until the Thing actually spoke. “Fugra” or something like it. Ben laughed a little shakily. “He got you there Clete. I reckon he called you Fucker.” But after a second it repeated it, this time tapping its own chest and speaking a little clearer. “Fangra!” It pointed at Clete with a dirty claw he strongly suspected was caked with someone’s blood. “Keet!”

Even Ben, who always found Clete’s schemes as addled as if he’d taken that spanner to the head, was fairly impressed, but as usual he was the practical one.

Ben looked outside and frowned. “if you gonna make nice with that, better you take him somewhere else. NOPD is gonna be all over here any time now.”

Clete knew he was right but if they just hauled it out, chances were it’d catch fire like the blood on Ben’s sleeve – if it didn’t just kill them both first. They looked around until Ben saw the corner of a heavy tarp. He dragged it out and unfolded it. “OK, we roll it in this and we put it in my trunk and we get the hell out of this parish, you hear?” The Thing didn’t fight and didn’t help when they rolled it up and it wasn’t too heavy for two big men to shift. Between them and with a lot more time and trouble than getting in, they slipped back through the lines. The posts were closer by now and the NOPD had been joined by some National Guard boys and a few more professional looking soldiers. As they strained to roll it into the Jacuzzi-sized trunk of Ben’s old Plymouth, they could see other local entrepreneurs dragging souvenirs toward their vans and pickups. “Bet none o’ them got a live monster Bennie-boy”. “Yeah. No one else that stupid “Cletey-boy””.

***

Two hours later they’d picked up old Henri and parked the Plymouth in a barn he knew of, abandoned since Katrina. It was solid enough and empty but for some rotted hay, a few rusted bits of farm junk and some semi-wild chickens.

“OK boys, what’s your big surprise for me? You ain’t been lootin’ again?” Henri’s sly smile at the sagging trunk didn’t seem as if he was too concerned at that prospect.

“You not believe this papere, but we got a real live monster, sans dout. Like you had in the raree shows, but he alive!”

“Shit Clete! You bring me all the way out here to the Mex station for a joke?”

Ben’s eyes narrowed and he looked more carefully around the barn. Down the back was one of the old wooden doors, far from where it had hung and for no apparent reason. He dragged it a little and saw the top of a set of rough stairs leading down to a shipping container, buried flush with the floor and covered by the dirt, hay and chicken shit.

Ben spat. “Spanner, you old son of a bitch. You been bringing wetbacks in? People who run that game are nasty man. You luck run out quick if you cross them, f’sure.”

“This ain’t the regular game Ben,” Henri whined. “Just a few come in on the boats, they stay here until their relatives get ‘em jobs with rich folk up in DC. None here and none due fer weeks.”

Clete looked at the locks on the container doors and thought Henri might just possibly be lying again, like he always did. But it might be a good spot to hold a sick monster.

“Let’s get him out of the trunk. I want to see papere’s face,” he grinned.

Henri, for once, did not disappoint. When the tarp unrolled he jumped like a Sunday School teacher goosed by the pastor but when the Thing didn’t move, he sidled up beside it. “Man, that is some ugly piece o’ work. Whoever stitched the junk onto that thing is some sick bastard. But you don’t fool me, I done good work mys..” With perfect timing, “Fangra” opened his shark eyes. Henri may have been old, lazy, and slightly addled but his backward jump looked like a ninja’s. Except you could still see him and, after a moment, smell him. “GODDAM you bastards! I done shit myself again.”

Clete and Ben laughed, though each noticed the other had hauled out his piece and drawn a bead on the creature. “He’s one of them monsters tore up the Parish last night papere. You hear all the shootin’?” “Fuck yeah” Henri snarled “and I heard they kill people and EAT THEM. What in hell you bring that out for?”

Fangra didn’t look inclined to kill anyone at the moment, sprawling where they left him, still bleeding from the dent in his head and with bone poking from a busted leg they’d not noticed earlier. As far as you could tell with a thing like that, he looked weaker than before.

Henri scooped up a chicken by the legs. “He puts me in mind of a Geek we had, useta bite the heads offa chickens. Didn’t eat ‘em though.” He tossed the scruffy bird idly towards the Thing which caught it with surprising ease and bit its head off as advertised. But this freak swallowed the head and sucked the blood from the neck with apparent satisfaction. After a bite of chicken, he spat feathers and plucked some from the carcass as well as you could with permanent Wolverine claws, then bit some more. “Well, that be handy” said Henri, snagging a couple more chickens, wringing their necks and starting to pluck. The Thing, Fangra or whatever growled unpleasantly and looked…unhappy, maybe? Henri tossed it the chickens and it sucked the necks half-heartedly and bit into the rest, but less eagerly than before.

“Damn if I don’t think he likes ‘em kickin’” said Clete. Henri shrugged and picked up another, plucked the unhappy bird while it squawked furiously. “We see”. Now whether Henri was lulled by the resemblance of Fangra to his sideshow oddities or his apparently crippled status, or it was just the old man’s addled brain in action, he stepped in too close with the naked bird. Fangra hooked his legs out from under him and pulled him up close. Everyone and everything froze. Clete and Ben too panicked to shoot, Henri shit scared and even Fangra looked confused. He opened his mouth close to Henri’s throat but didn’t close it. One clawed hand clamped to the back of Henri’s head and Fangra’s lipless and bloody mouth closed over the spanner-hole instead. The man and the monster stayed like that for a good ten minutes in the kind of perverted embrace only found in the darkest parts of the Internet or a Missouri Community College server. Henri’s eyes fluttered and he relaxed in a way that neither Clete nor Ben ever wanted to see or think about again. Clete staggered over to the barn wall and puked up what little he’d eaten that day and probably the day before as well but then Fangra’s claw loosened and Henri rolled away, eyes closed, head bleeding but still breathing.

Fangra opened his mouth. “SHEE-IT!” he growled. “IF THAT DON’T BEAT ALL.”

***

Hours later three men and what they now knew was a male Minion named Gynar sat around a fire in the barn, eating KFC and pit-bull respectively and all chugging Abita Amber. Clete and Ben were way beyond surprise at anything at this point and the beer had to be helping. Henri was still dazed and made very little sense but that was pretty normal for him. Gynar seemed woozy too and downright depressed into the bargain. Since he seemed disinclined to actually kill anyone, despite looking a little stronger, Ben had managed to pull his leg straight enough for the bone to slip inside and more or less butt up to the other end. Gynar stayed impossibly calm during the whole process, which was way scarier that if he’d roared or thrashed around some. With Gynar speaking passable American and Henri mumbling in something that sounded like it hurt his throat, they were coming to understand each other’s problems with some mutual sympathy.

“I AM BROKEN, IN MA HEAD AND LEG” Gynar boomed. “IF I RETURN TO THE UNDERREALMS, MY MASTER WILL KILL ME AS UNFIT AND I WILL GO TO THE BLOODPOTS F’SURE. BUT THIS HENRI IS ONE SLICK OLD SON-OF-A-BITCH AND HE HAS GIVEN ME MUCH TO CONSIDER. IT OFFENDS MY HONOUR TO CONSORT WITH TRASH LIKE YOU, BUT IT IS BETTER THAN DEATH. SOME BETTER ANYHOWS.”

Clete took the trash thing in good part, having being called worse by even his nearest and dearest and Ben was quite sympathetic about the whole cruel master thing as well.

“We had a thought to sell you to a raree show or take you on the road ourselves. Reckon we might make a fair livin’ like that. Enough to keep you in dogs and us in beer?” Clete suggested somewhat diffidently.

“No way are we sellin’ anyone Clete,” said Ben flatly. Even if he ain’t entirely a person. No offense.”

“NONE TAKEN.”

Henri roused himself and spat to the side. “I been thinking ‘bout that an’ it won’t fly boys. And Gynar. Radio says there was a straight up invasion down in the Ninth last night and there was hundreds, maybe thousands of people dead. Bobbie Jindal declared another state of emergency and they’s sending in real soldiers in the thousands. This whole state, right down to the back of the back of the last bayou is gonna be crawling with uniforms. And they’re all gonna be looking for anyone like ol’ Gynar here. We don’t have no bloodpots, but I don’t reckon Guantanamo is gonna be a whole lot better.” Oddly it never seemed to occur to Henri to simply turn Gynar in or abandon him. The two seemed to have an odd sympathy for one another since their Vulcan mind-meld or whatever it was.

Clete walked over to the hidden bunker built for the Mexican illegals and kicked some chicken shit down the stairs. He looked back at the impressive height and bulk of Gygar, even considering the splinted leg and rough head bandages that looked like a red and white hood covering the top half of his head. Gygar had taken off his armour earlier and been persuaded to wear a too-tight spare pair of Ben’s pants from the trunk. Mostly that was to cover his junk, though with his diseased looking chest and one leg splinted, he wasn’t about to win any prizes. Suddenly old Henri’s sneaky-gene kicked in and Clete experienced what he would never in a million years have called an Epiphany.

***

Six months later in San Cristobal de Las Casas, down near the Guatemalan border, a large and well set up RV pulled to a stop outside a local hall. The driver and passenger were two large men, both bearded and oddly alike considering one was black and the other white. Maybe that was down to the chinos and Hawaiian shirts, expensive watches and Ray-Bans. A most attractive woman swung out the side door and Clete called “How they doin’?” “They fine,” she smiled. “Henri just beat Guy at pinochle again.”

“HE CHEATS” something roared, waking a dog which suddenly looked nervous. “I WILL BITE OFF HIS FUCKIN’ HAND AND SUCK THE BLOOD FROM HIS SPURTING ARTERIES.” No one seemed much bothered by this and the two men strolled into the hall. On the walls were posters for the weekly Lucha Libre contest and on the sides of the RV were lurid posters advertising EL URUK-HAI, the biggest, ugliest and by far most successful Luchador on the southern circuit.

21 Responses to ‘"Clete and the Monster" by Greybeard - Fanfest 2015’

Maddoug is gonna tell you...

Posted March 15, 2015
Oh, man, that last line I can't stop laughing. Bloody excellent!

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insomniac asserts...

Posted March 15, 2015
That was great. It also seems that some of the aspects of Resistance get caught in some of the fan fiction, ie sucking on brains and obtaining thinkings. Why is that? Great minds etc etc?

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Spanner asserts...

Posted March 15, 2015
You'll pay for that Old Man. Oh how you will pay for that.

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 15, 2015

Golly Darth Greybeard, from one sick puppy to the next ... you sir are in a Cheeseburger league all to yourself.

Clete, Ben and Henri are like a bunch of good ol southern boys from Justified, schemin' and scammin' to make a dishonest buck in a cold, cruel realm ... excellent storytelling, loved the lip-smacking mind-meld transfer ... funny how Henri's IQ didn't go up a few notches.

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Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 15, 2015

I like it - what do we have next? Bloodpit gumbo?

I really can't work out why people are rude to Greybeard.

Spanner puts forth...

Posted March 15, 2015
We are rude to him because...because...well basically...oh you'll figure it out.
Oh and don't believe a word he says.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2015
Anthony. The moment you get down-wind of him you'll understand.

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JG has opinions thus...

Posted March 15, 2015
Brilliant, Greybeard. Gold star. Congrats on a fabulous story. Terrific execution. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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MickH has opinions thus...

Posted March 15, 2015
Wow Greybeard, I really enjoyed that. And I loved the ending once I googled "Luchador" :D

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted March 16, 2015
So much fun.

If this is really a competition, it will be a hell of a difficult one to judge.

JG is gonna tell you...

Posted March 16, 2015
Sure will be, PNB. So many great stories and original ideas. All fascinating in their diversity. My two faves to date are this one by Greybeard, and your story, The Favourite.

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted March 16, 2015
Very kind JG, but I haven't seen a bad one yet. Kind of hoping it's not a competition per se because I've really enjoyed doing it.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted March 16, 2015
So a "competition" would make it less enjoyable?

Nothing feels better than winning, and then laughing at your opponents because you won and they lost.

Well, that isn't entirely true. Lots of things feel better than that - from fairly decent sex to a really good bowel movement. Those definitely feel better. But winning also feels good.

insomniac asserts...

Posted March 16, 2015
PNB, as the winner of the competition was to be immortalised and/or eaten, one could say you have already won, or was the recent appearance of your namesake just a coinkydink?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted March 16, 2015
No, not a coincidence. I was "immortalized" for suggesting the space based kinetic weapon featured in Stalin's Hammer (a now ancient Pepsi Challenge). But that doesn't mean I don't have a keen interest in seeing Professor X stay alive at least as long as the Rhino did in the Disappearance trilogy. Maybe one day longer than the Rhino. Then I would win.

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted March 16, 2015
Fantastic job Greybeard. Very impressive.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted March 16, 2015
Pretty damn good GB!

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 16, 2015
Grudging admiration. Well done wrinkly.

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 16, 2015
That was awesome; the consistency of the redneck dialogue blew my mind

Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted March 16, 2015
Ta muchly. Must confess I cheated by having 2 tabs open with Louisiana dialects and pronunciation, one with a map of the New Orleans area and another one for names etc. Apparently Doucet is quite common in the bayous. The dialects - with occasional reversals of word order and heaps of French loan words - were distractingly interesting.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted March 17, 2015
C'est magnifique!

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Respond to '"Clete and the Monster" by Greybeard - Fanfest 2015'