Cover for Drabblecast Trifecta by Unka OdyaIt looks like a quantity of strawberry jam squeezed into a cheap polythene shower cap. Even down to the darkened pips and the intimation someone’s attempted to pick it up and squished it in the middle. Clint adjusts the telescopic sight and tilts his head, upping the magnification, but knocking the thermal readout to the off position. He can feel the heat from here, so it’s safe to say that the temperature is outside the usual parameters.


Clint Radigan’s Intergalactic Genitourinary Clinic
by Lynda Clark


It looks like a quantity of strawberry jam squeezed into a cheap polythene shower cap. Even down to the darkened pips and the intimation someone’s attempted to pick it up and squished it in the middle. Clint adjusts the telescopic sight and tilts his head, upping the magnification, but knocking the thermal readout to the off position. He can feel the heat from here, so it’s safe to say that the temperature is outside the usual parameters.

“He said he loved me,” says the captain, surprisingly distracted for a man with his trousers round his ankles and a scrotum like an inflated Whoopee cushion.

“Standard procedure, I assure you,” says Clint, not really listening. He adds another lens and wonders whether there’s a publication in this. Just the sort of thing to add a touch of colour and exoticism to the photographic spread of a medical journal. “Just so I can make sure there’s nothing nefarious in there.” Although Clint rather hopes there is. Perhaps then broodfathers would be proud.

“I don’t really care about this,” says the captain, gesturing vaguely to his superheated genitals, “It’s the betrayal that really hurts.”

When Clint first started his medical specialization, he was surprised by how little defense the male human organ afforded itself. No spines or barbs. Everything external with no conscious ability to retract. It made him so very glad for his carapace.

Perhaps that’s why humans so often fall foul of Green Phalange, Coniston’s Phallic Gribbler, Junk Bunk and all the rest, Clint muses, thoughtfully pressing the inflamed skin with the scrotal depressor to see if the redness blanches.

They just aren’t used to protecting themselves.

The captain lets out a little sigh, presumably because of the cooling effect of the depressor’s metallic surface. Captains of long voyage vessels and touring musicians are Clint’s most frequent visitors.

“I think you’ve been rather lucky,” says Clint, removing his headgear and returning to his desk.

“There’s no infestation. I believe it’s just a chemical reaction to the acidic secretions.”

Shame. Clint was rather hoping the darkened blobs were Toxodendran eggs. Cross-species fertilization has never been successfully demonstrated. Unfortunately it seems they’re just hair follicles undergoing unprecedented levels of stress.

The captain doesn’t seem as happy about this as Clint had supposed. He just nods solemnly and shuffles off the gurney to adjust his clothing.

Clint scratches at his key pad to generate a prescription, cursing his misfortune. Discovery of a new hybrid life form might have raised broodfamily’s opinion of his career choices.

Clint’s broodfamily are in the funeral business, if you can call it that. His species were engineered to assist with clean up after the Great Interplanetary War of ’56, a time when you could barely maneuver a small vessel without getting someone’s battle-burned corpse smeared across your hull. They are revered as heroes just for doing what they’re genetically predisposed to do. Clint is the one who is going against his biological programming, contributing rather than consuming. Clint is the one who struck out on his own. And for what?

He’s roused from his thoughts by the realization that the captain hasn’t taken the prescription chit from his outstretched claw. After trying to press it into the human’s hand, he realizes the captain is exhibiting signs of grief. Clint feels his quills rise. He’s not that kind of doctor. He deals with the physical aftermath of love, not the emotional one.

“Please captain,” he says, as gently as his mandibles will allow, “there is no cause for distress.”

“I’m sorry,” says the captain, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I just thought we had something, y’know?”

Clint thinks for a moment.

“Yes,” he says, “I thought he had injected your scrotal sac with his larvae, but he did not.”

The captain is staring at him now. His eyes are reddened, but his crying has stopped. His breathing has slowed. Both good physical indications that his mood is changing. Clint’s confidence grows.

“If he had impregnated you in this way, his young would have feasted upon your testicles and exited via your urethra…”

The captain stands and snatches the chit. “I, uh,” he says, swallowing hard.

“… he must have loved you very much to avoid visiting such devastation upon your body.” Clint finishes, as the door slams and the captain yells his thanks from the corridor.

Broodfamily may honour the dead, thinks Clint smugly, but I offer comfort to the living.


On the Nose
by Hall Jameson


I shuffled down the sidewalk toward my apartment. The streetlights clicked on one by one, as if they had been waiting for me. I paused at my front door. A red ball sat on the doormat, covering the O in WELCOME.

I plucked it from the stoop, the surface rubbery beneath my fingertips. When I squeezed, it emitted the raspy honk of a sick goose, the air escaping from the single slot in its smooth exterior. I laughed and pushed the tip of my nose through the slot.

It fit perfectly.

I caught my reflection in the front window of the building: a pale, skinny dude with a bright red nose—a clown’s nose—eyes underscored by dark half-moons, yellow hair in wild dreadlocks around my head. My mouth—too wide—revealed jagged, chipped teeth when I smiled. My hoodie now had a ruffled collar and cuffs, huge buttons dotted the front. My feet were enormous, wearing blue sneakers as wide as plates. I jumped back from the window and looked down at my feet, exhaling at the sight of my trusty brown Merrell hikers, size eleven.

“Too many happy hour refreshments,” I muttered, reaching for the nose. It honked as my fingers closed around it, but refused to pop off. I pulled harder—honk!—and a bolt of pain shot through the diamond-shaped divot of skin above my upper lip. I pulled again—honk!— and a sharp pain tore through my cheeks. I dropped my hand.

The damn thing was stuck.


When Skyler opened the door, she laughed and clapped her hands.

“I love it! You should add some face paint and a crazy wig to complete the look.” Her smile faded. “What’s going on? You’re being weirder than usual.”

“It’s stuck.” I pointed to my face. “The nose. I can’t get it off.” I tugged and it bleated. The sound set me off.

“Help me, Sky!” I wailed. “Help me get it off!”

The color drained from her face as she watched me yank and honk, honk and yank.

“Stop,” she said, but I couldn’t.


I needed to get the damn thing off my face!


Skyler placed a hand on my arm and repeated, “Stop.” My arms dropped to my sides. I hated it when she spelled me, but in this case, I was relieved. Warm liquid trickled over my top lip and I caught it with my tongue. Blood. My nose throbbed.

“Geez, Dylan. How did this happen?”

I told her.

“So let me get this straight: You found a clown nose outside and immediately stuck it on your face. Did you maybe wonder where it came from? Or who might have had it on before you? And if they had some horrible disease? Or worse, if dark magic was at play here? Your neighborhood is notorious for imps. I’m always telling you to be vigilant, but do you listen? No! You just say, ‘Hey, cool, a strange rubber nose! Wee! I better stick in on my face’.”

I blinked at her, the scarlet meniscus of the nose low in my vision. “Yep, pretty much that last part.” A tear slid down my cheek.

“Aw. Please don’t cry,” she said. “It breaks my heart when you cry. Come on. I’ll see if I can fix it.” She made a face. “Er, your nose is running. Here. Blow.” She handed me a tissue.

I blew, emitting a toot that rattled the windows.

“All right if I take a look?” she said.

“Be my guest.”

She pressed her palms to my cheeks and tilted my head one way, then the other. I could smell the tang of mint from her gum and the floral scent of her shampoo. Her silver eyes regarded the center of my face with interest.

“Incredible. It blends with the surrounding skin, even your nostrils have melded with it.” Then she shrugged and shook her head. “Sorry, Dyl. This isn’t my area of expertise.”

“Come on! You must have a potion or something you can give me.”

“A potion, Dylan? Seriously?” She sighed. “Sorry, man. I can’t taketh away what I did not giveth.

Besides, I believe this to be organic, not supernatural.”

“Organic? What does that mean?”

“It means there’s no magic in play here. You need to see a doctor.”


I sat on the examination table with Skyler stationed on a stool in the corner. I’d begged her to come with me. Doctors freaked me out.

“Well, the good news is, your skin is remarkably clear,” Dr. Swope said. “The acne cream I prescribed is working wonders. Side effects aside—if that’s what that thing is—the results are extraordinary.”

“Yeah, extraordinary. My skin is clear except for the mother of all zits in the center of my face.”
Skyler snickered.

Swope shuffled through paperwork and pulled out a single sheet. “Here we go. Possible side effects: Blurry vision…insomnia…achy joints…” I felt my mind go numb as his monotone voice droned on. “…forked tongue…rubber knuckles…breasticles—“

“Whoa! What? Breasticles?” I said, snapping to attention.

Swope’s gaze tracked from my chest to my crotch. I resisted the urge to cover myself with one hand and punch him in the face with the other.

“If you had ’em, you’d know it,” he said. Skyler hiccupped in the corner. He continued. “…headaches…irritability….” He paused, looked at me, and nodded. “…indigestion… difficulty breathing…navel relocation—“

“What?” I pulled up my shirt and looked down. My navel, an outie, sat in its usual place.

“Ah! Here it is: Bozo-rhinitis,” Swope said.

“Bozo-what? You’re kidding me, right?” I said.

“Bozo-rhinitis, known by the common name of clown nose…a rare side effect…less than one percent of all cases…hallucinations occur in conjunction with clown nose manifestations…” He looked over his glasses at my nose, his brow knitted. “Fascinating. Does it honk?” He reached toward me, making a pinching motion with his thumb and forefinger.

I knocked his hand away. “Just to be clear, Doc, I found the ball on the ground and put it on my face…I didn’t imagine it.”

“No. You thought you found it, but it wasn’t actually there. It was already forming on your face.

These anomalies happen in a matter of seconds.” He paused. “Did you use the cream on any other parts of your body?” I did not respond. I looked at Skyler. She raised her eyebrows.

“Where?” Swope demanded.

I hesitated. “My back and shoulders.”

“Remove your shirt.”

I pulled my shirt over my head. Swope gasped. Skyler whistled.

“What? What is it?” I hopped off the examination table and turned my back to the mirror over the sink. I glanced over my right shoulder at my bare back. It was covered with an array of shimmering, emerald scales.

“Oh Jesus,” I whispered, the strength draining from my legs. I stumbled back to the examination table. “What the Hell did you give me, Doc?”

“The good news is, there doesn’t appear to be any wing development,” Swope said, nodding his head and smiling as if this was the best news ever.

“Yeah, they’d really clash with my nose,” I said, scowling.

“Just stop using the cream. You should be back to normal in say, two months.”

“Two months!”

“Well…there is an injection I could give you that could reduce the swelling, but there are side effects with that too. Hair loss…goiter…coiled tail development…”

“No!” I shouted.

“There’s no need to yell. A little clown nose and a few scales are not the end of the world,” Swope said. “Besides you did this to yourself.”

“I did this to myself? You gave me the medication!”

“But it is your responsibility to read the fine print after filling a prescription. I told you there were possible side effects. I encourage all my patients to be proactive, otherwise, look what can happen.” He waved a hand at me then opened the door. “Just stop using the cream, Dylan, and you should be good as new in no time. Unfortunately, the acne will return.” He clicked his tongue. “Good day.” He slipped into the hallway.

“What a jerk,” I said, wrapping the scarf around my nose and mouth as we passed through the crowded waiting room.

“I’ll say,” Skyler said. She wore a wry smile. “But I think he’ll be a little more careful when prescribing medication from now on.”

“What? Why? What’d you do?”

“Nothing much.”


“Hey, it’s nothing. I just thought he should experience one of those side effects he so casually rattled off.”

I stopped and looked at her, my lips curling into a smile. “Really? Which one?”

She winked at me. “If he has ’em, he’ll know it.”


by Frank Key


When one is covered from head to toe in suppurating boils, one finds that
invitations to sophisticated cocktail parties, unlike the boils, dry up.

I discovered this through personal experience. There was a time when, like
Job, I was tested by the Lord. One such test the Lord devised was to strike
me with a plague of boils. It could not have come at a worse time, hot on
the heels of a plague of locusts, an infestation of mice, and a bloody
ridiculous gas bill. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not as if I actually get to
see any of the gas unless it is already up in flames, burning away. But try
telling that to the automaton on the other end of the so-called gas
helpline. All you get is a flea in your ear.

Speaking of which, I forgot to mention the plague of fleas. That was another test from the Lord,
between the locusts and the mice. So I was not best pleased to find myself
one day completely covered in suppurating boils, particularly when I was due
to attend a sophisticated cocktail party that very evening.

“O Lord,” I implored, on my knees, “I understand why thee tormentest me
so, for I am but a sniveling wretch unworthy to crawl upon my belly like a
worm or other creeping thing. Having said that, could thee perhaps show
mercy and remove from my hideous flesh this plague of suppurating boils,
given that I have received an invitation to attend a sophisticated cocktail
party this evening and in my present state am barely able to present myself
in civilized human company?”

To which I am afraid the Lord replied in a booming authoritarian roar
which made the walls tremble. I cannot recall His precise words, but the
tone was not reassuring. I got the distinct impression that He expected me
to suffer the boils in silence, with hopeless resignation to his Lordly
whims, and not to bother Him with pathetic self-pitying supplications. So
after a while I got to my feet and went out to the chemist’s.

Luckily there were not many people about at this early hour. Those few
that did see me looked on me with horror, or turned their backs, or shielded
their eyes. One or two vomited. I cannot say I blamed them, as before
leaving the house I had checked my appearance in the hallway mirror. I was
not a pretty sight. I dressed as best as I could, in the few pitiful
mice-nibbled rags the Lord had seen fit to leave me with, and I wafted a
sprig of hyacinths in front of me as I walked, to mask as far as possible
the stink of the suppurations, which was considerable.

The chemist and I went back a long way, having been childhood
tobogganing pals. Indeed, we had even tobogganed as adults, when conditions
were right on the slopes, and he was able to drag himself away from his
dispensary. I knew that he, too, had been driven crackers by his gas bills.
So I expected a degree of sympathy as I pushed open the door and the little
bell clanged and he hove into view behind his counter.

“By Saint Spivack and all the holy martyrs of mediaeval Ravenna!” he
cried, “You’re a sight for sore eyes!”

I nodded in agreement, which was unwise, as a glob of pus was shaken
free from one of my boils and landed on the clean scrubbed linoleum of the
chemist’s shop floor.

“The least you can do is mop that up,” he said, handing me a mop. I did so, while my pal rummaged among his pills and potions for a suitable unguent.

“I can’t promise this will eradicate your suppurating boils,” he said,
handing me a tube of Dr Baxter’s Patent Palliative Cream For Suppurating
Boils, Sores, And Buboes, “But it is a cream, and it is a palliative, so in
tandem with your sprig of hyacinths it might make you a slightly less
noisome and offensive creature.”

I thanked him and paid him and edged carefully out of the door, hoping
not to leave any further deposits of pus on the linoleum.

“Are you up for some tobogganing come Sunday?” he called after me, which
was thoughtful of him, but we both knew I could hardly enjoy swooping
down a snowy slope aboard a toboggan while plagued by suppurating boils.

“That is in the hands of the Lord,” I replied, and hurried off along
the lane towards the canal. I would find a shrubbery-sheltered bench
somewhere on the towpath and smear my boils with unguent. That, at least,
was the plan. I was not to know, nor had my pal the chemist seen fit to
warn me, that Dr Baxter, when concocting his Patent Palliative Cream For
Suppurating Boils, Sores, And Buboes, had used several ingredients which, in
combination, proved absolutely irresistible to swans. Thus it was that, as
I hunkered in the shelter of shrubbery, on a bench, smearing my boils, a
baker’s dozen of swans came padding out of the canal and surrounded me. It
is one of my iron rules never to antagonize a swan, so I tiptoed away as
quietly as I could, with only a few of my boils smeared. But the swans,
driven to delirium by the whiff of Dr Baxter’s recipe, pursued me. I made
it home, and they simply waited outside, occasionally thumping their beaks
against the front door.

When evening came, and it was time for me to leave for the
sophisticated cocktail party, the swans were still there. I had no choice
but to let them follow me, along the lane and past the allotments and
through the tunnel under the bypass and past the industrial estate and the
science park and the oil refinery and the other allotments, until I reached
the gated community wherein the sophisticated cocktail party was taking
place. I flashed my permit at the security guard in the booth, who
depressed the knob which opened the gate. I hoped he would shut it again
quickly, to keep the swans out, but he seemed to think they were my pets, so
closely did they tail me. Thus it was that I arrived at the sophisticated
cocktail party wafting my sprig of hyacinths, covered from head to toe in
suppurating boils made only slightly less noisome and offensive by Dr
Baxter’s Patent Palliative Cream, and accompanied by a gaggle of delirious

I plucked a drink from a tray and leaned as insouciantly as I could
against a mantelpiece. I was not a social success. In fact, throughout the
evening, the only person who came within ten feet of me was a blind flapper
with a streaming cold which had robbed her of her sense of smell. We were
getting on like a house on fire until she confessed that she was allergic to
swans. I did the gentlemanly thing and revealed that there were thirteen
swans in close proximity.

“Ah,” she said, “That explains why I have developed a splitting
headache, have a ringing in my ears, and pins and needles in my extremities.
I had better go out on to the balcony, away from your pet swans, or I am
liable to break out in suppurating boils all over my body. Toodle-pip!”

“Wait!” I cried, “The swans are not my pets and I have a half-full
tube of Dr Baxter’s Patent Palliative Cream For Suppurating Boils, Sores,
And Buboes!”

But she was already gone.

A social pariah, I at last realized I had outstayed my welcome, and I
made my way home, swans in tow. The Lord alone knew when next I would be
invited to a sophisticated cocktail party, so I got down on my knees and
asked Him.

Back came that booming authoritarian roar. Again, I could not
make out the individual words, but the tone was if anything even less
reassuring than it had been in the morning. I headed for bed convinced that
those swans were going to be following me for the rest of my life. When I
opened the bedroom door, there they were. They had somehow managed to get
into the house, and now they were lined up, all thirteen of them, at the
foot of the bed, their black eyes gazing at me, pitiless, savage, and mad.