Three hundred miles and more from Chimborazo, one hundred from the snows of Cotopaxi, in the wildest wastes of Ecuador’s Andes, there lies that mysterious mountain valley, cut off from all the world of men, the Country of the Blind…
Category: Drabblecast B-Sides Page 2 of 5
—What’s that? they asked.
—Why, it’s only two clowns arguing.
Who could take them seriously? Ridiculous, the two comedians reparteed.
The arguments were common nonsense, the theme was a ninnery.
And an entire day passed.
The following morning, the two remained, obnoxious and outdoing each other. It seemed as though, between them, even yucca soured. In the street, meanwhile, those present were exhilarated with the masquerade. The buffoons began worsening their insults with fine-edged and fine tuned barbs. Believing it to be a show, the passersby left coins along the roadside.
The moonlight was muted and scattered by the mist above the loch. A chill breeze stirred the white tendrils to a sliding, skating motion upon the water’s surface. Staring into the dark depths, Randy smoothed his jacket several times, then stepped forward. He pursed his lips to begin and discovered that his throat was dry.
Sighing, almost with relief, he turned and walked back several paces. The night was especially soundless about him. He seated himself upon a rock, drew his pipe from his pocket and began to fill it.
Bob and I attracted a pack of zombies when we stopped to fuel up at the Texaco in Buffalo Springs. I hoped we’d lost them, but hope was all I had. Bob said they were the fresh remains of a high school football team who’d been drowned and de-souled by water daemons at a lakeside party.
Young, strong corpses have the speed and stamina to run down a deer. Until the sun and wind finally turned their flesh to stinky jerky, they’d be dangerous enough to make a vampire shit bats. And fresh zombies are persistent as porn site pop-up ads. If they take a shine to the smell of your blood, they might track you for days, stopping only if live meat falls right in their laps.
All the while, I herd the rodents into the pen. I collect animal droppings and scatter them in the garden. I chew what long grass I can find and spit it out into the buckets so my mother can make the doughy bread that is a staple of the Hort diet.
On a grey misty day in November 2028,the clock in Winston’s room struck fourteen. He’d hacked the clock’s mechanism to make his point. Old-fashioned clockwork was the only thing left that could still be hacked.
“Fourteen chimes,” he declaimed into his diary,”represents the fourteen years that copyright originally lasted. But today is the centenary of Disney’s _Steamboat Willie_. One hundred years after its premiere, it’s still locked up. Copyright keeps getting extended, and enforcement is ever more intrusive. Look!”
Greg jabbed Jeff’s third shoulder, though he made sure he didn’t hit hard enough to capsize the snack bucket. Jeff would make him pay if he did. “Quit hoggin’ the candy. Trailer’s almost over.”
Jeff took his mouth out of his food long enough to ask, “What kind you want?”
“You know. A softy.”
“Liar! I know you ain’t drunk ’em all yet.”
Jeff shrugged all his shoulders and relented. “Here.”
“John,” Marla whispered, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice, “turn on the light. There’s a pin in the bed.”
“What?” Her husband rolled over in the dark, and she felt his elbow bump into her leg.
“John, there’s a needle. In the bed. With your baby. Turn on the light.” Her words were firm. John got up and turned on the light, looking at her unsteadily.
See, I was comin’ back from a round-up at Deacon’s Bluff – I catch rattlesnakes and milk them for their venom back in my apartment – you’d be surprised how much money there is in that. Anyway, I had a
young diamondback tied up in my gunnysack on the front seat of my pickup – really, it’s a laundry bag with a drawstring and a catch clip – anyway, I was drivin’ by McLaughlin Park on my way home, when damn
if that sucker didn’t just poke his head right out of the sack to look around! I lost control of the truck tryin’ to get him back in, and I swerved across the playground.
When a spiral staircase appears in front of you, don’t panic. Just know that if you place your feet on that first step, it shows commitment. You can’t go back. You can only go up and up and up until you reach the very top.
Watch your step. That’s the main thing to remember. Some people think they can race to the top, or take the steps two at a time. All it takes is one stumble, one slip, and soon you’re tumbling, arms pinwheeling, shins banging, down, down, down.
You don’t want to be rejected by a spiral staircase. It’s painful.
If you get ill after eating or touching something that didn’t make anyone else sick, you may be allergic to it. Especially if there’s a rash. Allergies are caused by your body rejecting substances it doesn’t like. There is no treatment but to avoid those substances. Fortunately, only a few types of allergies can kill you. Nut allergies, for instance. Bee stings. But I imagine most people with fatal allergies to common things have died by now.
I am allergic to wool, soy, peanuts, and pollen. Only my peanut allergy can kill me.
When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was traveling in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave. Fear spoke from the age-worn stones of this hoary survivor of the deluge, this great-grandmother of the eldest pyramid; and a viewless aura repelled me and bade me retreat from antique and sinister secrets that no man should see, and no man else had ever dared to see.
The day she left we forgot to take out the trash. At five-thirty in the morning, I heard the city trucks lumbering down the street with their mechanical, prehensile arms and remembered that we had forgotten to take out the trash. I didn’t care though. I knew that in a few hours I would help load the last of her boxes into the truck, and she would leave. Everything was expanding without me, and I felt like the room was growing until I was lost in and filled with its great, grey nothing.
John was born with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and he often wondered why. But as a boy, it was simply wonderful to have those abilities. He could lift his father’s tractor overhead before he learned to read. He could outrace a galloping horse. He couldn’t be cut or bruised or burned. He could fly…
I still remember that cold October afternoon in 1936 when Whitey McFarland’s old coonhound Maggie dragged herself out of the forest, whimpering and yowling. Her skin hung off her sides in red flaps and her eyes rolled wildly. She collapsed on the ground and howled.
All us kids loved Maggie, but not one of us dared go near her, not while she was baring her teeth and snarling. Benny Carper dropped the bat and ran off; Ira Schmidt just stood there staring at the half-dead animal as it pawed the frozen dirt. I tugged on Whitey’s sleeve and told him to stay with Maggie while I got my dad—Whitey’s dad was a drunk and never easy to find. When he finally nodded in understanding, I took off running.
A man in a wrinkled, black suit entered the fairgrounds. He was tall and lean, his skin the color of drying leather. He wore a faded sport shirt underneath his suit coat, white with yellow stripes. His hair was black and greasy, parted in the middle and brushed back flat on each side. His eyes were pale blue. There was no expression on his face. It was a hundred and two degrees in the sun but he was not perspiring.