Containing my story “Monster Cookies”.
A 100 word long piece of flash fiction. Pogue mahone.
The despair of that ancient and proud indigenous race fell on deaf ears until that grey March morning in New York City. Is it any wonder, after seeing the image of his people made a grotesque caricature for the purposes of tourism, of seeing their culture and their traditions sold out, made foolish and twee for the sake of souvenirs and gaudy trinkets –“the shilling of the shillelagh,” as one columnist later wrote- that the leprechaun sat down cross legged in front of the St Patrick’s Day parade, emptied a bottle of poteen over his head, and struck a match?
A nice write up of brilliant indie publishers of fucked up fiction, here.
A cat’s glistening wound houses something monstrous. A brother and sister are haunted by the ashes of their uncle. A hipster falls prey to a murderous sorcerer. Three sexless, immoral beings climb out of a woman’s head. These are the tales of Burn Down The House And Everyone In It, a collection of fiction ranging from the comically absurd to the deeply disturbing.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR BURN DOWN THE HOUSE AND EVERYONE IN IT
“Owen’s writing is a masterful mix of sly humor and absolute terror. The stories presented here could easily be found in a Stephen King/George Romero collaboration.”
– William Pauley III, author of Hearers of the Constant Hum, The Brothers Crunk, and The Doom Magnetic Trilogy
“Horror is a city, and the Absurd is one of its neighborhoods. Zachary T. Owen just moved in and he’s inviting you around to the house warming, to meet the Junk Man, Little Danny, Ruffles, the Limb King, all three of the Dandies… the whole damn family! You should accept his invite. Fuck knows what’ll happen to you if you don’t.”
-Kevin Sweeney, author of Damnation 101, Exeunt Alice, and co-author of the Sideshow P.I. series
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
The Call of the Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft, 1926
“Every science is a mutilated octopus. If its tentacles were not clipped to stumps, it would feel its way into disturbing contacts.”
Wild Talents, Charles Fort, 1932
We know Lovecraft had read Fort, but did Fort read Lovecraft? If not it must be one of those coincidences that Fort himself liked to collect. I was thinking about this after posting about the mythos inspired McHumans by Kevin Strange (well, ranting about Spongebob under the guise of posting about McHumans.) And thinking this made me realise I haven’t tried shilling my own nonsense on here for a good few hours, so…
Post-postmodern tales of the Cthulhu Mythos for those who obsessively devour every new spin on the old tropes, CHOOSE YOUR OWN DAMNATION is an affectionate deconstruction of the pseudo-pantheon of hideous ancient alien blasphemies and the endless obsessive cataloging of same by the fandom! IA! GOOGLY MOOGLY!
Here’s what my old mucker Mike Reeves had to say:
“That book of yours (Choose Your Own Damnation) is one of the funniest things I’ve read in years. It’s like Robert Rankin and HP Lovecraft fighting in a bear pit whilst debauched serial killers circle jerk into the arena. It’s also a very clever way of stitching together otherwise unrelated little sketches of surreality. The line that goes something like ‘John Thomas was slightly relieved that part of his testicles were outside of space-time’ made me do a triple-take before corpsing. The humour makes the purely repulsive stuff stand out more too.”
After Cthulhu awakens and destroys civilization as we know it, humans are used as slaves and food by their new slimy, submerged masters. One such young man, Ricky, works at an undersea fast food joint where he’s forced to kill and cook other humans for the Deep Ones to eat. But he has a plan. His restaurant caters to the Big Man himself, and if Ricky’s plan works, he could pull off the unthinkable: He could actually Kill Cthulhu.
McHumans is probably my favourite of Kevin Strange’s work. It starts off reading like someone strained the Cthulhu mythos through Spongebob Squarepants, but then becomes a bizarro action romp which is great fun. I’m highlighting it here because it’s a great read and I highly recommend it, but it also serves as an excuse to segue into a rant I have about a certain cartoon show…
I grew up in the 80s. The cartoons I grew up with were little more than long adverts with twee moral lessons tagged on the end -these always accompanied by a terrible joke which the animated cast found inexplicably hysterical- but mainly they were about pushing “product” on impressionable minds. Buy the toys, the lunch box, the bed spread, and a metric ton of other poorly made shit with your hero’s inanely grinning faces plastered all over it. But you know what? I’ll take that form of brainwashing over the kind exhibited in Spongebob Squarepants. The show is basically indoctrinating an entire generation into accepting their lot as wage slaves.
Spongebob works in a fast food restaurant (representing the entirety of the service industry) and he is deliriously happy about it; every morning he gets up ready and eager to get to his dead-end job behind a grease trap, a position of which he is psychotically proud and devoted. His place of employment is the starting point for all kinds of hilarious hi-jinks and whacky adventures, a McWonderland of fun, gee kids bet you can’t wait to get out of boring school so that you can enter the workforce and start having a high old time? His boss, Mr Crabs, pays him bugger all, but that is constantly shown to be besides the point, because Spongebob loves his job so much (and he somehow not only manages to own his own house on this threadbare salary, but also feeds pet food to his pet rather than having to eat it himself or default on his electricity bill that month.)
Not convinced that this is all priming the target demographic for a life of drudgery with a BIG SHIT-EATING SMILE?
Next consider the character of Squidward, Spongebob’s neighbour and fellow burger-flipper, a character constantly shown to hate his job, resent his co-workers, and who dares to dream of something better, perhaps a life in the arts. He plays a musical instrument and paints, and is often shown to yearn for “fancy” things, such as food which hasn’t been deep fried, or even respect. What happens to Squidward? He is the butt of every joke, a figure of fun, ridiculed and subjected to slapstick violence… almost like he’s being punished for not getting with the program.
The message is neon bright. Love your life of slavery and never dream. Be a colourful, fun-loving, braindead Spongebob, not a dour, dismal, aspirational Squidward.
It’s not like children’s entertainment hasn’t been used before to condition and program developing minds, but Jesus H. Aslan, SUBTLETY MUCH?
(And yes, I am aware of the irony in me pointing out other’s lack of subtlety, what with the OTT nonsense I’ve published over the years.)
Give McHumans a whirl, it really is an absolute hoot.
Sally is an odd little girl. It’s not because she dresses as if she’s from the Edwardian era or spends most of her time playing with creepy talking dolls. It’s because she chases rainbows as if they were butterflies. She believes that if she finds the end of the rainbow then magical things will happen to her–leprechauns will shower her with gold and fairies will grant her every wish. But when she actually does find the end of a rainbow one day, and is given the opportunity to wish for whatever she wants, Sally asks for something that she believes will bring joy to children all over the world. She wishes that it would rain candy forever. She had no idea that her innocent wish would lead to the extinction of all life on earth.
Sweet Story is a children’s book gone horribly wrong. What starts as a cute, charming tale of rainbows and wishes soon becomes a vicious, unrelenting tale of survival in an inhospitable world full of cannibals and rapists. The result is one of the darkest comedies you’ll read all year, told with the wit and style you’ve come to expect from a Mellick novel.
I love stories about wishes, stories about monkeys paws, magic lamps, deals with devils, and the inevitable horror that follows as the wish goes horribly wrong. I love stories about wishes so much I even wrote a whole book of them, Try Before You Die. Carlton Mellick III’s latest, Sweet Story, is a story about a wish that goes horribly wrong, and it is a corker . Sweet Story starts off reading like a children’s book, the prose pitch perfect in effect, establishing a mood of light wonder which is then gorgeously, hideously destroyed by the reality of a child’s innocent wish being granted. There is a double pleasure in this kind of tale; first, the delicious tension of knowing that something awful is about to happen, and second, just how that awfulness is brought about. Sweet Story delivers on both counts; its set-up as a children’s book means that when the twist in the wish comes -and it’s a great one- the impact is all the more brutal. And not to give anything away, but the ending is perfect (and even I as an avowed addict of these kinds of tales didn’t see it coming.) As far as stories about wishes go, this one now joins the ranks of my absolute favourites, so much so in fact that I wish CM3 would write some more…