Online Fiction

The Liquor Cabinet of Dr. Malikudzu

Bad news for the janitor; good luck for Dr. Malikudzu. Sometime in the middle of the night-shift, after a fight with Max the supervisor over who was to empty biohazard bins in the animal experimentation labs, young Mr. Coover let go his already slender grip on discretion and began unadvisedly opening random drawers in the offices of the principal investigators. He had seen too many bad things peeking at him emptily from the plastic shrouded hollows of the laboratory bins; he wanted to know what got into the heads of these doctors to make them go after living meat the way they did. Drawer after drawer yield­ed nothing but paper and paperclips, the occasional stash of change for the vending machines, stale fragments of pastry. But finally, in the of­fice of one Dr. Malikudzu, he came upon a cache of tiny liquor bottles, of the sort distributed by airlines. With a grin he settled back in the squeaky office chair, unscrewed the cap on a vodka bottle, and tipped the contents down his throat, never noticing that the paper seal on the neck of the bottle had already been broken.

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The Vicar of R’lyeh

“Let anything be held as blessed, so that that be well cursed.”
– Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers

Glorious afternoon, warm and breezy among green hills dotted with sheep. Looking down from his sylvan lounging spot upon the village with its twin spires, Geoffrey heard a mournful bell coming from the towers of Barchester Cathedral, and almost immediately thereafter noted a small dark shape making its way across the dewy grass from the open doors of the church. A faint distortion followed the pedestrian, as if air and earth were curdling in its wake. He blinked away the illusion, but the feeling of oppression grew until he clearly saw that yes, ‘twas the vicar coming toward him with some message he suddenly felt he did not wish to hear. Meanwhile, the tolling of the bell had grown appalling. As the little man struggled up the hillside, he seemed to expand until his shadow encompassed the town itself. Abruptly the vicar stood before him, the pale features of the meek country parson tearing into soft and writhing strands like the points of a wormy beard. The vicar scowled, revealing five segmented ridges of bone, teeth akin to the beak of a sea urchin. Geoffrey did not wish to hear the vicar speak, but there was no stopping his ears.

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Evaluation of the Hannemouth Bequest

(A.k.a. Hannemouth Self-Configurable Combinatorial Array)


This report is provided for purposes of oral history only, as much of the evidence contained herein is purely anecdotal, and unverifiable at this point.  Incomplete copies of insurance and expense reports relating to the loss of a company car were found in the files of IBM’s Northrop Account Liaison, dated mid-1970’s, however it is impossible ascertain whether the car might have been lost some ordinary way (either stolen or abandoned under awkward circumstances), or whether it came to harm as alleged in the documents.  These notes were compiled from an informal oral history, namely the oft-recounted tales of Charles Messraunt, a colorful former employee of IBM who was eventually released from employment after increasingly common episodes of erratic behavior, poor mental health, and allegations of substance abuse.  Messraunt’s official notes of the Hannemouth Bequest Self-Configurable Array are no longer to be found in any known record depository, if they were ever filed in the first place; and Messraunt himself faded from the historical record after several sightings as a street-person in the Northern California town of Garberville.

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Shuck Brother

Mama had been good all day, but at suppertime she went mad again and spoiled everything. It was the chicken that did it this time, the good chicken Pop had killed that afternoon by step­ping on its head with his boot heel and yanking up on the talons, everything happening in slow motion under the August sun, as if the whole world wanted Jory to see exactly how it was done: the sound of the spine pulling apart, and the taffy-stretched squawk, the slow drizzle of blood on the green grass where the dead cock flapped and twitched among the hens while their heads gawked and eyes and beaks gaped as wide as they would go in the bottom of the bucket that Pop gave Jory to dump in the crick. They hadn’t gone out to kill the rooster, but it’d given Pop a few good scrat­ches when he went in the coop for a couple-three hens, and Pop had just gone crazy himself right then and swore like hell, grabbed that cock and stepped down . . .

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Wartorn, Lovelorn

It was summer in the wine country, in the cleft of a hilly vale steeped in green heat. I had a noseful of dust, pollen and sex. Our sticky bodies separated slowly as we sat back in the remains of our picnic, the white cloth dirty and disheveled. Carcasses of roast game hens and rinds of soft cheeses were strewn about. The dry, greedy earth had drunk most of the vintage from a toppled bot­tle, and what remained we quickly swallowed.

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The Middleman Trilogy


Upon the wall, the neighborlings were arguing. Jack listened to the piping voices with increasing anger. The problems of the little people sounded all too much like his own, except smaller.

He opened his eyes and searched for the offending home among the array of tiny buildings stacked to the ceiling of his room. In most, the lights were dim or out completely; in a few, tiny shadows moved against the curtains. The smell of almond tobacco smoke drifted from half-open doorways; newspapers rustled. As a rule, the smaller citizens went to sleep early, and those who stayed up kept their voices down once he’d turned off his light.

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The Vulture Maiden

With the development of our socialist system, the social system for the natural extinction of religion was established.

— Ganze Prefecture Policy on Religious Freedom

Chapter 5, Section 1: “Freedom of Religious Beliefs is a Long-Term Policy That Will Prevail Until the Natural Extinction of Religion.”


The Spring Festival began at sunrise with the roar of a giant kangling carried by two monks and blown by a barrel-chested third who stood on the highest wall of the Shining Hill monastery’s central temple. Golden light, like the voice of the horn made visible, lanced into the gray shadows that covered the broad valley as the sun peered through a notch between distant peaks capped with violet snow. Frost evaporated from the tufted brownish grasses, mingling with low, icy vapors that made the sky appear to shimmer like a silken tapestry. In the hall below, the crashing of cymbals rose to overpower the kangling’s dying wail, and then came the low, deep-throated chanting of the monks. The rocky hill behind the monastery began to glow with a warm, honeyed light.

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Gasoline Lake

The dachshund looked like a slab of ancient beef jerky, dabbed with glue and rolled in lint. It teetered on three stumpy little legs that had dried in unnatural positions while the fourth had cracked clean off, leaving a bit of slightly ragged hem, dog fringe. Though there didn’t seem to be much need for a flea collar, one hung around the petrified neck like a reminder of better days for dog and fleas alike. The eyes were dusty raisins. There was no way to examine the mouth without broken jaw bits ending up in either hand, but the muzzle was slightly parted, and the tongue could be seen to have receded all the way back into the dark cavity of the throat like a frightened snail. The dachshund felt warm to the touch, but that was from being left sitting in the sun. If you sniffed your fingers after stroking the hard brown flanks, you could still detect a faint, undeniable odor of dog.

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His Powder’d Wig, His Crown of Thornes

Grant Innes first saw the icon in the Indian ghettos of London but thought nothing of it. There were so many gewgaws of native “art” being thrust in his face by faddishly war-painted Cherokees that this was just another nuisance to avoid, like the huge radios blaring obnoxious “Choctawk” percussions and the high-pitched warbling of Tommy Hawkes and the effeminate Turquoise Boys; like the young Mohawk ruddies practicing skateboard stunts for sluttish cockney girls whose kohled black eyes and slack blue lips betrayed more interest in the dregs of the bottles those boys carried than in the boys themselves. Of course, it was not pleasure or curiosity that brought him into the squalid district, among the baggy green canvas street-teepees and graffitoed storefronts. Business alone could bring him here. He had paid a fair sum for the name and number of a Mr. Cloud, dealer in Navaho jewelry, whose samples had proved of excellent quality and would fetch the highest prices, not only in Europe but in the Colonies as well. Astute dealers knew that the rage for turquoise had nearly run its course, thank God; following the popularity of the lurid blue stone, the simplicity of black-patterned silver would be a welcome relief indeed. Grant had hardly been able to tolerate the sight of so much garish rock as he’d been forced to stock in order to suit his customers; he was looking forward to this next trend. He’d already laid the ground for several showcase presentations in Paris; five major glossies were bidding for rights to photograph his collector’s pieces, antique sand-cast najas and squash-blossom necklaces, for a special fashion portfolio.
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Uneasy Street

“Ah, good, here come the cops to arrest some more mutants,” said Raleigh’s boss, Pete. “Can’t have them just lounging around, living off the fat of the land, snacking on the core of our civilization.”

Raleigh finished counting verdigrised pennies into the grimy hand of a man who wore a heavy overcoat and woolen muffler despite the August heat, then he handed over the brown bag full of Copenhagen slicks. His eyes followed the man out into the heat-warped glare of the street. In the flickering intervals between speeding cars, he could see that the tiny park across the street was full of cops.

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