Friday, February 17, 2017

Life + Oscar

Life + Oscar
by
Bobby Derie



There was a hole behind and a little above her ear, covered by a flap of skin. It looked like a resting eye. Yanni had lifted her hair up to show me, and then she started to sing, a wordless little croon, and tap at her mastoid bone. I watched as something stirred, beneath the skin. Then it poked its head out, tiny black eyes shining, the antenna swept behind it. The legs emerged and it pulled itself forward, the long brown carapace, smooth and mottled sliding out.




"His name is Georg," Yanni said. "You should think what you will name yours."



*

It - he - crawled across the table top, no bigger than a thumbnail, carapace shaded yellow and green.

"Let him crawl onto your hand." Yanni hovered on the other side of the table. Georg was absently crawling over her forehead.

Mhari obediently stayed still as he found her hand, and began to climb.

"They mostly eat dead skin, the stuff that flakes off and sheds naturally. They don't go after living tissue, shy away from open wounds. What you will need to keep on about is water; they need a couple milliliters a day, or they dry out."

The little bug had climbed the first step of Mt. Mhari, and found her cuticle: a ragged bit of yellow hide she had a tendency to pick at. He began to nibble. It didn't hurt; in fact she could hardly feel it.








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Friday, February 10, 2017

The Book Was Hungry

The Book Was Hungry
by
Bobby Derie

The book growled in her bag. It was hungry.

Julia scoured the library, the book growling all the time. She haunted anthropology and folklore, mostly - looking for scraps of curse tablet inscriptions, examples of cannibalism, necrophilia, vampires. She knew what it liked.

In a quiet corner, she picked through a stack of bound folklore magazines from the 1930s - the last gasp of British vicars, with education but not much else, poking over any ancient legend or ruin in their precinct. Bits and pieces of lore on fairy bottles, witch trials, ghost stories. Good stuff. Making sure no-one else was around, she took out the book and laid it out flat on the study desk.
The pen still had a few feathery scales on it, though the tip was hooked with steel. With a practiced move she rolled up the sleeve on her right arm and pricked at her skin near the elbow, leaving a small red welt next to the other scabs and scars.


To write in the book was more than just dull copying. Julia knew she had to find the right place for it, work the bits and pieces in. The book was still a long way from unfinished, but some pages were dark with ink and drawings, the columns filled with marginalia and fine additions in between the lines, while others were blank. The book's growling ceased as she found a good spot and began writing about the fairy bottle, and the witch with the pipes made from the bones of little children that called up a dark horse... Her arm was almost numb by the time she was done, but Julia was satisfied as she sat back and let the blood dry...


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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Drinking Partner

The Drinking Partner
by
Bobby Derie


Chalk scratched on the stone floor of the basement. The hour came, the incense burned, the terrible names echoed off the bare brick walls. Homemade candles of human tallow sputtered as the flames tinged green. In the shadows was a presence; of them, draped by them, small and dark yet regal as a fallen empress; she did not come from anywhere, but might have stood there for all this time, waiting for the words to be spoken.


The demon stalked forward, touched the sacrifice.


"You have called me in the old ways, according to the proper rites and formula. Who then dares summon..."


A hand broke the circle, holding a bottle of Johnny Walker black label.


"I want you to have a drink with me." The sorcerer said. She pointed to the bar, which filled a half-finished corner of the basement, warm brown wood and brass. There were glasses and stools, cocktail napkins and pickled onions, stirrers and shakers and a block of ice in the chest.


The demon hesitated, then shrugged.


Despite keeping the Johnny Walker close at hand, the sorcerer actually started them off with beer cocktails. She mixed them carefully - the base was some local craftbrew Pilsner - and the demon took the opportunity to examine her erstwhile summoner.


Hair that was just a said too brown to be pure black, tied back at the moment. Eyes as warm as a wounded puppy's. A hard line to the mouth, with the hint of sagging laugh lines in the decades to come, if she had decades. The arms and fingers were thin, but strong, callused. Beneath the ritual robe there were hints of workout clothes, and the sweat made it cling to her in all the right places. No shoes, and the feet were dirty as a hobbit's. No makeup, no painted nails. No amulets or charms, either. A woman who presented as she was, no more or less.


The demon sipped her drink, and surprisingly, found it was good. The sorcerer, for her part, drank hers smoothly but evenly. Her eyes played over the demon once or twice, careful not to be caught staring, but the demon smiled and caught her eyes anyway.


"You want an Old Fashioned?" the summoner said.


The demon made a face. "Yes," she said. "But let me. Mortals never do it right."


Hands with fingers just a little too long wove their simple magic with bourbon and sugar, soda and bitters. She ended with a simple flourish - a snap of her fingers that briefly limned the drinks in flame, then blew them out. The resulting cocktail was warm to the tongue, though not quite as hot as fresh blood from the tap.


"Is it about a man?" the demon asked.


"A woman," the sorcerer replied, savoring her drink.


"Ah. Yes, I know about women. So you called me for...companionship?" She traced one nail down the center of her chest, letting the shadows fall away to reveal the line of breasts on her left-hand side.


"Not that kind." The sorcerer speared a pickled onion from the jar.


"I just...needed somebody to drink with. I didn't want to go out, to a bar. Out on the market again. I didn't want to drink alone. Do you understand that."


The demon sighed, though she did not cover up. "Yes, I know about being alone. Only too well. Did you want to talk about it?"


"Sure. But how about some sangria? I've been dying for a sangria all day, but I wanted to do the ritual sober."


"Yes, that was wise. I do not believe I have had a...sangria."


As she fetched the fruit and cutting board, the demon watched her.


"I do not wish to spoil the mood, but you know how this ends?" The demon said. "If you called me, you know my price in all things."


The sorcerer's hands did not shake as she chopped the fruit. "I knew how this would end long before I called you. I knew it when I first took her hands and let her drag me onto the dance floor. When we fell into bed at the end of the night, dizzy and drunk and sticky. When...when she left, for first time and for the last time." She poured the wine into the mason jars. "I was gifted with the knowledge of how and when I would die, and I knew it wouldn't be with her. I knew it would be with you, and I knew it would be tonight."


She slid the drink toward the demon.


"So, drink up. Because it's my party, and I can die how I want to."


The demon smiled and raised her jar in toast. The glass clinked, the pact sealed.





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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Bride of the Minotaur

The Bride of the Minotaur
by
Bobby Derie

The fire burned low to glowing coals. There was for the bullock nothing to stare at but the empty paths, and the walls...walls set without cement, stone fitted to stone, that shimmered oddly as different shadows played on their surfaces. It seemed to him that he could catch reflections in the shadow-haunted surface, mercurial images from somewhere else. One form in particular he caught sight of more than once...and a smell grew stronger in his nostrils that reminded him of long ago, days of warmth and milk and sun before the labyrinth. He could almost feel the eyes on him. Something sneaking up one of the paths, perhaps, though he can hear nothing, discern no direction...yet those shadows the walls perhaps could give him a clue, a scattered echo of what stalked him in his own prison.

So the son of Persiphae lifted his head, and gripped his cudgel a little tighter. He catches glimpse of wet fur, and low nubby blue horns, and...unmistakably...an udder. Then he did hear something, a kind of wet, heavy breathing, and the smell that was almost overpowering as he turned to face the source of it.

She stood before him, half. Taller than a man, though she came only up to his shoulder. Her blue fur wet, the hair about her head braided into two long plaits woven with sea-shells that modestly cover her breasts, a bronze chain and skirt hanging over - but failing to conceal - the bulging blue-black udder. A feminine musk surrounded her, and yet oddly she was still very much a creature of the sea - the tail that swishes languidly behind her is thicker, and ended with a fin rather than a tuft of hair, and great gills are visible between her naked ribs. Dark aquamarine spots splotch against the blue of her fur - yet it is the ice-green eyes above her comely muzzle that captured and held his attention, as she carefully inched closer.

The minotauress says nothing at first, those deep languid eyes still stared intently into his own. Her hooves step daintily, with a soft tread, tail flicking back to and fro. I am a walker of the wet labyrinth, great-granddaughter of AuĂ°umbla. Her dialect was strange, each vowel drawn out into a kind of lowing as she inched closer, and sent chills down his spine. She reached out as though to touch him, then drew back, suddenly coy.

"I am Asterios, son of Persiphae." He laid down his cudgel and drew closer, breathing in her warm, wet scent.

A smile flited across her muzzle, and this time when she drew close there was a sway to her hips, emphasized by flicks of her tail. She draws close - close enough for the minotaur to be enveloped by her musk, and to feel her hot breath against his own fur. She ran her hands over his hard, muscled form, then leaned in to nuzzle at the nape of his neck, her few ornaments clinking against his iron body.

I see you have not laid down all your rods. She whispered breathily in his ear.

The sleep palace was lightly disturbed, as though with an earth tremor. Then another one. The cows and bulls in the fields were awake and lowing into the night, and the palace shook. Finally, near dawn - there is a rumble of falling masonry, and a great crash as a section of the labyrinth collapsed. Soldiers rushed in with bronze spears flashing, but found the minotaur languid, the strength drained from his legs, barely able to stand. Clutched in one hand was a lock of blue-black hair, tied into a plait.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Parallels

Parallels
by
Bobby Derie

Agatha pulled a rune-inscribed dagger from her purse. Her young companion did not look very surprised. It was a well-known fact that almost anything could be in a woman's purse, stuck in between squished tissues, lost change, and ancient, slightly decayed lipstick. It just so happened that he knew Agatha's purse was also full of charms, amulets, and the occasional talisman.

Ten years ago, Agatha has been a hellblazer, and her companion a bright young thing with high hopes of an apprenticeship. She had gone silver early, he had been her golden boy. They blitzed through the sexual tension in a whirlwind of will-they-won't-they bad relationships, empty bottles of wine set out for recycle, and had settled in to something as sexless and platonic as a Boston marriage. So they were, in the tunnel that had opened up in the cellar where the wall had fallen down, to see what was about.

Agatha muttered something vile in Anglo-Saxon as she cut a figure in the dark air, the runes glinting on the dagger. It wasn't, he reflected, a very good dagger to begin with. It had started off life as a Mosin-Nagant bayonet, one of those steel spikes with a screwdriver tip that the Russians had produced in their millions, and had been retrofitted with a solid steel handle and several lines of finely etched runes. You had to call them runes, because they were spiky and angular and clearly some kind of writing, but this wasn't your average Futhark. They were were the kind of thing H. R. Giger might have come up with if Tolkien's estate had commissioned an alphabet.

The earthen tunnel couldn't have been that old - there were bits of brick and masonry stuck in the side, though in London that pretty much just narrowed it down to sometime within the last fifteen centuries or so - but it opened up at last to a kind of cavern or space. Foul-smelling water flowed in a trickle from one hole in the wall and out another, and beyond it...

The thing chained to the wall was predominantly female. Tits were one of the few constants, though the number, shape, and size varied as it worked through a constant slow metamorphosis. It was, to him, like a slow .gif on 4chan, rotating through every fetish known or suspected to man. Hips swelled and sprouted fur, then shed and revealed patches of scales; the tongue flicked and swirled, the mouth sometimes wide and generous, then too wide, slipping into a bloody Glasgow smile that seemed to still be lascivious even through the gone, and then it was a spiked penis-thing, slipping through the ruined cheek, her face fucking itself... 

Agatha's free hand reached back and grasped at him, found his hand and clutched it tightly. The one constant to the creature was the length of chain around the creature's neck, which was secured to a great stone in the ceiling.

"A succubus," Agatha said, holding the dagger in front of her. "Well, dear. What do I call you?"

The pale pot-belly shifted, eyes blinked open, a long flat nose; an alive complexion spread over it like a rash as hints of a skull an jaw pressed against the unbroken skin. Something down below was serving as a mouth as it spoke. 

"Helen Vaughan."

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Two Can Love, If One Is Dead

Two Can Love, If One Is Dead
by
Bobby Derie

They smoked, in bed, passing the cigarette back and forth. Burnt throats were eased with sips of cherry wine. Outside the window, the sun hovered above the Sierras.

"Thank you Clark, I believe I needed that," the brunette smiled as she handed him the cigarette and set down her glass. With her now free-hands she set about putting up her mass of brown curls, letting her breasts hang free. Clark took a drag and enjoyed the view.

"My dear, it is I that should thank you. It is rare to find anyone in this town so refreshingly...open-minded."

She stuck out a pink tongue, then let a hand fall down to cover her nipples. "Poor boy, so lonely for company. How many lonely housewives have fallen for that act?"

He said nothing, but took a drag, laid down his own glass on a side-table, and holding the cigarette in his left hand, swung his leg around to face her, naked, on the bed. Very carefully, never breaking eye contact, he breathed out of the corner of his mouth. She was the first to look away, but his hand caught her chin and gently brought her face forward for a kiss - a very chaste kiss. She smiled and opened her eyes to his unblinking stare.

"We are neither of us the other's first, darling. I am not a homewrecker, nor do I wish to despoil some young virgin - where is the fun in that? An hour's pleasure, a few stolen kisses to light up an otherwise boring and eventless life - so long as we both are mutually agreeable, why not have a little fun."

She took the cigarette from him. "You don't want to tell me you love me, Clark?"

With her left hand, she reached down to stroke that which was between them.

"I did have the love-sickness once - a blonde. We were scarcely more than children when her illness claimed her." The brunette's arm never stopped working as he stared at her. "Now that she has passed, the memory of her haunts me; and in honor of it, I prefer brunettes. Because you know that they say," he leaned into her, and she fell back, letting the cigarette fall into the wine glass on the table, "two can love, if one is dead."

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Friday, January 6, 2017

The Morning of the End of the World

The Morning of the End of the World
by
Bobby Derie

It was the morning of the end of the world. Janine carefully made her bed and washed the dishes after breakfast.

Phil watched her from behind his glass. The television was muted, flashing images of rioting, praying, empty newsrooms at random. No one could blame anyone that left for the day, to do whatever they had to do. 

So Phil drank, and Janine cleaned.

There was a countdown clock, on the screen. Someone had thoughtfully put it up, so that everyone could know the hour and the minute as it crept forward, the world turning toward that hateful sun. The sterilizing light that would wipe out the infection that was life from the world.

Janine swept and mopped the kitchen, wiping down the corners with a rag.

The house grew warmer. Phil could almost feel dawn creeping up behind him. The wind had picked up, audible against the windows. A terrible pressure that he could feel inside his own skull.

Janine came over and pulled the empty bottle from his unresisting fingers, and put it out with the rest of the trash. She kissed him gently on the forehead, and laid his head down in his arms on the table. Without moving, one eye open, he watched her turn to the window and open the blinds, a smile on her face to great the dawn.

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