Ice Flue Chapter 23

29 Nov

Ice Flue Chapter 23

   Stan, Arnie, Elizabeth, and Heiferwaith’s legs became jelly-like as they slid on their knees down a muddy hill away from the trenches and into a lake consisting entirely of smoke. They fell hard on wooden planks beneath the smoke. It smelled of grilled salmon. The planks creaked, threatening to crack as easily as thin ice.

   “At the same time, even voting could be a true rebellion in a radical sense. Onward to the voting poles, comrades and friends!” Arnie marched forward. The wood broke beneath him. An outline of his body and clown afro remained.

   Stan, Elizabeth, and Heiferwaith fell to their chests, carefully crawling for hard ground.

   Arnie’s orange afro bobbed in his outline, covered in a slimy purple fluid. “Wow. You guys have to come in here. THE BLOOD LUST WATERS FEEL DIVINE!”

   “But what about ending this godforsaken World War 4? If there’s one thing I learned from World War 3, it’s that our votes DO MATTER.” Heiferwaith scrabbled up the muddy bank like a slick manatee. “We have to vote. We have to get out there and—“He pointed a manicured finger in what he thought was the right direction, yet the smoke had grown too thick to be sure. “Or maybe it was over there?”

   A cricket chirped from the back of Elizabeth Dracula’s head. It hobbled onto her forehead, pounding its cherry red cane painfully as it went.

   Elizabeth crawled back onto the wooden planks and opened a hatch. She grabbed Stan’s hand and pulled him down a dusty stairway. Their glass baby opened its mouth at the bottom of the stairs. “Let’s go back to my condo.”

   Cheryl waited for Stan on the other side of their glass baby’s mouth.  

Ice Flue Chapter 22

16 Nov

Ice Flue Chapter 22

   “Look all we have to do is travel about 30 or 40 miles of battlefield to reach the Voting Palace. It shouldn’t be THAT hard.” Heiferwaith wiped a grimy film from his pink forehead.

   “As if on cue, the thunderous battle behind Heiferwaith slowed to standstill. A number of fearsome Dracun Lizards removed their heads to reveal visages of Ice Princesses underneath.

   “This isn’t a real war. We’re only playing,” said one Ice Princess engaged in ripping out and chewing the intestines from the smashed ribcage of a fallen Dracun Lizard, inadvertently knocking off its mask to reveal the face of another Ice Princess. “But just because it’s a simulation doesn’t mean there won’t be casualties. It adds to realism of event and, trust me, World War 4 is hardly a cheap event to stage!” She continued to chew the intestines as though it were as natural as snacking on dried fruit. The Ice Princess’s movements were robotic. “By the way: you’ll never make it to the voting palace. You won’t even make it past me. My breath is a blended Blood Lust Ice Flue. Your glass baby gave us the juice.” A horrible storm erupted from her bloody mouth, painting the sky with royal blue and purple mouths of hurricanes.   

Guitar Wolf by Nicholaus Patnaude (me) (Eraserhead Press; 2016) released today!

16 Nov

wolf

I’m exited to announce that I have a new book out. It’s called Guitar Wolf. It has been released on Eraserhead Press, one of my favorite underground presses. The images below were done by Sarah Kushwara and me; the purple figure playing the wolf guitar was the image that was selected for a the cover. I would like to send out a big thank you to Garrett Cook who edited the book; he also helped inspire, germinate, and nurture the idea during one of his online classes last April. Thank you to Rose O’Keefe for running the excellent Eraserhead Press all these years and tirelessly promoting exciting new voices in fiction. Thank you also to Carlton Mellick III for making bizarro fiction thrive with an unstoppable bouquet of unforgettable, ingenious concepts.

Here’s a description of Guitar Wolf:

“A wolf with guitar strings. A turtle turned into drum. An alligator girl transformed into a synthesizer. A golden retriever converted into a theremin. These animals are the lifeblood of prog/noise group 2666. The beasts live in slavery until a sentient golden ax teaches them that they can be free. Their human masters are ruthless, cruel and desperate for fame but for these creatures, life and freedom is at stake. The instruments of 2666 will fight and die for it.”

Guitar Wolf is out now! Available here.

 

Ice Flue Chapter 21

15 Nov


Ice Flue Chapter 21

   Heiferwaith received 99 lashings from the police officer. His soft pink back had been slashed in a nightmarish series of criss-crossings, a hellish map. Just before his 100th lashing, Heiferwaith did squeal.     

   It wasn’t a loud squeal—in fact, one could barely hear it beneath the blitzkrieg the Dracun Lizards had begun against the other Dracun Lizards (both sides wearing the same uniform), yet the squeal was somehow ear-piercing all the same. The squeal was insistently shrill; it could not be ignored even though one had to strain to hear it.

   Heiferwaith began a monologue which could not be heard since his scream continued to deafen like a looped echo.

   Diamonds from the police officers whip were scattered about encrusted in Heiferwaith’s blood. The police officer backed away , frozen animal tongues scantily covering her pubis and breasts.

   A Dracun Lizard cook emerged from the underground with a bubbling steel pot from which rosy-red lobsters, icy blue eels, and banana yellow barracudas leapt. He slipped on a pair of Dracun Lizard eyeballs and spilled the boiling water onto the nearly naked police officer.

   As the police officer’s fair skin melted and burned, Heifewaith crawled away, returning beside Stan, Elizabeth, and Arnie.

   “We have to vote to end World War 4 or we’ll be slaughtered,” Stan reasoned, batting away a flaming dragonfly.

   “I think we should stand our guard and fight. That would be a true rebellion, in the radical sense.” Arnie unrolled and engaged a Sliminator Hypercharge Sprayer from a fallen Dracun Lizard. “Who’s with me?”

   Crickets and spiders crawled through Elizabeth’s fiery red hair. “But let’s just stay and watch our children infest the world, Stan. Your flue and my blood: they made the glass baby. He’s ten times more beautiful than Godzilla. Isn’t he just perfect?” She held Stan’s hand delicately, but Heiferwaith ran between them, breaking the link.

   Heiferwaith sweat and gasped for breath. “Yes, it turns out we’re fully embroiled in World War 4. We all saw it coming, but the Dracun Lizards have finally risen up against the Dracun Lizards. It’s going to be a hellish journey across a hellish battlefield. Impossible probably. But I, for one, am going to risk it to vote to end this war. Who’s with me?”

   Nobody raised a hand.   
 

Ice Flue Chapter 20

11 Nov

Ice Flue Chapter 20
   After they face-planted onto the battlefield, they sank deep within the muddy soil, only a few feet away from the trenches. Rockets exploded into multicolored lights surrounded by jaguar screams. The moon was set aflame by a rogue torch ripple. Cracked from a split bayonet, the sun leaked molten lava. Tanks manned by stoic androids whipped by as The Elfin Brethren shot arrows filled with Ice Flue.

   Stan gazed in amazement as his invention turned the victims’ bones brittle; their legs cracked, their skin graying then dispersing into the red soil.

   On the other side, purple Blood Lust bubbles floated lazily from toy guns; the moment they popped against their opponents, the Blood Rage went into full effect. 

   “Do you want to make love rather than war?” The police officer, flat on her chest upon a massage table, batted her butterfly wing eye leashes. Sheltered by a five star African safari tent with a full kitchen, wine bar, and a psychedelic jug band performing ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ her pampered air was reinforced by the way she casually plucked the frozen animal tongues from her expensive dress like a girl daydreaming in a field of flowers. 

   Stan, Elizabeth, Arnie, and Heiferwaith, meanwhile, remained face-planted in the mud wearing standard issue World War III fatigues, which was odd since that war had ended more than a hundred years ago.

   “The risotto is a bit oily. The pumpkin spice gelato is simply passable. God, it’s all so depressing having to watch you all be heroes and fight for your lives and whatnot.” The police officer continued to pluck frozen animal tongues from her dress. “Where the HELL is my masseuse? She was SUPPOSED to be here five minutes ago. Is ANYBODY working this shift? CAN SOMEONE AT LEAST BRING ME SOME CUCUMBER SLICES? My crow’s feet need that manna like a baby needs milk. HELLLLO?!?!?” 

   A Dracun Lizard burst from an ant-hill with a pointy skeleton helmet and stabbed Heiferwaith through the throat. Blood spurted onto his boat fangs and trickled down his armored chest. “Don’t forget about the guests. We must perform the Animal Cracker Parade FOR THE GUESTS. Are you ready?” He coughed blood and wobbled.

   Stan crawled to Heiferwaith as rockets exploded in the air, painting the sky like a cake for a devil. “Heiferwaith?” Stan checked his pulse. “Can somebody help?”

   Heiferwaith removed a glass bowl filled with cucumber slices from his chest. “It’s my fault. I stole this from our guest.” Falling blood droplets coated the cucumber slices as Heiferwaith, undeterred, offered them forth. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” He stumbled under the safari tent, nosediving beneath the police officer’s wooden massage table. Heiferwaith’s snout trembled, blood rising in his nostrils. He trembled as he raised the bowl with his last bit of strength.

   The police officer knocked over the bowl dismissively; it smashed on the silk of the safari tent floor. “These aren’t FRESH. And…OH MY GOD. Would you look at that? A HAIR! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, BLIND ME?” 

   The sky tinted orange. Rolling waves of purple and blue undulates in the sky. It was like being inside a lava lamp.

   Stan and Elizabeth’s glass baby floated by, its skin like stained glass. Blood Lust and Ice Flue bombs exploded around him as his eyes shifted to beams of silver. He zapped retreating Dracun Lizards indiscriminately. His voice boomed across the battlefield. “If you want this war to end, you’ll have to vote for it.” He flew higher and higher, rushing like a shooting star to illuminate a palace upon green hills above which a crinkled sign read “Voting Palace.” 

   Heiferwaith scrambled across the silk floor of the tent but was soon smacked in the head by an iron urn. “Stop. Please, let me go. I’m going to exercise my right to vote.”

   “Your right to vote?” The police officer towered above Heiferwaith, swinging a whip embedded with hundreds of diamonds. “But you haven’t even earned your right to squeal.”  

Ice Flue Chapter 19

6 Nov

Chapter 19

   At a long table, Stan, the police officer, and Dracun Lizards were strapped to wooden highchairs. 

   Heiferwaith, wearing a floral print moo moo, carried a steaming silver pot with her hooves. She poured a meager helping in the car dishes in front of all the new recruits. 

   Leather straps were tied firmly around their chests; they could not reach their steaming helpings of stew which smelled of creamy lobster bisque. Since the bounds were all intricately woven together, whenever one person, or Dracun Lizard, lunged forward the bounds of all the new recruits were pulled tighter. 
   Dayglo Arnie and Elizabeth Dracula emerged from elevator doors. 
   Elizabeth wore a short, shoulder-less dress made of frozen bison and human tongues. An enormous gold ring circled around her waist like a belt, a green sparkling emerald covering her groin.
   Dayglo Arnie, still wearing pancaked clown makeup, also wore a tuxedo and a pair of ruby red rabbit ears. Every finger glittered with diamond rings and his boots were made from the faces of two live crocodiles.
   Arnie and Elizabeth theatrically joined hands and hopped on the table, Arnie sweeping her off her feet and kissing as deeply as a vampire. 
   Stan fought against his bounds until all the new recruits were choking. 
   The gasping aroused Arnie’s attention who dropped Elizabeth onto the bowls of lobster bisque. The bowls splashed and rolled and broke against the new recruits as if in slow motion; they lapped up what soaring dribbles they could.
   “Rebellion. Ever heard of it? A lot of you have begun the process, but what’s troubling is that you don’t understand that a rebellion HAS RULES.” Arnie stalked around his captive audience, growling and barring Elizabeth-bloody (from their savage kiss) fangs and overturning the remaining soup bowls into their delighted faces. “Today represents a great union between our country’s only two political parties. You’ve toiled long and hard for this opportunity TO REBEL CORRECTLY. Even when you’re hungry, you must learn to rebel against your own body. Even as you live, you must rebel against your own heartbeat. Even as you die, you must rebel against your own death. Why? To prove your loyalty, of course. To who? THAT IS NOT A QUESTION THAT SHOULD EVER SPEW FROM YOUR PUTRID LIPS! To prove MY loyalty, I will be acting as a display case. I offer you ME!” He seethed, sweat pouring down his cheeks from his enraged monologue. “Elizabeth, can you do the honors?” 
   Elizabeth pulled a rope underneath the table; this removed the bounds of the new recruits.
   Stan finally caught his breath. His hand grazed the black velvet table cloth. All the bowls and utensils had been removed. 
   Dayglo Arnie lay naked on the table, his shelved inner ribcage containing the contents of a well-stocked fridge. 
   It had been days since they’d eaten. The sense of hunger in the room was almost palpable. Stomachs growled like a chorus of desperate amphibians. 
   “Resist. Rebel. I know I can trust you. I know you would never eat the contents of your master comrade. We must die starving together to prove our point. This revolution WILL be televised. I will offer you my blood and body as nourishment but YOU WILL REFUSE. Elizabeth, are the feeds still spoiling to the digital galaxy brain?” 
   “Yes, comrade co-emperor.” Elizabeth’s snake tongue tickled Stan’s chin as cobra heads swam within the emerald on her groin.
   But the revolution was not to be. It was hard to say who did it first–obviously, later, the Dracun Lizards would be blamed, although Stan was almost certain Heiferwaith had removed the first steel box of cold cuts–but the contents of Arnie’s fridge chest were soon being devoured with glee. 
   “No. what are you doing?” Arnie struggled to resist but his fridge body, as if superglued, could not be separated from the black velvet table cloth. “Communists! Fascists! Capitalists! Socialists! Libertarians! Didn’t you listen to any of my 984 recorded gospel lectures which we embedded to your brains at birth? Elizabeth, I’m sad to say the time has come to unleash them from the umbrella of our rebellion.” 
   Elizabeth pressed a button beneath the table, raising the roof of the spaceship room to reveal a canopy of stars. 
   Arnie wept. “You’ve failed me, new recruits. You couldn’t even manage to revolt against the wretched needs of your bodies for a single meal. And so now,” Dayglo Arnie continued spreading his arms like a hawk as he separated from the table cloth with a ripping sound and the new recruits floated high above the spaceship before slowing and feeling an intense painful pull downward, “the time has come for us to go to war.”

Ice Flue Chapter 18

4 Nov

Ice Flue Chapter 18

   The ironic thing was that Stan had ordered a rope ladder just last week.

   As they watched the condo burn, Stan laced an arm through Elizabeth Dracula’s violet silk shawl, failing to find flesh or even skeletal limbs. 

   Cheryl Chillingworth screamed while burning alive, still trapped inside the condo, her horrified visage pressed against the living room window as flaming clouds burst from her ears.

   Their glass baby hovered above the condo as the purple fluid of Cheryl’s Blood Lust serum and the blue fluid of Stan’s Ice Flue throughout his limbs, crossing but never intermingling as if confined to tubes. 

   “There wasn’t time,” Stan explained. “And I’d ordered a rope ladder just last week. Only I hadn’t any time to install it.”

   Elizabeth Dracula pulled up on the motorcycle, her head atop a seemingly empty purple silk sheet. “You don’t need to explain anything to me.” She revved off down the highway, passing billboards.

   As she rode more recklessly, her silk purple cape flew off, revealing her ghostly body to be covered in icy spiderwebs and frozen animal tongues. 

   At the next billboard, Dayglo Arnie and the police officer lunged out, sweeping Elizabeth and Stan into a vast alien spaceship, on the floor of which 20 Dracun Lizards clutched their broken kneecaps, howling in pain.

   “Welcome back, new recruits. You’ve been rebelling well,” Dayglo Arnie said, mashed up crickets dripping from his fangs. He offered a live one to police officer from a red popcorn bag. 

   “Can’t they both be my bunk mates?” The police officer opened its iron jaw, chomping on the remaining live crickets. 

Ice Flue Chapter 17

4 Nov

Ice Flue Chapter 17

   The door opened to their dark, cold, and empty office laboratory. Their other work associates hadn’t arrived for work yet. When Stan glanced to his right, Cheryl Chillingworth materialized; she worked at her laboratory desk station. A purple liquid rushed through a series of glass chambers. Her eyes glittered with delight when she caught Stan staring at her. “Before we go back to my condo, you’ll have to do some REAL work. Do you really think you can make a living tinkering with serums?” She smiled devilishly. A Frankenstein monster’s scar grew on her forehead. She eyed a sledgehammer. “It’s already set up. All you have to do is go next door and break their knees.” 

   A green door with a purple lightening bolt opened. Stan would have to crawl beneath the dusty practice skeletons to reach it.

   “After that, we’ll go back to my condo. I’ll give you your lunch. I know you’ve been hungry forever.” She lifted the sledgehammer with ease and offered it to Stan as if it were a holy article. 

   The green door opened and closed like a malfunctioning elevator, its purple lighting bolt chomping. Stan plunged forward under the practice skeletons, narrowing bypassing an excited tarantula leg clawing from a pelvis. 

   On 20 gurneys were strapped-down Dracun Lizards, their human-shaped knees thrust forward by steel rods covered in gauze. 

   Stan cracked all 40 knees, his mind clouded from inhaling the fuchsia fumes of Cheryl’s Blood Lust–that purple serum with which she’d been tinkering. 

   When Stan returned, Cheryl already had her motorcycle running and revving in the center of their office laboratory. “Hop on.” The back of her head contained the face of Elizabeth Dracula gasping for pleasure as they cruised down the waxed hallways of Ice Enterprises. 

Ice Flue Chapter 16

28 Oct


Ice Flue Chapter 16

   The glass baby didn’t make a sound as they drove back to Cheryl’s condo.

   They approached Ice Enterprises. Cheryl squeezed Stan’s wrist. “Can we stop at work for a second? I forgot something.” 

   They left their baby in the car. 

   The basement of Ice Enterprises was dark. A few flickering halogens guided their way, but unfamiliar dripping sounds and a damp coppery smell surrounded them. “Should we have brought the baby?” Elizabeth Dracula’s face emerged surrounded by a purple light.

   The concrete corridor walls shifted uneven cave rock. 

   Up ahead, a rusty circular cage had its door wide open, it’s lock dangling from its spiky-barred door. The police officer, petrified, huddled in a corner of the cage. She no longer spun; she simply looked androgynous yet each of her limbs had been removed and replaced by peg limbs. 

   Dayglo Arnie, wrapped up in a thick white cocoon on the cave ceiling like a caterpillar, shouted down. “Escape! This is your final test! Rebel! Escape! Revolt!” 

   Elizabeth and Stan walked past the cage.

   “Hey. Pssst. New bunk mate! Can you lock my cage. Unless you want to join?” The police officer stepped tentatively forward. He paused. Then he daintily raised one slippered foot over the threshold. 

   Elizabeth burst out laughing. 

   The police officer, mortified, slammed the cage door shut, locking it. Then she swallowed the key. 

   Dayglo Arnie roared, breaking free of the cocoon as he nosedived directly into the cage’s lock. 

   Elizabeth rolled the heavy sliding door shut. “Come along with me.” She yanked Stan’s hand as they careened through a burst of sparkles.

   Stan’s vision turned staticky. He smelt pine needles on a forest floor. 

   “I just need to pick up something from my desk.” She punched numbers into a key code outside their office laboratory. A wide cavernous hall opened up. 

   Chained Dracun lizards in silver space suits rowed in unison with palm-tree trunk oars.

   The police officer and Dayglo Arnie, dressed in flashy wizard outfits, screamed “Row, rebel! Row, Rebel” over and over again in unison. 

   One muscular Dracun Lizard with a scaly mohawk broke his chains and slam-dance walked to Dayglo Arnie. “Rebel? Is this what you bastards meant?” He grabbed them both by the necks. 

   Their faces turned blue, but Dayglo Arnie was seemingly gasping his last breaths in joy. “Yes, that’s exactly what we meant.” 

   Elizabeth closed the door, thousand of cricket legs and eyes pouring from the hole in the back of her head. “Oops. Wrong drawer.” She entered a different combination. The door opened.

Ice Flue Chapter 15

27 Oct

Ice Flue Chapter 15

   The mermaid and unicorn were in blocks of ice on either side of the bed like beacons.

   Elizabeth Dracula edged away from Stan on the frosty bed in fear even though Stan was still bound and gagged. Elizabeth leaned in a strained reach, slowly removing Stan’s gag. Then she scooted to a corner of the bed. Snow abruptly covered her from a putting cloud.

   “You turn from me. You curl up in a ball as if you want to die.” Stan cried as the stones of the castle glazed to a deep dark blue. He struggled to maintain his balance on the now slippery surface.

   Elizabeth Dracula thrashed in her sleep until her face changed back to the mousy shape of Cheryl Chillingworth in spectacles. “Go back to the office laboratory. I’m waiting there. Then follow me to my condo. Once there, eat my serum. You must swallow the Time of the Ice Princesses to save our world.”

   The ice rocks of the floor fell away like in a scrolling video game. Stan slipped off the final block and tumbled downward. He slid down a steep hill covered in wet leaves. He held Elizabeth’s hand as they galloped to the front of a garden teeming with wedding guests. A cute laboratory the size of a girl tossed vials of Ice Flue rather than flower petals. The witnesses were mostly humans with bird heads and severed bear claws speared by sticks held up by unseen attendees. They dispersed and descended at the sight of the vials—the laboratory may as well have been throwing 100 dollar bills!

   On the backs of the bear claws were blinking human eyes. The floor of the garden shattered. Stan fell again until landing on a couch in a hospital.

   Proud Elizabeth, snake tongue slithering and Dracun eyes shining, held their child in a delivery room: a glass baby through which blue Ice Flue pumped. A purple liquid sloshed in its head.

   The werewolf doctor turned around. “Well, you’re all ready to be discharged. Now get back to cooking that Flue of yours, Stanny boy! You have no time left to eat the time! And don’’t forget to rebel. You do want to be the hero of our story, don’t you?”